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INTERESTING STUFF – 31 January 2015

RONNI HERE: In producing this Saturday list, I aim for a balance with a little something for everyone – sort of an update of an old-timey variety show from our generation's youth.

At first, this week, I thought there was too much cute animal stuff but they are all good and two of them become stale if not used before the Superbowl tomorrow. So, here goes.



AL PACINO ON GROWING OLD

A new film titled, The Humbling, is about a has-been, aging actor taken from a novel by Philip Roth starring Al Pacino who says that although he personally relates to the character in some ways, he's not ready to stop acting.

”At 74, Pacino says that at times he feels his age, reports inquirer.net “'I do feel differently. I don’t quite get up from this table the same way. I may want to but I don’t.'

“'Acting, especially if you’ve done it as long as I have,' he said, 'it becomes such a part of your nature you rarely ever think about quitting or anything like that.'”

Here's the trailer for The Humbling currently in theaters in the U.S.

You can read more about Pacino and the movie here.


DEAR KITTEN – SUPERBOWL EDITION

In case you missed it (yeah, right), the Superbowl is tomorrow. Here is an extended commercial from Friskies: the chief house cat explains the TV ritual of the annual game to the newly arrived kitten. (Hat tip to Cathy Johnson)


YOUR REPUBLICAN CONGRESS AT WORK

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week named the chairs of the subcommittees. Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas snagged the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

Except that it's not called that anymore. Somehow, with the announcement of the new subcommittee leaders, the name got changed to the Subcommittee on the Constitution – no more civil and human rights. As Huffington Post reported,

”In his press release, Cornyn never used the phrase 'civil rights' or 'human rights.' Instead, the release said he would be a 'watchdog against unconstitutional overreach and will hold the Obama Administration accountable for its actions.'”

We can look forward in the coming months to watching how more congressional bodies become partisan arms of the Republican Party.


BUSY AS A BEAVER BUILDING A NEW DAM

That's exactly what happens here - nothing spectacular except to the extent that nature is spectacular. A beaver family rebuilding its damaged home.


THE PROBLEM WITH STUPIDITY

I have no trouble wanting to crawl under the desk and never emerge when it is pointed out to me that I have said or done something spectacularly dumb. In fact, I usually realize it even before someone tells me.

So it drives me nuts that people such as climate deniers, anti-vaxxers, too many elected officials such as Louis Gohmert and Steve King and others don't even suspect how dumb they are – so dumb that it's hard to know how they keep breathing.

Here to help me out is John Cleese explaining stupidity in less than one minute – and a fine job he does of it.


DOG HELPS CAT

From TGB reader Alan Goldsmith, here is a lovely, little example of interspecies kindness.

UPDATE 6:30AM PST: My apologies if you can't watch this video. The license states that it's public but now I can't view it. On the other hand, maybe it's fine - this is, unfortunately, not a perfect medium.


IT'S NOT CHOCOLATE ANYMORE

And probably hasn't been for a long time.

Just a week ago, I did something I allow only about once a year: I bought a Hershey's chocolate bar with almonds. (Since I lost 40 pounds, certain things are mostly gone from my life.

I love chocolate. I grew up eating many kinds but Hershey's chocolate bars with almonds were my favorite. Nowadays, I like other chocolate even better but Hershey's has been with me all my life and it all but leaped off the shelf into my basket at the supermarket checkout stand that day.

After dinner, I sat down to savor that old favorite and was mightily disappointed. It wasn't as satisfying, it didn't taste quite right and I wondered if I had finally outgrown Hershey's for more sophisticated types of chocolate. Within a day or two, I read this:

”'Chocolate in Britain has a higher fat content; the first ingredient listed on a British Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (plain milk chocolate) is milk. In an American-made Cadbury’s bar, the first ingredient is sugar...' "The ingredients they're using for American Cadbury candy not only affects the taste, it changes what we call the 'mouth feel.'" writes Susie Madrack at Crooks and Liars. “It feels more like a mouthful of Crisco, and not the pure melting goodness of quality chocolate.”

The reasons for the difference, explains Ms. Madrack, relate to Hershey's and Archer Daniels Midland lobbying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “to permit them to change the essential ingredients and substitute chocolate flavoring, yet still label candy 'chocolate.'"

Read the whole sorry story here.


BRIGHT OLD THINGS

In 2011 and each year since then, Selfridges department store in England has highlighted young creative talent with their Bright Young Things sales promotion. This year, they have turned the tables:

”Bright Old Things is our celebration of the retirement renaissance. In collaboration with illustrator and director Todd Selby, we introduce 14 inspirational individuals who have created a new vocation for themselves in later life.”

Here's the video about them (Hat tip to TGB reader, Sandra Mosely):

It's a fun collection of old folks doing interesting things. However, I feel obliged to point out that every “celebration” of elders who remake themselves in old age - there are many – honors only those in the arts: painting, music, writing, design, sculpting hedges into elephants, etc.

If you are not talented in those mostly graphical ways, you are no less worthy of attention in old age.

You can read more here about the elders and Selfridges' campaign.


PUPPY/CLYDESDALE SUPERBOWL FRIENDSHIP

For the second year in a row, Budweiser set out to break our hearts and bring a tear. They have succeeded again:


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 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 include the name of the blog and its URL.


Elder Adoption of Technology – Or Not

There is no argument about it: the development of technology in our lifetime is nothing less that astounding. Sometimes, I think, we've become so accustomed to it that we forget there is no essential difference between modern digital technology and magic.

Information flits through the air – even into to space and back - in nanoseconds and the toys - the laptops, tablets, phablets, phones, etc. - are not only irresistable in design and function, they are useful (and playful) in a zillion ways.

It is well-known that old people – you and me – need more time than young people to become proficient with these amazing gadgets. Kids do it with such ease that ten years ago, I imagined babies had begun entering the world carrying miniature computer mice in their tiny, little hands; today, I suspect it is teeny smartphones instead.

So much are tech gadgets a young person's game that we old folks are the default target of jokes – of both mean and kindly types – about how backward we are with modern technology.

Take smartphones. Last year, Pew Research published a survey on smartphone ownership. Although 74 percent of people 65 and older owned a mobile phone, only 19 percent of that age group owned a smartphone.

Of the youngest group, 18–29, 83 percent owned a smartphone. 74 percent of the next age group, 30-49, had smartphones and nearly half, 49 percent of the next age group, 50-64, owned one.

PewSmartphoneOwnership2014small

Among the hundreds of things smartphones can do, the latest big deal, what will be a life changer, is that they are beginning to take the place of physical money.

Tens of millions of us already pay bills via the ether from our home computers. Soon we will pay for our groceries and everything else with just a wave of our phone in front of a reader at the checkout counter.

I don't like this idea at all because it's too easy to overspend when I can't see how much money remains in my wallet. But I will adapt when I must because there will be no other choice - it is too logical and too convenient not to happen, and probably fairly soon.

Yesterday, a TGB reader emailed wondering if we shouldn't have a discussion about how some elders say they hate the internet, don't use computers or smartphones but benefit from them via their friends.

You know the types: I'm doing just fine without the internet, they say. What do I need a computer for? I don't need to talk on the telephone when I'm not at home.

Said TGB reader had had a recent encounter bailing out a friend who had forgotten to bring crucial information they needed for the day's undertaking. She found it on the internet via her smartphone and was annoyed that her companion refuses to have one.

I am of two minds about adopting technology. Smartphones in particular are pricey items and except for three or four functions, I could get by with a clamshell. But I do treasure those few services I use: driving navigation, a public transportation app that tells me within a few seconds when a bus will arrive and – don't laugh, the flashlight is remarkably handy. I use it a lot.

And for me, too, people without computers can be incredibly annoying as when I had a regular newsletter to get out. Each month, I had to backtime myself to account for them receiving it via postal mail, and do that separate paper mailing with envelopes and stamps and stuff.

What is important to remember, however, is that many old people, retired people, never learned computers at work because their jobs didn't require it or they left the workforce before computers were adopted at their job (smartphones are “just” little computers).

But, many of you will say, how hard could it be to learn. You do just fine without really understanding much of how a computer works. You handle several kinds of programs and/or apps and over time, you've learned what to do when thing screw up.

It is important to remember that you didn't learn that overnight and you may have forgotten what a mystery even the smallest functions were when you first began, and how long it took (often through trial and painful error when you wanted to smash the screen with your fist) to become comfortable with what can still be touchy machines.

Already, there are young adults who have never known life without computers and barely without cell or smartphones, and there is no going back.

So, too, in the not too distant future, all the old people who either fumble around or refuse to engage with new technology entirely, will all be dead and the refusnik problem won't exist anymore.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: A Bad Day


Accepting the Difficulties of Growing Old

File this post under Ronni was too weary and/or lazy to write on Wednesday. It happens to all of us, you know.

I own an elegant, little easel frame. It is quite small – about two-and-a-half by three inches or so – and quite simple: a stand, a fairly thick piece of glass and a little metal clip to hold it together.

For the past year I have been using it to display quotations – one at a time - that inspire me about this stage of life most of us at this blog are moving through. The frame sits in one the cubbies directly above my desk (where I seem to spend most of my time) so that I can see the quotation and ponder it when I look up from whatever I'm doing.

It can't be any old quotation. It must be something that bears consideration over time, something that needs more than the gulp of one swift read to absorb and make my own.

With every reading, the current quotation becomes more an inspiration to keep on keeping on.

Until the time comes to stop.

WhartonQuoteFrame

Undoubtedly that is too hard to see. Here is a easier read:

”In spite of illness, inspite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”

It is from Edith Wharton's autobiography, A Backward Glance, published in 1934, three years before she died at age 75 – not much more than a year older that I am now.

Thanks to Project Gutenberg of Australia, you can read the book online here.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: On Late Romance


Social Life in Old Age

It has become a tenet of old age that without plenty of friends and family, and an active social life, we are doomed to die before our time.

In fact, one study, as reported in The Guardian last year, went so far as to state that loneliness is twice as unhealthy for old people as obesity:

“Compared with the average person in the study, those who reported being lonely had a 14% greater risk of dying. The figure means that loneliness has around twice the impact on an early death as obesity.”

Now, one research project does not a verdict make; such studies are an indication to be further confirmed but they are still worth a tentative consideration until proven or not and in this case, the study results confirm what aging experts have always said – loneliness is bad for elders' physical and mental health.

Now there is a new study that appears to refute last year's report. From The Independent:

The researchers, from McGill University in Canada, examined the widely held assumption that social contact – or the lack of it – is linked to mortality.

They analysed almost 100 studies (involving 400,000 people from 17 countries, including the UK) of “social contact frequency” – defined as the frequency of social interactions with others...

“Our findings show a minimal effect of social contact frequency on mortality and call into question interventions and clinical advice that simply seek to increase one’s social contact frequency,” said Dr Eran Shor, who led the study.

Shor notes that he and his colleagues are not suggesting the lack of a vibrant social life is a good thing but that any connection to early death for lack of is it “misplaced.”

Because research studies rarely compare apples and apples, let us be clear that there is a big difference between liking to have a lot of time alone and loneliness. Nevertheless, this new study of studies does call into question the certainty of many aging experts about the negative health results of being alone.

These ideas for and against the importance of loneliness in old age are tangentially related to our discussion last week about growing old without a partner or romantic interest.

The majority commenters said living alone was mostly good and quite a few thought that the effort required to possibly find a late-life romantic partner is greater than they want to make.

It was an excellent conversation and today, since you guys are my (unscientific) research group on all things aging, let's see what we think about the need – or not – of a busy social life.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Harry Lowenstern: Future Shock


New Clues for the Internet and You

In 1999, four middle-ish-aged guys who were stars in the development of the still-emergent internet wrote a book about how the internet, an amazing global “conversation” platform whereby individuals could share information at blinding speeds that gave them, us – we the people - a kind of power never before available was being misunderstood and misused mostly to sell stuff.

Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, Rick Levine and Dave Weinberger were pissed off enough to write book. It was/is 95 theses called The Cluetrain Manifesto and it exploded on the scene in controversy.

I recall everybody in the internet world I knew online and off, talking about it. “Cluetrain” was a big topic at the websites where I worked – coworkers arguing, debating, agreeing and disagreeing. There was a lot of lively conversation for a long time.

These four guys were warning us that corporations were turning the internet into a one humongous shopping mall that could throttle the freedom it was bringing to the masses.

Of course, I hoped that wouldn't happen and now that I'm thinking about it again, I'm rather pleased that this blog, which doesn't sell anything except ideas about growing old, may be a pretty good example of the best of what the web can be.

Anyway. Back to the story.

Were these men, in a country as capitalist as the U.S. being idealistic? You bet. To give you a feel for it, here is a handful of those original 95 theses:

Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships.

Human communities are based on discourse—on human speech about human concerns.

We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.

It struck me then as it still does that if you remove the business references, all 95 theses are pretty good lessons for humans to live by.

So here we are 16 years later and two of the original authors, Doc Searls and David Weinberger, now both in their seventh decade of life, have looked around the internet and again, they are not pleased.

In addition to the corporations, they tell us, there are new dangers that can take away our web.

”It has been sixteen years since our previous communication,” they write.

“In that time the People of the Internet — you and me and all our friends of friends of friends, unto the last Kevin Bacon — have made the Internet an awesome place, filled with wonders and portents...

“Now two more hordes threaten all that we have built for one another.

“The Marauders understand the Internet all too well. They view it as theirs to plunder, extracting our data and money from it, thinking that we are the fools.

“But most dangerous of all is the third horde: Us.”

Searls and Weinberger go on to remind us that mass media is the least of the Web's powers and we should not lean back and consume only the junk food of entertainment while the Marauders steal our valuables:

”An organ-by-organ body snatch of the Internet is already well underway,” they warn. ”Make no mistake: with a stroke of a pen, a covert handshake, or by allowing memes to drown out the cries of the afflicted we can lose the Internet we love.

“We come to you from the years of the Web's beginning. We have grown old together on the Internet. Time is short.”

All that is from the introduction to an update of The Cluetrain Manifesto titled New Clues wherein Searls and Weinberger give us 121 New Clues.

Here are clues 28 through 32:

28. The Web is an impossibly large, semi-persistent realm of items discoverable in their dense inter-connections.

29. That sounds familiar. Oh, yeah, that's what the world is.

30. Unlike the real world, every thing and every connection on the Web was created by some one of us expressing an interest and an assumption about how those small pieces go together.

31. Every link by a person with something to say is an act of generosity and selflessness, bidding our readers leave our page to see how the world looks to someone else.

32. The Web remakes the world in our collective, emergent image.

In the ten years I worked at websites I was, in addition to my "regular" job, the privacy officer, although no one took my concerns seriously. Hardly anyone cared about privacy then (pre-2005) and not enough do now. Here, from New Clues, is the entire section on “Privacy in an age of spies” – the Marauders of which the men spoke in the introduction above:

84. Ok, government, you win. You've got our data. Now, what can we do to make sure you use it against Them and not against Us? In fact, can you tell the difference?

85. If we want our government to back off, the deal has to be that if — when — the next attack comes, we can't complain that they should have surveilled us harder.

86. A trade isn't fair trade if we don't know what we're giving up. Do you hear that, Security for Privacy trade-off?

87. With a probability approaching absolute certainty, we are going to be sorry we didn't do more to keep data out of the hands of our governments and corporate overlords.

I have written so much longer than I usually do because what Doc Searls and David Weinberger have created with New Clues call to action is critical to our future.

I cannot imagine life without the internet.

I cannot imagine being old without the internet.

I cannot imagine being without the friends I would never have known without the internet.

It would be so much harder to learn anything, to learn anything at all, without the internet as it is supposed to be, as it should be, as Searls and Weinberger are reminding us it can be.

Please go read all of New Clues for yourself. You will be enlightened and, I hope, inspired to post it or send it around widely. It is an open source document you are free to share and re-use without permission.

Here are the links you need:
New Clues

New Clues as a Listicle

New Clues About Page and Open Source Information

The Cluetrain Manifesto (1999)

Doc Searls' Blog

David Weinberger's Blog


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: Material Things


Old People's Sense of Time or

...lack thereof.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: As far as I know, the following has no basis in fact and may or may not be related to age (although I believe it is). It is no more than my observation of a personal quirk over – ahem, SOME period of time, the amount of which I cannot be certain.

For most of my life, when I used the word “recent” or “recently,” the target point in time was at least within hailing distance. I meant a few weeks at most or, depending on context, it might have been an entire year but unlikely to be more than that.

Nowadays there is no telling what I mean. A couple of weeks ago, in a telephone conversation with an old friend, I mentioned a restaurant where we'd had dinner on one of my “recent” trips to New York.

“Recent?” she said. “Ronni, that was in 2008.”

I did a quick calculation and came up with seven years. It didn't feel like that long ago or, at least, not what I think seven years should feel like.

Something similar happened just this Saturday. I ran across a reference to the animated film, Monsters, Inc., and was surprised to notice it was released in 2001. I know I saw it when it was first in theaters and if you had asked me when that was, I would have said, oh about 2008, maybe 2010.

I can give you dozens of such instances but the point is that some (unknown) while ago, my perception of time became more flexible than it had been in my past and maybe more than others experience.

Many years ago (I do know that it was decades ago because of a roll top desk I gave away to S in 1985 or '86), I taped to said desk a fortune cookie I'd received that resonated: “Time is nature's way of making sure everything doesn't happen at once.”

I like playing with that idea and in my more whimsical moments I have always sort of, kinda, maybe believed it. Yes, I realize that such a belief involves some philosophical acrobatics on the question of free will, but just go with me on this, okay?

That fortune cookie slip of paper left my home with the desk, but the “wisdom” has remained with me and it now feels related to the new-ish plasticity of my sense of time.

I'm capable lately (whatever that word means to me these days), of being shocked at how long ago 1990, for example, was. It “feels” like that year was relatively “recently” but it is actually, now, a quarter of a century ago.

And when you put it that way, I feel something like Rip Van Winkle must have. How could that much time have gone by since a year that contained some events I remember quite vividly?

So far, this time slippage works only in the direction I have described – that I am surprised at how many years have passed, not how few. I have yet to say, “That was only last year? I thought it was ten years ago.”

In the greater scheme of things this doesn't matter. I keep a calendar, as I always have, so I do show up on time although I occasionally wonder at how much more time than I realized there has been between visits or phone calls, even emails, with friends. But it doesn't impede my life.

Having zero information on which to base my thinking, I suspect this fluidity of time is related to growing old. Who knows? Maybe it is harder for the brain to parse time after X number of years of living.

There are those who will say it's just another way to look at the phenomenon of time seeming to move faster as we age. I certainly experience that but these little events feel different to me, a little more cosmic – more in line with that fortune cookie I saved for years.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Peter Tibbles: Why I'm Watching the Australian Open


ELDER MUSIC: The Impressions, Etc.

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.


The Impressions were usually thought of as a trio but at times the number in the group has gone as high as five or more. The trio version consisted of Curtis Mayfield, Sam Gooden and Fred Cash.

The group started out when old friends Curtis and Jerry Butler formed a DooWop group called The Roosters with Sam and Richard Brooks and his brother Arthur. When they got a record deal they changed their name to Jerry Butler and the Impressions thus, to my mind, signaling that Jerry wasn't really in it for the long haul.

And so it proved although, to be fair, the name was the record company's idea.

While still with the group, Jerry sang lead on Your Precious Love, a song he wrote. As mentioned, it was released under the name JERRY BUTLER & THE IMPRESSIONS in 1958.

Jerry Butler & TheImpressions

Some have suggested that this was the first soul record. Not too far off the mark.

Jerry Butler & the Impressions - ♫ For Your Precious Love

When Jerry left to become a solo artist, Curtis toured with him as guitarist and songwriter. He (Curtis) was lured back to The Impressions where he took over the reins as lead singer. He was also the guitarist, main songwriter and arranger as well.

He had a distinctive high tenor voice that complemented the deeper voices of Sam and Fred. Here they are, just as THE IMPRESSIONS with I'm the One Who Loves You.

Impressions

♫ Impressions - I'm the One Who Loves You

Okay, if you're even vaguely familiar with The Impressions, here's the song you've been waiting for.

Impressions

Their best known, and their best song by far, and one of the classic songs of our era, People Get Ready. Curtis sang lead and played guitar with Fred and Sam contributing beautifully to the mix. Even this grumpy old non-believer is inspired by this song.

♫ Impressions - People Get Ready

One of JERRY BUTLER's early hits as a solo performer was He Will Break Your Heart.

Jerry Butler

Jerry wrote the song with Curtis and Calvin Carter, and Curtis sang harmony  The song has been covered a number of times but no version is a patch on the original.

♫ Jerry Butler - He Will Break Your Heart

I've Been Loving You Too Long was written by Otis Redding and Jerry Butler.

Jerry Butler

Otis had the first version and (unarguably) the best. Jerry recorded it as well and his version is nearly, almost, just about as good as Otis's and coming from me, that's a huge call.

♫ Jerry Butler - I've Been Loving You Too Long

The famed songwriting team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff along with Jerry Butler wrote the song, Hey, Western Union Man.

Jerry Butler

This is a song that's been covered by a number of people and is one of the standard songs in any aspiring soul band's repertoire. Jerry does it best though.

♫ Jerry Butler - Hey, Western Union Man

Just after leaving The Impressions, CURTIS MAYFIELD recorded the album “Superfly,” a soundtrack for the film of that name.

Curtis Mayfield

It was very successful and extremely influential. It also prompted Curtis to create several more soundtrack albums. None was as good or as influential as the first one. Here is Superfly from the album and film of the same name.

♫ Curtis Mayfield - Superfly

We're A Winner was one of a succession of singles Curtis Mayfield wrote for The Impressions.

Curtis Mayfield

Here he performs that song.

♫ Curtis Mayfield - We're A Winner

In 1990, Curtis was paralyzed from the neck down when stage lights fell on him at a concert where he was performing. From then on he was unable to play guitar but he could still write songs. He could sing too, with some difficulty, and even recorded an album.

He eventually had to have his leg amputated and died in 1999 of various complications brought on by the accident.

A couple more songs with the Curtis, Sam and Fred version of The Impressions. First is I Need Your Love.

Impressions

♫ Impressions - I Need Your Love

Next, The Impressions with Love's A Comin'.

Impressions

♫ Impressions - Love's A Comin'


INTERESTING STUFF – 24 January 2015


GROWING OLD ALONE RESPONSE

There was a strong response to our Wednesday feature about growing old alone that used an interview with actor Jack Nicholson as a jumping off point. It caused a lot of interesting comments.

Herm is a long-time reader of Time Goes By. Although we rarely hear from him, this time he spoke up and I want to be sure you all get to read what he wrote:

”I watch NBA basketball. Just last week as I watched the LA Lakers, there was Jack in his reserved seat watching the game. I thought, 'This guy never misses a game. Doesn't he have a someone that's more interesting than the lousy Lakers?' Now, I have my answer.

“Forty-five years married and still have romance with her. Let the music play and keep dancing.”

MOST ANNOYING PEOPLE ON THE FLIGHT

The travel website Expedia recently published a survey ranking the most annoying kinds of airline passengers. Jimmy Kimmel asked actor Patrick Stewart to portray the top five.

It always cracks me up to see Stewart chewing the scenery. To me, he will always be the very reserved Captain Picard.


HALF OF ALL GLOBAL WEALTH SOON TO BE OWNED BY 1 PERCENT

As the world's elite meat at the annual World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland this past week, the British charity Oxfam released their latest research. Note that this is not U.S. wealth distribution; it is the world's:

”...the share of the world’s wealth owned by the best-off 1% has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014, while the least well-off 80% currently own just 5.5%.

“Oxfam added that on current trends the richest 1% would own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.”

U.S. and now world. We've been hearing this for years but nothing changes. What happens when it hits 60 percent or 70 percent or more? I doubt it is anything good. Here is a chart of just the 80 richest individuals compared to the poorest 50 percent of the world's people.

WealthofTop80


FANTASTIC CARD TRICK

This is so much fun from magician James Galea. You're going to love it. (Peter Tibbles: This was recorded at The 2009 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala.)


90 YEAR OLD TECH DESIGNER

From time to time I write here about how important it is for technology designers to employ elders. I've even given a couple of speeches about it because young people have no idea, no reason to know what kind of difficulties aging produces with eyesight, dexterity and other issues.

Hardly anyone pays attention to me but one Silicon Valley design company, IDEO, has 90-year-old Barbara Beskind on staff to help them out. In one instance, as explained in an NPR story,

”IDEO is working with a Japanese company on glasses to replace bifocals. With a simple hand gesture, the glasses will turn from the farsighted prescription to the nearsighted one.

Initially, the designers wanted to put small changeable batteries in the new glasses. Beskind pointed out to them that old fingers are not that nimble.”

Good for IDEO. You can read more at the NPR website or listen to the full interview:

NPR Interview with Barbara Beskind


SWEDISH KIDS CARTOON OF DANCING GENITALIA

I'll bet that headline made you wake up and pay attention. Swedish public service TV station, STV, produces a show called Bacillakuten, designed to teach the basics of biology to children age three through six.

As Atlantic magazine explained recently:

”The show’s episodes are based on questions about the body that children send in...For instance, one of the questions they received, Holmström said, was 'Why do you lose your pee?'”

As so, a two-minute cartoon of Willie and Twinkle – penis and vagina characters – were produced to a catchy tune explaining how they work. Part of the Swedish lyric is translated

"Here comes the penis at full pace" and "the vagina is cool, you better believe it, even on an old lady. It just sits there so elegantly.”

At first, YouTube labeled the video “adult” but protests set them straight. See what you think:

You can read more here and here.


ALL THE PRESIDENT'S FOOD

Ever since the internet took off, the news media has complained that they can't make a buck anymore. Newspapers and magazine have cut their reporter staffs to the bone.

Then this comes along - a couple of Time magazine reporters who have found time to put together a list of every meal – every, single meal - President Barack Obama has eaten outside the White House since inauguration day in 2009.

For each meal, the story includes the date(s) Obama ate there, location, number of Yelp! stars, links to the web pages of each restaurant and photos of the food. Do you have any idea how much time it takes to put such a feature together for this many meals? And for what bloody purpose?

Obama restaurants

After this, Time magazine can never again legitimately complain of staff costs. If you really must waste your time, you can see the feature here.


COP GROOVIN' TO HIS SOUNDS

When doctafil sent this video, it hadn't gone viral yet. Now it's all over the internet.

Too often, police dashcams show us cops behaving badly. This one is just a guy have have a good time on his rounds to the tune of Shake It Off by Taylor Swift.


LET'S TRY THE BUS-RIDING DOG AGAIN

Last week when I tried to show you the bus-riding dog, the video had been taken down. It's up again so let's see if works. It's a terrific dog story.


JUST IN CASE THAT VIDEO DOESN'T WORK

Or, if it does work, consider this a bonus cute animal video. From Darlene, baby red pandas in the snow. (It's still winter in the northern hemisphere, you know.)


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 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 include the name of the blog and its URL.


A New Late Night Star For Us

Larry Wilmore's Comedy Central program, The Nightly Show, premiered this week in Stephen Colbert's old time slot following The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

On Tuesday, all the reviews were laudatory and I agree. Strongly. We have a new late night star who will, I predict, become as beloved as Colbert.

Before I tell you more, I must first take to task The New York Times reviewer, Alessandra Stanley, for her nasty little aside about Wilmore's age:

”“Mr. Wilmore, 53, isn’t young,” she wrote, “but he has dimples and a disarming way of laughing at his own jokes and those of others.”

Isn't young, BUT??? You are free to disagree but I don't see the difference between that and "isn't white, but."

Moving on.

Each Nightly Show is built around a single theme that, during this first week, were taken from the news. Monday night was the state of black protest in the U.S.; Tuesday was the Bill Cosby sexual revelations; Wednesday, Obama and the State of the Union address; and Thursday, Cuba.

The opening segment of each show is, essentially, an extended monologue reporting on the night's topic. Here is Wilmore in his first outing:

It was a little ragged there in the beginning but as the minutes went by, Wilmore got better and better and if you stuck around for the rest of week you probably put The Nightly Show on your “must watch” list. I did.

In the second segment, Wilmore introduces the show's panel – four guests discussing the night's topic. The star guest of the first show was New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. The second night an acquaintance of mine, Baratunde Thurston, was there. And on Wednesday, a comedian I like but had seen only a couple of times, Godfrey. I hope he will be back regularly.

The jokes fly with the panel, but it is serious too and unlike the hosts on a certain liberal cable news channel, Wilmore keeps the conversation going without either monopolizing it or allowing the guests to all talk at once.

The guests remain for the third segment titled, “Keeping It 100.” If, like me, you are way too white to know what that means, I checked one of the online urban dictionaries for us:

”...to keep yourself real and true, to be honest and stick to the way you are, no matter what anyone else thinks.”

In this part of the show, Wilmore has a single prepared question for each of the four guests about the night's topic. Take a look. This is the Keeping It 100 segment from Wednesday's program about President Obama.

Make no mistake - this is a black show with more of a straight ahead, black sensibility than we have seen in mainstream media and, I think, more than any interview program we've seen before, the black guests aren't tokens to fill the politically correct diversity requirement.

In fact, after the first two shows where, each night, there were three black guests and one white, I thought maybe that was going to be an unspoken, running joke – the token white. But on Wednesday (see above) there were two black and two white guests and anyway, Wilmore is too good at his job for such a simplistic joke.

For fans, it was painful to lose Stephen Colbert but Comedy Central, executive producer Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore have a winner.

It's timely, it's smart and it's painfully funny – a righteous replacement for a beloved program that will become as important a commentary on the state of American politics and culture as Colbert was.

Just because I can't resist, here is Larry Wilmore's monologue on President Obama the night after the State of the Union address. (I am so sorry if readers in other countries can't see these videos; they are so worth your time.)

There are full shows and other clips at The Nightly Show at Comedy Central.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Wendl Kornfeld: By Any Other Name


A Dog's Tale of Aging Well

An American friend, Jim Stone, who is wintering in New Zealand where it is summer, emailed urging me to read a story he had found with some good advice from our dogs about how to deal with old age.

Before the writer, David Dudley, gets to his personal story, he tells us that science is finding human and canine life to be more intertwined that you (well, me, anyway) might suspect even at the microscopic level:

”Human and canine genes, shaped by the environment we share, are evolving in lockstep. Today, along with home security and leftover disposal, dogs confer a host of wellness benefits, especially to kids and older people.

“People with dogs sleep better, weigh less and get more exercise than dog-free peers. And there are the less tangible perks, the ones cataloged in Marley & Me–style books.

“This burgeoning 'dogoir' literary genre revolves around the reductive but basically correct idea that a dog is foremost an instrument of personal growth: It exists to ease your existential anxieties, impart lessons about love and friendship, and teach you how to be a better person.”

[I don't disagree at all but I believe similar benefits result from human/feline relationships; they just occur on a different kind of psychological plane. But that's for another day.]

The research, Dudley tells us, shows that dogs and humans age in similar ways, including age-related dementia:

”...dogs' plaques look a lot like those in humans — more so than the ones found in our fellow primates. [Neuroscientist Elizabeth] Head is not sure why. 'It could be that living in our environment — our food, our water, our homes — has made dogs more vulnerable,' she says.

“Age-related dementia, in other words, might be 'a feature of the domestication process,' she says, a kind of unintended side effect of civilization.”

For 18 years Mr. Dudley and Foghat shared their lives – the walks, the games, marriage when it arrived and the two children who followed.

”...he entered his dotage in roaring good health...”, writes Dudley. “He was what gerontologists would call a successful ager.

“And then, seemingly overnight, he wasn't...He started limping after a vigorous bouncing-a-soccer-ball-off-his-nose session. Then he needed help climbing into the car or crawling under the bed, his favorite sleeping spot.

“Our epic rambles through the woods became short hikes, then brief spins around the block. Sometimes he'd stop midwalk, frozen like a Parkinson's sufferer. The stairs grew perilous.

“He became a wandering insomniac, barking at ghosts, claws clacking aimlessly through the darkened house. He'd vanished into the shadowlands of canine cognitive dysfunction, and he would not be coming out.”

The last weeks or months of Foghat's life were, for Mr. Dudley,

”...a glimpse into the future. Foghat's senescence appeared as both a comfort and a warning of what awaits: Some fears and eccentricities will lift with the years; others will only deepen. “One by one, the things you love to do become too difficult and slip out of your life. But despite it all, you will still be you, and people will still cherish your wobbly presence. Even a diminished life is worth living on its own terms.”

In due course, however, the terrible day arrived when it was time for the final trip to the veterinarian.

I tell you all this not only because it is a beautiful story of a man and his dog, but because I want to be sure you read his final paragraphs:

”And now that I'm no longer young, and he's dead, I'll do my best to follow the path Foghat blazed into my life's last half. This is sound medical advice, as neuroscientist Head says: 'Everything you do for a dog to help them age well, you should do with them.'

“So eat the best food you can afford. Go for a walk, even if it's raining. Take a lot of naps. Keep your teeth clean and your breath fresh, so that the people you lick will not flinch.

“And when someone you love walks in through the door, even if it happens five times a day, go totally insane with joy.”

I think it will make your day to go read David Dudley's remarkably graceful story at the AARP website. Then give your dog or cat a big hug.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: At Sea with Rock Hudson and a Drunk Stowaway


Growing Old Alone

A week ago, TGB reader Yvonne Cunningham emailed a link about 77-year-old actor (and lifelong lothario), Jack Nicholson. Britain's National Post reports that he

”...admitted to being lonely as he faces dying with nobody by his side.

“In an interview with an American magazine, Nicholson, 77, spoke about how his hell-raising and philandering had left him without someone to take care of him in his old age.”

The magazine in question, Closer, makes the full interview available only to subscribers so I am relying on secondary reports and don't know if the quotations are accurate.

Another report of the interview at Britain's Telegraph provides additional quotations. Among them:

"I would love that one last romance but I'm not very realistic about it happening. What I can't deny is my yearning.

Aside from the fact that having a partner is no guarantee you won't die alone, I think Nicholson speaks for many old people. And it doesn't matter whether chronic philandering or death of a spouse gets you to a solitary old age; either way, Nicholson's is a poignant longing.

Recently, a reader named Anne used the phrase “dark side of ageing” and Nicholson is lamenting one of those sides that is painful and difficult for large numbers of elders.

For all kinds of demographic and individual reasons I agree with the actor that finding a romantic companion late in life is unlikely – not impossible, but unlikely. Even the searching for one is problematic as he notes, according to the National Post:

"I can't hit on women in public anymore. I didn't decide this; it just doesn't feel right at my age.”

Not to mention, as the Telegraph has it, that maybe it is not worth the effort in old age:

”Now Nicholson concedes his days of dating are over, and he prefers to stay in and watch a film. 'I got tired of arguing with women about going to dinner,' he said. 'The food is better at my house.'”

Without the full interview and also recalling that in the rare interviews Nicholson has given over the years, he doesn't always take them seriously enough for us to trust what he says as straightforward, these quotes are still useful to provoke our own thoughts on one of the predicaments of growing old.

Undoubtedly, a lot depends on whether there are family and friends but even then, as we have discussed in these pages, that changes over time. One of the ironies of living a long life is outliving many of the people we love.

Even among those of us who prefer to live alone, few are hermits. Humans of all ages seek companionship of various kinds and frequency, and the opportunities for that diminish with age.

But it is a bit of a surprise to read that a celebrated actor who seems, from the outside, to have lived a charmed life admits to one of the same dilemmas as other old people. I wonder how many of us, if we are as honest, also wish for “that one last romance?”


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: Did the Swallows Return to Capistrano?


Old Mean Girls

Did you see the Op-Ed in The New York Times on Sunday about the old mean girls in the retirement community freezing out the 97-year-old newcomer?

Before we go any further with that thought, let us acknowledge the ageist language of the writer (granddaughter to the 97-year-old) so we can get to the ostensible topic – hard to find among the excessive extraneous material.

She was barely into her story when she recounted this phone conversation with her Nanna:

“'Have you made any friends?' I asked, in the same chipper tone I used when my younger child returned from her first day at kindergarten.”

If I were her Nanna, I would have slammed down the phone but for this Nanna on this particular day, a granddaughter's obtuse tone of voice took a back seat to a larger problem of her daily life and we finally arrive at the issue:

“'They won’t let me sit at their table!' Nanna cried.

“'Wait, what? Who won’t let you sit at their table?'”

“'You try to sit and they say, “That seat is taken!”...

"'And just try to get into a bridge game,' Nanna continued. 'They’ll talk about bridge, and you’ll say, Oh, I play, and they’ll tell you, ‘Sorry, we’re not looking for anyone.’”

There follows then, in the essay, more unnecessary reference of the writer's personal life and a vague something about eyebrows.

Eventually, she tells us about a study or two confirming that mean girls don't improve with age.

Although the writer is surprised at this discovery, I doubt it is news to anyone who reads this blog; we're old enough to have seen it again and again. Just last fall I was the butt of a vicious mean girl attack that caused me to resign from a volunteer group.

I mean, whew! It was nasty, published on the web for anyone to read and although the old mean girl who wrote it didn't mention my name, anyone associated with the group knows who was being savaged.

It's not the first time grownups who never outgrew adolescence have tried to lacerate me and/or friends through the years and, sad to say, it won't be the last. I have not the least doubt that those who were mean girls in school carry it with them to the grave always needing to shore up their self esteem at the expense of others.

I wish this essay were better written but if you work your way through the detritus, you finally arrive at the point:

”What transforms with age are the criteria for judgment: not looks, not wealth, not the once-coveted ability to drive at night. When you get to be Nanna’s age, you’re reduced to a number — the younger the better.

“Even in a residence for the elderly, the 80-somethings will still be cold to the 95-year-olds. Now 99, my Nanna is completely cognizant of what’s going on. Her memory, both short- and long-term, is excellent.

“But once her new neighbors heard her age, they knew they didn’t want her at their table.”

The writer is on to something important about the cliques of old age. With some people it never ends, this obsession with youth – even relative youth.

You have to ask yourself what these old women at the elder community think they gain by isolating someone a decade or so older and when you answer that, you know how stupid ageist behavior is at any age – and you know, too, that unfortunately wisdom does not automatically accompany growing old.

Everything else in life – everything - is more interesting and more worthy of attention than the appearance or signs of age.

Age is not a competition. It is not something you can pass or fail.

Are you really going to quibble about what year in life anyone can “officially” be called old? Or about being younger or older than the person next to you?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: The Skin on My Face is Growing Downward


Thank You and Favorite Websites Follow Up

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Due to a glitch at the company that hosts my blogs, yesterday's Elder Music post was not published until several hours after its usual early morning time and as far as I can determine, the email and rss feeds to subscribers were not sent out.

That post, about music of the year 1968, is a pivotal year in the youth of many who read TGB so if you missed it, you might want to take a look today.


Good morning, TGB readers. I feel like I just woke up from a coma. Well, not today, but I did kind of feel that way on Saturday.

First, thank you all – so many of you – for your kind good wishes for a speedy recovery following my surprise dental surgery last Thursday. Carol S. Rowland made me laugh when, after explaining that like me she is no longer good with surprises, signed herself, Once known as “calm Carol.”

And Faith probably didn't know when she wrote it but her comment pretty well says it for me too.

”Dental repair and car repair and computer glitches are the worst.”

With the amount of anesthesia in my jaw, the extraction wasn't painful. It took only about 30 minutes to get the tooth out, insert the bone graft and sew me up. But even though it happened in the morning, I was so exhausted when I got home I went directly to bed.

Over the years, I have needed to remind myself (and bore friends) that even minor surgery requires extra rest. Here's why: although it's nice and neat and clean when surgeons cut us open, our bodies don't know the difference between that kind of assault and a mugger who would stab us with a rusty ice pick.

So either way, it's no time to be a hero and try to carry on - moreso in our age group because as we grow older, our bodies are not as efficient as when we were younger and we need more time to recover whether from, for example, overdoing exercise or travel or dental surgery.

Thursday I had no choice; I couldn't have stayed awake if I'd tried and so it remained throughout Friday too. I woke now and then and tried to read or watch television but kept falling back asleep.

By Saturday I was feeling better and by Sunday I was back to normal. Well, except for losing four pounds.

But that's a good thing. After maintaining my 40-pound weight loss last year, I had gained seven or eight pounds from overindulgence during the past three months so this is a good kickstart to re-losing them – not that I recommend tooth extraction as a diet aid.

On Wednesday last week I asked readers to share one of their favorite websites and what a good bunch of links you left – well, not everyone was successful with making proper links but that's okay.

There are politics, music, science, house renovation, literary, health and whole lot more.

I found several that will take some more of my time now but my favorite of the day is from Pamela (LadyLuz) – a U.S. physician who calls his blog, Dr. Grumpy in the House. As he explains himself:

”Welcome to my whining! This blog is entirely for entertainment purposes. All posts about patients may be fictional, or be my experience, or were submitted by a reader, or any combination of the above. Factual statements may or may not be accurate.”

Crabby Old Lady likes his attitude and wishes Dr. Grumpy were her physician.

Let me know if you enjoyed the favorite websites experiment. If enough of you do, we'll try again one day and I'll make linking easier for you. You'll find all the favorites in the comments here.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: How Many Houses Should a Rich Man Own


ELDER MUSIC: 1968 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 1968?

  • Kylie Minogue was born
  • 60 Minutes made its debut
  • Olympic Games held in Mexico
  • Led Zeppelin performed for the first time
  • Revolution was in the air. It mostly didn't happen
  • Bullitt was released
  • Carlton were premiers

I'll start with Ellen Cohen, or as she was better known, Cass Elliott, or even better still known, MAMA CASS.

Mama Cass

The song Dream a Little Dream of Me came from the early thirties and was first recorded by Ozzie Nelson, father of Ricky. Cass recorded it for a Mamas and Papas album but the group pretty much had ceased to be by then and the record company released under her name alone.

♫ Mama Cass - Dream a Little Dream of Me

THE DOORS' third album, "Waiting for the Sun," is often dismissed as not being worthy of the group.

The Doors

I think it holds up pretty well, far better than "Strange Days" that the critics seem to love. I think the problem was that they produced music that people wanted to hear. Goodness me, we can't have that sort of thing.

From that album comes the song, Hello, I Love You.

♫ The Doors - Hello, I Love You

PERCY SLEDGE hit the big time when he recorded When a Man Loves a Woman, one of the best songs of the sixties.

Percy Sledge

That was a couple of years earlier and he was still on a roll this year with Take Time to Know Her.

♫ Percy Sledge - Take Time to Know Her

Not all the music from this year was destined to become classics. That could be said about every year, I suppose, and one from 1968 that has mostly been forgotten except by idiots like me was recorded by LEAPY LEE.

Leapy Lee

The Leapster was born Graham Pulleybank but later changed his name to Lee Graham. After his brush with fame with the song, Little Arrows, he went to Spain to live.

♫ Leapy Lee - Little Arrows

CLARENCE CARTER was from Alabama and he attended the school for the blind there. He later earned a degree in music.

Clarence Carter

He began his professional career with Calvin Scott as the duo Clarence and Calvin until Calvin was seriously injured in a car accident. They had already recorded a couple of songs and Clarence carried on alone. One of his fine singles is Slip Away.

♫ Clarence Carter - Slip Away

MANFRED MANN was the first group to record Bob Dylan's Mighty Quinn, even before Bob did. The song is also called Quinn the Eskimo. It's a matter of take your pick.

Manfred Mann

This is Mike d'Abo singing. He took over from Paul Jones who was their original singer (and a really good one too).

♫ Manfred Mann - Mighty Quinn

JUDY COLLINS and Tom Rush were the first people to record Joni Mitchell's songs.

Judy Collins

The song Both Sides Now came from Judy's "Wildflowers" album, the first of hers where she broke out of the folksinger category to which she'd hitherto been assigned.

♫ Judy Collins - Both Sides Now

Here is Sylvester Stewart with other members of his family and some others as well, collectively known as SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE.

Sly & the Family Stone

The song Dance to the Music was written by Sly and it was the group's first chart success. In spite of that, none of the group liked the song, calling it "glorified Motown.”

♫ Sly And The Family Stone - Dance To The Music

I don't think I've heard this track since 1968. My memory really let me down – I don't remember all that brass and other instruments on it. Just goes to show.

MASON WILLIAMS wrote this tune to keep up his sleeve in case he ever needed a filler in concert or elsewhere.

Mason Williams

Classical Gas was first featured on "The Smothers Brothers Show," where Mason was the head writer. Mason wanted a simple arrangement but the record producer insisted on the full orchestra. He should have listened to Mason.

♫ Mason Williams - Classical Gas

1968 was the year that THE BAND came out from the shadow of Bob Dylan and recorded an album that turned rock music on its head. That album was "Music From Big Pink.”

The Band

After hearing it, Eric Clapton disbanded Cream and flew to America to see if he could join the group. Although they didn't say it to him, they already had a better guitarist. One of the songs from the album and one of the finest in rock history is The Weight.

♫ The Band - The Weight

You can find more music from 1968 here. 1969 will appear in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF – 17 JANUARY 2015


POLICE OFFICER WHO KILLED 95-YEAR-OLD STANDS TRIAL

TGB Reader Cathy Johnson alerted me to this story of John Wrana, a 95-year-old World War II veteran who died at the hands of a police officer in a suburb of Chicago.

John Kass in the Chicago Tribune has details:

”Forest Park police Officer Craig Taylor, charged with felony reckless conduct, fired five beanbag rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun at close range at a frightened and angry old man who was waving a knife. The rounds ripped the 95-year-old World War II veteran's insides apart.”

The trial of officer Taylor began this week. Here is a video from a few months ago with more information.


OLD WOMEN JUST LIKE TO HAVE FUN

This is so silly. And so funny. And the the guys don't seem to mind that the joke's on them. (Sorry about the awful commercial at the end. Just shut it down.)


WHY DRUGS ARE SO EXPENSIVE

A couple of days ago, a physician who is also director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center published an Op-Ed in The New York Times about outrageously high prescription drug prices that just keep rising.

”For instance,” explains Dr. Peter B. Bach, “albendazole, a drug for certain kinds of parasitic infection, was approved back in 1996. As recently as 2010, its average wholesale cost was $5.92 per day. By 2013, it had risen to $119.58...

“In 2001 Novartis charged $4,540, in 2014 dollars, for a month of [the leukemia drug Gleevec] treatment; now it charges $8,488.”

As you may know, Medicare is not allowed to negotiate prices with drug companies. That and other regulations contribute to high prices. Berg again:

”Companies are taking advantage of a mix of laws that force insurers to include essentially all expensive drugs in their policies and a philosophy that demands that every new health care product be available to everyone, no matter how little it helps or how much it costs. Anything else and we’re talking death panels.”

Berg looks to Europe for one suggestion that could reduce prices:

”Many European countries say no to a handful of drugs each year, usually those that are both pretty ineffective and highly costly. Because they can say no, yes is not a guarantee. So companies have to offer their drugs at prices that make them attractive to these health care systems...”

In so many areas of life, especially those that fall into common sense categories, the United States is too often behind other developed countries. Go read Dr. Bach's entire Op-Ed. It is fascinating and enlightening.


HOW WOLVES CHANGE RIVERS

There is so much bad news about the environment, frightening news actually, that this video is a little bit of hope. It's amazing.

If you are interested in more information like this check the YouTube page. There is a book and at least one other film, How Whales Change Change Climate.


HOUSE OF CARDS SEASON 3 TRAILER

If you are as much a fan of Netflix original drama House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey, the wait for Season 3 is almost over.

As before, all episodes are expected to arrive at once on 27 February. Meanwhile, here is the newly released trailer to whet your appetite.


RIDE THE SKY

I was awake in high school science classes and I perfectly well know, even though it appears that stars move across the sky, it is actually the earth that does the moving relative to the stars. Still, it's easy to forget but this beautiful little film set me straight again.

If you are interested in how the filmmaker Lance Page did this, you can find out more on the Gajitz page.


2014 TOP VIEWED WIKIPEDIA PAGES

From the department of useless information comes this calendar showing which Wikipedia pages got the largest number of views each day during 2014. Here's a screen grab:

Wikipedia2014mostviewed

As explained at the Quartz page where the calendar lives:

”Many of the top results follow big news events. The World Cup dominates most of June. Crimea takes the top spot in early March, soon after pro-Russian forces began taking control of the peninsula from Ukraine.

“The pages for well-loved celebrities spike after their namesakes die—Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman were viewed millions of times after their early deaths.”

Darker colors mean higher page views. You can click on any day for a pop-up with more information. Try it here.


SEEING PINK ELEPHANTS

My friend John Brandt sent this. I laughed as much as you will but as always with such stunts, I wonder who has the time in life not only to think them up but to follow through and make them happen.


A DOG'S DAILY COMMUTE

Her name is Eclipse and she commutes by bus on her own to get to the dog park and even knows where to get off.


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 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 include the name of the blog and its URL.


Your Perception of Aging Affects Your Health

The more comfortable you are with growing old, the better your health is likely to be. But it's not easy in the United States and many other western countries to resist the incessant drumbeat for the primacy of youth including such real daily headlines as this: The Secret to Staying Young and Being Happy.

Wrong as the “staying young” phrase is, it's that “being happy” part at the end that enrages me. According to the shaming aging merchants, it is not possible to be both old and happy.

The evidence that internalizing belief in such ageist rubbish will cut years off your life has been growing as I've reported here when new studies emerge.

Last week, Sharon Horesh Bergquist, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and a primary care physician at The Emory Clinic, wrote a good overview of the evidence titled 5 Powerful Benefits of “Pro-Aging” Thinking at cnn.com. A couple of excerpts:

”Being 'pro-aging,' or satisfied with your own aging, can make you adopt healthier behaviors, feel in control of how you age and even heighten your immune system. Being 'anti-aging,' or perceiving aging negatively, can do the opposite.”

Dr. Bergquist starts off with some results researchers at Yale and Harvard found in the now well-known Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement:

”They measured how self-perception of aging impacted survival over the course of 22.6 years. They found that participants who held a more positive attitude about their own aging - such as continuing to feel useful and happy - lived, on average, 7.5 years longer.”

Bergquist cites another important longitudinal study shows about how a positive attitude toward aging can boost memory in old people.

“According to The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, the longest-running study of memory and aging, expecting memory decline can actually contribute to memory loss over time.

“Over a 38-year period, participants 60 years of age and older who held more negative stereotypes of cognitive aging had a 30.2% greater decline in memory performance than those who held less negative stereotypes about memory and aging.”

Even a physician as enlightened as this one has her lapses as when she writes that “Looking and feeling young as you age begins with believing you can look and feel young as you age.”

If you have been around the blog for awhile, you know that I reject references to looking or feeling “young” because there is nothing wrong – or should not be - with being old.

When people like Dr. Bergquist fall in to that feeling-young-when-old trap, what they really mean wellbeing in old age and as she otherwise points one, one of the best ways to make that so is to believe there is nothing wrong with being old.

”That isn't always easy,” she writes. “Western cultural and religious roots of ageism are deeply entrenched in the Protestant work ethic and the American Dream, both of which value youth by defining personal worth in terms of active engagement in work...

“Start determining your aging prophecy today by celebrating and embracing each year, both for the triumphs and the hardships that it may bring.”

Dr. Bergquist's is the best synopsis of the research associated with healthy attitudes toward aging I've seen lately. You should read the whole thing – it's not long.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: A Sea Cruise with Few Amenities but Plenty of Personality


Handling Surprises in Old Age

Of the various jobs I had during my working years, many included being a fireman – okay, firewoman - that is, fixing problems as they arose with the need, usually, to do it faster rather than slower.

If, for example, you are talking about live television (I am), surprises are rarely a good thing but I liked managing them in real time so that however chaotic the studio became when something went wrong, you watching at home never knew.

Surprises come in two flavors, good and bad, but aside from the awful kind that might be life threatening, it is my experience that both are fruitful in the sense that the good ones are enjoyable and the bad ones often turn out to be compelling or funny stories on which you can dine out for years to come.

Either way – the surprises I relished and those other ones life burdened me with – I took care of them as required and moved on. Until recently.

On Tuesday, at a scheduled dental appointment that was meant to be a routine checkup of developments following major surgery three months ago, the doctor hit me with the need to extract a tooth that is infected and to do it now.

So while you are reading this post today (written on Wednesday), that's what I'm doing. Oh joy.

Some of you may recall that last summer I told you about beginning, then, the two-year process of getting my mouth in good working order. I have always had terrible teeth but this new extraction was not part of the original plan and here is what has happened:

As easily as I dealt with surprises – personal and professional – in my middle years, I seem not to do it as well now at age 73. It's not like I had anything special planned for today but I resented the incursion onto my empty calendar page with so little notice.

In addition, my mind has been distracted. I became impatient with Olliecat. I wasn't able to follow the plot on a television drama Tuesday evening nor read a book I've been enjoying.

And at this moment, I'm damned close to smashing into smithereens this aging laptop that needs a lot of coddling I otherwise barely notice.

I know these frustrations are related to the dental surprise because it has been happening now and then in recent years. Even a minor change in plans can sometimes set me off, ruin the simplest levels of concentration making the idea, for example, of washing a sink full of dishes seem too difficult to tackle at that moment.

Not always do these things happen after a surprise, maybe not even frequently, but it is often enough to make me wonder what's going on; this is not the me I've known during most of my life.

Relatedly, as a younger woman, I was much more likely to accept a last-minute invitation to dinner with friends. Nowadays, I might agree but I prefer a few days' lead time for some reason.

Several years ago, researchers first discovered that elders have more trouble ignoring distractions than younger people.

And where teenagers, for example, can shift among listening to music, watching videos and texting friends all while studying too (how well is another question), old people take longer to get back to the task at hand after an interruption.

Knowing that has led me to wonder if my discombobulation following surprises is related to the known distraction/lost focus effect in elders.

It might not surprise you to know that I am too distracted today (again, Wednesday) to see what I can find online that might answer my question. But I doubt there is much and anyway, I am more interested in knowing if any of this sounds familiar to you, dear readers.

How do you react to surprises these days? Is it different from when you were younger? Are you more easily distracted nowadays?

[Please keep in mind that this is a conversational, not medical, question involving personal experience.]


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Norm Jenson: Is That You, Dahle?


Your Favorite Website

In yesterday's TGB story, several people posted links to websites that were only tangentially related to that post. I don't catch them all, but I generally police links left in comments with a heavy hand and I do it for two good reasons.

FIRST: Self preservation. Going way back to the 1980s and my earliest days online, more than one great forum I participated in was ruined and then killed by off-topic entries. And I'm not even talking about trolls. Just people with good intentions but who so cluttered the landscape with digressive information and links, the thread became impossible to follow.

Gradually, those of us trying to track the topic gave up and those excellent forums (I still miss them) dissolved. I cannot let that happen to TGB; I like you all too much.

One of the comments I deleted yesterday gave me the idea for today's post. Hilary wrote:

”Hope it's not too off-topic, but did you know you can read daily entries from the Diaries of Samuel Pepys (www.pepysdiary.com). Today's entry is for 12 Jan 1661/1662. I read him every day, together with your blog Ronni!”

Well, you guessed right, Hilary – it is too off-topic although I like knowing about me and Pepys together on your morning schedule.

Even so, that didn't keep me from deleting the comment. Yes, my post (Dear Diary) and Pepys (famous diaries) seem to be related topics but from my 1980s experience, I knew the link was permission for everyone else to leave links to all kinds of other places (like bunny rabbits, one link always breeds more) and before long, there would be no discernible thread left.

That brings me to today.

Pretty much by definition, everyone who hangs out here is a web maven. That we have Time Goes By in common means that we probably share other online interests but we undoubtedly diverge from one another too - widely, I would guess.

So today, everyone who wants to gets to leave a link to one of their favorite websites for the rest of us to know about.

You may share only one and it can be about anything at all. It can be related to aging or not, practical or silly, funny or serious, obvious or obscure, highbrow, lowbrow, fiction, news, research, politics, educational, arts, crafts, music, movies, TV, books, web video only. Even cute kitties.

Just please, no commercial or retail sites (certainly not your own; no advertising allowed) – unless it is the best bargain in the known universe.

Give us a sentence or two about why you like it and the link. And THAT – link – brings me to my second reason (see paragraphs one and two above) I delete unrelated links in comments.

SECOND: No naked links. Take another look at Hilary's link to Pepys diaries. It's naked – just a scratchy ol' web address hanging out in the open when it should be a live link.

Besides being ugly and useless, it clutters up the place - like leaving your towel crumpled on the bathroom floor. So today, I am going to show you how to properly dress a link so that it looks nice and functions properly. Don't get nervous – this is easy. Here goes:

The website I am sharing today is Credit Karma. You may have seen television commercials telling you it provides free credit scores, credit reports and a monitoring service and that is exactly what it is: free and useful.

I've been signed up almost since it began in 2008. I get one monthly email with a link to the latest reports (or I can stop by any time) and as far as I can tell, they haven't sold my email address.

That's my contribution; now the lesson. Notice how the words, Credit Karma, are themselves the link to that website. Here is how I did it:

The website I am sharing today is <a href=”http://www.creditkarma.com/”>Credit Karma</a> You may...

When you use that HTML code around the name of a website, including the web address), it becomes a live link when viewed in a browser.

You can use the same code, even copy it right from my example to insert into your comment. Just substitute the name of the website in place of Credit Karma and, of course, replace the URL (http:// etc.) too.

You can copy the website URL you need from the address bar in your browser when you are at that site. Make sure you are on the home page or the page you want us to see when we land there.

Watch carefully the carets, equal sign, quotation marks and that there are no extra spaces within the code.

That's it. It keeps the comments tidy and makes it easier for others to read.

Now it's your turn to share one favorite website with the rest of us. I know it may be hard to stick to just one but let's go with that anyway. If we like how this turns out, we can do it every couple of months or so.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Doing Doggerels


Dear Diary: 13 January 2015

About three years ago, a remarkable book was published: New York Diaries 1609 – 2009 edited by Teresa Carpenter. It is what the title says it is, excerpts from the diaries of some New Yorkers and visitors to that city over 400 years arranged chronologically, day by day.

The most useful review of the book, by Maria Popova of the Brain Pickings blog, published in The Atlantic, expresses my thoughts about it more eloquently than I can:

New York Diaries is an absolute masterpiece blending a curator's discernment, an archivist's obsessive rigor, a writer's love of writing, and a New Yorker's love of New York—the ultimate celebration of the city's tender complexity and beautiful chaos.”

I wish I'd said that – particularly the part about New York City itself.

A few days before this new year, I pulled New York Diaries off my shelf and realized, while enjoying a browse, how pleasurable it would be to read the book all through 2015 – each day in its time.

For example, from today's date, 13 January, there are three entries. One, in 1790, is taken from then-President George Washington's diary recording his decision that day to receive an upcoming address from the House of Representatives in his home in New York rather than in a federal building.

Think of that: now we know what was important to the first U.S. president on this date exactly 225 years ago. If you get a kick out of things like that, this is a book for you.

But all that is only preamble - the event that led me to this post today.

When I subtitled this blog, “What it's really like to get old,” I didn't (and don't) mean that I have the answers. My intention, since hardly any media of any kind is honest about growing old (unfortunately still true), I would investigate and share what I learn with readers.

That's worked out pretty well. I know a whole lot more about this ageing stuff than did when I began the blog more than 10 years ago and the surprise I didn't anticipate back then is that one of the biggest sources of new or additional knowledge is you, readers who share your experiences.

Perusing New York Diaries a couple of weeks ago suggested to me that there could be a new, more personal aspect to this blog: occasional diary, or journal entries.

From the earliest days of developing Time Goes By for its premiere, I realized that one source of good ideas for blog stories would come from the monitoring I have always done of myself – keeping an eye on the physical, cognitive, emotional, belief and other personal changes that take place through the passage of time.

An obvious example, if I am having trouble remembering peoples' names, I could track down the best literature on the subject and report what I have found for readers who are having the same kind difficulty themselves, recognize it happening in others they care for or to tuck away the information for future need.

I knew this would work because the one discovery about life I have made entirely on my own is that I am not unique. If I am experiencing it – whatever “it” may be – so are thousands, even millions of other people.

It is a useful thing to report good information about ageing but what I have hardly ever done is write about how all that relates to the sense I have of my own ageing. Maybe there is something value for readers in doing that. Or maybe not.

Although I have never kept a diary, one of the reasons to do so, beyond recording events of note, is to work out one's own thinking - which is what I have in mind.

So consider this the first entry of an experiment, an occasional “Dear Diary” which in today's case is, in part, what I might have written to myself about deciding to try this. In future, let's hope it won't be so lengthy.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Trudi Kappel: The Inspection


People Who Vote Against Their Own Interests

Last week, in the comments following my story about anticipated Congressional attempts to limit Social Security, many readers wrote, some in anger, about elders who vote against their own best interests.

I know exactly how they feel. Actually, I am equally enraged and puzzled by these people. It is one thing to harm yourself. It is quite another to pass on that harm to others, loved ones included.

When a person votes for a politician who has promised to cut, eliminate or privatize Social Security, Medicare, SNAP, etc., he or she is voting to impoverish their children's and grandchildren's old age (and/or disability) in addition to their own.

And yet, I've never met a grandparent who wouldn't give their life, if necessary, for their progeny.

Rather than just stew about this perplexity, I took a tour of the web to see what reasons I could find. In no way is what follows meant to be real research or anything definitive - it is just some explanations I found to be worth thinking about.

The answers (if that's what they are) are many and in every place I looked, the serious ones are complicated. The quotations below are lengthy but please be patient enough to read them. There are clues in them.

Many people who wonder about this paradox believe racism plays a role. Gary Younge, writing in The Guardian in 2012, takes on that reasoning:

”...most of these explanations regarding deeply held religious beliefs, class aspiration and political philosophy are no less of non whites than whites. Blacks and Latinos are both poorer and more religious than the nation at large and vote overwhelmingly Democrat.

“While racism may not be the primary motivating force behind poorer whites tendency to vote Republican it is certainly a factor.

"'I voted for McCain,' says Price in Kentucky's Floyd county as he snatched a cigarette outside the food bank. 'Because, well I voted for the old white guy. At least he's American.'

“A few days earlier, the chairman of the Republican party in Jackson County, Arkansas, insisted electing Obama is destroying America in the same way electing Nelson Mandela destroyed South Africa. 'Handing it over to the wrong people.'"

There is much more of interest in Gary Younge's essay including some easy-to-understand numbers and statistics that clear up some misunderstands. One of the most fascinating is that most poor people do NOT vote Republican”:

In 2008 73% of those who earned less than $15,000, 60% of those who earned between $15,000 and $30,000, and 55% of those who earned between $30,000 and $50,000 voted for Obama.

“This year [2012], 57% of those earning less than $36,000 plan to vote Democrat as do 50% of those with a high school diploma or less. Even in deeply conservative Mississippi the overwhelming majority of the poor voted for Obama.”

Another explanation involves evangelical preachers and right wing radio and TV pundits who bamboozle their followers into voting Republican. This is Robert Sobel writing at examiner.com in 2012:

“Even when conservatives leave the comfort of their conservative church, they quickly turn the TV to the right wing news station, Fox News, or set the radio dial to conservative mouth pieces like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or Michael Savage.

“The Republican party and the pundits who support them, use an agenda of fear...using what conservatives hold close to them against them, their religion. Republicans push the fear of gays, Muslims, atheists and others who aren't evangelical Christians onto conservatives voters, using those fears to bypass many economic issues that could normally work against them.”

As you might expect given his career specialty, economist and former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, at his personal blog last January, explains how economic desperation drives people to vote against their interests.

”The wages of production workers have been dropping for thirty years, adjusted for inflation, and their economic security has disappeared. Companies can and do shut down, sometimes literally overnight. A smaller share of working-age Americans hold jobs today than at any time in more than three decades.

“People are so desperate for jobs they don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want rules and regulations enforced that might cost them their livelihoods. For them, a job is precious — sometimes even more precious than a safe workplace or safe drinking water.

“This is especially true in poorer regions of the country like West Virginia and through much of the South and rural America — so-called 'red' states where the old working class has been voting Republican.

“Guns, abortion, and race are part of the explanation. But don’t overlook economic anxieties that translate into a willingness to vote for whatever it is that industry wants.”

Last July, Edwin Lyngar wrote a stunning essay in Salon about his conversion, at age 40, from the Republican Party to the Democrats. First, he recounts his many years of poverty, public assistance and inability to gain ground in any manner while he continued to vote Republican and Tea Party:

”To make up for my own failures, I voted to give rich people tax cuts, because somewhere deep inside, I knew they were better than me. They earned it. My support for conservative politics was atonement for the original sin of being white trash.”

It was the financial crisis of 2008 that propelled him to spend some time re-evaluating his political views.

”I finally 'got it.' In 2012, I shunned my self-destructive voting habits and supported Obama. I only wished there were a major party more liberal than the Democrats for whom I could vote.”

Lyngar finishes up his personal saga by recounting the life of an unregenerate conservative friend. This, I believe, comes closest of everything I read to answering our question:

”I have a close friend on permanent disability. He votes reliably for the most extreme conservative in every election. Although he’s a Nevadan, he lives just across the border in California, because that progressive state provides better social safety nets for its disabled.

“He always votes for the person most likely to slash the program he depends on daily for his own survival. It’s like clinging to the end of a thin rope and voting for the rope-cutting razor party.

“The people who most support the Republicans and the Tea Party carry a secret burden. Many know that they are one medical emergency or broken down car away from ruin, and they blame the government.

“They vote against their own interests, often hurting themselves in concrete ways, in a vain attempt to deal with their own, misguided shame about being poor. They believe 'freedom' is the answer, even though they live a form of wage indenture in a rigged system.”

If you don't read any other link in today's post, please read Edwin Lyngar. All the pundits, academics, reporters and experts, as earnest as they are, haven't come close to this man's honest examination of working class Republican voters.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: Things the Kids Have Said to Me