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Presidential Candidates Ignoring Their Age Peers

As Marc Freedman, the founder and CEO of Encore.org noted in The Wall Street Journal last week, with the exception of Ted Cruz, age 45, all the remaining candidates of both parties are old enough for Social Security.

Bernie Sanders – 74
Donald Trump - 69
Hillary Clinton - 68
John Kasich – 63 (okay, early Social Security in his case)

Before I go any further, I must take a moment to throw some kudos to Mr. Freedman for this important statement in his WSJ piece (emphasis is mine):

”...what about the vast majority of the older population who are neither frail nor dependent, who are far from being elderly.”

Words matter, and he is the only person writing about elders I can recall – in the media in general but also among many who work in the ageing business – who does not use the word “elderly” to mean old people. Elderly means, as his sentence makes clear, “frail and dependent.” We must stop using it as a synonym for old.

The point of Freedman's essay is that although there has been, refreshingly, no pejorative discussion this election season of the candidates' ages, neither have any of them spoken up about the unprecedented and ongoing demographic increase of the nation's – and the world's – oldest citizens.

They have all failed, says Freedman – and I agree – to show any leadership for this revolutionary change in population numbers, addressing only (and barely as far as I can see) what he calls the “liability lens” - illness, dependency, caregiving, Social Security and Medicare.

What Freedman is looking for from the candidates is support for longer working lives for elders who want it and for the millions who, like the candidates, would welcome the chance to continue serving to society but lack the resources of the candidates.

”Can you imagine Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Kasich or Bloomberg characterizing themselves as 'seniors' and 'elderly'? asks Freedman. “A great many in the candidates' cohort don't identify with these labels, or associations they conjure.

“Yet the candidates have largely missed an opportunity to use their own age to argue for the power of experience and potential contribution of their many peers-citizens who have much to offer at a time that was once associated with being put out to pasture.”

None of this, certainly, is to ignore the importance of policy positions on Social Security and Medicare which are still woefully missing from candidates on the campaign trail. But I strongly suspect that if Freedman's appeal to Clinton, Sanders, Kasich and Trump were to be answered, fixes to earned benefits would naturally follow.

Perhaps a place for the candidates to start is the bully pulpit, to speak directly to their age-mates, explaining that they understand experience isn't always views as an asset in today's society, but that the nation needs us...

“Assuming this leadership might not only help the candidates win the support of a demographic group that will be influential come November, but launch a much-needed debate in America: one focused on how we can make the most of a new era of longer lives.

“That's a question with the potential to reshape what it means to grow older – as individuals and as a nation – for generations to come.”

That's not ignoring other age groups. It is about elders contributing to business, paying taxes, participating in volunteer opportunities that benefit everyone for as long as they desire to do so and are able. There is no down side to this.


Never Ending Ageism

Several new books about ageing and ageism are being published this year and they will not go unnoticed at this blog. Meanwhile, a reader alerted me to an op-ed piece published on Friday in the Los Angeles Times that goes a long way toward making books and articles about ageism necessary.

”It may be a joke. It may be 'tongue-in-cheek,' emailed Patricia Edie who blogs at Life, as I Live It. "But it caused a twist in the center of my stomach.”

The op-ed, titled How Millennials Should Deal with Baby Boomers at Work, is written by Ann Friedman who, the newspaper tell us, “is a contributing writer to Opinion. She is a millennial.”

So we are all on the same page, millennials are loosely defined as being born between about 1981 and 2000 so are currently between the ages 16 and 35.

Boomer age has long been more specific: born between 1946 and 1964, now between ages 52 and 70.

After opening with a snarky reference to a less that flattering description of millennials in, she tells us with no link to cite her quotation, The New York Times, Ms. Friedman makes it obvious where her story is headed:

”...what happens when baby boomers dominate your office culture? What are the best practices for handling their Luddism and fragile egos?”

That sure does set a tone, doesn't it.

Here is some of the advice about boomers from the put-upon and oh-so-superior millennials who are, Ms. Friedman tells us, “working professionals age 33 or younger” interviewed via Twitter:

“...never assume that your baby-boomer colleagues...are unfamiliar with new technology. It's far more likely that they've read about it, tried it once and decided they hate it.”
“And don't talk to boomers as if their methods (even the ancient ones) are stupid. Keep it constructive. Suggest ways to optimize without remaking their entire process.”
“In a boomer-majority office, it's often necessary to ignore mild but routine sexism, cautioned many millennial women. Remember that some boomers joined the workforce before anti-harassment policies were created.”
“It's also important to signal to your boomer colleagues that you're aware of American history prior to 1990, without threatening their conviction that lived experience is invaluable.”

Condescending much?

In the early years of this blog, when I was writing about ageism and age discrimination I sometimes employed what I called “The TGB Bias Test” that involved substituting racial or gender references in place of the ageist ones in quotations. Let's give it a try today and see what happens. Replacement references are in italic:

“...never assume that your black colleagues...are unfamiliar with new technology. It's far more likely that they've read about it, tried it once and decided they hate it.”
“And don't talk to women as if their methods (even the ancient ones) are stupid. Keep it constructive. Suggest ways to optimize without remaking their entire process.”
“In a Latino-majority office, it's often necessary to ignore mild but routine sexism, cautioned many millennial women. Remember that some Latinos joined the workforce before anti-harassment policies were created.”
“It's also important to signal to your Muslim colleagues that you're aware of American history prior to 1990, without threatening their conviction that lived experience is invaluable.”

Ridiculous? Yes. Offensive? Definitely. In fact, I'm pretty sure that none of those rewritten quotations could make it into print at the Los Angeles Times or any other legitimate publication. But boomer bigotry is a non-issue.

Some people in the comments at the newspaper suggested this story was satire. Really? To succeed, satire needs to be recognizeable as such.

Perhaps in an effort to redeem herself and her quoted millennial cohorts, Ms. Friedman ends her piece with

”Finally, remind yourself, like Anne Brown, that you'll 'probably be old and lame someday too.' Or, as Tim Brack put it, 'remember that you'll be in their shoes in the end... complaining about the latest generation.'”

“Old and lame someday” certainly nails this Op-ed's prevailing millennial attitude. For a long time, ageism has been - and obviouisly remains - the last acceptable prejudice.


ELDER MUSIC: Variations on Work Song and Round Midnight

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.

* * *

Today's column is another where there are variations on two tunes. This is because I didn't have enough versions that were dissimilar enough to fill a whole column, but there were some fine versions of both tunes.

As you can gather from the heading they are Work Song, written by Nat Adderley, and Round Midnight written by Thelonious Monk.

When Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I were checking tracks for a previous column on the tune Moanin' we were struck how similar it was to Work Song.

That gave us the idea for this column (or half of it anyway). It seems we aren't the only ones who noticed that.

The first cab off the rank is by DION DIMUCCI and he starts with Moanin' and segues into Work Song.

Dion

Dion started his career as front man for the DooWop group Dion and the Belmonts and has evolved into a very interesting singer indeed.

♫ Dion - Work Song


THE BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND was one of the finest blues/rock groups from the sixties.

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Paul Butterfield knew talent when he saw and heard it and he collected them into his band – Muddy Waters' rhythm section and two of the best guitarists around, Elvin Bishop and the best of the lot, Michael Bloomfield.

Butterfield was a good singer and an excellent harmonica player. He shows that in this version along with Elvin and Michael soloing separately. Mark Naftalin gets into the act as well on organ.

♫ Paul Butterfield - Work Song


JOE & EDDIE were Joe Gilbert and Eddie Brown.

Joe & Eddie

Joe and Eddie had similar backgrounds, both born the same year, grew up in the south and moved to Berkeley, California where they met at school and started singing together.

They won several talent shows and turned professional. They were prominent in the folk boom of the early sixties. Unfortunately, Joe was killed in a car accident in 1966.

They sing Work Song with Eddie singing the solo part.

♫ Joe & Eddie - The Work Song


NINA SIMONE recorded the song a couple of times.

Nina Simone

In one version she looks back to the big band era; in the second she anticipates sixties rock music with a bit of jazz tossed in as well. Today I've included the latter one, recorded in 1961.

♫ Nina Simone - Work Song


The final version is by NAT ADDERLEY, who wrote it.

Nat Adderley

Work Song was Nat's most famous tune and it came from an album of the same name, generally regarded as his finest. An interesting aside is that it featured Bobby Timmons playing piano. He's the one who wrote the tune of Moanin'.

♫ Nat Adderley - Work Song


Thelonious Monk wrote Round Midnight in the early 1940s. Brian Hanighen later added words to the tune.

Brian also wrote with Johnny Mercer and Clarence Williams. He was instrumental in getting Billie Holiday a recording contract at Columbia. She had nothing but praise for him in her autobiography, and not just for that.

I'll start the second half of this column with a vocal version by MEL TORMÉ.

Mel Torme

Mel employs a stripped back, understated backing which suits the song superbly. You really should wait until late night for this one - oh, sometime Round Midnight (or tell yourself it's midnight somewhere in the world).

♫ Mel Torme - Round Midnight


MILES DAVIS recorded the tune in an album called "Round About Midnight."

Miles Davis

It's generally considered that Miles received a recording contract with Columbia Records after he and Monk performed the tune together at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival. He recorded the album not too long afterwards. This is the track.

♫ Miles Davis - 'Round Midnight


STEFAN GROSSMAN first came to my notice when he made an interesting album with Danny Kalb, guitarist for the Blues Project.

JOHN RENBOURN was an English guitarist who often collaborated with Bert Jansch. Stefan and John got together and recorded an album together.

John Renbourn & Stefan Grossman

On that album they performed an acoustic guitar version of 'Round Midnight. Here it is.

♫ John Renbourn and Stefan Grossman - 'Round Midnight


There's nothing much I can say about LINDA RONSTADT that hasn't been said before.

Linda Ronstadt

Besides, I've already featured her in two columns, so I'll just play her version of Round Midnight from her album "For Sentimental Reasons," one of the ones she made with Nelson Riddle.

♫ Linda Ronstadt - Round Midnight


As is traditional (if two columns and four tunes can establish a tradition), I'll end with the person who wrote Round Midnight, and that is THELONIOUS MONK.

Thelonious Monk

Monk recorded it several times – as a solo piano piece and with various bands. The one I've chosen features GERRY MULLIGAN prominently.

Gerry Mulligan

This is taken from an album called "Mulligan Meets Monk.”

♫ Thelonious Monk - Round Midnight


INTERESTING STUFF – 26 March 2016

AT THE BERNIE SANDERS RALLY IN PORTLAND, OREGON LAST NIGHT

This happened. Around the intertubes, it's being called "Birdie Sanders."

In the nastiest, dirtiest presidential campaign in my lifetime it was sorely needed - a perfect, refreshing moment.

BILL MAHER'S AGEISM RANT

How did I miss this when Bill Maher first broadcast it late in 2014 on his HBO show, Real Time with Bill Maher?

It's as relevant now and if you pay attention, you'll see a quick cutaway of Bernie Sanders at about 57 seconds from the top.

TRUMP'S NON-STOP BRAGGADOCIO

You have to be careful these days because the news media is pretty much all Trump all the time and too much of him will definitely rot your brain.

Last week, Huffington Post senior editor Nick Baumann strung together dozens of what Donald Trump tells us are his many qualifications to be president. Baumann calls it a Prose Poem and indeed, there is a terrifying rhythm to the narcissistic repetition. It begins:

”I am the most successful person ever to run for president. Nobody’s ever been more successful than me. I have the best words. I am the most fabulous whiner.

“I am the best builder. Nobody builds walls better than me. I build the best product. Nobody can build a wall like Trump. I’ve always had people say, 'Donald, you have the most beautiful hands.' I have the steadiest hands. I have a very good brain.”

Then it goes on for about 24 column inches of text and ends thusly:

”My primary consultant is myself. I am the least racist person you will ever meet. Nobody reads the Bible more than me. I am very modest. I am the most humble celebrity...”

Remember, every word is a quotation and the repetitive egotism is almost mesmerizing. Read the whole thing here.

TEXAS MAN FIND NOAH'S ARK FOSSILS IN FRONT YARD

Or, at least, that is what he tells us. And it gets even better: a “biblical scholar” has confirmed the find without even seeing the fossils in person. See what you think.

You can read more here.

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN KANSAS DRASTICALLY CUT TAXES

As usual in every presidential and congressional election, Republican candidates for high office are again telling us this year that massive tax cuts will make America great and every American rich.

As it turns out we have a test case for that theory. A few years ago, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback cut taxes in a way that closely resembles what all the Republican contenders for president say they will do with national taxes and last week, Seth Myers took a look how that has worked out for Kansas.

HOW BANANAS ARE HARVESTED

Yes, this video is an extended commercial for the Dole corporation but because I eat half a banana almost every morning of my life but have never seen a banana tree, let alone a farm, I was curious about how they grow. Maybe you are too.

JOHN OLIVER – THE TRUMP WALL

John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight, is the best advertisment we have for long form journalism, for taking the time – a week in this case – to thoroughly research a single story and then carefully craft it into a smart, informative report.

Hardly anyone does this anymore but Oliver and his crew don't stop at good reporting. They then throw a lot of fall-down-funny humor into the mix. This week, it is a reality-based look at the nuts and bolts of that wall Donald Trump says he, as president, will build.

ABRIDGED CLASSICS

Most of us have a list of classic literature that we haven't gotten around to reading but intend to do so before we die. TGB's estimable Sunday musicologist, Peter Tibbles, has found a solution for us at BoredPanda.

Abridged-classics-books-shortened-comics-wrong-hands-john-atkinson-1

Abridged-classics-books-shortened-comics-wrong-hands-john-atkinson-2

See? Nothing to it. Now you can toss that dusty, old reading list.

HOW FRENCH WOMEN EXERCISE

It was way back in November 2011 that I first posted this video in Interesting Stuff. Darlene Costner sent it to me then and she's done it again. So I'm posting it a second time because it's so damned much fun.

THE OREO CAT

Everyone should be able to have this much fun dancing all by ourselves like The Oreo Cat does. Thank doctafil for the video.

* * *

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 at the top 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.


Some TimeGoesBy Blog Housekeeping

Today's is not wildly inspiring post but it is about what we do here – you and me together – and some changes.

They come about as a result of your generosity during the first ever TimeGoesBy donation campaign last month for which I am deeply grateful.

The biggest change so far is the upgrade of the TGB email version thousands of subscribers receive. The advertising that previously muddied it up is gone now and as of Wednesday, the html version of the mailing actually looks like the web page:

RGBemailMailingTop

A big thank you to Heather at my email delivery service, Feedblitz, for undertaking that improvement for me. It hadn't occurred to me when I upgraded to the paid version that I could recreate the look and feel of the website so it's a nice surprise to me and I hope for you too.

ATTENTION EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS
There is another improvement for email subscribers but first, some background about it.

Almost every day for as long as this blog has been going, I receive about half a dozen (and often more) emails with comments about the day's blog post which are obviously meant to be shared with all readers.

Although I don't always have time, I try to answer most of them to explain:

  1. When you hit “reply,” only I receive your comment via return email

  2. To comment so that others can read what you have taken time to write:

  3. Click the story title. It will then open in your browser

  4. Scroll to the bottom of the story and click the word “Comments”

  5. The page will reload with a form at the bottom for your comment

  6. Fill in your name (any name you want) and email address (required and it must be real but will not posted)

  7. Write your comment and click “Post”

Believe it or not, your not-so-bright blogger here never, over a decade, saved that list so she could copy it into an email reply. I type it out every damned time and I cannot tell you how tedious and time-consuming that is.

More important, however, is that many of these email-only comments are good, informative, fascinating or funny and worth the light of day.

So now, at the bottom of the new and improved email newsletter is a link that says, “Comment at Time Goes By.”

EmailLinktoComment

All you need to do is click those words – Comment at Time Goes By - and the story will open in your browser already positioned at the bottom of the list of comments left by other readers, ready for your pithy contribution. Please use this.

COMMENT RULES
Because TimeGoesBy has such a high level of smart, thoughtful readers, there are few if any of the troll problems that have caused many commercial news websites to close their comment sections in recent years.

There are, however, two reminders worth making: All off-topic comments and all comments with outbound links are deleted.

For a long time I allowed links within comments to other websites if they were related to the day's topic. But in recent years there are so many fake comments that exist only to link to commercial and retail websites that I just delete any comment with a link. It's too time consuming to check them all.

However, you are allowed to link to a personal blog in your comment signature. There is a space in the form to fill in the URL of your blog which automatically turns your name into a link when the comment is published.

One last comment item: It goes without saying, I hope, to not use all caps in your comments and to leave an empty line space between paragraphs. It's hard enough to read on a screen, let's all make it as easy as possible for everyone.

TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
A few hundred readers subscribe to TGB via Twitter. The link takes them to this page you are now reading.

And some others subscribe via Facebook where there is a short excerpt from the day's blog post and a link to the blog page. A few people leave comments at Facebook (and on very rare occasions at Twitter) which are, of course, never seen by the majority of people who read TGB at the website.

Mostly, I use Twitter and Facebook as secondary distribution channels for people who spend their time on those services - which I generally don't.

I have gone to great lengths over many years to consolidate all my subscriptions, RSS feeds, Google Alerts, etc. in one place - my email/calendar program - so I don't often check those two social media sites.

I have so many subscriptions that they are about all the electronic input I can handle without losing my mind having to check Facebook and Twitter in addition to my email feed.

This may change soon, if only slightly. The wonderful Erin Read who is director of strategic planning at Creating Results and also a friend, spent more than an hour on Go To Meeting with me a couple of weeks ago.

She showed me how I can expand the usefulness of those two social networks for readers of Time Goes By without taking too much more time from my life than I can tolerate.

She also made it easy to understand for someone who has assiduously refused to learn anything about Facebook and Twitter beyond the automatic distribution.

So don't hold your breath but it shouldn't be too long before there are a few social media changes related to Time Goes By. And thank you again, Erin, for the generosity of your time and amazing expertise.

If you have been tolerant enough to read this far through today's housekeeping post, you deserve a reward – or at least a giggle. So for your patience, here is a bit of internet animal silliness: Cats stealing dogs' beds.


Crabby Old Lady and Loud Movies

Last week we discussed hearing loss. Today, it is the opposite – painfully loud noise. Specifically, the audio volume in movie theaters.

A couple of months ago, a friend suggested seeing Spotlight at a local theater.

Crabby Old Lady hardly ever does that anymore. One reason is that it's not nearly as easy as it was in New York City with dozens of theaters within easy distance. Here, she must drive several miles for all but one tiny theater near her so she doesn't often do that.

Even so, Spotlight was on the “don't miss” list and it would be nice to see her friend so they met at the theater. As soon as the lights dimmed and the screen lit up, the bigger reason Crabby mostly avoids movie theaters came back to her.

Crabby's real problem is that the piercingly high volume of movie sound nowadays causes actual pain, a deep ache in her ears.

Crabby's not talking about action movies that don't interest her anyway. She is talking about even the few films still produced that consist of dialogue – like Spotlight.

It had been so long since Crabby watched a movie in a theater that she didn't think to bring ear plugs (not that they help much) so she stuffed her ears with Kleenex. Only in the most minimal way did that reduce the pain.

As Crabby and her friend walked out of the theater afterward, her ears were ringing even louder than from the perpetual tinnitus she has lived with for the past eight or ten years, and ambient street noise along with her friend's voice sounded muffled. That can't possibly be good for anyone.

As Crabby has mentioned here in the past, she firmly believes that if it (“it” being pretty much anything) is happening to her, it is happening to hundreds, maybe thousands or even millions of others.

News stories or commentary about excessive movie volume had never crossed her path so Crabby didn't expect much from a Google search. Wrong, at least to a small degree.

”The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that prolonged or repeated exposure to sounds 85 decibels and higher can cause hearing loss,” reports the healthyhearing website.

“And the louder the sound, the less time it takes for damage to occur.”

Hearing loss at above 85 decibals. For old people who, by age alone, are more susceptible to hearing loss, loud movie audio could be devastating. KRCA-TV in Sacramento, California, tested the levels of several movies in and around that city.

Insurgent and Cinderella - at five different local movie theaters. Both films frequently hit peaks above 85 dBA (decibels), with Cinderella reaching a peak of 120.4 dBA and Insurgent reaching 118 dBA.”

Here's a 2014 report from KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas about excessive movie audio volume:

In 2014, legislation was introduced in the Connecticut legislature aimed at regulating the decibel level of movie audio in theaters but apparently nothing came of it. One reason cited is that people objected to more government intrusion in their lives. As opposed, one wonders, to deafness?

Others say that due to the digital nature of film projection these days, “limiting the noise level could make it difficult to calibrate motion pictures for easy listening when it comes to dialogue and other low-volume scenes.” (healthyhearing.com again)

Yeah, right. Crabby Old Lady has quite a few years of past experience with audio editing and although digital has come along since then, she would need to see some proof before she believes that audio between a scene with explosions and a quiet conversation next, for example, cannot be balanced.

It could be done in the past; why would digital make it impossible?

Meanwhile, Crabby watches movies at home but there are always some she would rather see on a ginormous screen in a theater and to do so without horrible pain in her ears, not to mention potential physical damage. It is unacceptable for a technology known to cause hearing loss to be ignored.

Does any of this (dare Crabby say it?) ring a bell with you?


Once Again for the Last Time?

One of the most common laments of the oldest old is for the things left undone. A large number say they wish they had traveled more. Others are sorry they didn't take more chances or that they didn't study harder in school or stayed with the wrong spouse instead of moving on.

The regrets of people who are near the end of life are remarkably similar. We know this because there is no lack of academics and other researchers who regularly poll elders with the question, “What do you most regret about your life?” or something close to that.

When I read these surveys, I feel terrible for people who are summing up their lives in such a gloomy way and for awhile, I worried that when I sense my life is coming to a close someday, I will be thinking like that.

Then I realized it is, of course, the gloomy question that takes them to that dark place and probably not their normal demeanor.

When my mother was dying and we talked, one day, about life and death, she said to me, “Don't feel bad, Ronni. I've had a good life and I'm ready to go now.”

Poll questions nothwithstanding, maybe that is how most people who know their death is imminent really view their lives. Or maybe it's just how my mother rolled.

If the latter, it apparently runs in the family because I have few if any regrets. Or rather, when circumstances have brought me to moments of regret, I wail for awhile or, when I have behaved badly or made a poor choice, wallow in the pain for a period, allow myself to grieve and then get back to living.

What I have, rather than regrets about what I have not done, is a curiosity about what I have done and left behind:

”Although I don’t dwell on this, it interests me to think there are things I may already have done for the last time and don’t realize it yet.

“At first, the idea pierces my heart reeking, as it does, of the end being nigh. On further thought, however, I find that it would be good if I could know I would never do that thing again, to mourn it a bit, maybe light a candle for its passing out of my life and send it on its way with a hug and kiss.”

When I wrote those words on this blog 11 years ago, I still lived in New York City. Since then I have lived in Portland, Maine for four years and then moved on to Oregon where I live now. But that 2005 list of things I may have done for the last time hasn't changed much. Here it is:

  1. Swim naked in a secret stream on a hot summer day

  2. Dance the tango (if I still know how)

  3. Drive down the highway in a convertible at 100 miles an hour with Joe Cocker’s Cry Me a River blasting at full volume

  4. Make love

  5. Walk the beach alone in northern Oregon at 6AM

  6. Walk Greenwich Village streets in a blizzard

  7. Read all of Shakespeare’s plays

  8. Visit London, Paris and the towns in the hills above the southern coast of Spain

In the eleven years gone by, only two items have changed: I have done number 5 again and I would definitely change number 6. I am not so interested in walkiing in the blizzard, although that's nice. Today, I would rewrite it thusly: Return to live in Greenwich Village, or any part of Manhattan.

Okay, it looks like I do have one regret - having left New York City. But it definitely will not be what's on my mind as my life draws to an end.

Ultimately, for me anyway, regrets – even one of this much personal pain – are absurd, as American poet Richard Siken has pointed out:

“Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying.

“And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, 'I am falling to the floor crying,' but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.”

It may take a while to get there, but what else is there to think about when there is no way to change past events.

It is worth ending this as I did in 2005, noting that I will take time now and then to recall the things I may have done for the last time because Madeleine L’Engle knew what she was talking about when she wrote:

"I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be...This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages...but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide…"

      - A Circle of Quiet [1972]

ELDER MUSIC: A Barrel of Bachs

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 the name Bach is mentioned, it's usually in reference to the great Johann Sebastian, often cited as the greatest composer ever. Sometimes his four sons who became composers are considered.

Besides these there are quite a number in the extended family who wrote music. Some of those will be featured today (along with the famous five, of course).

It didn't start with J.S.; around the area where little Johann was born, the word Bach was already used as a nickname for musician.

As I implied, the line of musicians didn't start with JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, but I will.

J.S. Bach

Already in J.S.'s time he was considered old-fashioned. Indeed, his music was completely forgotten for a century or more until Mendelssohn and others started playing it again in the nineteenth century. J.S. will not be forgotten again.

Some of his best known works are the six Brandenburg Concertos, especially number three which seems to be the one played most often, so I'll go for another. This is the first movement of the Brandenburg Concerto No 6.

♫ Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No 6 (1)


J.S. was married twice, the first time was to second cousin Maria Barbara Bach.

Maria Barbara Bach

They had seven kids, three died early. The survivors were Catharina who was described as unmarried and that's all we know of her. There was a son, Johann Gottfried Bernhard who was an organist and he died under "mysterious and unknown circumstances" at age 24.

That left two others who became quite well known composers and they'll be featured today.

They are Wilhelm Friedemann, known as the "Dresden Bach" or "Halle Bach,” and Carl Philipp Emanuel who had the nicknames the "Hamburg Bach" or "Berlin Bach." I'll start with the oldest son, WILHELM FRIEDEMANN BACH.

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach

Willy had a pretty good music teacher – his father – and later studied law and mathematics at university. Naturally, he went into the family trade becoming the organist at a church in Halle. He was very unhappy there and got into scrapes with the bigwigs (one of whom embezzled funds due him).

He left without another job in the offing and couldn't get another position. He supported himself and his family (only just) by teaching and he eventually died in poverty.

Willy lived in the shadow of his father but he wrote a bunch of cantatas and orchestral works. Here is the third movement of Sinfonia in D Major (used as prelude to his cantata "Dies ist der Tag").

♫ Wilhelm Friedemann Bach - Sinfonia In D Major (3)


The next son is CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

In Mozart's and Haydn's times (which is really just Haydn's times as he was born before Mozart and outlived him by many years), whenever anyone referred to "the great Bach," it was always C.P.E. they were talking about, not his father who had slipped from the public gaze by then.

C.P.E. received his middle name from the great Georg Philipp Telemann who was his godfather and a good friend of his father's. C.P.E.'s first job was in Berlin at the service of Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia who liked a bit of a tune, and later became king Freddie the Great.

He was a handy person to know. C.P.E. stayed there for 30 years and then, after considerable negotiation, he joined his godfather in Hamburg where he became composer in residence for Freddie's sister, Anna Amalia.

He stayed there for a further 20 years. In all that time, he wrote copious amounts of music, perhaps not as much as his father, but lots in all sorts of genres. Here we have the third movement of the Cello Concerto No 1 in A minor.

♫ Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach - Cello Concerto No 1 in A minor (3)


After the death of his first wife, J.S. married Anna Magdalena Wilcke (or Wilcken).

 Anna Magdalena Bach

This union produced 13 kids, seven of whom died young. Of the remainder there were Johanna Carolina and Regina Susanna, both of whom were described as unmarried (again, that's the extent of our knowledge).

Another sister was Elisabeth Juliana Friderica who married Johann Christoph Altnikol who was J.S.'s pupil and quite a decent composer himself.

Then there was Gottfried Heinrich who was mentally handicapped but played the organ quite well, it seems, and died at 39.

Which brings us to two more composers, Johann Christoph Friedrich (the "Bückeburg" Bach) and Johann Christian (the "London" Bach).

JOHANN CHRISTOPH FRIEDRICH BACH.

Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach

This name has caused confusion as J.S. had a cousin, an uncle, a great uncle and an elder brother all with this name, thus "our" J.C.F. was usually called by his nickname as he resided in London, and played harpsichord there.

He may have lived there, but he liked the Italian style and many of his compositions reflect this. Everyone seemed to be writing trio sonatas around this time and he was no exception. The first movement of the Trio sonata in F major.

♫ Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach - Trio sonata in F major (1)


I'll finish the immediate family with JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH, who is my favorite of the Bach sons.

Johann Christian Bach

That's because his style is reminiscent of Haydn and Mozart who were both friends of his. He gave lessons to the young Wolfie and later on, instructed him on the intricacies of the Sinfonia Concertante of which he was a master.

He lived in Italy for quite a few years before moving to London where he spent the rest of his life. As happened to his oldest brother, someone (his steward in this case) embezzled his considerable wealth and he also died in poverty.

Instead of one of the aforementioned Sinfonia Concertantes, I'll go with something else - the first movement of the quintet for flute, oboe, violin, viola and continuo, Op. 11 No. 3 in F major.

♫ Johann Christian Bach - Quintet Op. 11 No. 3 In F Major (1)


The musical talent managed to reach the next generation, but only just. WILHELM FRIEDRICH ERNST BACH was J.C.F.'s son and he seems to be the only one of his generation who took up the family business.

After him, the musical line ends; indeed he apparently said himself, "Heredity can tend to run out of ideas."

Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach

It was a useful family to be born into if you wanted to make music. W.F.E. received training from two of his uncles, C.P.E. and J.C. Indeed, he was in London when this latter uncle died. He stayed on there for a couple more years before returning to Germany to take up the post of Kapellmeister in Berlin, a position he retained until he retired.

Here is the first movement of his Sinfonia in C major.

♫ Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach - Sinfonia in C-major (1)


Now we get to some of the others and confusion may set in. It certainly did for me trying to keep straight who all these are, often with similar (or the same) names.

As I mentioned earlier, there were several in the extended family named JOHANN CHRISTOPH BACH, and here's one of those.

Johann Christoph Bach

This particular one is the son of Heinrich Bach, Johann Sebastian's great uncle. I don't know what relation that makes him to the great man, but we'll just skip over that.

This particular J.C. had a reputation as the greatest of the Bach composers until J.S. (and his sons) came along and now he's been relegated to the reserve bench. More than that, pretty much forgotten, but we'll do something about that today, even if it's only a little bit. I've included one of his motets, Fürchte dich nicht

♫ Johann Christoph Bach - Fürchte dich nicht


JOHANN LUDWIG BACH (the "Meininger Bach") was J.S.'s second cousin, or something like that. He was approximately contemporaneous with J.S.

Johann Ludwig Bach

He was a writer of cantatas and some of his were attributed to the great man until the original folios were discovered. The confusion probably arose because he'd often perform his cousin's works at the various courts where he worked.

No cantata this time, but another motet, Unsere Trübsal.

♫ Johann Ludwig Bach - Unsere Trübsal


JOHANN MICHAEL BACH (the "Gehrener Bach") was sort of a second uncle to J.S. as well as his father-in-law – he was the father of J.S.'s first wife.

Johann Michael Bach

He wrote works for the organ as well as cantatas. Besides composing, he was renowned at the time for making musical instruments, particularly harpsichords.

Those early Bachs liked their motets and here's yet another (that's about all I have of these particular gentlemen). This is a Christmas motet. I should have kept it for then. Oh well. Furchtet Euch Nicht.

♫ Johann Michael Bach - Furchtet Euch Nicht


To add to the confusion, we have another JOHANN MICHAEL BACH who was a nephew of J.S. I couldn't find a picture of him anywhere.

He was mostly a lawyer (as were several other members of the family) and later a music teacher. However, he wrote music as well and like many of the others, he specialised in cantatas.

Here is one of the called Das Volk, so im Finstern wandelt, and this is the fourth movement called “Rheinische Kantorei.”

♫ Johann Michael Bach III - Rheinische Kantorei


There are quite a few more Bachs that I've left out. I must admit that some of the very early Bachs' music is, to put no fine point on it, boring, so they won't be missed. Fortunately there is enough interesting music to fill the column.


INTERESTING STUFF – 19 March 2016

MY GAL, ROSEMARIE

Rosemarie and Ray live only on their two Social Security checks and have no savings. They get by with small pleasures and as Rosemarie's 90th birthday approaches, Ray collects cans to afford a meal out together.

Thank Tom Delmore for this lovely and poignant video.


SWEAR MODULE ADDED TO ROBOT'S PROGRAMMING

Remember that although the video from Boston Dynamics is real, that headline and the audio are parody. Some people don't get that part. It's laugh-out-loud funny.

If you can stop laughing, thank Jim Stone for this. And if you care about such stuff, MIT Technology Review reported this week that Google is selling off its Boston Dynamics subsidiary that makes amazing robots like these. You can read about the reasons here.


BEWARE OF AUTOMATIC WINDOWS 10 INSTALLATION

Someone named Geekygirlhere was quoted in The Guardian:

“Yep this happened to me this morning. Working and all of a sudden Windows closed all my programs, logged me out and started the upgrade. I quickly shut down my computer and was able to stop it but my son wasn’t so lucky. Same thing happened to him today.”

Microsoft recently changed the Windows 10 upgrade that every Windows user is nagged about several times a week from “optional” to “recommended." That mean users of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 who have set their upate option to “install all recommended updates” will, like Geekygirl, be forced into an upgrade they may not want and is almost certainly not convenient at the moment it happens.

Here's a screenshot posted to Twitter of what it looks like when Microsoft takes over your computer for their “upgrade.”

Windows10AutoUpdate2

I checked my update settings (Control Panel > Windows Update > Change Settings) and sure enough, there was “install all recommended updates” so maybe I barely escaped Geekygirl's and celsiusgs's predicament of a computer takeover by Microsoft of an update I haven't decided I want.

Now, my update choice has been changed to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download or install them.” If, like me, you're not convinced you want this upgrade, you might want to check the update choice on your machine.


JOHN OLIVER – ENCRYPTION

You are probably aware of the extended and increasingly contentious argument going on between the FBI and Apple about breaking into the cell phone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

It's a complex issue and John Oliver, on his HBO program Last Week Tonight understands that. But not at the expense of his signature sense of humor.

It's all good but wait until you get to the end of the essay and his fall-down-funny commercial mocking Apple even though Oliver sides with Apple in this dispute.


THE NAKED COWBOY'S FATHER

The Naked Cowboy has been a Times Square fixture since long before I left New York City – many years before I left. He's still there and recently, The New Yorker posted an interview with the Naked Cowboy's father.

It is wonderful in the most bizarre manner.

You can read more here.

THOUGHTS IN PASSING

Roger Ganas sent this story about a mulitmedia exhibit in San Francisco titled Thoughts in Passing from artist Claudia Biçen. There are sketched portraits and brief audio narratives in which nine hospice patients reflect on what it’s like to be dying and on the lives they led.”

Here is Ena who died on 20 February this year:

This is Randy who died on 27 September 2014:

You can read about the exhibit here and see more videos here.


NOT ALL WASHED UP

Trudi Kappel sent this item from the “Metropolitan Diary” section of the The New York Times. In her email, Trudi said, “Go Florence!”

”Dear Diary:

“Because I raised seven children on the East Side of Manhattan, trips to the supermarket were many and often. Twenty-seven meals a day, my husband would remind me.

“As I approach my 92nd year widowed and living alone, my trips to the market are fewer and well planned. On my way home recently, laden with two bags of groceries, I was happy to take advantage of a wooden bench in front of a Colombian cafe. My arthritic knees were screaming for some relief, and as I gratefully sat down, my eyes fell upon a blue neon sign across the street in a laundry window that read, 'All Washed Up.' It made me laugh.

“Not yet I’m not,” I said under my breath, and I resolutely picked myself up and walked the next two blocks, smiling all the way.

NICOLAS DEVEAUX - GIRAFFES

An email arrived from a reader this week who said a friend had forward the video to which was attached this note:

”Apparently they only do this in Australia. They don't tour because it costs too much to transport these highly trained and valuable animals. It take about 2 years to train one giraffe to feel comfortable in the water, and then another 3 or4 years to get them to dive.

“They also train them using only the reward system, unlike other animal exhibitions where they use harsh techniques.”

Someone is pulling someone's leg. The video is as gorgeous and mysterious today as it was when I first posted it here three or four years ago. But it is an animation. Beautifully done but animation - no real giraffes were used in the making. A film by Nicolas Devaux and the Cube Creative Computer Company. Prepare to be enchanted.

The same people have since created another, similar animation with an elephant. It's not quite as magical but it is lovely, too, in its way.

If you are interested in more from Cube Creative Computer Company, here is their 2015 show reel with loads of the variety of work they do:

You'll find more Cube Creative Computer Company videos at Vimeo.

* * *

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 at the top 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.


Can You Hear Me Now?

CONTEST NOTE: The magic random number generator has spoken and selected three readers as winners of the book, Seven Ways to Lighten Your Life Before You Kick the Bucket that was offered on Wednesday.

As in merry old England where authors George and Walt tell us it originated, let's have a "tucket" - TA-DA - for the names of those winners:

Vicki Hornus
momcat christi
Norma Hall

Congratulations to all three of you. Please click the “Contact” link at the top of this page and send me your postal addresses. I will get the books off to you as quickly as possible.

If I do not receive your email by Monday 21 March 2016 at 12 noon Pacific Daylight Time, another winner will be chosen.

* * *

Remember that annoying Verizon commercial from a few years ago – Can you hear me now? For millions of elders in the United States, crappy cell phone reception is not the problem - it is their hearing itself.

According to a 2013 study, hearing loss affects 30 percent of the entire American population and numbers are much higher for elders. In fact, after hypertension and arthritis, hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition among old people. It affects

More than 40% of people age 60 and older
More than 60% of those 70 and older
Almost 80% of those age 80 and older

Obviously, this is a case of if you live long enough, you will probably have trouble hearing.

There are many causes of hearing loss, some that are medically treatable and some not. But today, we're talking about hearing aids.

(If you want some fairly in-depth medical information about hearing loss, two good resources are a regularly updated section at The New York Times and the hearing loss section at the National Institutes of Health website.)

Four years ago, it was reported (emphasis is mine) that

”Of the 26.7 million people over age 50 with a hearing impairment, only one in seven, a meager 14 percent, use a hearing aid, said Dr. Frank Lin, assistant professor of otolaryngology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University.

There are a lot of reasons so few people use hearing aids ranging from denial of hearing loss to vanity to annoying feedback noises to physical discomfort and for those who own them but don't use them, the fit may be irritating or the many adjustment visits are not perceived as worth the effort.

Resistance to hearing aids is high but the number one reason for not using them is price and no wonder. As the Center for Medicare Advocacy reported two years ago, the average price of one hearing aid was $2,363 and most people require two.

With a physician's referral, Medicare will pay for a diagnostic visit to an audiologist but the 1965 law specifically prohibits Medicare from paying for hearing aids themselves even though uncorrected hearing loss leads to host of other, serious medical problems.

People with hearing loss report more frequent falls (ears play a role in ability to balance). There is an increased incidence of depression, accelerated rates of cognitive decline and those with untreated hearing loss are more likely than those with normal hearing to develop dementia. In addition, as The Times recently reported,

”...hearing loss may lead to changes in brain structure. In one of Dr. Lin’s studies, magnetic resonance imaging tests showed greater brain atrophy among those with poor hearing.

“A struggle to hear can also lead to isolation, and 'we’ve known for years that social connectedness is important for cognitive health,' Dr. Lin added.”

Recently, there has been some movement toward rectifying these problems. Last fall, President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) sent a letter with recommendations to President Barack Obama:

”The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should enable a hearing-aid prescription process similar to what is available for eyeglasses and contact lenses, giving consumers a greater diversity of choices and the opportunity to shop around without being locked into the cost of a particular device or service.

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should create a new category for 'basic' hearing aids and associated hearing tests that are meant for sale over-the-counter. This would allow entrepreneurs and innovators to enter the market and open a space for creative solutions to improve mild-to-moderate, age-related hearing loss with devices that can be sold widely, allowing consumers to buy a basic hearing aid at the local pharmacy, online, or at a retail store for significantly less.

“The FDA should rescind its previous draft guidance about Personal Sound Amplification Products and allow these devices to make truthful claims about capabilities like improving hearing or understanding in situations where environmental noise or crowded rooms might interfere with speech intelligibility.”

The F.D.A., has acted on those recommendations and will hold a public workshop in April next month to consider, as The Times reports, whether its hearing aid regulations 'may hinder innovation, reduce competition and lead to increased cost and reduced use.'”

Hearings and recommendations are not change and government works, as we know, at a glacial pace but according to that Times story, it is already well known that hearing aids don't need to cost as much as the public is paying:

The Department of Veterans Affairs, which negotiates with manufacturers for lower prices, provided comprehensive hearing care to more than 900,000 veterans in 2014 and dispensed almost 800,000 hearing aids without copays. The average cost per device: $400.”

Lighten Your Life Before You Kick the Bucket - Book and Contest

That headline is only part of the title. In full, it is Seven Ways to Lighten Your Life Before You Kick the Bucket and the first thing to know about it is that it is not about bucket lists. (Whew! Had it been, I would not have paid attention.)

Instead, Lighten Your Life... is, as the two authors explain on page 1,

”...our reaction to the idea of making a list of things to do before you kick the bucket. A bucket list is a list of things to do before you die. Our ...ucket lists are ways to live before your die.”

I'll get to those “...ucket lists” in a moment but first, meet Walt Hopkins and George Simons, two old guys in their 70s who are decades-long friends, one of whom lives in the south of France these days, the other in Scotland although both grew up in Ohio.

WaltandGeorge

They remind me (non-U.S. readers might not get this reference) of Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers who hosted the long-running PBS radio show, Car Talk.

Walt and George have a similar joie de vivre, love of life and a good laugh, aren't afraid to be silly and are equally expert in their fields as Click and Clack were at theirs. Here is how they described their ongoing careers to me:

”In more than 30 countries for more than 40 years, Walt Hopkins has been leading courses on influencing skills and life-designing skills for all sorts of organizations—including the UN’s World Food Programme, the European Space Agency, Shell, Statoil, and Unilever.

“George Simons is an independent intercultural consultant, trainer, game designer and poet, who facilitates a worldwide virtual consulting network. Clients he has served include: Alstom, Olympus, UNHCR, The Asian Development Bank, Michelin and Deutsche Post."

SevenWaysBookCover200With generous examples from their lives and the lives of people they have known, along a multitude of wise quotations from the ancients to the moderns and a lot of laughing along the way, Walt and George explain how they have come to savor their late years by making time and room to enjoy “that which is most precious to them.”

Although there are “Learnings” throughout the book, it is not necessarily an instruction book or a how-to or a primer about growing old. As they say up front:

”Pluck what works for you and duck, chuck, or fuck the rest.”

Which brings me to those seven “...ucket lists.” Fortunately for me, Walt and George have provided something any long-time TGB readers know I'm no good at: succinct explanations. Here are their short versions of the seven “...uckets.”

  1. Chucket: Dump things you no longer need in your life

  2. Shucket: Shuck the wrappings and keep the gift

  3. Ducket: Dodge demands that don't fit your values

  4. Fucket: Dump what you're fed up doing or being

  5. Plucket: Reach for what you still want to do and be

  6. Trucket: Keep on truckin' by doing what you love

  7. Tucket: Appreciate what you have gained and given

Within each of the seven are many kinds of suggestions on how to “lighten your life” - some of it advice along with wise observations, reflections, how to laugh at yourself and give yourself permissions you might not have done in the past. Now, they tell us, with great, good nature throughout, is the time to do this.

You can easily guess that number one, Chucket, is about getting rid of the stuff we collect over a lifetime and they provide a list (yes, a list of seven) questions to help decide what to keep and what to “chuck.”

The Shucket section is all about peeling off “the unneeded, distracting, the useless” and it's not all physical. George writes this chapter and he quotes the Italian poet, Cesare Pavese:

”Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears...the closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped.”

I'm tellin' ya, if there were nothing else in this book, the many quotations about growing old would be worth every penny. Before this book, I thought I had a rich and extensive collection of age-related quotations. I was mistaken. But they and I do share this, Raymond Carver's last poem titled Late Fragment:

And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so:
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on this earth.

Walt writes the Fucket section which is, to some degree, exactly what you think it would be, but wider, broader, deeper. One of the things on Walt's fucket list to leave behind is fear and in explaining, he quotes James Lipton:

”I am speaking of the kind of risk-taking that seems to be involved in the conspicuous abandonment of safe physical, emotional and intellectual redoubts, in favor of new paths where dragons may lie in wait.

“I am sacrilegiously equating a state of fear with a state of grace, if the fear is evoked by testing treasured beliefs and established patterns – one's own, not someone else's.

There are so many wise and wonderful delights in Lighten Your Life that I could quote endlessly. Instead, I'm going to hold a drawing to give away three copies. But first, two more things. The seventh way is the Tucket List and George explains that it's a real word. Who knew:

”To tuck is to play a drumroll. A tucket is a fanfare – a trumpet blast with a roll of drums – that originated in Elizabethan drama. So your tuckets are your fanfares...

“Choosing to Tucket is choosing to toot your own horn and sound your own drum, possibly to others but mainly to yourself.”

This thoughtful guide to living our late years well is something to keep nearby as there is much to learn from these guys. Get out your highlighters – it's the kind of book you'll want to mark up.

Seven Ways to Light Your Life Before You Kick the Bucket is available at the usual online book purveyors. You can also order it from the U.K. publisher and you can follow Walt and George at the book's Facebook page.

The authors have made three copies of Lighten Your Life available to give away to TGB readers. As in the past, we will do a random drawing. Here's how it goes:

Leave a message in the comments section below (no emails). That's it. If you have something to say about the book, that's good – we like lively discussions here - but not required.

The only requirement is that you state your interest in winning one of the books. “Please enter me in the drawing,” works. Or typing, "Me, me, me" will do it, too. I'm not fussy.

The contest will close tomorrow night, 17 March 2016, at midnight U.S. Pacific daylight time. The three winners will be chosen in a random, electronic drawing and their names (as they appear at the bottom of their comments) will be announced on this blog on Friday 18 March 2016.

I'll leave you with one more of the many well-chosen quotations Walt and George have scattered throughout their book. This one is from the American mythologist, Joseph Campbell:

”One great thing about growing old is that nothing is going to lead to anything. Everything is of the moment.”

Electronic Home Monitoring of Elders

After the story here last week about the Two Matts that includes a video they produced for an elder home monitoring system, a TGB reader in Tallinn, Estonia, left a comment with some concerns about such services:

"I'm working for a company that designs a product for older people and I've thought about these types or products a lot..." explained Mariliis Jõras who works at Sentab which, she says, does not yet have a home monitoring product but is considering it.

“Is that something you would enjoy as an older person yourself?” her email continues. “An app that notifies your children or grandchildren of literally every move you make and every step you take?

“It sounds a bit too intrusive to me. Just because someone is old, doesn't mean that they don't have the right for privacy anymore. Am I being paranoid?

Mariliis is not referring to PERS devices (Personal Emergency Response System), those medical alert buttons that many elders wear around their necks or, sometimes, on a wristband to summon help by pressing a button.

(You would recognize those from the “Help, I've fallen and can't get up” television commercials.)

Instead, Mariliis is asking about remote home monitoring systems for elders that allow adult children, other designated caregivers or health professionals to know minute-by-minute, around the clock what the elder is doing and if he or she needs help.

Some are sensory monitors, others are live video from cameras placed around the elder's home that feed the information to a computer or smartphone app. As Mariliis indicates – and I share her concern – these systems are highly controversial for many good reasons.

However, home caregiving and help with household needs are expensive. Couldn't cameras and sensors be a big help while saving the family a lot of money?

Also, wouldn't these systems save adult children a lot of worry about their parents? And wouldn't the elders feel better knowing someone is checking in on their well-being throughout the day?

Yes, no and maybe or maybe not to all of those questions. As Mariliis indicates and I agree, monitoring someone in the home is, and should be, controversial particularly because the issues are hardly ever discussed.

I've pulled some quotations from the websites of several monitoring companies, chosen at random, that sell these systems. Some provide sensors, others provide cameras, or both. Note that they all speak to the adult children, not the elders themselves.

Brickhouse Security promotes “live video” from anywhere over the internet.

”Easy-to-use hidden cameras from BrickHouse let you ensure that the elderly or those with special needs get the care and respect they deserve...'Granny Cams' are far less expensive than most alternatives and can help save money and preserve assets.”

LiveVideoMonitor promotes wireless, easy, do-it-yourself installation that sets up in minutes.

”Monitor elderly loved ones with an instant visual connection

Anytime from anywhere!” touts the headline. “See and hear what’s happening…day and night!”


Alarm.com is mainly a security company that also provides an “Alarm.com Wellness” service to monitor elders.

”Family members and caregivers can monitor their loved-one’s activity, such as how much time is spent in bed, in a favorite chair or out of the house. And, with intelligent sensors to track and learn the home's activities of daily living, Wellness can identify anomalies that may signify a problem.”

iWatchLife has several levels of service.

”If you need a solution that does more than make sure your parents are taking their medication, BeClose allows you to outfit their home with sensors (bed, toilet, fridge door, etc.) that track routines and activity and report back to you through a web-based portal or text messages to your phone.”

Watchbot, which like the others provides cameras to remotely “monitor friends and relatives, providing you with total peace of mind.” But here's where it gets weird, especially if you buy the notion that it is okay to spy on your elder parents:

”If you’re worried about privacy, you can relax - with WatchBot, your elderly relative can simply switch the camera off.”

Really? It seems to me that having it both ways defeats the purpose. How can the adult child know, when checking his or her phone app, if the camera is broken, if it has been turned off temporarily or if mom has decided she doesn't like being watched all the time and smashed the camera?

Further, none of the websites I visited gave one sentence's consideration to the elder's thoughts or desires about monitoring, only the adult child's.

So who decides when these monitors should be installed? Is agreement from the person being monitored required? Who gets to see the data? What constitutes an alert? Sleeping in one morning? Staying in my pajamas all day? Skipping lunch?

I understand, once the technology was created, how and why the idea of elder home monitoring systems came to be.

As the number of elders grows in the next decades, it is doubtful there will be enough caregivers to go around, not to mention that many families cannot afford help.

Even with caregiving costs, it is generally less expensive for elders to remain in their homes than move to a retirement or continuing care community but capabilities can wane. Even with that, we elders can be a stubborn lot about things we don't want to do – like leave home.

With many adult children living far away from their elder parents, isn't home monitoring better than not?

Personally, I can't get past the idea that someone would know when I go to the toilet. Or how often I go to the refrigerator. What I eat. Who I speak with on the phone or Skype - and every single thing I do all day.

That someone can look at me any time they want. In my own home.

Here's another thought: does home monitoring serve the adult children more than the elder? Does it salve their consciences for not being there?

As the costs of these systems are becoming less and less expensive, they become an increasingly viable choice for many. But there are control, privacy and other issues that are not being discussed.

Now it's your turn. Tell us your thoughts on home monitoring and know that Mariliis in Tallinn will be putting them to good use.


ELDER MUSIC: Jennifer

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.

* * *

Whenever someone asks me who my favorite female singer is I'll usually say Cecelia Bartoli. Sometimes I'll say Jessye Norman or to be different, Kathleen Ferrier.

Of course, most people who ask that question aren't interested in classical music, or they think I'm being perverse (always a possibility) so they modify the question.

I then mentally review the situation – Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Nina Simone, Etta James, Julie London, Patsy Cline. However, on reflection, the one I seem to enjoy most is JENNIFER WARNES.

Of course, that could change next week. In the meantime, here is a column of her music.

Jennifer Warnes

I'll start with the first song I first heard that registered her name in my brain. This is from her excellent album from the seventies called "Shot Through the Heart." It wasn't her first but I didn't know that at the time.

The song is I Know a Heartache When I See One.

Jennifer Warnes

♫ Jennifer Warnes - I Know a Heartache When I See One


From that same album comes a song from Norma, the Assistant Musicologist's favorite Bob Dylan album, "New Morning." The song is Sign on the Window.

♫ Jennifer Warnes - Sign on the Window


Jennifer Warnes

Here's a song I can empathise with although less so today than it was when I was younger. I imagine Jennifer feels the same way. Pissed Off 2 AM.

♫ Jennifer Warnes - Pissed Off 2 Am


Early on, Jennifer was a back-up singer for Leonard Cohen.

Jennifer Warnes

She later progressed to co-singer and later still recorded an album of his songs called “Famous Blue Raincoat,” easily the best covers of Lennie's songs anyone has done. From that album we have the title song.

♫ Jennifer Warnes - Famous Blue Raincoat


From the beginning Jennifer sang duets with many people - Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Roy Orbison, Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Sam & Dave, Bobby Womack, and Tina Turner are just a few of them.

There are a couple of others you can probably come up with (who won't be in the column, even though they won Oscars). I've selected JACKSON BROWNE.

Jennifer Warnes & ;Jackson Browne

They recorded a couple of the songlets from The Beatles' "Abbey Road" album. They call it Golden Slumbers.

♫ Jennifer Warnes and Jackson Browne & Jennifer Warnes - Golden Slumbers


Jennifer Warnes

Another song from her Lennie album is the first on that disk, and maybe the most interesting, First We Take Manhattan.

♫ Jennifer Warnes - First We Take Manhattan


Another duet, and they don't get much better than HARRY BELAFONTE with whom to sing. The song is Skin To Skin, and Harry sounds as if he's 20 years old. I imagine Jennifer would do that for any red blooded male.

Jennifer Warnes & Harry Belafonte

♫ Jennifer Warnes & Harry Belafonte - Skin To Skin


From considerably earlier in her career, Jennifer recorded one of Jimmy Webb's songs (well, probably more than one, but it's a particular one we're interested in today).

Jennifer Warnes

In this case, it was a song that I've not heard anyone else perform apart from Jimmy himself. That song is P.F. Sloan. It's about another singer/songwriter whose main claim to fame is that he wrote the song Eve of Destruction.

♫ Jennifer Warnes - P.F. Sloan


I had half a dozen songs penciled in for this spot, so I ran them past the A.M. She chose this one. It's another duet, this time Jennifer has DOYLE BRAMHALL along to help out.

Doyle Bramhall & Jennifer Warnes

Doyle also plays guitar on the track which is the Eddy Arnold/Cindy Walker classic, You Don't Know Me. On this they really give Ray Charles a run for his money in pure passion. It's terrific.

♫ Jennifer Warnes - You Don't Know Me


From her album "The Hunter” thus the following photo, I've selected the song Lights of Louisianne.

Jennifer Warnes

You can probably tell from the title that there's a Cajun influence in the song. You'd be right.

♫ Jennifer Warnes - Lights of Louisianne


INTERESTING STUFF – 12 March 2016

NO DONUTS IF YOU'RE OLDER THAN 40

In a month or so, a book titled Disrupt Aging, written by AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, will be published. When that happens, I will report on it.

Meanwhile, to promote the book, AARP created this video about ageism. See what you think:


HOME INVADER CAUGHT NAKED IN TREE

Sometimes, as they say, karma is a bitch. Gail Wilson, a former correctional officer who has muscular dystrophy was home alone in Pendleton, Oregon when a naked man stepped through the front door and said, “Hello, honey.”

“'He had a big grin on his face,' she said. 'He came walking toward me with his arms open wide. I kept saying “Get away from me. Get out of my house.”' reported the East Oregonian...

“She managed to dial 9-1-1, and soon police drove up the Wilson’s long driveway. [The suspect, Steven] Burton, who had wandered outside to inspect the Wilson’s shed, took off running.

“Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts said Burton dashed north, scaled a cyclone fence and dove off the side of a 40- or 50-foot bluff that borders the Umatilla River near the Riverside Bridge. When officers heard no splash or other indication the man had hit bottom, they ran to get a better view.

“When they got there, they looked down,” Roberts said. “He was hanging upside-down in a tree.”

Nakedmanintree

(Photo courtesy Pendleton Fire and RescuePendleton Fire) News doesn't get much funnier than this one.


WINTERGATEN MARBLE MACHINE

I don't begin to understand how this works:

”The wildly complicated hand-cranked contraption is like a music box gone mad: For one thing, it runs on marbles. 2,000 of them,” reports Slate...

“The Wintergatan Marble Machine is mostly wood—a hand-built jungle of wheels, belts, elevators, funnels, and tracks. Marbles roll and bang into an embedded vibraphone, bass drum, cymbal, and the remains of a Hofner Beatles bass guitar, among other instruments.

“The machine can be made to play different songs and tunes based on a programmable 32-measure pattern.”

You can read much more at Slate and at the Wintergaten website. Meanwhile, it does make some odd and lovely music.

Thank TGB reader, Heidi, for this.


JOHN OLIVER – GHOST GOVERNMENT

John Oliver has done it to me again – a subject that sounds so dry I think I might skip it this week. I should know better by now – it's always brilliantly funny and important to know.

Last Sunday on his HBO program, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver explained that special taxing districts are ghost governments. They are the smallest form of government, he says, and they eat up tens of billions of dollars a year with zero accountability or oversight.


OLIVER'S FOLLOWUP TO HIS TRUMP ESSAY

Also, last Sunday, Oliver followed up on his Trump video from the week before – a part two if you will. And how could he, being John Oliver, resist when in the intervening week, Donald Trump talked about the size of his penis in a political debate.

Be sure to remove any little kiddies in the room before you watch this. It's hilarious but not safe for children.


TWO POEMS ON GROWING OLD

TGB reader Tom Delmore is a poet himself. This time he has sent two short poems – one of them is his own. The other is from William Carlos Williams. They are both about growing old.

Age Trumps
By Tom A. Delmore

They walk abreast
Holding tight the umbrellas
They will not need. Instead
Transparent rain bonnets
Cover stiff gray hair.

They would never be caught dead
In such see-through head attire.
But suddenly they are their mother’s
Age and these wrinkly bonnets
Make sense. Like one piece snowsuits
In winter.

To Waken An Old Lady
By William Carlos Williams

Old age is
a flight of small
cheeping birds
skimming
bare trees
above a snow glaze.
Gaining and failing
they are buffetted
by a dark wind--
But what?
On harsh weedstalks
the flock has rested,
the snow
is covered with broken
seedhusks
and the wind tempered
by a shrill
piping of plenty.

ORGAN DONATION

Two weeks ago, we talked about how old people are allowed to donate their organs. This gift of life is precious and I wish I'd had this lovely video then, from The FATH (Fundación Argentina de Trasplante Hepático) and DDB Argentina.

The video's title is The Man and the Dog, a story of friendship seeking to inspire people to become organ donors.


CONFESSIONS OF A REPUBLICAN BACK IN 1964

My friend Jim Stone seems to specialize in finding amazing political videos. This one, an ad from the Democratic National Committee during the 1964 election, portrays concerns of a Republican voter about Republican nominee Barry Goldwater.

It is 52 years old but all you need do is change a couple of names and just about every word applies to the 2016 Republican Party.


SPRING FORWARD

Daylight-Saving-Time-Clocks

It's that time of year again in most of the United States – Daylight Saving Time. Tonight's the night to set your clocks FORWARD one hour. Remember, spring FORWARD not back and yes, we lose an hour.


OSTRICH CHASE

The YouTube page explains that a group of friends were in South Africa for the Cape Argus Cycling Tour. The day before, they were having a pre-race ride when

”Suddenly, I spotted a white ostrich on my left, then this beast jumped on the road from the right and started chasing my friends! It was a little scary at first, but then I thought I [was] gonna fall of my bike from laughter.

“The ostrich didn't have any problem to keep up at 50km/h and apparently they do 70km/h with no sweat. Luckily the creature decided to leave us alone, as we were running out of road.”

Wait until you see the size of this ostrich. I had no idea they are as big as this. Okay, it's not kittens or puppies that usually put the button on each week's Interesting Stuff post but I think you'll enjoy it anyway.

* * *

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 at the top 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.


Crabby Old Lady's List of Nuisance Ailments

A few weeks ago, Crabby Old Lady complained about the time consuming aspects of growing old and found a lot of agreement from readers in the comments. Nobody tells you this stuff will happen when you get old so, for Crabby at least, it comes as a continuing surprise.

Today's post is closely related to those time wasting issues but specifically focused on nuisance ailments and let Crabby tell you, sometimes “nuisance” does not begin to cover it.

Some excellent medical advances notwithstanding, a lot of getting old is about making peace with these nuisances.

Crabby is certainly not talking about the devastating diseases more common to age than youth – not cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, Parkinson's, etc.

Oh, no. She's talking about the day in-day out, pesky irritations that multiply as the years go by. What's amazing, is how many of them can stack up.

Crabby starts here with her own age-related nuisance list in no particular order:

TINNITUS The ringing in her ears - more frequently a rushing sound like a waterfall, but it changes from day to day – never, ever ends. It doesn't affect her hearing in general or diminish the volume of voices, TV or movies. It's just deeply irritating. Crabby longs to hear silence, something she'll never know again.

SKIN TAGS More formally called acrochordons. Crabby has several on her neck. They don't hurt or itch. They don't get any bigger nor do they get smaller or go away. They just sit there – one more minor, old age annoyance.

SEBORRHEIC KERATOSES Also known as toad spots are another skin growth that is benign although they can look like ones that are cancerous it's wise to check with a physician about them. For Crabby, they appear mostly on her back and like skin tags, don't hurt or itch. They do grow, sometimes to be as large as an inch or so in diameter.

Now and then Crabby asks her doctor to remove one but they eventually fall off in the shower on their own leaving normal skin beneath.

TEETH Just a few days ago, Crabby told you about her lengthy dental odyssey. In Crabby's case, teeth are not a new annoyance in old age. It has been a constant and expensive problem since childhood.

Even so, it is a big problem for elders. Somewhere, Crabby read that 25 percent (!) of Americans 65 and older have lost all their natural teeth.

HAIR LOSS Crabby Old Lady wrote about her hair loss at some length in 2013. Her solution then and continuing is to never leave the house without wearing a hat.

As you can see in the blog banner at the top of this page, Crabby had a lot of fun with different hair styles throughout her life and she misses that now although there is an upside in Crabby's case: nowadays, hardly any hair grows on her legs and under her arms.

It's the head that's the aggravation and the constant shedding of that hair all over the house. It happens to a lot of old people and remember, no matter what any snake oil salesman tells you, nothing known to mankind regrows hair.

URINARY INCONTINENCE When, following retirement, Crabby Old Lady allowed herself to gain 40 pounds, she discovered first hand the annoyance of urinary incontinence.

In her case, losing those 40 pounds eliminated (sorry, couldn't resist) the problem but Crabby was shocked to note that hardly any medical articles online about incontinence mentioned obesity as a cause.

There are other causes too which makes is a common ailment among old people.

DROPPING THINGS This annoyance was recently on the table here and Crabby is certainly not alone. Things just fall out of hands more these days than when we were young, attributable to weakening hand muscles and a diminishment of the sense of touch.

There seems to be no solution except vigilance – more annoyance to remind oneself to be careful.

That covers most of Crabby's list of nuisance ailments – a longer list than she imagined when she started writing this post. But she won't be surprised if your list is as long or longer.

Other nuisance ailments that come to Crabby's mind are constipation, stiff joints and muscles, sleep difficulties, general aches and pains that seem to have no cause so no solution and, of course, the ever-present forgetfulness of minor things.

Please don't misunderstand Crabby. If these are all the physical or health issues she encounters before her exit from planet Earth, she will be over-the-moon grateful.

Still, you have to admit the ongoing, daily nuisance of juggling it all is irritating – each one leaving Crabby to wonder what will next be added to her list. There really is nothing to do about them except try to find some equanimity. Complaining helps too.

Your list may be different from Crabby Old Lady's but she is guessing it is as much a nuisance.


Can Sex Keep Old People Mentally Sharp?

There is research piled upon research telling us that to maintain our cognitive function as we grow old, we must exercise, eat lots of fruit and vegetables and keep our minds busy.

Now there may be a fourth aid to elder mental wellbeing:

“After accounting for effects of potential contributory factors (age, education, wealth, levels of physical activity, cohabiting status, general health, depression, loneliness and quality of life), we found a significant association between sexual activity and higher scores on tests of cognitive function in people over the age of 50 years,” writes Dr. Hayley Wright at the Oxford University Press Blog.

Wright conducted this study at the Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement at Coventry University, England. The data for the study was taken from 6800 men and women ages 50 to 89 who were already participating in a long-term study on ageing.

”The participants were asked whether they had engaged in sexual activity over the past 12 months,” reports cbsnews.com. “The researchers used a broad definition of sexual activity in the study – it included having intercourse, masturbating, petting or fondling.”

The participants then completed two cognitive tests – one that measured memory of ten common words and a second involving executive function - filling in missing numbers in a numerical series.

Sorry women, sex appears to do more good for men's brains than women's. Men who were more sexually active showed higher scores on both kinds of tests. Women scored well only on the memory test.

One reason men score higher, they say, may have something to do with hormonal differences that could influence brain function in different ways but much more research is needed in all aspects of this study before a definitive claim can be made that sex is good for your brain.

As CBSnews.com noted in their report, the study

”...demonstrated an association between sexual activity and cognitive function, and was not meant to show a cause-and-effect relationship. It's too early to tell whether sex is one way for older adults to keep their minds sharp or whether it is the other way around...

“[In one followup study] which is nearly complete, the researchers are analyzing the data to understand the effect of factors – such as the frequency and type of sexual activity, as well as relationship satisfaction – on cognitive function scores...”

As Wright points out in the full study at Age and Aging, there is much more work to be done but the results so far are promising.

“The findings have implications for the promotion of sexual counselling in healthcare settings, where maintaining a healthy sex life in older age could be instrumental in improving cognitive function and well-being.”

It's hard to see how the results will not be positive and Dr. Wright clearly is hopeful:

”With all the previous research on healthy lifestyles and cognitive function, wouldn't it be nice to add 'healthy sex life' to our checklist for mental and physical wellbeing in older age?”

Once that is established, all that Wright and her research cohorts will have to do is figure out where unmarried old people are going to get all this sex.


The Two Young Matts

This is a different kind of blog post for me today so let me start with this:

For more than a dozen years, turning out this blog about growing old has been and still is more than a retirement hobby. I devote as much time, interest, love, care and learning to it as I did any of the jobs I held in nearly 50 years of employment.

What I miss, however, are 20-somethings. When I switched from TV production to the internet in 1995, I was 55. Most of my coworkers were only three or four years out of college and some had only just graduated.

It had to be that way in the early days of the internet; they were pretty much the only people who knew how to program, design and develop websites and it worked out well. They had the computer chops and I, the managing editor, had the journalism skills. We learned from each other and together we built one of the first news websites, cbsnews.com.

As a matter of fact, a good case can be made that without my years spent with those talented young people who showed me so much about a brand new medium, I would never have started this blog.

But there was more to it than that. In slow moments, over lunch or after-work drinks sometimes, we learned about each others' worlds. There were many differences but we had a lot in common too and in one important instance, we – the young and the old – teamed up to intervene with a colleague who had a serious drug problem and together, we got him into rehab.

With that background, you will understand why I sat up and paid attention in January when I received an inquiry from a young filmmaker named Matt Law.

Mentioning one TGB reader in particular, Darlene Costner, he told me about how this blog

“...inspired us to make time to spend with our grandparents outside of the house. The fragility of the moments we have and the priceless nature of the love we share is evident in most posts on your site, so I thank you for that.”

He sure does know how to get an old woman's attention, doesn't he. The “us” in that quotation is Matt Law himself and his business partner, Matt Thompson. With a mutual interest in filmmaking, they became friends while attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

LawThompsonFinal

Matt Law is a recent graduate, Matt Thompson has a few more months to go for his diploma and they have already launched their video production company named – what else? - The Matts Productions.

Matt Law explained in his first email that

”As part of our recently launched business, we created a video for a company who was looking to have their 'app' be a staple in elderly care. However, we wanted to make sure that we told an actual story about love, and the reciprocal duty of a generation to give back to those who raised us with love and adoration.

Of course, I'm going to show you that video but first, I want you to know something more about the Matts and they have given me permission to quote from a later email about taking this difficult path of entrepreneurship rather than perhaps cushier corporate jobs:

”...we realized we have chosen to start a very daunting journey where we can only see fifteen feet down a very twisty, misty path to success.

“Our only guide being an incessant curiosity and devotion to excellence in what we do, all the while taking it one clambering step at a time. Step by step, brick by brick, job by job[...]

“Matt and I are also two young men who have immense love and respect for our elders. Mostly testament to our upbringing of respecting those whose shoulders we stand on.

“In our family we both have grandparents, as well as other family members, that we were close to and that we lost. For me, it was my grandma on my father’s side who I saw slowly deteriorate from cancer. Breaking down the strong, independent and often times hilariously crass woman that I called Baba into another victim of that faceless enemy.”

There is much more to the Matts' letter and worth your time to read it all. You can do that here [pdf].

It's been terrific these past few weeks to once again listen – even long distance - to two talented, dedicated and caring young people whose chosen work dovetails with how I spent so many of my working years.

Here, then, is The Matts' first professional video. The client, Reassure Analytics, Inc., said in part about it:

”...the Matts were very organized; they set the dates, asked us for what was needed and when, and ultimately delivered an awesome video that was exactly what we were looking for.

Matt Law and Matt Thompson clearly put a lot of important work into that short video. They thought about being old, about being young, about generations needing one another, about how to present those ideas.

Just a couple of days ago, Matt Law told me that since that first video, they are gradually acquiring new clients. You can find out more about the two Matts at their company website where you can also watch some of their other video productions.

My 20-something colleagues from the mid-1990s have all gone on to more professional success along with marriage, children and (can it be so already?) middle age around the corner for them.

For the very talented two Matts, Law and Thompson, who already have such a strong understanding of how people of all generations need one another, I can only wish the same.

Perhaps they will stop back here now and then to keep us up to date with their progress.


ELDER MUSIC: Singing with Willie

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.

* * *

I think it's WILLIE NELSON's plan to sing with everyone on the planet, at least everyone who can hold a tune.

Willie Nelson

Because there are so many songs out there it makes my job easy but it makes it hard as well because there are so many songs out there. Of course, I'll only select people I like so that will make my job a bit easier.  Here they are...

A while ago Willie teamed up with Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings in a group called The Highwaymen. I'm not including anything from their albums, but as a bit of a link I'll start with the daughter of one of those and she is ROSANNE CASH.

Willie Nelson & Rosanne Cash

Rosanne is a fine writer, interpreter and performer of rock & roll but because of her pedigree she often gets a gig in country music shows. She can do both really well as is evidenced by her duet with Willie, Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends.

♫ Willie and Roseanne - Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends


After Hank Williams died, RAY PRICE managed Hank's band to some success.

Willie Nelson & Ray Price

He later started his own band and throughout the years it was the spawning ground for some of the greats of country music. Some of those are Roger Miller, Darrell McCall, Van Howard, Johnny Paycheck, Johnny Bush, Buddy Emmons and Willie.

Willie later wrote songs that Ray performed to some success. They remained good friends until Ray died in 2013. They perform Home in San Antone.

♫ Willie and Ray Price - Home In San Antone


I have a fine vinyl album by TRACY NELSON that I haven't thought about for years until I decided to do this column. I'm glad I did as I started listening to it again.

Willie&Tracy11

Tracy is noted mostly for singing blues but she makes a good country singer as well. She's not related to Willie but he joined her on that album to produce a fine duet, After the Fire is Gone.

♫ Willie and Tracy Nelson - After the Fire is Gone


Townes van Zandt's most famous song would have to be Pancho and Lefty. Willie has the help of MERLE HAGGARD on this one.

Willie Nelson & ;Merle Haggard

You couldn't call the song a duet; Merle sings only a single verse. He may have had a larger role in this single if Willie hadn't decided to record the song in the middle of the night and woke Merle at 3AM to record it.

Merle did his one verse (perfectly) in a single take and then went when back to bed.

♫ Willie and Merle Haggard - Pancho and Lefty


CYNDI LAUPER seems an unlikely pairing with Willie.

Willie Nelson & Cyndi Lauper

However, like Willie, Cyndi is a songwriter of some substance – not as many songs as Willie, but who has? She's even had hers covered by Miles Davis so that should be good enough for anyone. Willie and Cyndi tackle the rather twee song written by George and Ira Gershwin, Lets Call the Whole Thing Off.

♫ Lets Call The Whole Thing Off (feat Cyndi Lauper)


Old Age and Treachery always overcome youth and skill is an appropriate sentiment for this website. I hope you all take it to heart and apply that lesson in your daily lives.

Willie's co-conspirator on the song is his most famous singing partner, WAYLON JENNINGS.

Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings

Willie and Waylon performed and recorded together quite often so there's a lot of material to work with. Instead of some of their more famous collaborations, I've gone with this one.

♫ Willie and Waylon - Old Age And Treachery


EMMYLOU HARRIS would have to be present in any exercise involving duets and today is no different.

Willie Nelson & Emmylou Harris

I really don't need to tell you about the lovely Emmy, just sit back and listen to her and Willie sing Gulf Coast Highway.

♫ Willie and Emmylou Harris - Gulf Coast Highway


ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL carry on the western swing tradition made famous by Bob Wills (and some others) in the thirties and forties.

Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel

Hesitation Blues goes way back, such that it's usually attributed to "Traditional.” Because of that, several people have claimed authorship (and added their own words to the song); Willie and the Wheel don't do that, they just perform it.

♫ Willie and Asleep at the Wheel - Hesitation Blues


Like Willie, ALISON KRAUSS seems to like singing with other people, lots of other people – not as many as Willie yet but he has a few years on her.

Willie Nelson & Alison Krauss

Alison recorded her first album when she was only 14. Back then she played the fiddle and mandolin. Later she started singing as well and she has a fine voice as you can hear on No Mas Amor.

♫ Willie and Alison Krauss - No Mas Amor


KIMMIE RHODES and Willie have been friends for years and have recorded together intermittently.

Willie Nelson & Kimmie Rhodes

Those tracks have been gathered together and an album called "Picture in a Frame" is the result. The song Love Me Like a Song is taken from that album.

♫ Willie and Kimmie Rhodes - Love Me Like A Song


INTERESTING STUFF – 5 March 2016

A 1950'S TIME CAPSULE

A lot of us at this blog are old enough to remember the 1950s in some detail. Reader Nancy Leitz has provided us with a montage of artifacts from that decade from 65 years ago.


VOICE RECOGNITION ELEVATOR IN SCOTLAND

There are a couple of Scottish comedians named Iain Connell and Robert Florence. This is the first time I've seen them and in this skit, they are having a fine ol' time making fun of voice recognition. Thank you Darlene Costner.


WHY A LIBERAL COUPLE MAY VOTE FOR TRUMP

A friend sent this newspaper clipping from a married couple who describe themselves as Ivy-educated, politically liberal Democrats who, after looking at the candidates, say

”Yes, we could be like the good citizens who voted for a 'tameable' Hitler in 1933 to get things back on track. But the alternatives look worse.”

Read the full letter below to see how they arrived at this position.

LetterreTrump

I suspect there are more than a few Democrats who feel this way. Scroll down at Buzzfeed to read what else this couple says about their possible choice.


REALLY? PEOPLE ACTUALLY WALK ON THINGS LIKE THIS?

There is a similar glass-floored walk over the Grand Canyon in the U.S. This one is at Jasper National Park in Canada that is 900 feet above terra firma.

I couldn't watch much of the video from the Grand Canyon glass walk that I posted here a while back nor I can't look at all of this one. It is a mystery why I keep posting these.


MEDICARE INTERACTIVE

If Medicare is not the most complex program of the U.S. federal government, it is damned close. I'm pretty sure no one knows all of its details.

Enter Medicare Interactive [MI] from the Medicare Rights Center that answers, they say, two million questions about Medicare:

”Medicare Interactive provides easy-to-understand answers to the questions posed by Americans with Medicare, their families and caregivers, and the professionals serving them,” states the website.

“Drawing on the experience and best practices of Medicare Rights’ expert counselors and attorneys, MI offers a wealth of answers to Medicare questions in a variety of formats, and is available for use anytime...

“MI Pro builds on the 25 years of counseling expertise of the Medicare Rights Center, a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities.”

If you're new to Medicare or a long-term beneficiary needing some answers, this is an excellent new website to help you out with Medicare – something to bookmark for when you might need it for yourself or a loved one in the future. Check it out here.


STUPIFYINGLY GREAT TRUCK PARKING

I am really good at parallel parking a car and uncommonly proud of it. I can usually do it in one go even when the space is squeaker small.

But that's as close to nothing as you can get compared to what this FedEx driver does with his 18-wheeler in Manhattan. Wow.


TRICKS FOR A BETTR MEMORY

We like to make rueful jokes around this blog about how our memories fail us particularly in small, irritating ways. A reader commented recently that she can't remember what she's looking for in the time it takes to walk across the kitchen.

In a story at Salon.com, reprinted from Scientific American, Julia Shaw reports on research that explains how some people who pay a different kind of attention are better at keeping information in their “working memory” and I think we elders could make use of this information:

”...attention and memory are inextricably linked,” reports Shaw. “By paying attention to an object, you increase its representation in the brain and make it easier to remember.

“But making something easier to remember is only one aspect of attention. Paying attention also means ignoring all of the distracting information in our world.”

There is more to it than I have quoted, but you don't have to be a scientist to know that this makes sense and could be useful to help out with the grocery lists we don't write down.

Read more here.


STEPHEN CURRY'S AMAZING BASKETBALL TALENT

As I mentioned only yesterday, I have no interest in sports. In fact, I am not just disinterested in all big league sports, I actively dislike them and the amount of space they take up in American society and media.

But this leapt out at me because it is from The New York Times which hardly ever features in such a big way anything about sports. Therefore, I thought I should pay attention and I'm glad I did. Amazing.

(Originally, I posted the video from The New York Times but got a note that it's blacked out for other uses, probably due to the NBA. I found this one, highlights from Curry's 2015 season that is almost as spectacular.)

You can read about Stephen Curry at The Times and see their terrific compilation video too.


JUST DUCKY

You are undoubtedly aware that ducks imprint on people sometimes. Johnny Carson used to have loads of fun on his TV show with ducks who thought their keeper was their mother.

But who knew that sometimes the imprinting goes both ways. Wait until you see this adorable little girl and her duck. I'll bet you watch it twice. Or more. Thank you Alan Goldsmith for sending in the video.

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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 at the top 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.


Easy Ways to Enjoy Eating for Your Health

There is a pile of notes here on my desk for a blog post about ageism and retirement. You'll see it here eventually, but the effects on the lives of elders haven't improved in the years I've been covering it and I'm not in the mood for a bummer today.

The news - online, on TV, the radio and newspapers - is even more terrible: climate change, millions of refugees without a place to be, a mass shooting in the U.S. just about every week, growing water shortages, the zika virus, toxic politics.

There's not much good news and I want a break. So today, let's have some fun with food and share our ideas about good, glorious food - about eating well, about being healthy and easy ways to do that.

I have always eaten fairly well. What has changed through the years, particularly in recent ones, is that I have ditched almost all animal protein except fish and live primarily on fruit, vegetables, whole grains and some dairy.

In general, I follow the commonly recommended guidelines from physicians, researchers, nutritionists, dietitians and other experts about eating well with special attention to the needs of elder bodies. My eating habits closely resemble what is called the Mediterranean diet.

It should be noted for this post, that I love good food, I look forward to every meal in my life and keeping it (mostly) healthy hasn't diminished the enjoyment of single bite.

Each of us, depending on the status of our health, physical limitations, likes and dislikes, will choose our own way of eating. As always, nothing I write here today (nor anything in the comments below) should be taken as recommendations – these are just some ideas that you might want to consider for your own enjoyment.

Personally, I believe it is better to get the nutrients I need from food and not from pills and anyway, the billion-dollar supplement industry is unregulated so there is no way to know if what is claimed on a vitamin bottle is what is inside. So I'm careful to eat a wide variety of foods.

Especially in winter, I like a meal of soup with or without croutons and I make all of my soups from scratch because there are no commercial soups that are not overloaded with sodium – usually a full day's sodium recommendation in what the label calls two “servings” but is really one serving for a normal adult.

I keep the freezer full of pint containers of home-made pea soup, tomato soup and occasional forays into other flavors. A couple of hours' work every few weeks means that when I feel lazy about cooking, I have meals at the ready that need no more preparation than the time they take to heat in the microwave.

That's a good lunch or dinner and if I'm still hungry, a piece of seasonal fresh fruit for dessert is a good finisher (especially now that I can bite into an apple again).

Fruit is a big part of my daily meals. My usual breakfast is half a banana, half a cup or more each of two kinds of berries, four or five tablespoons of non-fat, plain yogurt, an equal amount of apple sauce all mushed up together with steel-cut oats.

That's a huge breakfast that amounts to only about 300 calories at most and is packed with nutrition – not to mention that it tastes great.

You probably know this but just in case, frozen berries are as nutritious as fresh, often less expensive and they keep much longer. Just check the packaging to be sure there is no added sugar. This applies to frozen vegetables too as long as there is no added sugar, sodium, butter or other sauces.

In addition to soups, I cook up a batch of apple sauce every few weeks and freeze it in those same pint containers. That way there are zero additives - just apples, water, spices and for a bit more of a kick, I like to add a few pieces of lemon peel and the juice of one lemon.

Sometimes I warm up a small bowl of the apple sauce in the microwave as an evening snack. It keeps me away from chocolate and cookies.

Let me point out that I do not keep candy, cookies, pastries or any other kind of sweets in the house because I am a weakling. I am not capable of eating, for example, one or even two cookies. The entire package is a serving to me and it will be gone before the evening of the day I bring it home.

Here is another way I account for my food weaknesses. As I have mentioned here in the past, to forestall bingeing, I allow a meal of one of my “forbidden” foods on a regular schedule.

Most often these are one of my favorites - good cheese or ice cream – although I've been known to eat a giant chocolate bar or large chunk of carrot cake instead.

There are 21 meals in a week. I allow myself to replace one meal per week with one of those kinds of cravings. Maybe you can imagine how much I look forward to that.

Standard American, salty snacks are not on my list of foods. Ever. I'm lucky that potato chips, Cheetos and all the rest of what I think of as sports-watching foods don't interest me in the slightest (nor the soft drinks or beer that go with them). Maybe it's because sports don't interest me in the slightest either that these are not temptations. It would make my life easier if I felt that way about sugary snacks too but there you go - life isn't fair.

Which brings us to vegetables – the mainstay of my diet. I eat piles and piles of vegetables – raw, steamed, roasted and mixtures of those preparations in warm and cold salads that also include beans, rice and occasionally, pasta. All of it is healthy, none of it can hurt and the only caveat is to watch the amount of dressing.

A trick I learned decades ago to keep the fat calories in salads to a minimum is to use one tablespoon at a time of oil and vinegar (or whatever dressing you like) and toss for a long time. That works with oil for roasting vegetables too.

When I roast veggies, I do it in big batches so that I have leftovers for the next day but I rarely need more than a tablespoon of olive oil. Just toss until your arms hurt, then stop and it will be about right.

In three or four meals a week, I include a piece of fish – sometimes broiled, other times poached or baked. I live in a place with a wide variety of fresh, wild fish at sort-of-but-not-always reasonable prices but if you're eating only a quarter pound at a time, almost anything is affordable.

I don't eat out often but when I do, it is most frequently Japanese and not too long ago I found a place nearby that serves excellent mussels I like with the treat of a Caesar salad to start.

One other thing – I cheat sometimes but I'm careful to keep it sane. I haven't eaten beef or pork in years and chicken only occasionally. I'd always rather have fish or seafood.

But I do like lamb. A lot. So on rare occasions, every couple of months or so, I cook up a fabulous meal of loin lamb chops accompanied by a really good vegetable dish, some sauteed potatoes and a nice glass of local pinot noir. God do I love that meal.

Now it's your turn. What are your tricks to eating healthily without spending all your time in the kitchen and also, how do you cheat, when do you do it and how do you keep it under control? Let us know below.