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A New Elder Playground in My Town

About two-and-a-half-years ago, I told you about elder playgrounds and that I was heading a small committee of the 50-plus Advisory Board of the City of Lake Oswego, to look into details of building one in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

They have been popular in Europe and Japan for years but were then, and still are, just getting started in the United States. One such playground has existed since 2010 on the grounds of the senior center in Rockville, Maryland:

A fairly large elder playground opened in Galveston County, Texas, last year:

So as I reported here in 2013, my little committee and I researched elder playgrounds and pulled together the information the city would need to make the decision to build one.

Among the people I spoke with was Michael Cohen, a professional designer of children's playgrounds, whose enthusiasm for elder playgrounds has made him a sort of godfather to the movement to build them. His website is here. As I wrote in these pages in 2013:

”I am personally convinced of Michael Cohen's vision and that there should be elder playgrounds in every city in the United States, particularly as the elder population explodes in numbers.

“The playgrounds promote general health, wellbeing, spread joy and go a long way toward warding off social isolation which, as we discuss here from time to time, can lead to depression, illness and even early death. With so much concern over health care costs, to me elder playgrounds – which are not expensive to build - are a money-saving no brainer.”

About three weeks ago, the Lake Oswego playground, built and managed by the Parks and Recreation Department, opened to the public in West Waluga Park. It is called FIT Spot which, while utilitarian, lacks appeal or sense of fun such a park provides and I am so sorry the word “elder” is not in the name. But that is how things go in a culture as terrified of ageing as ours is.

It's not that people of all ages can't or shouldn't use the equipment, but the point is to provide elders - many of whom, like me, can't afford a gym membership - a place to help maintain their well being, meet their peers and enjoy the outdoors. There are few enough such opportunities designed for elders' needs and capabilities.

(End of editorial. Moving on.)

Here is the sign about the playground at the entry to it. You can see part of the adjacent kids' play area which is a great idea – parents and caregivers can work out at FIT Spot while keeping their eyes on the kids:

ElderParkSignandKidsArea

The entire FIT Spot area looks almost exactly as I had imagined it would. Here is a wide shot of most, but not all, of the ten pieces of exercise equipment.

ElderParkWideShot

When I was there to take photos early Wednesday morning, three people were already working out. Here are close-ups of several machines:

ElderParkElliptical

ElderParkUnit

ElderParkShare

Three or four of the exercise units, like this one just below, are fitted out for people who use wheelchairs:

ElderParkWheelChairAccessible

Because this is northwest Oregon and it rains a lot (well, not in summer), this nearby covered area is a good place to wait out a surprise shower and there are clean rest rooms nearby.

ElderParkCoveredtableArea

Three times a week, I work out at home for 40 minutes or so in the early morning. Now I will add the elder playground into my routine on some other days. It works different parts of my body, gets me out of the house and I've already met someone I would like to know better.

FIT Spot is far enough away that I need to drive for 15-20 minutes to use it but I hear chatter that one is being considered for a park that is within walking distance from my home. I hope that rumor is true - that would be terrific.

Elder playgrounds are a big hit in Spain where, Huffington Post reports,

”The greater Barcelona area has about 300 elderly parks alone. That’s about one for every town in the district.”

Maybe you can work with your community to create your own elder playground.


Happy 50th Birthday, Medicare

Rejoice in our good fortune, my friends. Tomorrow, 30 July 2015, is the 50th anniversary of the day President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare bill into law. Take a look:

Until I was poking around the internet to prepare this post, I didn't know that President Harry Truman had anything to do with Medicare and actually, universal health care was first proposed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 but then it got benched for many years.

”...the idea for a national health plan didn’t gain steam until it was pushed by U.S. President Harry S. Truman,” reports Medicare Resources:

“On November 19, 1945, seven months into his presidency, Truman sent a message to Congress, calling for creation of a national health insurance fund, open to all Americans.

“The plan Truman envisioned would provide health coverage to individuals, paying for such typical expenses as doctor visits, hospital visits, laboratory services, dental care and nursing services. Although Truman fought to get a bill passed during his term, he was unsuccessful...”

Which is why Johnson included Truman, then 81, in the Medicare signing ceremony in 1965, and signed him up for the first Medicare card.

Note that both Roosevelt and Truman called for a national health plan for everyone. Getting one for old people is the best Johnson could do politically and even that was struggle to get through Congress.

However, there has been a nascent Medicare for Everyone movement for a number of years and there's no reason not to bring it to the fore again.

To do that, we will need to be extra careful not to elect a Republican president next year and it wouldn't help to move the majority of members in at least one house of Congress to the Democratic side.

Republicans have been trying to kill Medicare since long before President Ronald Reagan said the program would destroy American freedom. (You can decide for yourself if that is what has happened since he said that during his presidency.)

It is a perennial sign of seriousness among Republican presidential candidates to say that Medicare must be killed. Just last week, supposedly moderate candidate Jeb Bush called for phasing it out:

”I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits,” said Bush.

“But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something — because they’re not going to have anything.”

That last part isn't true. Medicare is in better financial shape right now than it has been in more than a decade. As Paul Krugman pointed out in The New York Times on Monday, passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

”...was immediately followed by an unprecedented pause in Medicare cost growth. Indeed, Medicare spending keeps coming in ever further below expectations, to an extent that has revolutionized our views about the sustainability of the program and of government spending as a whole...

“Medicare at 50 still looks very good,” Krugman continued. “It needs to keep working on costs, it will need some additional resources, but it looks eminently sustainable. The only real threat it faces is that of attack by right-wing zombies.”

It seems to me that if every western country in the world can supply universal healthcare for its entire population, certainly the United States – which Republicans keep telling is the best in the world at every- and anything – can do it.

Of course, the Medicare we have now needs work itself. That awful drug plan (Part D) is not allowed to negotiate prices. There is no dental coverage to speak of. Another big omission is hearing aids as the president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), Max Richtman, wrote about a few days ago:

”Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults. Yet an estimated 70% of Americans with hearing problems between age 65 and 84 are not using hearing aids.

“With an average cost of $3,000 - $7,000 and zero coverage from Medicare, it’s little surprise that for a senior collecting an average monthly Social Security check of $1,287, hearing aids are seen as a luxury they simply can’t afford.

“In truth, hearing loss which goes untreated can lead to depression, cognitive impairment, life-altering falls, social isolation and a lack of independence..."

Hear! Hear! (so to speak). You can read more about the need to add coverage for hearing loss [pdf] at NCPSSM.

These are not the only problems with Medicare, just a couple of the big ones but even as it stands now, I am grateful to have it because as healthy as I currently am (and grateful for that too), without it, I would not have been able to afford the healthcare I have needed in the past nine years. And I certainly could not afford private coverage.

Even though I know there are potential health issues that can cost me dearly even with Medicare, the peace of mind I have because of it is huge.

Shortfalls notwithstanding, since that day 50 years ago when President Johnson signed the Medicare legislation, the program has vastly improved the lives of elders.

”The elderly’s poverty rate has declined...from 29 percent in 1966 to 10.5 percent in 1995. Medicare also provides security across generations: it has given American families assurance that they will not have to bear the full burden of health care costs of their elderly or disabled parents or relatives at the expense of their young families.”

That paragraph is part of Insight #2 at Center for Medicare Advocacy website where, for the past 50 days, they have published one Medicare Insight per day – one for each year of the program's life. You can see and read the entire list here.

In the run-up to this anniversary, there have been a lot of news and opinion pieces about Medicare. Here are a few you might want to follow up with.

The brand-new, just published Medicare Trustee's Report - Overview here
Mother Jones coverage of the Medicare Trustee's Report
The New York Times editorial on Medicare and Medicaid
Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich's birthday report on Medicare

And maybe you have a Medicare story to share.



The Misguided Lure of Anti-Ageing Products and Medicine

First off, it's that name - “anti-ageing” (or “anti-aging” if you prefer). Who hates themself so much that they would buy anything labeled “anti-ageing”?

The phrase is slapped on thousands of products but goes further than that. There is even The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (jauntily referring to themselves as A4M for short).

Yes, it is an organization that “certifies” physicians (and corporations) in the medical specialty of anti-aging.

One problem with that, however, is that there is no known medical specialty of anti-aging.

”...the field of anti-aging medicine is not recognized by established medical organizations, such as the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Medical Association (AMA),” reports Wikipedia...

“The activities of the A4M are controversial: in 2003 a commentary on the response of the scientific community to the promotion of anti-aging medicine noted that the activities of the A4M were seen as a threat to the credibility of serious scientific research on aging...

“Thomas Perls of the Boston University School of Medicine, a prominent critic of the organization, has stated that claims of censorship and suppression are a common theme in what he calls 'anti-aging quackery.'”

No one can spend as much time online as I do reading about ageing in all its aspects without running into the most outrageous “anti-aging quackery” almost every day. One ad led to a Burt's Bees page with this promise:

“Smooth Fine Lines. Erase All Doubt. 96% of women saw a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles after 8 weeks”

Oh, come on. If a word of that were true, don't you think we would all know about it? At least if you fall for Burt's Bees humbug it will cost you only about $10. And even slightly more upscale L'Oreal sells an anti-aging cream for only about $25. But their video ad is no less bogus:

Did you notice that word L'Oreal highlighted? Hyaluronic makes it sound all rigorously scientific. What it is, is the latest hot ingredient with the anti-aging charlatans. The most expensive one Crabby has run across lately - $90 for a one-month supply – is promoted by Oprah's favorite physician, the notorious Dr. Oz.

Ads around the web claim that the cream he touts will turn a 55-year-old into a 35-year-old. As with the other latest anti-aging products, Oz explains, his magic ingredient is hyaluronic acid.

(If you are tempted to try Oz's product, please do check out this page with dozens of complaints and accusations of overcharging, cancellation refusals and misrepresentations by the company, Bella Labs, that sells the cream.)

Here is what WebMD says about hyaluronic acid which is naturally present in the human body (emphasis added):

”There is also a lot of interest in using hyaluronic acid to prevent the effects of aging. In fact, hyaluronic acid has been promoted as a 'fountain of youth.' However, there is no evidence to support the claim that taking it by mouth or applying it to the skin can prevent changes associated with aging.”

Got that? It and other evidence won't stop any of the false promises to reverse the appearance of ageing but all those cosmetic potions are mostly benign fibs compared to the pseudo-scientific products – prescription and over-the counter – that suggest those who use them will regain the energy and vitality of their youth, and even extend their lives by many years.

In the August 2015 issue of Consumer Reports, there is an update article titled “Treatments to Turn Back Time?” in which they report on what science says about the efficacy of such anti-aging products as human growth hormones (HTH), “low T” treatments, vitamin and mineral supplements, smart drugs and games, DHEA and coenzyme Q10 among others.

After explaining what these treatments can and cannot do, Consumer Reports chief medical advisor, Marvin M. Lipman M.D. says that

"...for now, any claim that a particular product or treatment can stop or slow down the aging process simply does not have the science to back it up.

“'There is as yet no evidence-based substance shown to extend life,' Lipman explains. 'Diet, exercise, and good genes are the best we can offer.'”

So save your money and wear your age proudly.


ELDER MUSIC: Run to Paradise

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.


Recently Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I saw Coldplay perform a song called Paradise on TV. Both of us mentioned that we could think of several better songs with the same name.

We pretty much simultaneously came up with The Choirboys, John Prine and Tony Bennett. Others weren’t far behind. Naturally, in the way of these things, it led to this column that I originally called Paradise but The A.M. thought that “Run to Paradise” was a more interesting name, and so it shall be.

Since the column is called Run to Paradise, that’s the way we’re starting. These are THE CHOIRBOYS.

Choirboys

The Choirboys are a rock band formed in Sydney in the tail-end of the seventies and still going to this day. Singer Mark Gable and bass player Ian Hulme are the constants throughout their journey and a dozen or more others have come and gone over the years.

This is the song, a huge hit in Oz.

♫ Choirboys - Run to Paradise

JOHN PRINE was another initial thought.

John Prine

The writer Simon Winchester told me (and all the others listening to the radio at the time) that there are 18 towns in America called Paradise. Due to John's song, the town in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky is probably the most famous.

Ironically, though, the town no longer exists as it was dug up by Mr Peabody's coal company.

♫ John Prine - Paradise

JOHNNY NASH is best known for his song, I Can See Clearly Now. That one has nothing to do with paradise so it won't be in today.

Johnny Nash

Johnny is more associated with reggae music which he recorded in Jamaica even though he's Texas born and bred. He was also a song writer and started a record company (that signed the Cowsills, if you can believe that).

His song is Halfway to Paradise, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.

♫ Johnny Nash - Halfway To Paradise

If there’s a possibility of getting BUDDY HOLLY into a column you can pretty much be sure that I'll include him, and here he is.

Buddy Holly

This is how Buddy and the Crickets originally recorded this tune without the overdubs of extra instruments and voices that I think detract from other versions of the song. The song is Fool's Paradise.

♫ Buddy Holly - Fools Paradise

TONY BENNETT had to be present because his contribution is one that pretty much every reader of this column would know.

Tony Bennett

I really don't need to tell you anything about this one; anyone who reads this column would know Stranger in Paradise.

♫ Tony Bennett - Stranger In Paradise

Here is another Australian performer because there are quite a number of people, okay, a hell of a lot, who claim that Australia is as close to paradise as you can get on this planet.

You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment. I'll just give you GRAEME CONNORS.

Graeme Connors

I'll also just let Graeme tell it like it is On the Edge of Paradise.

♫ Graeme Connors - On The Edge Of Paradise

ELVIS, in contrast, suggests that Any Place is Paradise.

Elvis Presley

Well, if anyone would know whether that were so it'd be Elvis (except that he really didn't go anywhere much, so it may be a little problematic).

♫ Elvis Presley - Any Place Is Paradise

If CHARLES BROWN seems to be in the mix there’s no way he could be left out if the A.M. has any say in the matter. Which, of course, she does. With this column anyway.

Charles Brown

The song has the same name as the one by Buddy, but it’s a different one. Fool's Paradise.

♫ Charles Brown - Fool's Paradise

MARCIA BALL's background in Louisiana is obvious in the next song.

Marcia Ball

That's a good thing for fans of music from that area (of which the A.M. and I are two). She sings of yet another place that's paradise no longer – there are far too many of those. The song is This Used to Be Paradise.

♫ Marcia Ball - This Used To Be Paradise

I wasn’t going to include the next one but the A.M. insisted that it be present. The tune is an exercise in overblown-ness (if such a word exists – it should to describe this track). Here for your delectation is MEATLOAF.

Meatloaf

Mr Loaf's song is from his phenomenally successful "Bat out of Hell" album. It's called Paradise by the Dashboard Light. He has the help of Ellen Foley on the track.

♫ Meatloaf - Paradise By The Dashboard Light

I trust that you all had a loaf of bread beneath the bough,
a flask of wine, a book of verse - and somebody or other
beside you singing in the wilderness,
and that wilderness was Paradise enow.


INTERESTING STUFF: 25 July 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NORMAN LEAR

Monday will be TV producer Norman Lear's 93rd birthday. Here is what he told Huffington Post on Friday:

"The top of my bucket list always included a desire to sing. My friend, actor, singer-guitarist and composer, Paul Hipp, wrote the happy birthday song when he turned fifty. I loved it and asked if I could lip-synch it as I turn ninety-three. This was the result and I don't care what you say, I love it."

I love it too. See if you do and thank Esther Harriot for sending it to us:


FDA NSAID WARNING

”Patients taking NSAIDs should seek medical attention immediately if they experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, weakness in one part or side of their body, or slurred speech.

That is from the U.S. Federal Drug Administration's (FDA) new warning about NSAIDs. They are such drugs as Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Celebrex and many others. As Harvard Health Publications explains:

• Heart attack and stroke risk increase even with short-term use, and the risk may begin within a few weeks of starting to take an NSAID.

• The risk increases with higher doses of NSAIDs taken for longer periods of time.

• The risk is greatest for people who already have heart disease, though even people without heart disease may be at risk.

Here is a good news report explaining the new warning further:

Read more at the FDA and the Harvard Health Publication.


WALLOWING IN NOSTALGIA

Every image in this video is an item, product or place that most of us who read this blog are familiar with, things that used to be commonplace in our lives but have mostly disappeared.


AGING.GOV

There are a lot more agencies of the U.S. Federal governments related to aging than just Social Security and Medicare. Until now, they have been scattered all over the internet but recently the Department of Healthy and Human Service (HHS) has rounded them up into a one-stop shop. Here's a screenshot of the home page:

Agingborder

Bookmark aging.gov and you'll have just one place to go whenever you need to check on something related to ageing that the federal government handles.


DEADLIEST ANIMALS

There's SharkWeek and Sharknado and almost every summer day a new shark attack on swimmers or surfers. My friend Jim Stone sent this video that shows sharks are the least of human problems from animals.


JOHN OLIVER ON FOOD WASTE

Hardly a fascinating title, Food Waste, but on his Last Week Tonight show on HBO, John Oliver makes it so – also shocking and funny too.


ELDERS V. 21ST CENTURY

Darlene Costner sent this little joke. Gave me a good laught when I needed it this week:

I was visiting my daughter last night when I asked if I could borrow a newspaper.

"This is the 21st century," she said. "We don't waste money on newspapers. Here, use my iPad.”

I can tell you this - that fly never knew what hit him.


THE ARK COMING TO JFK AIRPORT

According to Huffington Post, a new terminal will open at JFK Airport in New York next year. The Ark's “178,000 square feet of posh amenities"

”...will include everything from a resort with suites that have large flat-screen TVs, to climate-controlled stalls, showers, massages, a private space especially set aside for penguin mating, a paw-shaped dog swimming pool, a jungle for cats made of live trees that will give them a tantalizing view of the aquarium, and stables full of the finest hay a horse could hope for.”

Here are an artist's rendering of the dog area and the export stalls for quarantined horses.

The Ark dogs

The Ark horses

The Ark will be a first-of-its kind terminal at any airport with a price tag of $48 million. You can read more here.


DAD THE FLOWER GIRL

Reader Alan Goldsmith sent this charmer of a video that needs no introduction.


A GORGEOUS, FUN CHARLESTON

The dancer is named Ksenia Parkhatskaya and the video is from the 2012 Stockholm Tap Festival. Isn't she the cutest thing.


ANGRY SEAGULL MOM

After you see this news report about from Seattle about a seagull who won't let anyone park near her nest, I'm sure you'll agree with me that she should probably be added to that most dangerous animals video above.


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.


Surprise!

Welcome to the Time Goes By redesign. What do you think? It's certainly brighter and shinier around here.

There are bound to be glitches to fix and design decisions I'll rework over the next days and weeks, but this general look-and-feel will remain.

Time Goes By hasn't changed since it shyly dipped its toes in the blog waters in 2004. Because I'm lazy and it's a lot of work to redesign a site, this day might never have arrived. But then the Google blackmail showed up.

The company that still has more than 80 percent of search engine traffic announced that (their definition of) non-mobile friendly websites would henceforth be penalized in search results; that is, as of 21 April 2015, non-mobile-friendly websites would be ranked lower in search results than those that have been redesigned to Google's standards.

The bottom line from Google - make your website look the way WE want it to look, or else. Which is why most websites look alike these days.

Well, I'm too old to fight back on this one so here we are.

Various items have been moved around or, in some cases, discarded. Let me give you a tour.

The main site navigation is at the top of every page above the banner. The Archive is now by category only; nearly 12 years of date archives are not very useful to anyone.

Contact now opens your email program rather than a form if you want to send me a message.

About leads to a page with links to various information about this website. It's messy-looking right now; I'll improve it in time.

As you can see, there is only one sidebar now, on the right. The same Subscribe buttons are at the top and, as before, the Search form is at the bottom. In between, there are changes to several features. What remain are links to:

  • Best Books on Ageing
  • Elderblog List
  • Geezer Flicks
  • A Mother's Last Best Lesson

We all know that the Elderblog List and Geezer Flicks are painfully out of date. I'll get to both of those one of these days soon. I hope. The Photo Biography is now linked from the About section.

May they rest in peace, four features have been permanently removed. Elder Video was not one of my better ideas so it has been ditched. The Where Elders Blog feature has been discontinued. And Reverse Mortgages is no longer available because the federal government has made several rule changes resulting in some information in the series being incorrect. Maybe I'll fix it in time.

Finally, for a variety of reasons, it has been impossible to keep up In Memoriam so instead of that section, we will hold memorial services here as they become necessary. Not often, I hope.

Of course, The Elder Storytelling Place must also be “upgraded” to Google's specifications. I'm going to take a breather and then go to work on that.


American Politics, Donald Trump and Old People

Even though I am a political junkie, as much as I can recall, we don't do politics at this blog except as it relates to old people. But it's different this time. Or, maybe not. After all, Donald Trump is 69 years old, two years older than Hillary Clinton whom, some say, is too old to be president.

It is hard not to be embarrassed by almost any politician. With few exceptions, they are uninformed blowhards - venal, corrupt, self-serving, self-aggrandizing liars who disdain knowledge and learning and have had no intention of serving the public good.

Then there is a Donald Trump. He is not a politician which might explain why he is magnitudes beyond the professional ones in loathsomeness. I didn't intend to write about Donald Trump today but my planned post got sidetracked and it's hard to escape "news" of Trump these days.

I could carry on about how repugnant I find him but let's let Jon Stewart of The Daily Show do his wonderful, comedian-style Trump schtick – this one from Monday night.

When Stewart did that Trump segment, the man had not yet given out Senator Lindsay Graham's private phone number on television. That shocked me Tuesday more than his reprehensible statements about Mexican immigrants, Senator John McCain and all the rest.

As unimpressive as the entire Republican roster of presidential hopefuls is, Trump's lead in the polls says more about the American electorate, I believe, than the man. Who with an IQ of more than 75 or so believes this person could or should be the commander in chief of the United States.

Almost the worst of it for me is that apparently it is mostly old people who show up to support Donald Trump. That is embarrassing.

It would be easy to rant on but I'll leave it at that today and you may have your say below.

But first, to clear our collective palate, here is a lovely poem about growing old by Wendell Berry that TGB reader Tom Delmore emailed. It is titled, The Blue Robe published in “New Collected Poems” in 2012.

How joyful to be together, alone
as when we first were joined
in our little house by the river
long ago, except that now we know

each other, as we did not then;
and now instead of two stories fumbling
to meet, we belong to one story
that the two, joining, made. And now

we touch each other with the tenderness
of mortals, who know themselves:
how joyful to feel the heart quake

at the sight of a grandmother,
old friend in the morning light,
beautiful in her blue robe!


Rates of Ageing Vary More Than Anyone Knew

It is well-known fact I frequently mention on this blog that we age at different rates. No one disputes that. Now, however, new research reveals that the differences are much wider than has been known:

”A study of nearly one thousand 38-year-olds found that while most had biological ages close to the number of birthdays they had notched up, others were far younger or older,” reports The Guardian.”

The ongoing study, which Cop Car of Cop Car's Beat alerted me to, follows 954 people from the same town in New Zealand who were all born in 1972-73.

”The scientists looked at 18 different ageing-related traits when the group turned 26, 32 and 38 years old...” reports the BBC.

“The analysis showed that at the age of 38, the people's biological ages ranged from the late-20s to those who were nearly 60...The study said some people had almost stopped ageing during the period of the study, while others were gaining nearly three years of biological age for every twelve months that passed.

“People with older biological ages tended to do worse in tests of brain function and had a weaker grip.”

Dan Belsky, the first author of this latest report from the study, who is an assistant professor of geriatrics at Duke University's Center for Aging, explained why they chose such young people to look at ageing:

“Most studies of aging look at seniors, but if we want to be able to prevent age-related disease, we’re going to have to start studying aging in young people,” he told the Duke University website.

“Belsky said the progress of aging shows in human organs just as it does in eyes, joints and hair, but sooner. So as part of their regular reassessment of the study population at age 38 in 2011, the team measured the functions of kidneys, liver, lungs, metabolic and immune systems.

“They also measured HDL cholesterol, cardiorespiratory fitness, lung function and the length of the telomeres - protective caps at the end of chromosomes that have been found to shorten with age. The study also measures dental health and the condition of the tiny blood vessels at the back of the eyes, which are a proxy for the brain’s blood vessels.

“Based on a subset of these biomarkers, the research team set a 'biological age' for each participant, which ranged from under 30 to nearly 60 in the 38-year-olds.”

The next steps, says Belsky are to

”...sift through the lives of the...participants to see how factors such as lifestyle, medical history, family circumstances, and stressful events might affect the speed at which people age,” he told The Guardian.

“...It’s becoming increasingly clear that ageing is really the cause of much of the disease and disability burden we face, but our existing science is based on ageing in older people who already have a lot of age-related diseases...

“The ultimate goal is to target ageing instead of the multiple separate diseases that people are increasingly likely to develop as they age. 'As we get older, our risk grows for all kinds of different diseases. To prevent multiple diseases simultaneously, ageing itself has to be the target,' Belsky said.”

So, it's not just the discovery that we age even more differently from one another than we already knew that is important, but that knowing such can now be put to good use in figuring out how to give humans a healthier old age.

This is a remarkable breakthrough in understanding ageing better than we do now. I suspect it won't advance quickly enough to help thee and me, but if age-related diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson's, etc., can be forestalled when people are younger, it will immeasurably improve old age for our children, grandchildren and beyond.

The full study is available online here [pdf]. The website for the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Study on which this information is based is here.

Other media reports here and here.


ELDER MUSIC: Streets of New York

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.


This column started out as one on streets with names. When I'd finished I found that half of the selections were streets of New York. So I decided to split the difference and have a column entirely devoted to New York streets (as well as the original idea omitting the New York ones – two for the price of one).

Whenever I put on a CD of FRED NEIL I'm pretty sure there are whales out in the Southern Ocean who say, "Pete's playing Fred again.”

Fred Neil

That's because his voice is so low and mellow I imagine that those cetaceans are the only ones who can hear the full range of his singing.

It's not quite as evident on this song as it is on some others but you can perhaps hear what I mean. Fred's song is Bleecker & MacDougal, so you get two streets in the one song.

♫ Fred Neil - Bleecker & MacDougal

Now for a bunch of streets with numbers. I'll feature them in numerical order, starting at 4th Street and BOB DYLAN.

Bob Dylan

With New York streets you knew Bob had to be present as he made that city his home. Here he is with Positively 4th Street, one of the bitterest songs he ever wrote (and that's saying something).

♫ Bob Dylan - Positively 4th Street

LEON REDBONE doesn't sing on his tune, it's purely instrumental, and a nice gentle one it is too.

Leon Redbone

Very little is known about Leon; he defends his privacy ferociously. His style harks back to pre-war jazz, blues and ragtime as is somewhat evident in his selection today, 14th Street Blues.

♫ Leon Redbone - 14th Street Blues

I originally had Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell penciled in at this spot but I omitted them because the version I have is from the sound track of the film. As a purely musical track it's pretty incoherent, full of sound effects, tap dancing, traffic noise, people talking and whatnot. I'm sure as part of the film it's fine but it just doesn't fit.

I've kept the song though and included a version by the DORSEY BROTHERS ORCHESTRA.

Dorsey Brothers

The singers are THE BOSWELL SISTERS.

Boswell Sisters

That picture suggests to me that they're probably listening to Bing on the radio. Here they all are with Forty-Second Street.

♫ Dorsey Brothers Orchestra - Forty Second Street

As I'm doing these numbered streets in order, we have a couple of jazz tracks back to back. That's fine with me, I hope it is with you as well. The first of these is by CHARLES MINGUS.

Charles Mingus

Charles's street is 51st Street. Now he doesn't specify east or west, so it could be in Brooklyn or Queens. Well, they're part of New York so it counts. The tune is 51st Street Blues.

♫ Charles Mingus - 51st Street Blues

BUD POWELL continues the theme with 52nd Street.

Bud Powell

As with Charles, no east or west is specified so we have the same problem. Bud's tune is 52nd Street Theme.

♫ Bud Powell - 52nd Street Theme

Let's keep walking uptown until we get to 57th Street and we come across BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

Bruce Springsteen

His street could be from somewhere in New Jersey whence he hails but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt so I can include the song. It's from the fine album, “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle.” The song is Incident on 57th Street.

♫ Bruce Springsteen - Incident on 57th Street

It's not too far to 59th Street and SIMON AND GARFUNKEL.

Simon &Garfunkel

The official title of their tune is The 59th Street Bridge Song. You may know it as something else. Like Bob's song earlier, and Bruce's as well come to think of it, the name of the ditty doesn't actually appear in the words of the song anywhere. There was a bit of that sort of thing going on around that time.

♫ Simon & Garfunkel - The 59th Street Bridge Song

Now for a bit of a hike until we encounter BOBBY WOMACK.

Bobby Womack

Bobby started as a gospel singer and guitarist along his father and brothers. They were discovered by Sam Cooke and he arranged for them to be recorded. After Bobby went solo, he recorded his own song. It's All Over Now.

Just as it was rising on the charts the Rolling Stones released a version that eclipsed his. He was initially miffed until he received his first royalty cheque. He quickly changed his mind.

Anyway, here's Bobby's street song, Across 110th Street.

♫ Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street

Well, I've run out of numbered street songs and there's only time for one more anyway. We have to scurry on back down town, to one of the most famous streets of them all, Wall Street.

The tune is performed by DUKE ELLINGTON and his orchestra (or his Jungle Band, depending on your source of information).

Duke Ellington

It was recorded in 1929, just after Wall Street laid an egg, and is called Wall Street Wail.

♫ Duke Ellington - Wall Street Wail


INTERESTING STUFF – 18 July 2015


VOLKSWAGEN COMMERCIAL(S)

Linda C wonders what TGB readers make of this Volkswagen commercial.

Then there is this one, also currently running, to consider.

I don't mind jokes about old people but I wonder why we must be portrayed as so damned irritating. There are jokes about all kinds of people that don't make their behavior so annoying.


REAL LIFE FACEBOOK

This little slice of social media life was forwarded by TGB reader Sulima Malzin who describes herself as “a non-facebook elder face from King City, Oregon”:

For those of my older generation who do not really comprehend why Facebook exists, presently, I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles.

Therefore, every day I go down on the street and tell the passers-by what I have eaten, how I feel, what I have done the night before and what I will do tomorrow night. Then I give them pictures of my family, my dog and me gardening and spending time in my pool.

I also listen to their conversations and I tell them I love them. And it works. I already have three persons following me: two police officers and a psychiatrist.

LETTERMAN STEPS OUT OF RETIREMENT ALREADY

This video has been all over cable news television so you may have seen it. Even so, it's worth it.

Remember the clip from The Daily Show when Jon Stewart thanked all the comedy gods and few others for providing him with Donald Trump? David Letterman obviously feels the same way. He joined Steve Martin and Martin Short on stage in San Antonio last week to read his Trump Top Ten List.


GANGSTA GRANNY

Gangstagrannycover125 David Walliams is a British comedian, actor, activist and, since 2008, a wildly successful children's book author. I can't remember how I came to know about this one of his kids' novels, Gangsta Granny, but I it was so good I read it straight through one evening last week.
The story concerns an 11-year-old boy whose parents leave him with his “boring” granny every Friday while they have a night out. Ben goes into paroxyms of complaint over how boring his granny is until he finds out she is an international jewel thief.

They then have a rollicking good adventure together that involves the crown jewels and Queen Elizabeth herself with a lovely, bittersweet ending.

Here's a short video teaser for the book from when it was first published in 2011.

If I had a grandchild of the appropriate age, I give him or her this book right away. It's a great story, so good that you are hardly aware there are lessons being taught about what old people are like. Here's the David Walliams website.


JOHN OLIVER ON STADIUMS

After its one week holiday hiatus, Last Week Tonight was back on HBO last Sunday. I'm getting kind of tired of telling you how wonderful John Oliver and his crew are but they keep delivering magnificently.

I've been to – count it - exactly one professional ball game in my life. I was dragged to it by a friend who was appalled that I hadn't seen one in person - which tells you exactly how interested I am in sports.

But what Oliver is telling us about billionaire stadium owners using our taxes while keeping all the profits – even I care about this.


MEDICARE AND END-OF-LIFE COUNSELING

On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) announced that it is offering a plan to reimburse physicians for conversations with patients about end-of-life plans. According to The New York Times, the agency's chief medical officer, Patrick Conroy

”...said a final decision on the proposal would be made by Nov. 1. The plan would allow qualified professionals like nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as well as doctors, to be reimbursed for face-to-face meetings with a patient and any relatives or caregivers the patient wants to include. Dr. Conway said the proposal did not limit the number of conversations reimbursed.”

You might recall that when these conversations were first proposed during the debate over the Affordable Care Act several years ago, Sarah Palin labeled them “death panels” which, of course, they are not.

This is excellent news and if all goes well, the initiative will go into effect on 1 January 2016. You can read the full story here.


SMILEY FACE FALLS DOWN AND CAN'T GET GET UP

For me, the television show, America's Funniest Home Videos stopped being funny about two episodes into the first season a zillion years ago. But even they come up with a winner now and then.

This the best, out loud, tears running down my cheeks, belly laugh I've had in ages.

You gotta ask, don't you, why the camera person didn't help...


YOUR BODY OVER 24 HOURS

From asapSCIENCE, here is your nifty, little, internet science lesson for this week.


LIMBERBUTT MCCUBBIN FOR PRESIDENT

You may think there are already too many candidates running for president but I don't care how many there are, we need this one.

limberbutt_mccubbins

That's right, according to his 17-year-old owner, Emilee McCubbin, a cat named Limberbutt McCubbin is an official candidate for president.

As Ms. MucCubbin explained to ABC News, back in May a friend asked for her mailing address and a short while later she received an email from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that Limberbutt is officially registered.

"Personally, I think if you're going to become a leader of the free world you should have to do a bit more of an extensive application process," she said. "You don't even have to put in a social security number, which is a bit worrisome, but you do have to file some papers for tax records and campaign donations. You have to raise $5,000 to get on the ballot.”

Limberbutt now has his own website, Facebook page and Shepard Fairey-style poster:

Limberbutt-mccubbins-meow-poster

You can read more about Limberbutt McCubbin at ABCNews.


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.


Uber For Elders

One little piece of news to come out of the White House Conference on Aging on Wednesday was this from Meghan Joyce, East Coast general Manager of Uber:

“Services like Peapod and ride-sharing giant Uber help [old] people 'live life as normal,'” she said during a panel discussion on technology and the future of aging, according to MedCityNews.

According to Emily Study writing at Senior Housing News, Joyce also announced that Uber is

”'...starting a new pilot in a number of cities to partner with local governments and organizations to drive better...mobility and access to older people in those communities,' she said.

“Across the country, Uber will offer free technology tutorials and free rides at select retirement communities and senior centers. The company hopes to further the conversation about the way technology can improve older adults’ day-to-day lives, according to a blog post announcing the new pilot.

“'Twenty-six million Americans depend on someone else as a way to get around, and I think technology helps them to solve that problem effectively,' Joyce said. With Uber, 'older riders are now able to regain their independence.'”

In addition to those free tutorials for elders, Uber may want to hold a few for their drivers. This posting appeared at a discussion board for Uber drivers in April from one calling him- or herself “UberFocus.” I'm quoting at length for the full effect:

”In the last week I've picked up three older people (older than 50). All were terrible.

“The cool thing about Uber passengers is most of them are young. They're in their 20's or 30's and generally know how the game is played. And compared to most other service jobs (retail, serving) tend to be nicer customers in general.

“But all three old people I picked up this week treated me like I was just a cabbie. They all criticized me for using Waze and insisted that they knew how to get to their destination better (they didn't). Two of the ladies were literally pointing in front of my face telling me to go this way or that way at the last second.

“One elderly guy, (seriously he was like 85) argued with me insisting he never selected uber pool. Then he looked upset that I didn't open the door for him. Seriously how entitled are you, I'm not your chaffeur.

“Putting the cabs out of business might be good for ride totals. But now we have to deal with their shitty customers.”

A few other drivers joined UberFocus in elder bashing but a lot of others jumped into with stories of how nice elders they've driven were and then the discussion turned to the fact that the driver, not Uber, has no liability if passengers (of any age) are harmed or injured - an important point I'll get back to below.

I am guessing that Ms. Joyce's announcement at the WHCOA is perhaps an extension of an earlier one last fall about UberASSIST. As the Uber website explains it, UberASSIST is

”...a new platform that will allow those needing an extra hand to request safe and reliable rides at the tap of a button...

“In just a few weeks we’ll be rolling out UberACCESS. With UberACCESS, we are growing our wheelchair accessible vehicle supply, transforming disabled transit and allowing on demand pickups within minutes instead of days.”

Uber is testing these new services in several cities including Gainesville, Florida and Houston, among others.

We have often discussed on this blog the fear we who don't live in big cities like New York and Chicago with good public transportation systems have about how constricted our lives will become if or when we are forced to stop driving.

Since hardly any cities and towns with subpar public transportation have shown an inclination toward improvement, services like those Uber is testing are going to be crucial to elders' ability to get around.

Uber continues to face complaints and backlash from traditional taxi services, activists and local governments (see one of the latest here) along with legal difficulties surrounding lack of benefits for their “independent contractor” drivers and liability issues for riders.

In some of these pilot programs, Uber is partnering with cities or senior living communities – organizations, I am guessing, that would not allow their residents to use a transportation service without appropriate liability insurance. (That's an education guess; I don't know that yet.)

So there are a lot of important issues to be resolved but I'm pretty sure these transportation programs will expand and also will grow beyond Uber to such other similar services as Lyft and to new startups that see the business potential.

However, a big question I have is about how suburbia, not to mention rural areas, can be served. It's one thing to provide urban transportation, quite another where distances between home and destinations can be much farther apart and customers far fewer.

Maybe that there are going to be so damned many of us old folks will make these services financially viable. Imagine how many more than Ms. Joyce's statistic of 26 million elders who now need help in getting around there are soon going to be.

For my own peace of mind and for all elders everywhere who have similar worries, I want Uber-for-Elders-style services moving forward quickly to relieve anxiety for all of us about the day we might not be able to drive anymore.


TGB Reader Appreciation Day

A few days ago, one of the smartest, most interesting political websites, Naked Capitalism, made this announcement:

”We regret to inform readers that we will be shutting down comment on most posts...” wrote Yves Smith.

“The purpose of Naked Capitalism above all is to foster critical thinking. For the overwhelming majority of this site’s history, we have been fortunate to have an articulate and engaged readership...

“That is no longer the case. The comments section has now become negative value added, to the point that Lambert and I are devoting disproportionate time to the moderation queue.”

I'll miss those comments, some of the smartest there are online. As Yves noted in her post, they are far from the only website to shut down comments. The Week in late 2014:

”Too often, the comments sections of news sites are hijacked by a small group of pseudonymous commenters who replace smart, thoughtful dialogue with vitriolic personal insults and rote exchanges of partisan acrimony,” wrote Ben Frumin when he announced the closing of comments at the website.

In November 2014, CNN reported on the closing of comments of many sites including these:

”Reuters, Popular Science and the Chicago Sun-Times have recently nixed comments.

“Fairly or not, comment forums have gained a reputation as a haven for Internet trolls. Several of the sites that have banned comments noted the lack of civility in their decisions.”

Some websites that shuttered their comment sections moved them to Twitter and Facebook explaining that trolls and vitriol notwithstanding, the modern internet requires that conversation now take place on social media.

But not all go along with that. Last Sunday, Mediaite announced their new(ish) comment guidelines:

”Feel like being taken seriously? Don’t make up words that end in '-tards' or come up with creative ways to type out your favorite racial or homophobic slur.

“The use of sexually explicit or harmful language (threats) including the use of misspelled or punctuated words to insinuate, represent any of the above (also known as 'masked swearing') will get you banned with or without warning.

“Not only do these sorts of things lower the level of quality discussion in the comment section, they also turn off would-be commenters and readers from adding their own thoughts and insights.”

All too true. I bring all this up today because like Yves Smith and others, I have been scrambling most days in recent weeks to delete an increased number of comments that are gratuitously mean, make personal attacks on me or commenters, or have nothing useful to say - they just link to a commercial website thinking, I suppose, that gets them free advertising.

That's the bad news. The good news is that 95 percent of these comments are not from regular readers whose names I recognize. They are, apparently, fly-bys who get their personal kicks being ad hominem nasty on websites they do not otherwise participate in.

What I have always done with those commenters is ban them forever without notice, explanation or a second chance which is what I will continue to do and hope for now, as has happened in the past, that the recent uptick in rude comments will die down.

This blog has one of the best comment sections you will read anywhere. As readers regularly note, the comments are at least as good as my posts and provide a great deal of accumulated wisdom. This happens because readers bring experience, interest, humor, concern and thoughtfulness to the issues we talk about.

The people who regularly comment here make this blog what I want it to be: consequential. Individual posts are not always important although they are sometimes utilitarian. And readers won't be interested in every essay I write.

What I hope is that it is cumulative, that there is a benefit over the long term and to the degree that is so right now, it is greatly due to the attention commenters give to adding value. And as Mediaite noted in their guidelines, the only thing you really need to remember about commenting rules is “Don't be a jerk.”

So give yourselves a hand and thank you all. When so many good websites of different sorts are shuttering their comments, this one gets better and for now, I'll go with the hope that most trolls aren't interested in ageing and old people.

[As to the idea mentioned above that comments are moving to social media: not this blog. I distribute Time Goes By there for the convenience of social media mavens, but I never read Facebook and Twitter. I spend more time than I should staring at screens without them.]


United States of Aging Survey 2015

Today, the decennial White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) is taking place in Washington, D.C. Only today. Just one day. A short, six-hour schedule which includes, in that time period, an hour or so off for lunch.

You would think, given the increasing number of elders in the U.S. and that the conference is held only every ten years, there might be more to it. In the past there was: in 2005, it lasted for three days at a large hotel venue where thousands of people attended.

Not this time. I am deeply disappointed with the White House about that and pessimistic about how useful to elders the meeting will be.

However, two friends of mine, both of whom work in the field of aging, are among the attendees today and I'll pass on to you any information of importance they come away with.

If you are inclined, you will find a livestream of the conference here beginning at 10AM eastern daylight time.

Unrelated to the WHCOA are the results from the fourth annual United States of Aging Survey released last Wednesday. It is conducted

”...by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), National Council on Aging (NCOA) and UnitedHealthcare... and polls U.S. adults 60 and older for their insights on how older Americans are preparing for their later years, and what communities can do to better support this growing population,” states of press release.

For the first time this year, professionals who work with elders were also surveyed - such people as primary care physicians, pharmacists and credit union managers.

So today, let's take a look at a few of the survey findings and as you're reading, see if you agree with the elders or the professionals or go your own way.

How prepared overall are elders for the process of aging? Although the professionals are more pessimistic, the two groups are close to agreement: 86% of elders feel prepared and 77% of professionals say they are.

”Older adults, however, are far more confident: only 10 percent of professionals surveys feel older Americans are 'very prepared' to age, compared with 42 percent of seniors.”

I can't be certain but it is my sense after reading hundreds of surveys about ageing for more than a decade of producing this blog that younger adults (who, by definition, are “the professionals” in this survey) regularly and in large numbers underestimate the capabilities of people older than they are.

Here is a chart of the top three concerns about ageing from people 60 plus and the professionals:

TOP 3 CONCERNS ABOUT GROWING OLD
Adults 60+ Professionals
Maintaining physical health - 40% Protection from financial scams - 43%
Memory loss - 35% Access to affordable housing - 38%
Maintaining mental health - 32% Memory loss - 38%

As you can see, elders and professionals differ dramatically on this one. All of the elders' top three choices are about health while the professionals worry about scams and housing.

Not that those two non-health issues are unimportant but what I think the professionals miss that the elders know from their experience of ageing is that tried-and-true saying we first encountered from our grandparents when we were children: “As long as you've got your health.”

Until you've walked some miles in an old person's shoes and know the constraints even minor health issues can sometimes place on your life, and that presage what else could happen in the future, I don't think you can appreciate the concern elders have about health.

Here is one statistic about which the two groups have a meeting of the minds: 60 percent of elders and 59 percent of professionals rank family as the most important support group for old people. Both rank friends and church or spiritual center much lower, in the 10 – 15 percent range.

Feel free to chime in below with your take on these issues.

The survey covers many more topics than these three. You will find links to all the results in several formats here.


ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up for the First Half of 2015

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.


Oh my goodness, what a year it's been so far. There have been so many fine musicians, and others associated with the music industry, die so far this year that we decided that we'd feature some of them at the end of the first half of the year so that there won't be an unwieldy column or two at the end where some may be overlooked.

B.B. King

Riley King began his professional career as a disk jockey in Memphis calling himself the Beale Street Blues Boy. That got shorten to Blues Boy and yet again to B.B. KING.

B.B. was of the same generation as other great blues artists such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf but he went further than those, who stuck to the blues. B.B. influenced jazz, rock & roll and even classical musicians.

His single note guitar playing looked back to the jazz style of T-Bone Walker and forward to rock & roll, particularly Michael Bloomfield and Eric Clapton (as well as numerous lesser performers) and modern blues performers like Buddy Guy and Robert Cray.

He was the most important blues musician of the last half century. B.B. performs Five Long Years. (He as 89 years old)

♫ B.B. King - Five Long Years

TREVOR WARD-DAVIES was the bass player and harmony singer for the sixties' rock group Dave Dee, Dozey, Beaky, Mick and Tich. He was Dozey.

They had a number of top selling singles in Britain and other places (including Australia). Over the years Dave Dee, Dozey and Tich were always the original musicians but they had several different Beakys and Micks. (70)

TIM DRUMMOND was a session bass player who, over the years, graced the records and concerts of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Ry Cooder and James Brown among others. He often teamed up with the great drummer Jim Keltner to produce one fine rhythm section. (74)

Aldo Ciccolini

ALDO CICCOLINI was a classical pianist who was born in Italy but spent most of his life in France. He started his career with the usual suspects of Liszt, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and so on, but later eschewed the standard concert repertoire and concentrated on then lesser known composers such as Debussy and Satie.

It's because of his championing these that they are now regularly performed. He plays Satie's now famous Gymnopedie No. 1. (89)

♫ Aldo Ciccolini - Erik Satie ~ Gymnopedie No. 1

DEMIS ROUSSOS was a Greek singer who began his career in the successful group Aphrodite's Child. He later had a career as a solo singer performing middle of the road music (and often dressed in large kaftans). He sold millions of records. (68)

Rod McKuen

ROD MCKUEN was a poet, disk jockey, song writer and occasional singer. He wrote songs for the Kingston Trio, including one he translated by Jacques Brel called Le Moribond and called it Seasons in the Sun which became a huge hit.

Rod even persuaded Frank Sinatra to record a whole album of his songs and poems. (81)

EDGAR FROESE was the founder and keyboard player of the German electronic music group Tangerine Dream. Besides their own records, which were best sellers but not to my household, he also wrote scores for many films. The Dream were pioneers of new age and ambient music. (70)

Lesley Gore

LESLEY GORE had a bunch of hits in the early Sixties, most notably It's My Party, Judy's Turn to Cry and You Don't Own Me. Those three songs showed a progression from aggrieved, angst-ridden teenager to defiant self assertion.

Lesley was discovered by Quincy Jones and he signed her to his record company. Besides those hits, she also acted – she was Catwoman's sidekick in the TV version of Batman and appeared on Broadway in several roles.

Lesley was working on a stage version of her life when she died. Here she is with the third of the songs mentioned above. (68)

♫ Lesley Gore - You Don't Own Me

SAM ANDREW was a founder member, guitarist and songwriter for the rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. The group had a triumphant performance at the Monterey Pop Festival and their subsequent album was hugely successful.

When Janis Joplin left Big Brother, Sam went with her as lead guitarist for her new band. He later studied composition and formed his own band and was music director for some stage shows. (73)

Louis Jourdan

LOUIS JOURDAN was a suave French leading man in many films. His father's career moved the family around to several countries including England where Louis learned English which was invaluable for him in Hollywood as the go-to actor for a debonair Frenchman.

For this music column, he was notable for singing the title song in the musical Gigi and won the hearts of millions of (mostly female) viewers. He was an active member of the French Resistance during the war. (93)

WILLIE C. JACKSON was the last remaining member of The Spaniels, a DooWop group who were responsible for the mega-hit Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite that's been used in many films and TV programs. He founded the group along with several friends from high school. (79)

Percy Sledge

PERCY SLEDGE hit it big with the very first song he recorded, When a Man Loves a Woman. He couldn't ever top that one, but then, no one else could either.

He was considered the master of the slow soul ballad and no one did those better than he did. In recent years he recorded a couple of very fine albums. Rather than his famous song, I've chosen one that's a particular favorite of Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, True Love Travels on a Gravel Road. (74)

♫ Percy Sledge - True Love Travels On A Gravel Road

FRANK MUSIC COMPANY was the last remaining shop in New York that sold classical sheet music. The changing times means most people who require such get it from the internet. (78)

JIMMY GREENSPOON was a classically trained pianist who found fame as a founder member and keyboard player for the rock group Three Dog Night. He also performed with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and The Beach Boys. (67)

Clark Terry

CLARK TERRY was a jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player as well as a composer and educator. He began as a swing player and moved on to bebop, performing along the way with Charlie Barnet, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones and Oscar Peterson amongst others.

He also had a hand in starting the careers of such musicians as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves and on and on. Clark performs The Swinging Chemise. (94)

♫ Clark Terry - The Swinging Chemise

GRAEME GOODALL was an Australian record producer who was a key figure in the development of the Jamaican record industry. He set up a studio and recorded Desmond Dekker, Leslie Kong and The Ethiopians and many more. (82)

Bob Montgomery

BOB MONTGOMERY was a songwriter and musician who went to school with Buddy Holly. Buddy's first band was a duo with Bob and they opened for Elvis in Lubbock, Texas. Elvis tried to get them on other shows but the promoters didn't want them.

Later, Bob wrote Heartbeat for Buddy and Misty Blue for various people but most especially Dorothy Moore. They also wrote songs together, most notably Love's Made a Fool of You, a hit for Buddy and covered by quite a few others.

They had plans to set up a publishing company when Buddy was killed. Later Bob was a successful record producer of mainly, but not exclusively, country performers. (77)

Joe Mauldin

It hasn't been a good year for Buddy Holly's friends. JOE MAULDIN started playing the upright bass after seeing Bill Black backing Elvis. Buddy needed a bass player and he chose Joe.

Joe also co-wrote several of their famous songs with Buddy, including I'm Gonna Love You Too and Well All Right. (74)

DAEVID ALLEN, born here in Melbourne, was a guitarist and poet and hung out with the writer William Burroughs in Paris. Later he went on to form the prog rock group The Soft Machine and also founded the group Gong, who I must admit, are a complete mystery to me. (77)

Ronnie Ronalde

RONNIE RONALDE was an English siffleur (the A.M. insisted I use that term) and music hall singer. He was a singer, whistler and yodeller extraordinaire.

As a youth, he found he had a talent for imitating bird calls and that people paid money to hear him perform. He joined a choir and eventually record companies discovered him. He toured the world and was hugely popular in the forties and fifties. He kept performing well into his eighties.

Here he performs in his own inimitable way, Mockin' Bird Hill. (91)

♫ Ronnie Ronalde - Mockin' Bird Hill

BOB BURNS was the drummer and one of the founding members of the rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. He was in a car crash – this group really had bad luck when it came to modes of transport. He played on their famous early songs but had left the group before several were killed in a plane crash. (64)

JACKIE TRENT was an English singer but mainly a songwriter, usually with her husband Tony Hatch and together they wrote hits for Petula Clark, Scott Walker and Val Doonican. As a singer, she managed to knock the Beatles off top spot on the charts. (74)

Don Covay

DON COVAY was a soul singer and songwriter who didn't quite make it into the top rank of performers but the songs he wrote and recorded were made into big hits by a wide variety of performers. Steppenwolf, Chubby Checker, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones and The Kinks all took Don's songs to the top of the charts.

Don began his musical career in a gospel group but he soon switched to secular music, playing with Little Richard and for a time writing songs in the Brill building. He was headhunted by Atlantic records as a writer and studio musician.

He was also in several groups with other famous musicians. One of his much-covered songs is Mercy Mercy. (76)

♫ Don Covay - Mercy Mercy

CYNTHIA LENNON was John Lennon's first wife and the mother of Julian. John treated them both appallingly. (75)

A.J. PERO was the drummer for the hard rock band Twisted Sister. He also played in the group Adrenaline Mob. Before his foray into rock & roll he began his musical career as a jazz drummer. (55)

Stan Freberg

STAN FREBERG made comedy records in the fifties that are still funny today. He didn't like rock & roll and would send up the genre on most of his records.

He was also a disk jockey, an actor and he was often used to voice cartoon characters. He and his crew perform Banana Boat Song, made famous by Harry Belafonte. (88)

♫ Stan Freberg - Banana Boat Song

DALLAS TAYLOR was the drummer for Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) in the early days of their performing and recording together. (66)

BRIAN COUZENS founded the record company Chandos that, along with Naxos, showed the big labels what could be done in the classical music field.

They recorded little known composers and works that hadn't seen the light of day and worked with up and coming musicians. The big boys finally had to take note of what was going on. (81)

Maria Radner

MARIA RADNER was a German contralto who specialized in the works of Wagner, particularly his Ring Cycle. She also sang Bach's works, especially his cantatas, as well as those of Handel, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Haydn.

She had started to become an international star in opera – Mozart, Verdi and, of course, Wagner - and was to make her Bayreuth Festival debut later this year singing the role of Flosshilde.

Maria, her husband and baby were on the flight that the crazy co-pilot deliberately crashed. Maria sings Es sungen drei Engel from Mahler's Symphony No 3. (34)

♫ Maria Radner - Es sungen drei Engel

ANDY FRASER was a multi-instrumentalist but best known as the bass player for the rock group Free. He wrote most of their songs as well as for others such as Robert Palmer and Chaka Demus & Pliers. (62)

JAMES LAST was not my cup of tea but he sold millions of records so someone liked his music. He made big band arrangements of popular tunes. (86)

Ben E King

BEN E KING's first professional gig was a singer for a group called the Five Crowns, later just The Crowns. They were playing a gig at the Apollo and The Drifters were also on the bill.

The Drifters were going through a lean patch as their lead singer Clyde McPhatter had been drafted and the rest weren't very good. The Drifters' manager heard the Crowns and was so impressed he sacked his group and hired The Crowns on the spot and changed their name to The Drifters.

It was this incarnation that produced all those wonderful songs from the late fifties and early sixties with Ben singing lead. He didn't last long even though he recorded a lot of those songs.

As a solo artist, he was just as good and had many hits - Stand By Me, Don’t Play That Song, I (Who Have Nothing) and many more, especially Spanish Harlem.

Ever modest, Ben has said that he thought his career was accidental and he was really just cheating.

No Ben, you were one of the finest singers of the last century who sang some of the best songs I've ever heard. (76)

♫ Ben E King - Spanish Harlem


INTERESTING STUFF – 11 July 2015


SONG FOR GRATEFUL DEAD'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY

It has been half a century since the Grateful Dead first set foot on a stage and over the 4 July weekend, they played their final concerts. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, sent this video but first:

Playing For Change (PFC) is a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music.

”Our friends at JamBase asked us to turn the Grateful Dead's 1970 classic, Ripple into a PFC Song Around the world as part of their 'Songs Of Their Own' series and after many miles on planes, trains and automobiles we can finally share it with all of you!!

It's amazing and beautiful. Take a look. Enjoy.

Also, you'll find a good review of the Dead's final concert here.


A CLASSIC UPDATES AND SLIMS DOWN

I don't eat them often these days but Oreo's have been a favorite treat all my life. We all have our own ways of eating them. I like to twist them open, eat the crème inside, then chew the cookies.

Now, it probably won't be so easy to do that. Oreos is releasing a new product, Oreo Thins in original, mint and golden flavors. Take a look at the difference:

OreoComparedABCNews

“The original Oreo is 42 calories each, while the Oreo Thin is 35 calories each," writes ABCNews reporter Stefanie Tudor.

"This writer much prefers the Oreo Thins," she continues. "They’re crispier and more chocolaty because of a higher cookie to cream ratio.

"One ABC News editor noted, though, that they’re a lot more fragile than the original, and many in the package were already broken upon arrival."

Read more here.


PICTURING THE WESTERN U.S. DROUGHT

Propublica and Matter teamed up with several photographers to document the drought in the western part of the United States and it is terrifying – to me, anyway.

”As serious as the drought is,” reports Michael Friberg, “the investigation found that mismanagement of that region’s surprisingly ample supply has led to today’s emergency.

“Among the causes are the planting of the thirstiest crops; arcane and outdated water rights laws; the unchecked urban development in unsustainable desert environments...”

This is Lake Mead, nearly 140 feet below its high water mark.

FribergLakeMead370

Read the story and see a dozen more photos at Propublica.


TURTLE'S EYE VIEW OF THE GREAT BARRIER REEF

On a similar theme, The Great Barrier Reef is home to almost 6000 species.

”The situation is dire. Half of the natural reserve has died in the last 30 years, due to climate change, and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will not recognize the area as “in danger,” reports RT.com

The YouTube page explains that the World Wildlife Fund has joined several other environmental organizations to find out how the level of pollution is affecting turtles within the Reef.

”As part of that project, the opportunity arose to very carefully fit a small GoPro camera to a turtle, to better understand the post-release behaviour of tagged green turtles. The result is this amazing video.”


JOHN OLIVER SHALLOW DIVES

John Oliver's HBO program, Last Week Tonight, was on hiatus for the holiday last Sunday. But Oliver produced a little gift to hold us until the next new show.

As you know, Oliver and company specialize in long-form essays on one subject. In his online-only “shallow dive,” he covers 15 topics in one minute.


WHICH POLITICAL PARTY DO YOU SIDE WITH?

And which candidate are you most closely aligned with?

TGB reader James Wallace Harris of Auxiliary Memory forwarded this quiz. Here are some of my results – in order: ideology, party, candidate:

Isidewithideology


Sidewithparty


IsidewithSanders370

It's a fairly long quiz but it's thorough and gives you a detailed comparison of where you agree or not with about ten different candidates. You can take the quiz for free at I Side With.


NINA CONTI

In his email with the link to this video, Jim Stone wrote, “She just kills me.” And now, me too. And maybe you.

Ventriloquist Nina Conti uses audience members as her puppets.


SNEAK PEAK OF GO SET A WATCHMAN

GoSetaWatchmanCover100You may know that after sitting somewhere in a drawer for 60 years, the followup to Harper Lee's beloved novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, will be released next Tuesday. The book begins as Scout, now 26 years old and living in New York, returns home to visit her father, Atticus:

"Jean Louise Finch always made this journey by air, but she decided to go by train from New York to Maycomb Junction on her fifth annual trip home. For one thing, she had the life scared out of her the last time she was on a plane: the pilot elected to fly through a tornado.

"For another thing, flying home meant her father rising at three in the morning, driving a hundred miles to meet her in Mobile, and doing a full day’s work afterwards: he was seventy-two now and this was no longer fair."

If that's not enough of a taste for you, right now you can read the entire first chapter at The Guardian or listen to it as read by the actor Reese Witherspoon.

You can also read a background here of how this new novel came to be published.

Further, yesterday The New York Times published what is probably the first review of the long-awaited novel and here's a bombshell:

"Shockingly," writes Michiko Kakutani, "...Atticus is a racist who once attended a Klan meeting, who says things like 'the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people.' Or asks his daughter: 'Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?'”

The full Times review is here.


101 DALMATIONS

Ooops. No. I mean 16 Basenjis. Puppies. SIXTEEN of them - from three litters.

This week's Interesting Stuff contains a lot more heavy-going items than usual and I think that requires strong antidote for a finish. So, all those puppies, some little kids and I promise you will laugh until you weep.

There is more information about the puppies at Huffington Post.


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.


On Your “Best Behavior” When the Children Visit?

Last month, a TGB reader we call A asked for your thoughts on making decisions about how and where to live when you're old and single and wow! – you gave us all an excellent conversation with all kinds of good information.

”I thoroughly enjoyed reading it,” emailed A, “and learnt an awful lot from the many comments. I really feel better informed should the need arise for me to decide where to live in the future.”

If you missed that post, you can catch up here.

Now, A has written again with a different kind of query:

”...my friend is 89 and lives happily and independently alone - her son is almost continuously annoyed by her behaviour,” writes A.

“She likes to have fairy lights around her garden and he wants them taken down straight after Christmas. The other day she said, 'He wants me to get rid of all my clutter and I don't want to!'

“She says she's glad he doesn't live near so she only has to be on 'best behaviour' two or three times a year.”

One of the great, good things about getting old, as many of us at this blog often repeat, is being able to do whatever we want without concern for how others might judge us or what they might say. But it is a different kind of thing, I suppose, when an adult child finds fault.

Unless this woman is incompetent – I'm sure A would have told me if that were so – I don't see how the son has a right to tell her anything at all about how to live. But, apparently, she rearranges her life when he visits. To appease him? To keep arguments to a minimum? To help maintain family peace?

I picture A's friend running around hiding garden lights and all her favorite things when the son is due to arrive and why should anyone have to do that with their own home. She's 89, for god's sake.

If it were me, he'd get away with complaining about those fairy lights only once – but do keep in mind that as regards children and grandchildren, I have none so what I know about such relationships is less than would fit into a thimble.

Here's what A is wondering:

”Do any of your readers 'clean up their act' when the family visit only to revert to their old and comforting ways as soon as they wave them off?!”

The Need for a Few Good Geriatricians

There are not a lot of geriatricians in the United States and their numbers dwindle each year because medical students believe the specialty is depressing, one survey tells us, and it pays a lot less than other fields of medicine.

”A key issue in the U.S., [Desmond O'Neill] emphasized,” reported the Irish Times in January, “is the relative scarcity of geriatric health professionals like him. That this country has so few geriatricians here compared to other industrialized nations is a serious flaw in the system, he believes.

“O’Neill used the hypothetical of example of an emergency room with two options for the older patient: behind Door A is a geriatrician and behind Door B, the general medical service.

“'You reduce the chances of death or going into a nursing home by 25 percent by going into the geriatrician,' O’Neill said, adding, 'It can happen and it can change [in the U.S.]. The Canadians have changed direction.'”

Desmond O'Neill is a Dublin geriatrician who is also one of world’s leading researchers in his field. Last year, he became the first European honored by the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) with its Samuel T. Freeman Award, given to a “prominent physician in the field of aging - both in research and practice.”

Pay for geriatricians in Australia, for example, is much higher than in the U.S., O'Neill says, where fees fall well below those for physicians in high-tech specialities. Ireland falls somewhere in the middle.

Nevertheless, he detects a coming “seismic shift” in attitudes toward ageing within medicine and society at large. If that is true, I certainly hope Dr. O'Neill's recognition in the United States will be an inspiration to those who run our healthcare system.

“'People used to talk about ‘successful aging.’ It means that if you didn’t reach the criteria of successful aging, you’d failed,” said O’Neill.

“Henri Matisse did not successfully age in a physical sense. After decades painting standing up, he was forced to adjust his style radically sitting down. 'Through his disability, he grew and changed and produced something new,' O’Neill said.

“So what we’re actually talking about is ‘optimal aging’ that understands the existential hits that we’re going to take in terms of disability and creates a system that frees you from unnecessary constriction by that disability,' O’Neill said.”

The growing movement to create age-friendly cities will help bring this about. O'Neill

Other changes coming, says O'Neill, involve a reversal of the long-held simplistic belief that ageing is only about loss and decline. Whew! Refusing to believe that, is the reason I started this blog and it's great to have a credentialed professional saying these things. Take a listen:

“'We’ve got to recognize growth in later life. And also not only recognize growth, but also the extraordinary abilities of people in later life to cope with the existential problems they have.'

“O’Neill noted, “Older drivers have the highest levels of illnesses that might affect driving, yet they’re the safest group of drivers on the road. So, their adaptive abilities, their mastery of how they engage with their environment, is brilliant.'

“There is now a fascinating body of literature on the older worker, according to the Dublin physician.

“'If you have come down in the Hudson and survive, do you want an almost 60-year-old with all his life experience or do you want a 25-year-old?' O’Neill said, alluding to Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger’s successful navigation of Flight 1549 on Jan. 15, 2009.

“O’Neill, a frequent writer for the Irish Times and British Medical Journal, reported that research has shown older workers take less time off and are more productive than younger colleagues in many jobs.

“'Older roofers, for example, seem to spend a little bit more time per tile, but actually get the job done faster because they know the shape of it,' he said.

“Older hotel receptionists, he said, 'take a bit long longer on the phone call, but they get more second reservations.'”

In our 21st century world where it is widely believed that speed is everything, those last two items are of particular importance. There are still a few of us alive who understand the payoff in the fable about the tortoise and the hare.

I'll have more to tell you about Dr. O'Neill when I've finished reading his book, Ageing and Caring: A Guide for Later Life. Meanwhile you can read a bit more at The Irish Echo story..

We need a lot more geriatricians like Desmond O'Neill.


If You've Seen One Old Person...

That's the first half of a maxim that is crucial to understanding what old age is like and if you've been hanging out at this blog for awhile, you've read it before:

If you seen one old person, you've seen one old person

Obviously it is a play on a common insult: If you've seen one [insert anything you want to disparage], you've seen them all.

It is doubtful that is true for anything but it is particularly not true for old people. Even so, every person past the age of 60 or so is too often lumped together as though we are all the same.

The baby boomers make a good example.

The oldest of that generation will be 70 next year, the majority retired – voluntarily or otherwise. But the youngest are just 51. They've still got kids in college and are hoping there is time to save a lot more money before they retire.

They don't have much in common but any time you see their name in print or hear it in any other media, they are assumed to be the same kind of people.

And the worst of those boomer references include everyone from age 60 to dead in the category. For too many media types, “boomer” has become a synonym for anyone older than about 50.

Yet, the variations among us are at least as wide and deep as with the youngest ages of humanity. No one expects a two-year-old to be anything like a five-year-old to be anything like a 10-year-old to be anything like a teen.

More, elders age at dramatically different rates. Absent health problems, pretty much all kids walk, talk, run, jump, etc. at the same age – as close as within a week or two of one another.

Some old people, however, are frail and infirm in their fifties while many 90-somethings are as physically active as people decades younger, driving cars, and living independently. The constraints of old age, dependent as they are on genes, health and dumb luck, diverge without much relationship to actual years.

Certainly, however, some generalizations can be made. The older we get, the more our bodies wear out, systems slow down, strength wanes and we become increasingly susceptible to the so-called “diseases of age” - diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, etc. Who gets these and survives them for a time or not, is largely a crapshoot, hard to predict.

Barring a big deal disease – or until one happens – life overall and our capabilities slow down little by little and that happens no matter how much the midlife people tell us that if we do this and not that they won't.

Those people are wrong - there are no miracle cures for old age.

For the decade I've been writing this blog, starting when I was a “youthful” 63, the people I've paid most attention to about “what it's really like to get old” are my friends, Millie Garfield and Darlene Costner.

Each of them has 16 years on me (we celebrated Darlene's 90th birthday a few weeks ago and it won't be long until we do the same for Millie), and they have both, over these many years, let me know – with great, good humor but serious about it too – that I don't know nothin' yet about getting old.

In fact, it was just those words that both women used in comments last week. Darlene:

”If I could give advice to the young writers I would say: Sometimes we can't plan what we will do in the future.

“...all of you under the age of 80 who are experiencing slowing down should know that 'you ain't seen 'nuttn' yet'.

“I couldn't move fast if the room was on fire. I couldn't think fast if I were to be paid a million dollars for the right answer if given in 60 seconds. There are times when I feel like an old clock that is losing more time every hour. Or maybe an old car whose parts are falling off one by one.

“And yet I am still enjoying these waning years. I can still indulge myself in the activities I am able to enjoy and I have the freedom to set my own time table, slow though it may be.

“So don't fight the aging process and make adjustments in your lifestyle and activities as necessary.”

Millie arrived at the comments that day a while later, after Darlene, and probably didn't see the point in exerting herself to explain old, old age:

”Darlene said it all! 'You ain't seen' nuttn' yet.' Pay attention to everything she said. Words of wisdom - What a lady!”

Through the years, I've listened carefully to both these women; they have much more experience than I. They are nearly a generation older, only 10 years older than my parents. They were kids during the Great Depression; teens during the War; just getting going as adults in the post-War boom and that gives them a different outlook on life – and, undoubtedly, on old age - than me and certainly to baby boomers.

Only a young person could believe that people 50 or 60 and older can be lumped together – either as individuals or collectively.

As several readers have noted on past posts about this topic, finding only one catgory, “65+,” for age when filling in forms or responding to surveys is annoying and it is more than that. It is misleading and can even be dangerous when drawing conclusions from questions related to caregiving and government health policy.

Life is as different between 65 and 85 or 90 and beyond as between infant and teenager. Our culture needs to understand that to be able to make wise or even just useful decisions.


ELDER MUSIC: Chooks

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.


When I was a whippersnapper here in Oz, chickens referred to those little fluffy yellow things that were only a few days old. Later the word evolved to mean the grown-up birds as well. Of course, we don’t like to call them that; here they are universally referred to here as chooks.

So, here are a bunch of songs about chooks.

Just in case you’re interested, the way I roast a chook is thus: I juice two or three lemons and stuff the chook with the lemon skins along with 6, 8, 10 cloves of garlic (peeled or not, it doesn’t matter. I slice them in half but it’s not necessary).

About a third to half way through cooking, I pour the juice over the bird. With it, I throw in some combination of potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips. Whatever takes your fancy.

I also throw in a whole bunch of garlic cloves (not peeled). Mash these on the potatoes when you eat them. Yum. They are mild and gentle cooked this way (they steam in their skins) and don’t exhibit that harsh garlic burn.

Takes an hour or so (depending on the size of the bird – mine usually only big enough for the two of us) at 200C (about 400F).

Anyway, back to the music. This column started as purely jump blues in content which I know that Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, would like.

When I showed it to her she suggested some others I had completely forgotten about.These were from other genres and makes for a more varied column. Well, slightly.

I’ll start with one of the jump blues tracks, and a particular favorite of the A.M., AMOS MILBURN.

Amos Milburn

Amos is renowned for his songs about partying and booze, often with double entendres all over the place. I don't know if this one counts in that way but it fits our category today. Chicken Shack Boogie.

♫ Amos Milburn - Chicken Shack Boogie

Here is the first of two contributions from LOUIS JORDAN.

Louis Jordan

What can I say about Louis Jordan that I haven't said a dozen times before? Well, nothing really especially as he turns again at the bottom of this column. I'll just say his song is A Chicken Ain't Nothin' But A Bird, written by Emmett Wallace that's been covered by many musicians.

♫ Louis Jordan - A Chicken Ain't Nothin' But A Bird

The band LITTLE FEAT was created by Lowell George and Billy Payne when Frank Zappa kicked them both out of the Mothers of Invention.

Little Feat

The band was only marginally successful but they were considered a "musicians' band" as they were held in high esteem by others in the business.

Quite a number of their songs have been covered by other artists, including this one. However, here is the original and best version of Dixie Chicken.

♫ Little Feat - Dixie Chicken

BIG MAMA THORNTON’s contribution is a song that was a hit for Howlin’ Wolf and an even bigger one for the Rolling Stones. Folks who have taken an interest in that sort of music will know immediately which song I’m talking about.

Big Mama Thornton

The song was written by that prolific writer of blues songs, Willie Dixon, and after Wolf recorded it, Sam Cooke had a go at it as well, closely followed by the Stones.

Many others performed it, including Big Mama Thornton. Little Red Rooster.

♫ Big Mama Thornton - Little Red Rooster

TOM RUSSELL wrote the best chook song ever.

Tom Russell

Here he is joined by his good friend IAN TYSON to perform it.

Ian Tyson

The song is about the nasty business of cock fighting and it’s a tribute to Tom that he can make such wonderful art from such a sordid enterprise. It tells of the journey of a rooster traveling north along the coast of California, fighting all the while, raising the stakes as he goes.

The song is Gallo del Cielo which in Oz parlance would be something like “Heavenly Chook” (there are probably shops called that). The backing certainly shows the huge influence Marty Robbins had on Tom.

♫ Tom Russell - Gallo del Cielo

THE DEEP RIVER BOYS started out as a gospel group but their song today is a far cry from standard gospel songs.

Deep River Boys

They got together at what is now Hampton University in Virginia where they won a talent contest. That led to radio and stage appearances. After the war, they toured with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and later appeared on TV (Ed Sullivan and so on).

They were very popular in Europe and toured that continent extensively. Their song is That Chick's Too Young to Fry, a song written and recorded by Tommy Edwards. Louis Jordan and The Prisonaires also had a go at it too.

♫ The Deep River Boys - That Chicks Too Young To Fry

The CRUEL SEA is an occasional Oz rock band fronted by the charismatic Tex Perkins (calm down, A.M.) who also has his own considerable solo career.

Cruel Sea

Here is the band with Momma Killed a Chicken. This was taken from an old blues song variously known as Bottle Up and Go or Borrow Love and Go. Probably other names as well.

♫ Cruel Sea - Momma Killed A Chicken

At last, I get to include LITTLE RICHARD. Okay, I have had him before but I haven't included him as often as I'd expect.

Little Richard

Richard is, of course, one of the half dozen most important people in the development of rock & roll. That's all that needs to be said except that his song is Chicken Little Baby. The song rather fades out at the end.

♫ Little Richard - Chicken Little Baby

Several really fine artists made their professional debut singing with BILLY WARD AND THE DOMINOES.

Billy Ward & the Dominoes

One such is Clyde McPhatter who later went on to front The Drifters and later than that had a solo career. Alas, he was a bit too fond of the bottle for his own good which led to his premature death.

Here he is way back singing lead for The Dominoes and Chicken Blues.

♫ Billy Ward - Chicken Blues

There are a lot more chook songs but I'll finish with someone we have already heard, LOUIS JORDAN. There are others I could have used but Louis is the chicken man so I think he deserves a couple of tracks. The A.M. certainly agrees with that.

Louis Jordan

Louis performs one of his most famous songs, Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens.

♫ Louis Jordan - Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens


INTERESTING STUFF – 4 July 2015


SMART WATCHES FOR OLD PEOPLE

There have long been pendants for elders to wear around our necks to make it one-touch easy to call for help in an emergency. Now there are at least two companies making these devices more stylish.

Lively has been selling its Apple watch lookalike alert system since January.

Livelywatch

It seems fairly pricey to me ranging from $34.95 to $27.95 per month depending on the length of contract you choose. Me? I don't sign up for anything for longer than a year now since from here on out, every year is a gift.

You can read more about it at the Lively website.

Unaliwear's Kanega watch it still in development. The website explains that in addition to emergency assistance, it includes medication alerts, fall detection, guide-me-home instructions and can be voice activated.

UnaliWear_Images_r6_c4

This one has been funded with a Kickstarter campaign (now closed) and will cost $299 with a $30 per month fee.

You can read more about both these systems in a recent Time magazine story.


JOHN OLIVER ON TRANSGENDER RIGHTS

John Oliver's video essays on his HBO program, Last Week Tonight, flow so smoothly, intelligently and with such great humor that it is tempting to think they must fall together with great ease.

Take it from me, someone who produced hundreds of television shows and segments of various kinds over many years, none are easy and few are as excellent as these. There is a reason it takes a week to produce each one.

Here is the latest fantastically good work from Oliver and his crew about transgender rights.


WHAT DID YOU DO WITH YOUR LEAP SECOND?

Last Monday, you and I and everyone else on Earth got his/her life extended by one second. Huh? you might ask. Here's an expanation from timeanddate.com.

”Every now and then a leap second is added to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to synchronize atomic clocks with the Earth's ever slowing rotation.

“Before the first leap second was added in 1972, UTC was 10 seconds behind Atomic Time. So far, a total of 26 leap seconds have been added. This means that the Earth has slowed down an additional 26 seconds compared to atomic time since then.

“However, this does NOT mean that the days are 25 seconds longer nowadays. The only difference is that the days a leap second was added had 86,401 seconds instead of the usual 86,400 seconds.”

Got that now? I'm not sure I do.


MARCO TEMPEST – LE PAD MAGIQUE

It's a nightclub magic act in France. Its from our blog friend, Darlene Costner, and it's charming. It takes a minute to get going but I promise, it's worth it.


ALL ABOUT BACON

Is there any better food smell that bacon? I'm a whole lot like that dog in the bacon pet food commercial - “bacon, bacon, bacon.” Now, however, it has been years since I've eaten any - for all the reasons in this short video.

But I sure do miss it.


JAPAN MOURNS THE STATION MASTER CAT, TAMA

This is a wonderful story of a cat who saved a train company. She died at age 16 a couple of weeks ago and is mourned throughout Japan. Thank doctafil of Jive Chalkin' for this.

You can read more here.


NATURE WALKS IMPROVE MOOD SAY SCIENTISTS

This is about the 10,000th piece I've seen “proving” that nature is better for you than – what? Non-nature, I guess.

This latest divided a small group of people in two – half walked in nature for 90 minutes, the other half in a city.

”The nature walkers reported having fewer negative thoughts about themselves after the walk than before the walk, while the urban walkers reported no change.

“What's more, fMRI brain scans revealed less activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex (sgPFC), a brain region that may play a key role in some mood disorders...” [and blah, blah, blah].

I don't buy it. Never have. I have always found that walking, walking, walking in a big city, New York in my case, is exciting, stimulating, thought- and idea-provoking, energizing and load of good fun.

Nothing wrong with a nature walk now and then, but for me (and I don't believe I am the only person in the world), it's big, loud, exciting cities that get my mind going and make me feel good.

You can read more about this study here.


ADORABLE NEWS GUYS – FATHER AND SON

As you probably know, after Brian Williams' fall from grace, Lester Holt took over NBC Nightly News and then, recently, he was named permanent anchor of the program.

A week or so later, a young news reader at WMAQ TV in Chicago was subbing for the regular newsman at that station when it came time for him to “throw” to the national news desk in New York. That young news guy is named Stefan Holt and take a look at what happened.

Yup, father and son. Nice.


EAGLE CAM

Amazing footage of - well, an eagle's eye view of an eagle's flight from atop the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. We can thank Darlene Costner for bringing it to us.

You can view the full five-minute flight here.


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.