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Memorial Day 2016

Today, we honor the men and women who have died while serving in America's armed forces. Today, there will be parades in thousands of cities and towns throughout the country. Today, there will also be the annual National Memorial Day Concert on the west lawn of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Check your local CSPAN listings.)

The Indianapolis 500 auto race is also a Memorial Day weekend tradition – this year is the 100th running. (I don't understand why these two events are related but then, I'm not a sports fan so what I do I know.)

Most of all, we Americans spend the holiday with family and friends often at backyard barbecues, and many will also visit the graves of loved ones killed in our wars. In that regard, I ran across a poignant story about two U.S. airmen who went missing in action in Laos in 1969 during the Vietnam War. At last, in 2012, the crash site was discovered and the men's remains identified.

A dual burial was held at Arlington National Cemetery in 2013, but due to budget cuts, the Air Force could not perform a flyover during the funeral. That's when some civilians stepped in to make the flyover happen. Here's the report from a local TV news program:

In addition to the remembrances and barbecues, we have one more Memorial Day tradition: nighttime fireworks displays. This one from last year at Wolf Trap.

Enjoy the holiday, my U.S. friends.

For readers in other countries, tell us something about your holidays that honor your war dead.


ELDER MUSIC: 1958 Yet Again

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

* * *

1958 was a really good year for music as you can tell by checking the previous two times I've featured the year. There are still enough good songs left over for another column. You never know, there might be a fourth.

It's Only Make Believe was written by CONWAY TWITTY and Jack Nance.

Conway Twitty

Conway recorded it and took it to the top of the charts around the world. Before all that, Harold Jenkins didn't think his name was show biz enough and got out a road map where he spied Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas. He really should have looked a bit further for a surname but it seems to have served him well over the years.

♫ Conway Twitty - It's Only Make Believe


BUDDY HOLLY was at his peak this year.

Buddy Holly

If you've been reading my column for some time you knew that Buddy would have to be present today. Yet another of his fine songs for the year is Maybe Baby.

♫ Buddy Holly - Maybe Baby


THE FOUR PREPS were renowned for their comedy records where they impersonated singers of the day.

Four Preps

However, they acquitted themselves admirably on serious songs as well. This is one of their biggest and I still don't really understand what it's about. It doesn't matter, it's a good record. Big Man.

♫ The Four Preps - Big Man


Many people recorded this next song, usually under the name Volare. The big hit in Australia, although some of the others were also on the charts, was by DOMENICO MODUGNO and he called it Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu, which he wrote with some help from Franco Migliacci.

This is, of course, the original version of the song.

Domenico Modugno

I think Dom's version was successful in Australia as we had (and still have) a really large Italian community, particularly here in Melbourne.

Besides being a singer, songwriter, actor and guitarist he was also a member of Italy's parliament where he championed human rights, particularly in Chile under the egregious Pinochet who banned him from that country.

♫ Domenico Modugno - Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)


JANE MORGAN attended Juilliard intending to be an opera singer. To make ends meet, she performed in clubs and the like to earn a little loose scratch. Discovering that this actually paid better than opera, she decided on a pop career instead.

Jane Morgan

A French impresario caught her act and he took her to Paris where she became a big success. She was also popular in Britain. Upon returning to her home country she recorded a song by Gilbert Becaud called Le jour où la pluie viendra.

Actually, hers was an English language version of the song called The Day the Rains Came.

♫ Jane Morgan - The Day The Rains Came


Westerns were popular around this time, especially on TV, and of course they were still making Western Movies as THE OLYMPICS had a wont to tell us.

Olympics

The band got together when they were still at school in Los Angeles. They recorded a song under a different name that didn't do much at all. This was their first as The Olympics. It was a big hit around the world.

♫ The Olympics - Western Movies


According to his song, JIMMIE RODGERS is a ring-a-ding daddy. Oh my. I think he listened to too much Frank Sinatra.

Jimmie Rodgers

Anyway, the song in question isOh-Oh, I'm Falling in Love Again. Uh oh, uh oh.

♫ Jimmie Rodgers - Oh Oh, I'm Falling In Love Again


RICKY NELSON was at the height of popularity in 1958.

Ricky Nelson

He had half a dozen or more songs that hovered around the top of the charts. One of them is Believe What You Say. This one has the unmistakable sound of The Jordanaires as backing vocalists and the great James Burton playing guitar.

♫ Ricky Nelson - Believe What You Say


THE ELEGANTS seem to symbolise the ethos of DooWop music.

Elegants

They were from Staten Island and used to practise their harmonies under the boardwalk near their homes. They hit it big while still in their teens with their first record, Little Star but couldn't repeat that one's success.

♫ The Elegants - Little Star


There's a touch of irony in that the most successful record by CHUCK WILLIS is called What Am I Living For? This is because he died from peritonitis during an operation shortly after recording the song. He was only 30.

ChuckWillis3

All that aside, in his short professional career he wrote and recorded a bunch of fine songs, many of which have been covered by other artists over the years. Here he is with that song.

Chuck Willis - What Am I Living For


INTERESTING STUFF – 28 May 2016

MAN DRIVES SAME CAR FOR 77 YEARS

It was a happy day for me when, having moved to New York City in early 1969, I could sell the car. It didn't please me when I left Manhattan and needed a car again, and I have sworn that I will drive the one I have until one of us dies, preferably me.

But there is not a chance I'll catch up in years of use with Allan Swift who drove the same car for 77 years – until he died in 2005 at age 102. (The video is longer than it needs to be. You can stop at the two minute mark and not lose anything.)

Some people think the story of Allan Swift and his Rolls Royce isn't true, but this website has confirmed the general idea with a few minor factual fixes.

Thank Darlene Costner for this item and you can read more here.

SOME EXCELLENT KITCHEN HACKS

No need for an explanation – just a good collection to help make some things a little easier in the kitchen.

MAYBE BREAKFAST ISN'T SO IMPORTANT AFTER ALL

In all the nearly 50 years I worked full time, I hardly ever ate breakfast. Coffee? Always. A doughnut? Yes – when I was still young enough to have a measurable metabolism. Standard American breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and hash browns? Yes to that too but only once a month or so on weekends, usually with friends.

Since retiring a decade ago, I have eaten a healthy, tasty breakfast every morning in the belief that, as I was told most of my life and ignored, it is the most important meal of the day.

Now “they” - well, one guy anyway – say there is nothing magical about breakfast. In fact, he explains, the science behind our belief in the importance of that meal is weak:

”Few randomized controlled trials exist. Those that do, although methodologically weak like most nutrition studies, don’t support the necessity of breakfast.”

The writer, Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics who says he is never hungry before noon, explains the research and then concludes:

”If you’re hungry, eat it. But don’t feel bad if you’d rather skip it, and don’t listen to those who lecture you. Breakfast has no mystical powers.”

You can read the entire piece at The New York Times.

JOHN OLIVER: PRIMARIES AND CAUCUSES

On his HBO program Last Week Tonight last Sunday, John Oliver hilariously considers the stupidity of the primary election process in the U.S. So mark you calendars for next February 2. Watch the video to the end to find out why.

BENDY BIKE CALLED TROCADERO FIXIE

A professional bicycle racer named Johan Le Bon is the co-developer of a strange, new kind of bicycle:

”[It is a] single-speed city street cycle that pivots in the middle of the frame, allowing the back wheel to twist and swerve in ways that, at a glance, make it look like it is about to fall apart...The result: users can turn in ultra-tight circles and slalom urban street obstacles with ease.”

Take a look, see what you think:

You can find out more at Gajitz.

BOOK SOFA

There is no reason for this item except that I think it is the cutest thing – and maybe other book lovers will too. If I needed a sofa – too bad I don't and it's probably more expensive than I can afford – I would buy this:

Redbooksofa

It comes in a whole lot of other wonderful colors too. You can find out more Prospettiva Design.

NEXT STEP TOWARD CASHLESS SOCIETY

I may have mentioned here (or maybe I've just discussed with a friend) that I will not welcome the cashless society we will have probably sometime soon. You can call me Luddite all you want – too bad, it's just how I feel.

That said, this experiment by Buzzfeed writer Charlie Warzel is fascinating. He went for a month without cash and then went one step further having a payment chip implanted in his hand.

What else is amazing is this video racked up more than two million views in its first four days:

Read more about Warzel's experiment at Buzzfeed.

DAVID LETTERMAN EXPLAINS HOW RETIREMENT AFFECTS SELF-ESTEEM

Former Late Show host, David Letterman, came out of retirement last week when he was given a Peabody Award for his work on that program.

During his acceptance speech, Letterman told the audience what happened when he attended a recent White House State Dinner that explains how retirement can be a blow to one's self-esteem:

”So I'm seated at dinner next to a man who is the assistant chief of staff to the prime minister of Norway. And I'm feeling like a big shot. And we're chatting, and we're chatting, and we're chatting.

“And when it comes about dessert time, and the guy says to me, 'Excuse me. Why are you here?'

“And I said, 'You know what? I think I picked up somebody else's mail.'

“And he said, 'So you're here by mistake?'

“And I said,'Yeah.'

“And he said, 'Oh.'

“So there you go — you get invited to the state dinner, nobody knows why. That's the sum total of being retired.”

Read the rest of Letterman's Pulitzer speech at Vulture.

INJURED TORTOISE GETS 3D SHELL

It's no secret how excited I am about the thousands-and-growing-fast number of applications for 3D printing and here is another that will break your heart in the best possible way.

Some veterinarians, 3D designers and a local artist got together to create a new shell for Freddy the tortoise after she lost most of her own in a terrible forest fire. Watch:

* * *

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” 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.


Expectations Versus Reality About Old Age

Not too long ago, my Canadian blog friend, doctafil, emailed a story from the Montreal Gazette that contained a lot of statistics and information about how people are growing old in Canada.

The serendipity is that it arrived when I had wondering for awhile if we – you and I, other old people, younger people and the media that report on ageing (who are rarely old themselves) – spend too much time worrying about all the terrible things that can happen to us in our late years.

The thing that worries us all, of course, is an awful diagnosis or the accident – a broken hip, for one example - that can turn us instantly from living in competent independence to helplessness from which we may or may not recover. There are plenty of other things that can wreck our old age plans too.

We are reminded of this from a lot of angles. Discussions of nursing homes – often horror stories. Reports on ageing in place and its alternatives - sometimes, recently, with warnings about the dangers of living alone. Articles reminding us to see our physician at least once a year even if there is no immediate reason. Warnings about drugs interactions and so on.

Pretty much the only good news about growing old are reports of the outliers who climb Mt. Everest at 85 and run marathons at 90 which infer that the rest of us, the 99 percent, aren't keeping up and are, therefore deficient.

(That Montreal Gazette story anchors its report with an interview with an active elder who refuses to give her age but is described by the reporter as having “passed the biblical allotment of three score years and 10 a couple of decades ago.”)

The overview of elders health in the Montreal Gazette story repeats the typically negative way statistics on our group are reported.

”In the 85-and-over age group, 35 per cent of women and 23 per cent of men lived in nursing homes or other care facilities.”

Really?! I think the more honest news is that 65 percent of women and 77 percent of men in that age group do not live in nursing homes or other care facilities.

Here's another example:

”Among Canadians 80 and older, 37 per cent had four or more chronic conditions in 2009, from a list that includes arthritis, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, effects of a stroke and Alzheimer’s...”

That means, if you look at it differently, a large majority, 63 percent of Canadians 80 and older do not have four or more chronic conditions.

Geriatrician Bill Thomas has been saying for years that old people have standing in the United States (undoubtedly Canada too) only as far as they behave like young people – and the widely-believed stereotype is that old age is a terrible time of life filled with disease, debility and decline, a belief that automatically marginalizes elders from participating in society.

It's certainly not untrue that our bodies slow down in all kinds of way as the years pile up but it's not all of us by any means and not even a majority. Take a look at what a wide-ranging, 2009 Pew survey discovered about how elders really live versus younger people's expectations for their own old age:

”About one-in-four adults ages 65 and older report experience memory loss. About one-in-five say they have a serious illness, are not sexually active, or often feel sad or depressed.

“About one-in-six report they are lonely or have trouble paying bills. One-in-seven cannot drive. One-in-ten say they feel they aren’t needed or are a burden to others.

“But when it comes to these and other potential problems related to old age, the share of younger and middle-aged adults who report expecting to encounter them is much higher than the share of older adults who report actually experiencing them.”

Here's the Pew Research chart comparing young expectations to elder reality:

Real v expectations chart

While working on this post, I've been trying to remember what I believed, in my childhood and young adulthood, what old age was like. It's not so easy to do, in my case. There are hardly any elder relatives.

My great Aunt Edith retired from full-time work at age 70 and lived on her own until she got sick at age 89 and died within a few weeks. Until then, she did quite well with some help during the last few years with house cleaning and shopping. She had a wonderful sense of humor about the physical surprises that snuck up on her in old age.

Both my parents died relatively young - my father died in his mid-60s from cancer that had been diagnosed while he was still working so he didn't get to grow old. My mother, even with two hip replacements, lived well on her own until she died at age 75 of cancer.

A couple who were sort of adopted grandparents I knew throughout my childhood were active, healthy and lived on their own until they died. For awhile we thought Ray had become deaf but then realized he only pretended so when he wanted to ignore his wife who always had one more household chore for him, then one more and so on. It became a family joke that he was so selectively deaf.

Friends' parents I knew were healthy and living on their own until into their late 70s and 80s and beyond in a couple of cases so discounting disease, which seems to me to be happenstance over which no one has much control, my personal experience with advanced age is it works out pretty well for most people.

And two of my best online friends that I've known for a decade, Millie Garfield and Darlene Costner, will both be 91 years old this year. They are wonderful role models for any of us who are lucky enough to grow as old as they are.

There is, of course, no way to know with certainty if our expectations affect how our old age turns out to be. But mine are all positive and without being too stupid about it, I think I will just continue to believe that I'll get old similarly.

What about you?

SPEAKING OF LIVING WELL INTO OLD, OLD AGE: On Sunday, our own Darlene Costner will celebrate her 91st birthday. Happy Birthday, Darlene!

HappyBirthdayDarlene


Facts and Figures About the U.S. Elder Population

Back in 1963, President John F. Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month. Two years later, Congress passed the Older American's Act to deal with a lack of community services for elders.

The Act established the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) that administers grant programs created by the Older Americans Act and is the primary federal agency concerned with elders in the U.S.

May is still celebrated as (renamed) Older Americans Month and before May gets away from us, we at TGB should make note of it. To give us a general idea of who elders in America are, here are some statistics - gleaned mostly (but not entirely) from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Although the numbers will be off if you are not in the U.S., the general sense will likely hold for you if you are in another developed country.

HOW MANY OF US ARE THERE?
46.2 million people were 65 and older on 1 July 2014. That's 14.5% the population.

It is projected that there will be 98.2 million people 65 and older in 2060 – nearly 25% of the population. Of this number, 19.7 of them will be 85 or older.

It is also projected that in 2060, the number of baby boomers still alive will be 2.4 million, the youngest of whom will be 96 years old.

OUR EDUCATION LEVELS
81.9% of people 65 and older have completed high school or some higher education.

Nearly a quarter of the group, 24.8%, hold a bachelor's or higher degree.

MONEY AND POVERTY
The median income in 2014 of households people 65 and older was $36,895.

97 percent of retirees receive Social Security benefits.

For 36 percent of people 65 and older, Social Security provides 90 percent or more of their income.

For 24 percent of those people, Social Security is the sole source of retirement income.

About 9.5 percent of people 65 and older live in poverty (incomes below the poverty line).

Without Social Security benefits, more than 40 percent of Americans aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line. The program lifts 14.7 million elderly Americans out of poverty.

LIVING ARRANGEMENTS
57.6% of people 65 and older were married in 2015.

24.4% of people 65 and older in 2015 were widowed.

As of the fourth quarter of 2015, 79.3% of householders 65 and older owned their homes.

The state of Florida has the largest population percentage of people 65 and older: 19.1%. The state of Maine comes in second with 18.3%.

Chattahoochee County, Georgia has the lowest percentage of elders at 4.1%.

Sumpter County in Florida has the largest percentage of elders of any county in the U.S., a whopping 52.9%.

The state of Alaska is home to the lowest percentage of people 65 and older, 9.4%, followed by Utah with 10%.

HOW WE SPEND TIME
15 million older persons 65 and older volunteer in some form.

In 2013, about 536,000 grandparents aged 65 or older had the primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.

21.5% of men 65 and older participated in the labor force in 2014. The rate for women 65 and older was 13.7%.

MISCELLANEOUS

It is estimated that in 2014, 9.4 million 65 and older Americans were veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

71.9% of the 65-plus population voted in the 2012 presidential election. That was up from 70.3% in 2008.

Elders are just over 14 percent of the population but consume 40 percent of prescription drugs and 35 percent of over-the-counter drugs.

On average, individuals 65 to 69 years old take nearly 14 prescriptions per year. Individuals aged 80 to 84 take an average of 18 prescriptions per year.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I strongly dislike media stories that extol old people for physical achievements that are unexpected in their age range. You know, the ones who climb Mt. Everest at age 80 or water ski barefoot at 75 or bungee jump off bridges.

Those are nothing more than one-off stunts but are widely reported with a whiff of blame aimed at the rest of us who are not behaving like people 50 years younger than ourselves.

Lately, you could get whiplash from the cognitive dissonance caused by reports of 60- and even 50-somethings who can't get hired due to age discrimination versus politicians who want to raise the retirement age to 70 for the full Social Security benefit.

So while we are putting together a description of old people today via statistics, let's also look at a list of accomplishments, important achievements that instead of aping youth, depend on education, experience and understanding that are gained only with age.

ELDER ACHIEVEMENTS
Alexander Graham Bell was 75 when he received a patent for his work on a hydrofoil boat.

Susan B. Anthony was past 80 when she formed the International Woman Suffrage Alliance.

At 88, Michelangelo created the architectural plans for the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

At 89, Arthur Rubinstein performed one of his greatest recitals in Carnegie Hall.

At 90, Marc Chagall became the first living artist to be exhibited at the Louvre museum.

At 94, comedian George Burns performed in Schenectady, New York, 63 years after his first performance there.

Grandma Moses received her last commission as an artist when she was 99.


Donald Trump and Social Security

Back when there were still a whole lot of people running for the Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump was the only one who did not want to cut Social Security benefits.

His opponents had the usual variety of methods to reduce the benefit they always erroneously call an “entitlement” (along with Medicare) as though it is not an earned benefit we all pay for throughout our working years.

Raise the retirement age, say some. Others want a “means test” that would remake Social Security into a welfare program instead of the insurance benefit it is. Still others want to reduce the cost-of-living adjustment or go the George W. Bush route and let people invest those monies in stock market.

Donald Trump was different. In December 2015, he said,

“'We’re not gonna cut your Social Security and we’re not cutting your Medicare,' he said," according to a story in Huffington Post.

“Trump has insisted that economic growth and cutting waste, fraud and abuse in the system would solve entitlement spending issues.”

You may recall that eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” is pretty much Trump's solution to everything except building that wall he says Mexico will pay for. As the HuffPo writer, Matt Fuller, reminded readers,

”He neglects to mention that the incidence of incorrect overpayments is typically under 1 percent, according to the Social Security Administration’s estimates. (Combined administrative costs for both the retirement and disability programs are also under 1 percent.)”

You don't find those kinds of administrative numbers in the private sector.

That was in December. In an April 2016 debate, Trump reaffirmed his support of Social Security:

"'Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And it's not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut.' reported Alternet. “He made clear, I'm not gonna do that!'"

Since political coverage by the news media has become all Trump, all the time, you may have noticed that the now presumptive Republican candidate frequently changes his positions, denies he ever said things he did say and contradicts himself, often several times within a day and even an hour.

That flexibility showed up a couple of weeks ago when Modern Healthcare reported:

”On Wednesday, Sam Clovis, Trump's chief policy adviser, signaled to a Washington group that strongly favors a major overhaul of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that Trump is open to their agenda.

“'After the (Trump) administration has been in place, then we will start to take a look at all of the programs, including entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare,' Clovis said, according to the Wall Street Journal (firewall).

“That statement came just before Trump met with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday to try to make peace with the top Republican policymaker...”

(Speaker Ryan is long on the record with proposals to cut Social Security.)

Last week, Social Security expert Nancy Altman who is co-author of the 2015 book, Social Security Works!, followed up on those comments from Sam Clovis in a Huffington Post story:

”To those who have carefully studied Trump’s record on Social Security, this seemingly abrupt turnaround does not come as a huge surprise.

“Back in 2000, Trump wrote a book in which he referred to Social Security as a 'Ponzi scheme', proposed increasing the retirement age to 70, and claimed, 'Privatization would be good for all of us.'

“As recently as 2011, he said he was on board with plans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — but that Republicans should be very careful 'not to fall into the Democratic trap' by doing it without bipartisan support, or they would pay the price politically.

“Trump’s position on Social Security appears to be whatever he feels is most beneficial to Donald Trump at any given time.”

It seems pretty certain to me that it will not be long before Donald Trump announces his explicit support for the Republican position of cutting Social Security along with Medicare and Medicaid.

They never stop. These people will never, ever stop trying to impoverish elders. Remember, even when they say their cuts will not harm current retirees, they are nonetheless perfectly willing to do that to your children and grandchildren.


ELDER MUSIC: Songs of the Gershwins

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.

* * *

George & Ira Gerswhin

I feel as if I'm announcing a category on a quiz program, "Pointless" specifically, for those who know that one. So, these are songs that were written by both George and Ira Gershwin.

George also wrote longer works and Ira wrote many songs with others after George died, but this column isn't about those.

There were many versions of pretty much all the songs today. That's not really surprising as they wrote good ones. So, these are my choices. (I didn't tell Norma, the Assistant Musicologist I was doing this column so she didn't get a say in choosing what to include.)

BILLIE HOLIDAY is no stranger to my columns and here she is again.

Billie Holiday

Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off first saw the light of day in the film "Shall We Dance" which, it probably comes as no big surprise, featured Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

They sang it in the film while scurrying around on roller skates. This is Billie with her take on the song. I don't think she was wearing skates when she recorded it.

♫ Billie Holiday - Let's Call the Whole Thing Off


JULIE LONDON is another regular.

Julie London

‘S Wonderful came from the Broadway musical "Funny Face" and was performed in that by Adele Astaire and Allen Kearns. Adele was Fred's older sister and they performed together for many years in vaudeville and theatre.

I'm not using either of them, it's Julie's turn to sing the song.

♫ Julie London - 'S Wonderful


CHET BAKER sang like an angel, was a great trumpet player and was one of the handsomest men in show biz.

Chet Baker

However, he seemed determined to destroy all those gifts with long-term hard drug use. He didn't quite succeed, apart from losing his looks, but imagine what he could have achieved had he not indulged.

Enough editorializing, let's hear him perform and sing But Not For Me.

♫ Chet Baker - But Not For Me


"Judy at Carnegie Hall" was a commercial and critical success and won awards all over the place. The double album sold squillions. The concert at which it was recorded marked the comeback of JUDY GARLAND to performing after a hiatus recovering from alcohol and drug abuse.

Judy Garland

The album is interesting and Judy sings well but it's a bit bombastic for my taste. Fortunately, the Gershwins' track is not like that. Their song is How Long Has This Been Going On? I faded the applause at the end as it went on for far too long.

♫ Judy Garland - How Long Has This Been Going On


Fans of Fred Astaire will be disturbed to hear that I originally had him penciled in at this spot and removed him in favor of FATS WALLER.

Fats Waller

Fats doesn't take the song too seriously, which was a bit of a change from all the other songs today. I think that was why I chose it. So, here he is with I Got Rhythm.

♫ Fats Waller - I Got Rhythm


I had quite a few options for the next song, including a few blokes which surprised me. In the end I thought that ETTA JAMES had the most interesting version.

Etta James

Etta is more noted singing rhythm and blues and rock & roll, but she shows here she can perform jazz with the best of them. Here's her take on The Man I Love.

♫ Etta James - The Man I Love


Ah, Nat, in the guise of the NAT KING COLE TRIO which is the way I like him best.

Nat King Cole Trio

Embraceable You was written for an operetta called "East is West" that never saw the light of day.

It first popped its head up in a Broadway musical called "Girl Crazy" sung by Ginger Rogers. It probably won't come as too much of a shock to learn that Fred was in that one too. However, I'm going with Nat.

♫ Nat King Cole Trio - Embraceable You


ELLA FITZGERALD and LOUIS ARMSTRONG made three albums together and from the second of these we have They All Laughed.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

There were several tracks on this one (a double album) and from the first I could have used. Then there's the third album, "Porgy and Bess," but I've done a whole column on that topic, so I left it out.

♫ Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - They All Laughed


DUKE ROBILLARD is at home playing both blues and jazz. He also makes a good fist at rock & roll when he sets his mind (and fingers) to it.

Duke Robillard

Today he is in jazz mode with The Duke Robillard Jazz Trio playing They Can't Take That Away From Me.

♫ Duke Robillard Jazz Trio - They Can't Take That Away From Me


Although the A.M. didn't have a say in the selections today, I'm sure this next is one she would have picked. It's LINDA RONSTADT.

Linda Ronstadt

Linda recorded several disks with Nelson Riddle featuring the great American songbook. It really caught on with rock & rollers and others have done the same over the years.

Today Linda sings Someone to Watch Over Me.

♫ Linda Ronstadt - Someone to Watch Over Me


INTERESTING STUFF – 21 May 2016

ELDER-FRIENDLY SUMMER FESTIVALS IN THE U.K.

For U.K. TGB readers, there is an extensive list online of upcoming summer festivals – an amazing variety of them. I'm sorry I missed the mussel festival earlier this month but on 25 and 26 June, there is the first Gin Festival.

CornwallGinFestival

It takes place in Cornwall celebrating, they say, the gin of the United Kingdom – a two-day event of live music and gin appreciation. Yeah. Right. But I have always preferred gin to vodka.

On 2 and 3 July, there is the South Devon 1940's Festival at the South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh.

SouthDevon1940sFestival

You can, the website says,

”Experience the true 1940's life with entertainment, food and games all inspired by the 1940's period. Expect a really fun day and evening and you won't be out of place if you dress up in the period.”

One more example: From the 3rd to the 22nd of August, the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival presents performances by the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company with such classics as Pirates of Penzance and Mikado.

It takes place at Harrogate Royal Hall, Ripon Rd, Harrogate. Click here for the interactive webpage, sponsored by Sunlife Financial organization, with details on at least a dozen more interesting festivals.

MT. WASHINGTON WIND

The Mt. Washington Observatory in New Hampshire is nickname World's Worst Weather and you're going to see why in this video.

Weather Observers Mike Dorfman and Tom Padham took a brief break earlier this week to “enjoy” the windy and wintry conditions on the observation deck where gusts, they said, “topped out at 109 mph.” Wow.

More video at the Observatory Facebook page.

IN EAR INSTANT LANGUAGE TRANSLATOR

In our digital age, if you have traveled to countries where you don't speak the language, you may have become familiar with smartphone translator apps. They can help a lot.

Now there is about to be something amazing. Take a look at this video:

You can see still shots and read more details at Bored Panda. There are answers to questions you may have at the company that is developing this upcoming product, Wavery Labs.

DEAR GOD – WHAT ARE THE ELITES COMING TO?

In Hollywood, there is an actor named Gwyneth Paltrow. Ms. Paltrow keeps a website she calls Goop where, among other things, she sells stuff. This is one of those items:

24caratgolddildo

If you had trouble figuring out what it is – I did, at first – it is a 24-carat gold dildo. It costs US$15,000. I am speechless.

LSD: WHAT A LONG STRANGE TRIP IT'S BEEN

Back in the day, I took several LSD - “acid” - trips. I've always been careful about my drugs and I partook only when it was still manufactured by Sandoz Laboratories. After the U.S. government outlawed and there was only homemade acid, I stopped.

But I want to be clear that I thought then – and still do – that it was both fun and fascinating and would have some useful medical applications.

Now, as The New York Times reports in a Retro Report, researchers are working on that idea with some potentially important results.

JOHN OLIVER – OUT-OF-DATE 911 SYSTEMS

On his HBO show, Last Week Tonight last Sunday, John Oliver reported on 911 emergency systems in the U.S. that are hopelessly out of date.

Of course, he is devastatingly funny about this deadly serious problem.

CHUCK NYREN ON MINDFULNESS FAD

Serendipity is a fun and amazing thing. As the so-called “mindfulness” fad seems to have reached peak popularity recently, I've been thinking of it as meditation for lazy people and ruminating on how I might write about that for this blog.

Well, if you wait long enough, a like-minded friend might do it for you. That's what happen when Chuck Nyren published a piece titled The Path to Bodily Enlightenment at his Huffington Post column.

Because he's funnier than I am, he took it in a direction I hadn't thought about and explained how growing older provides all the bodily mindfulness he needs:

”My innards are likewise enlightened. Example: that alimentary canal. Years ago I would just eat something. Then I’d eat something else. That was that. No satori attaining.

“Now, every morsel is mindful, especially if doused in sriracha sauce. Not a moment goes by without me knowing exactly where it is on its epic journey. Even during and immediately following extrusion it leaves an afterglow of awareness! Sometimes I think I’m the most enlightened person in the world.”

Go read the whole column. Chuck is a funny man, often about serious things.

MUSLIM/JEWISH MARRIAGE EXPERIMENT

The possibility of resolving conflicts that separate Muslims and Jews seems hopeless and it's for that reason that I admire and respect the people – writers, thinkers, diplomats and, in this case, an internet star – who keep trying.

Karim Metwaly is the American-born son of Egyptian immigrant parents who is a singer, actor and vlogger well known on YouTube for his parodies and other videos about Muslims.

In this one, his camera follows two Muslim/Jewish couples as they walk together through Manhattan ethnic neighborhoods. Take a look:

You can read more at the Jerusalem Post.

DANA MILBANK EATS HIS WORDS – LITERALLY

Sooner or later, almost all of us say something like, “If that's not true, I'll eat my hat.” We usually don't.

In this case, it is Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank who, last year, promised that if Donald Trump became the Republican Party nominee for president, he would eat his entire print column – and his colleagues in the press held him to it.

I've seen this in the past – someone chews up and swallows an actual piece of paper. But Milbank found a chef who cooked the column into a fancy meal of several courses that also included wine.

I think that's cheating. Take a look and see what you think.

You can read more at the Washington Post.

* * *

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

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” 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.


Me, Myself and I in Old Age

A friend who lives on the east coast mentioned to me last week that his wife, at an age when they are both coasting toward retirement, says she feels more and more like being a homebody these days.

Me too. Even in childhood, I had no trouble being with myself but in the years since I retired in 2004, I have gradually become more appreciative of my own company, to even crave it when life sometimes feels too busy.

This does not mean I don't want to be with other people. I just seem to want a bit less of it these days, of shorter duration and to give myself more time between each encounter.

Scheduling can get tricky because my weekly visit to the farmers market during the season seems to count as visiting time for me as do long telephone conversations – an hour or two each – that I regularly have with friends who live far away.

Not often but now and then, up to three days can go by when, not counting a short greeting with a neighbor at the mail box, I don't see or speak to anyone. And that doesn't bother me.

But it sure does bother people whose jobs are in the field of ageing. Old people are lonely they tell us. Their social circles dwindle as they age leading to more time alone and the isolation that results can be deadly:

”Isolation has been associated with people developing more chronic illnesses and facing a higher risk of death. Hypertension, less physical activity, worse mobility and increased depression have been tied to loneliness and isolation,” reported U.S. News & World Report last year.

“Not too surprisingly, mental abilities can suffer as a person's world shrinks. Cognitive decline and dementia may become more likely with isolation.”

A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that “among participants who were older than 60 years, loneliness was a predictor of functional decline and death.”

Some have called elder loneliness in the U.S. and in the U.K. an “epidemic” but how many old people are lonely is highly questionable. An AARP Foundation study [pdf] published in 2012, was unable to quantify it:

”...current estimates indicate that isolation could impact up to 17% of Americans aged 50+.”

Estimates? Could?

What is not hard to know is that wherever the health of old people is being discussed, loneliness and isolation are hot topics and the remedies suggested are always the same:

Volunteer
Take a class
Join a club
Move to a retirement community
Get a pet

(ASIDE: You can always tell when someone who is not old yet is writing about being old. It doesn't occur to them, for example, that for many elders, a pet might be too expensive, too difficult to care for or that concern it would outlive you and maybe not have a new home is too hard to contemplate.)

It is not unreasonable to assume that some people who are lonely don't want to admit it to people they know and we should all try to be sensitive to that with those we know, to do what we can to help.

But what I don't like is the sense conveyed by the ageing media that all elders are at “risk” for isolation and loneliness. Some of us, probably more than those experts realize, find increasing comfort in being with ourselves as we grow older, and being alone is not synonymous with loneliness.

This idea has come up in the past at this blog and a lot of us are on the same page with it as shown on Monday's post about Jung's seven tasks of ageing.

“I have learnt to enjoy my own company much more than I ever did before,” wrote Chillin.

“Solitude is not a sin--far from it. And it's good to use it for writing, including writing remembrances or memoir. Toward the end of life I think it's natural to experience occasional loneliness. We can survive it!” said Barbara Young.

“I'm 69 this year and I'm already tired of AARP reminding me to stay connected, wear high heels, get another job and stay busy! I was very very busy, employed, and connected for 55 years and now I'm going to embrace my essential introvert and explore these tasks in depth,” wrote Susan.

“I love to park my car at the pier, turn on some satellite music, eat my lunch, contemplate life and write. It's peaceful,” said doctafil.

It is a good thing in old age, I believe, to spend some time with me, myself and I. In that regard, here is a lovely little poem I found on the internet some time ago titled The Secret Place by Dennis Lee.

I suspect it was written for children but you and I are old enough to know that doesn't matter.

There's a place I go, inside myself,
Where nobody else can be,
And none of my friends can tell it's there -
Nobody knows but me.
It's hard to explain the way it feels,
Or even where I go.
It isn't a place in time or space,
But once I'm there, I know.
It's tiny, it's shiny, it can't be seen,
But it's big as the sky at night.
I try to explain and it hurts my brain,
But once I'm there, it's right.
There's a place I know inside myself,
And it's neither big nor small,
And whenever I go, it feels as though
I never left at all.


A TGB Extra: Tech Support Fun

Darlene Costner emailed the following joke that had me laughing all day. Anyone who has ever had computer problems and relationship issues will get it. I suspect this one has been around the web for many years and you may have seen it in the past. Doesn't matter. It's still funny and it's still true on so many levels.

Enjoy.

* * *

A young woman wrote to tech support and their reply is a stroke of genius. She wrote a letter as a joke and only remembered about it when she unexpectedly received their responding email.

Dear Tech Support:

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slowdown in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as: Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as NBA 5.0, NFL 3.0 and Golf Clubs 4.1.

Conversation 8.0 no longer runs and House cleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system. Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems but to no avail. What can I do?

Signed,
Desperate

Dear Desperate:

First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package while Husband 1.0 is an operating system. Please enter command: I thought you loved me.html and try to download Tears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update.

If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1.

Whatever you do, DO NOT, under any circumstances, install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.) In addition, please, do not attempt to re-install the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend: Cooking 3.0 and Hot Lingerie 7.7.

Good Luck!


Glad My Dating Days are Done

Several neighbors came by for lunch when I was visiting my mother for a few days in the late 1960s. Because I then worked producing a radio talk show that often featured interviews with the biggest music stars of the day, conversation briefly turned to such groups as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Band, The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc.

All the women, including my mother, dismissed rock & roll out of hand. It wasn't real music to them.

Remember, these were women born in the 19-teens and 1920s who came of age in the big band era – Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, for example, and singers such as The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Billie Holliday, etc.

I mention this because I don't think that the oldest generation can ever really understand – or accept, sometimes – the culture of the concurrent youngest adult generation.

This came to mind last weekend while reading an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times titled Sexual Freelancing in the Gig Economy that discusses how dating among the young is done these days.

It is, and always has been, asserts writer, Moira Weigel, related to the economy even if the details differ slightly from generation to generation. Nowadays, corporate language rules in dating, she says:

”First, [men on Tinder] 'reach out.' Then, after spending the night together, they 'follow up.'

“...We constantly use economic metaphors or describe romantic and sexual relations...we have 'friends with benefits' and 'invest in relationships.' An ex may be 'on' or 'off the market.' Online dating makes 'shopping around' explicit. Blog after blog strategizes about how to maximize your 'return on investment' on OKCupid.”

Further, says Weigel, changes to how the workplace operates nowadays, affects dating culture too:

”Back when most people punched clocks at fixed hours, a date might have asked 'Shall I pick you up at 6?' But part-timers, contractors and other contingent workers – who constitute some 40 percent of the American workforce – are more inclined to text one another, 'u still up?' than to make plans in advance.”

An attractive, 30-year-old, single friend tells me that she hardly dates at all. Get-togethers, she explains, are set up with one- and two-line text messages and the guys, as as often as not when the day arrives, text to “postpone” the meeting and she never hears from them again.

Moira Weigel again:

”The generation of Americans that came of age around the time of the 2008 financial crisis has been told constantly that we must be 'flexible' and 'adaptable.' Is it so surprising that we have turned into sexual freelancers?

“Many of us treat relationships like unpaid internships: We cannot expect them to lead to anything long-term, so we use them to get experience.”

No wonder surveys tell us women are postponing marriage. It makes me sad to read this stuff and I'm glad I'm too old to participate. A majority of the comments seem to feel sad too. Here's a sample from a Times reader named Sophie Vandoorne in Paris:

”Wow, this article made me understand a bit more what my daughter had tried to explain to me all these years about the lack of romance in today's American society.

“I just could not believe her when she claimed that men in NY were not about love and romance. They were about work and sex. Being French I would say, yes sex is great darling, it makes one feel alive but aren't sex and love together so much better?

“I could hear her think, 'mom, you are such a dinosaure you don't get it, do you?'

“Well, no I really don't. I still think like Freud taught me that life is about being able to work and to love. If as Steve Jobs urged us to do, you can find work you love, that's even better but can you really live your life without loving someone and being loved in return? Isn't it what people secretly still wish for themselves?

“I guess my daughter is right, I am yesterday indeed.”

Me too, right here in front of you on this page, a dinosaur. Whether it's music or dating or a lot of other things that have changed.

But that's the way it's supposed to be, isn't it? Young folks reject the old ways, old folks resist and the world moves forward. For better or for worse. Usually a bit of both.


What are the Late Years For?

Last week, on a post titled What is Successful Ageing?, I wrote this about reflecting upon our lives:

”This takes quiet time, alone time. Make notes, write a memoir even if it's only for yourself. These years are the time to remember, recall and work out what it all has meant..”

A few days later, a TGB reader who I don't remember hearing from before emailed to say:

”What an idea for an eventful life!! Writing a memoir to myself. I think by 70, everybody has had an interesting life, as the obits always show. A personal memoir, though, is something I have never thought of.

“No legalities or deadlines, just a history of an interesting life. It does not have to be published, so it could be 'bare all'. Thank you for a great idea.”

After such a kind email, it would be nice if I could take credit for the idea but I first read about it decades ago. It is contained in psychologist Carl Jung's Seven Tasks of Aging which, in short form, are:

  1. Facing the reality of aging and dying
  2. Life review
  3. Defining life realistically
  4. Letting go of the ego
  5. Finding new rooting in the Self
  6. Determining the meaning of one’s life
  7. Rebirth – dying with life

In the earliest days of this blog, I was lucky to come across David Wolfe, a brilliant man, a visionary really, who wrote an important blog called Ageless Marketing. (He wrote a book with that title too)

You would not think that a blog from a consultant about how to market consumer products – even to people 50-plus - would be on my radar and generally you would be right. But David was different.

David didn't just study consumer behavior, he studied people's behavior and then applied what he learned to marketing. For me, it was his writing about how old people come to be and are different from younger people that kept me going back to his blog.

David WolfeDavid died in 2011 but the email note from that TGB reader reminded me of a series of posts David wrote in 2007, about Jung's seven tasks of ageing. I excerpted short points from each before linking to his full exposition of each task. Now, nine years later it is every bit as relevant so I am repeating them for you today.

Here is my introduction to the excerpts as I wrote it in 2007:

”David’s purpose in his series on Jung is to convince marketers that elders are not ordinary consumers. Our mindsets are different from midlife and unless marketing and advertising people understand these differences, their products will not sell.

“If you are reading Time Goes By, you are probably not a marketing professional, but that should not deter you from David’s series where you will find the clearest explanation of Jung’s tasks I’ve read anywhere among the general commentary.

"To nudge you toward doing so, below are links and short excerpts from David for each of the tasks.”

The title of each task links to the full version at David's blog.

Task No. 1: Facing the Reality of Aging and Dying
“Those who have successfully carried out Jung’s first task of aging have grown ageless in their outlook. Moreover, they have discovered that the last quarter of life is not as lousy an experience as they might have anticipated at age 40.

“One benefit of reaching this state is an almost adolescent feeling of being beyond harm’s way. Abraham Maslow saw this arising from a lifestyle in which “A day is a minute, a minute is a day.” It’s about living in the moment in a constructive way.”

Task No. 2: Life Review
“…the second of Carl Jung’s Seven Tasks of Aging – life review – can have a deeper effect on many people than nostalgia does, especially the older they are.

“Life review involves a critical examination of one’s life leading toward reconciliation between the sweet and the sour in life. It is a process for removing regret and anger from one’s worldview.”

Task No. 3: Defining Life Realistically
“In Winter, the primary developmental objective is to develop a sense of oneness with all and reconcile the sweet and the bitter in life. The main life focus is reconciliation – finding harmony and peace with ourselves, others and life in general.

“Winter’s mythic theme is irony, reflecting a persistent anticipation that the unexpected is always around the corner – though not necessarily in a negative sense. In fact, the unexpected often delights the older person as much as it does a child. Irony is particularly therapeutic in how it helps us cope with what we can’t change. And, it often provides us with a certain comedic twist to ease the burdens of old age.”

Task No. 4: Letting Go of the Ego
“Letting go of the ego enhances personal well being by taking one to new and higher levels of life satisfaction. Beyond that, research indicates that getting beyond the self to turn more attention to helping others improves the efficiency of the immune system. People who help others tend to live longer and healthier than those who stay wrapped up inside themselves.”

Task No. 5: Finding a New Rooting in the Self
“The worldviews of people in the first half of life are generally rooted in the external world. In contrast, the worldviews of people in the second half of life tend to be rooted less in the physical or mundane and increasingly in the nonphysical or metaphysical (or spiritual).”

Task No. 6: Determining the Meaning of One’s Life
“Life meaning among the young is framed by styles of appearance, language, material acquisitions, and social affiliations in the quest for a solid footing in the external world...

“However, the search for life meaning undergoes a major shift in the second half of life. Whatever people’s material success, many find less and less meaning from 'things.' So, they begin to look inward rather than to the outer world in their search for life meaning.”

Task No. 7: Rebirth – Dying With Life
“Jung’s last task of aging, 'Rebirth — dying with life,' is a familiar theme throughout the religious genre, but he was not thinking religion when he framed that task. Success in prosecuting this task leads to loss fear of life and death alike. Rebirth after dying with life transports a person into the timeless domains of an artist lost in his or her work or a child absorbed in play when living in the time of a delicious moment is all that matters.”

Ronni here again:

As you can see even from the short excerpts, these are no ordinary tasks. Rather than doing, they require being and a conscious contemplation of unconscious changes that take place within us.

Perhaps I came to studying and writing about old age in my own old age from reading Jung when I was young.


ELDER MUSIC: The Singing Dead

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.

* * *

Not to be confused with the Grateful Dead.

There's a category of songs that were popular in the fifties and sixties that I like to think of as posthumous songs. That is, if you listen to the words, you'll find that according to the story, the singers were dead when they sang their ditties.

That always cracked me up (I'm easily amused). I thought that there should be a column in that and there just about is. I say "just about" because I cheated a little bit with some of them.

I'll start with a classic of the genre. There have been many recordings of Long Black Veil. The Band did a superb one (goes without saying), Joan Baez did a very good one on one of her very early concert albums, Johnny Cash's was excellent.

However, I'll go back to (nearly) the beginning. This may surprise some as the song sounds as if it was an old folksong whose origins are lost in the mists of time. This isn't the case.

It was written in 1959 by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin. The first recorded version was by LEFTY FRIZZELL.

Lefty Frizzell

William Frizzell gained his nickname as a boy and it had nothing to do with which was his dominant hand – he was a righty – or his politics, I assume. He was considered one of the great honky tonk singers as well as one of the great singers of heartbreak songs. He did a fine job on songs like this one too.

♫ Lefty Frizzell - Long Black Veil


MARTY ROBBINS is represented by his most famous song.

Marty Robbins

The song, of course, is El Paso. Some might say that it isn't quite posthumous, but I say hang around for a minute or two and it will be.

♫ Marty Robbins - El Paso


It was a tossup whether to include ROY ORBISON.

Roy Orbison

The song I've included is Leah, quite a big hit for him. At first it sounds as if it fits in really well until the very end. Then we get a cop out – "It was all a dream.”

I'm keeping it in as it was one of the first I thought of and besides, I was a bit short of songs.

♫ Roy Orbison - Leah


You knew JOHNNY CASH had to be present.

Johnny Cash

There are several of Johnny's songs I could have used but I opted for the obvious one, 25 Minutes to Go.

♫ Johnny Cash - 25 Minutes to Go


In lists of the worst songs ever - and such things exist - this next one always rates a mention. I'd put it at the very top, it's the worst song ever committed to vinyl. The singer, more the narrator, is PAT CAMPBELL.

Pat Campbell

To say it's tasteless, to say it's appalling, to say it's dreadful is praising it. I don't want to say anymore about it, I'll just let you listen to it, if you really want to. It's called The Deal.

♫ Pat Campbell - The Deal


At the time, KYLIE MINOGUE seemed an unlikely choice for NICK CAVE to make to duet with.

Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue

However, it seemed to work. The song they perform is from the wonderful and outrageous album "Murder Ballads" but if Nick can't be outrageous who can?

I guess you could call this a semi-posthumous song as it's a duet between the murderer and the murderee. Poor old Kylie's character is dead at the time so the song fits. It's called Where the Wild Roses Grow.

♫ Nick Cave - Where the Wild Roses Grow


Here is CHER on her own but from the period when she was still Sonny &...

Cher

Indeed, Sonny wrote the song for her and it appeared on her second solo album. Cher later rerecorded it when Sonny was nowhere in evidence. The song is Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).

♫ Cher - Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)


I hadn't realized that I Started a Joke fit our category today until I listened to it carefully, and it certainly does. It's a BEE GEES song.

Bee Gees

This was back when they were producing really fine crafted pop songs, before they stumbled into disco (quite accidently they tell us, or told us – there's only Barry still around). Anyway, here's the song.

♫ Bee Gees - I Started a Joke


I'm ashamed to admit that SONS OF THE NEVER WRONG have been around for more than 20 years and it's only recently that I stumbled over them.

Sons of the Never Wrong

About all I can tell you is that they're from Chicago and there are three of them – Bruce Roper, Sue Demel and Deborah Lader. Their song is Dead on the Highway and they certainly were, according to the song. Several times in fact.

♫ Sons of the Never Wrong - Dead on the Highway


I will always associate the song Seasons in the Sun with Terry Jacks. However, Terry wasn't the first to record it. That was Jacques Brel who wrote the song (called Le Moribond) while he was dying of cancer.

Rod McKuen translated it and several people recorded it before Terry. THE KINGSTON TRIO is a group who did.

Kingston Trio

Theirs was closer to the sardonic or even sarcastic original than Terry's overly-sentimental version and is more interesting as far as I'm concerned. It's not really a posthumous song, but like Marty above, stick around for a bit and it will be.

Here are the Kingstons with their take on the song.

♫ Kingston Trio - Seasons in the Sun


INTERESTING STUFF – 14 May 2016

NEW YORK TIMES OBITUARIES

I still remember my surprise more than half a century ago when, at a radio station, I saw a stack of audio cassettes with such labels as “Eisenhower Obit.”

Not that I had thought about it but I had no idea before that day that news organizations prepared obituaries long before the death of important people. It seemed creepy to me then. I got used to it and over the years even prepared a few advance obits myself.

Now, The New York Times is one of the few remaining news outlets with full time obituary writers. A new documentary titled Obit that is an inside look at how obits are produced at The Times had its premier at the TriBeCa Film Festival in April. Here's the trailer:

The webpage for the film is here. You can read more here and here. (Hat tip to Tom Delmore for forwarding the story.)

THE COLONOSCOPY SONG

Is there a season for colonoscopies? In the past few weeks, five or six people I know have mentioned prepping for the examination. That is, of course, a good thing, as this silly but important ditty reminds us.

HIS LOVE OF PIZZA SAVES MAN'S LIFE

Because this man in Salem, Oregon, ordered a pizza almost every day for years, the workers at Domino's got worried when there was no call from him for nearly two weeks. Their concern saved his life. Here's the story from Good Morning America.

You can read more here.

DECAPITALIZING THE INTERNET AND THE WEB

This may not seem monumental to you, but let me tell why it is to me.

Way back in the mid-1990s, when I was managing editor of the first CBS New website, I made it policy that in our stories we did not capitalize the word “internet.” I left in place capitalization of “Web” as it stands in for World Wide Web.

I've taken a lot of flak for this decision over the years. The New York Times and many, many other news organizations capitalize Internet.

My thinking is that since internet is not a company or a place or anyone's name, it does not require capitalization. It is comparable, I've kept explaining, to telephone. No one would capitalize telephone.

Now, on 1 June, the rest of the media at last catches up with me – and more:

”Associated Press editors announced a new stylebook change Saturday ahead of a session at the annual American Copy Editors Society's conference — the 2016 stylebook will lowercase the words 'internet' and 'web'."
Hardly anyone these days knows that the “web” is short for world wide web so I think lowercasing it is a good idea. You can read about the decision at Poynter.

JOHN OLIVER – SCIENTIFIC STUDIES AND THE MEDIA

John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight returned last Sunday from a short hiatus with comedian's caustic take on the media's reporting of scientific studies.

Of course, I laughed my ass off but this is important too. It is something I struggle with almost every day for this blog. Dozens of new studies are reported each week – more than you might think that relate to old people, too, and most of them are years away from proving anything – if they ever will. But I still need to plow through the reports to know that.

An added difficulty is that news stories (as opposed to the research itself) all too often report the results of, for example, a study of 12 fruit flies as proof that cancer is now cured. I cannot express how much I love John Oliver for this video essay. Someone needed to say this and he's a lot funnier than I am.

COMPOSITE PHOTOS - LONDON BLITZ AND NOW

TGB reader Margaret Cardoza sent this item and its amazing. As Alan Taylor at The Atlantic reported,

”On Wednesday, the United Kingdom marked the 75th anniversary of 'The Longest Night,' the final horrible night of the Blitz—an eight-month-long aerial bombing offensive launched by Nazi Germany during World War II.

“More than 40,000 British civilians were killed in the Blitz, 1.5 million Londoners were left homeless, and the city’s landscape was left shattered.”

Recently, Getty photographer Jim Dyson traveled to some of the devastated London locations and produced a series of amazing then(in b&w)/now (in color) photographs of the same location edited together. Here is an example of Westminster Abbey.

Blitz Westminster

And another of Leicester Square.

Blitz Leicester Square

You can see many more photos of London 75 years ago and now at The Atlantic.

LONGEST ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN AUSTRALIAN HISTORY

Pay attention here, Americans: Last Sunday, 8 May, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for federal elections to be held on – wait for it – 2 July. That would be a 55-day campaign. Here's a short report:

The longest campaign ever in Australia. Oh, god - if only we in the United States could have a campaign as long as Australia's. You can read more here.

RACHEL MADDOW AND SETH MYERS ON DONALD TRUMP

MSNBC host and pundit Rachel Maddow stopped by the Late Night with Seth Meyers TV show this week and the two of them had a short, important conversation about the election campaign.

PIMPIN' FOR PARADISE?

This gave me my biggest out-loud laugh of the week and now that I'm writing it, I'm laughing again. It would have been easy enough to miss the story if Mediaite had not reported it:

”...in the complex worlds of print and digital journalism, even the media giants make errors every now and then. Sometimes it’s a slight misspelling of someone’s names, or perhaps a job title that’s a little off. In these cases, editors print corrections — official statements of error, usually italics, to indicate a slight mistake in an earlier version of the story.

“Well, this is certainly one of the greatest corrections of 2016.”

Here is how the correction appears at the bottom of The Times story:

Pimpinforparadise

You can read the Mediaite report here and The New York Times story with appended correction here.

THE LIFE OF STELLA – A HAPPY DOG

The YouTube page explains:

”Stella is a perfectly healthy yellow lab. She uses her 'dog brakes' to cool down her belly on the grass after she's been fetching and playing. She has been tested for EIC and has no medical issues at all.”

I have no idea what that last sentence means but this is one of the happiest videos I've seen recently. I dare you not to grin while you're watching.

* * *

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” 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.


How Time Flies – Or Not Sometimes

Most old people agree that the older we get, the faster time goes by. But in under an hour early Tuesday morning, I had a good lesson in just how slowly time can pass in certain circumstances.

By 8AM, I was stretched out in the dentist's chair while enduring first, two massively painful needle sticks in my lower jaw followed by the extraction of a bad molar and insertion of an titanium implant.

Those procedures took about 35 minutes in real time which surprised me. It had felt like at least an hour and a half. I was exhausted.

In the book, Felt Time: The Psychology of How We Perceive Time that I mentioned on Monday, the author Marc Wittman (translated by Erik Butler) reports on the results of recent research into the subjective experiences of time.

”In situations that trigger intense fear (note: I am always convinced the dental pain killer won't work), time expands enormously...Unusually stressful situations lead to subjective time dilation in all human beings.”

Directly finishing the dental work, I walked across the street to the pharmacy I use and waited 20 minutes for an antibiotic prescription to be filled. Again, the wait seemed much longer than it was. Wittman again:

”While waiting at the doctor's - when one is paying attention to time...half an hour may pass in an intolerably slow fashion.”

No kidding. As my Tuesday morning proved. Twice.

On several past occasions I have written about how time speeds up for elders, including the most popular explanation for the phenomenon: that when you are ten years old, for example, a year is one tenth of your entire life. When you are 80, it is only one-eightieth of your life making a year seem, supposedly, of shorter duration.

That explanation has never been good enough for me. It just seems “off” and Wittman agrees – although for more substantial reasons than mine.

He is a research fellow at the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, Freiburg, Germany who has been studying the psychology of time for many years.

He believes that the perceived increase in the speed of time in old age is much more complicated than the popular explanation. One way that is true is that time perception varies depending on whether a person is sensing it as a memory of the past or a current sensation (as my dental appointment) or anticipation of a future event.

It is an important finding in several studies, says Wittman, that our experience of the speed of time depends a great deal on memory of events.

”Numerous studies from the field of cognitive psychology have shown that the subjective duration of a span of time depends on the number of events stores in memory and the number of changes experienced in this period...

“A large quantity of changes perceived over a stretch of time causes duration to expand subjectively, compared to the same span spent under conditions that are monotonous and poor in experience.”

In addition, the discrete number of unique events, which change over the years, also affects people's sense of the passage of time .

”...childhood, youth and early adulthood are phases of life marked by the accumulation of constantly new experiences: the birth of a younger sibling, the first day of school, the first vacation spent without parents, the first kiss, and so on...

“Three years of adult life often mean three years of routine: getting up, going to work, watching television, sleeping, getting up again and so on...The result is a lower quantity of memory contents...

“What stands out are the experiences that occur for the first time; as such, events from the early phases of live prove especially enduring.

In old age, Wittman tell us, due to

”...increasing routine and the decreasing novelty-value of experience that this entails, time seems to accelerate subjectively as fewer and fewer memories are stored over the course of a life.”

There is substantially more to know about the many ways we experience time than I am giving you in this short blog post, including the role our emotions play in creating and recalling memories.

Even without that information, it is easy to understand Wittman's smart advice for those of us who might like life to slow down even a bit.

”In order to feel that one's life is flowing more slowly – and fully – one might seek out new situations over and over to have novel experiences that, because of their emotional value, are retained by memory over the long term,” he writes.

“Greater variety makes a given period of life expand in retrospect. Life passes more slowly. If one challenges oneself consistently, it pays off, over the years, as the feeling of having lived fully – and most importantly, of having lived for a long time.”

Or, I suppose, you could just spend more time in a dentist's chair.


Will I Live Long Enough to Use All This?

Have you seen those human interest stories that turn up now and then about super-dooper coupon clippers? You know, the mothers who feed a family of six for $3.27 a month because they are such world-class coupon collectors?

I have no patience for coupons and anyway, if you don't count ice cream, they are never for anything I eat. Only high-sodium, high-calorie, hi-sugar processed stuff that also contains a lot of unpronounceable chemicals gets discount coupons. Never fresh produce or fish or good cheeses.

That does not mean, however, that I don't keep an eye on other kinds of sales at the local grocery stores.

Over the past few years, the house brand of steel cut oatmeal at one of the local markets has become a personal staple.

Regular price for the one pound container is $3.99 and because it is my standard breakfast (stuffed with berries, banana, apple sauce and yogurt), I buy a lot of it. So when it is on sale three or four times a year at two for $4, that's a bargain and I buy four or even six canisters at one go.

One of my pet peeves is the high price of paper products and I am almost as crazed as those super coupon women about never paying more than a dollar for the “boutique” size box of tissue. When I see them on sale occasionally for $.89 each, I buy a dozen.

Generally, I keep a good eye on what I spend at the supermarket, but those two products are about as extreme as my bargain-hunting fetish goes.

Except now and then.

Few people these days sit down and have a long visit on the telephone as we commonly did in our younger years. But I have several friends with whom I do that almost every week – ones who live far away.

One 40-year New York City friend and I spend a good deal of time talking about what it's like to grow old – what our lives are like now in our mid- and late 70s, how our interests have changed, the kinds of things we do differently now.

We keep a mordant eye on how we have settled into life as, respectively, a little old woman and a little old man.

Good food has always been a top pleasure for each of us and we are both reasonably good cooks. Recently, we were discussing our grocery shopping habits.

Pushing my cart down an aisle one day, I told him, I noticed that tinned tuna was on sale for $.89 a can. Wow, I thought to myself, I should buy ten of them. Just in time, I remembered I had already done that only a few days earlier.

“Yes, yes, yes,” my friend exclaimed in solidarity. “Except I went that one further step and bought them. Then, when I got home, I saw that I already had 10 new cans of tuna in the cupboard.”

We decided together that it might be a reasonable bet he would not live long enough to eat 20 cans of tunafish.

And then, even though separated by 3,000 miles of digital ether, it felt like we were in the same room for a few moments as we shared a great, long, wonderful belly laugh at the folly of our aging memories and selves.


What is Successful Ageing?

For several years now there has been a lot of talk about “successful ageing” (also called “ageing well”) and how to do it. Hardly a day goes by that I don't see a new article about it and in fact, Google the phrase and you'll get nearly half a million returns.

The not-very-clever joke told by people like me who don't like the phrase is, What is UNsuccessful ageing? Death?

The advocates of successful ageing - who are government and non-governmental agencies concerned with old people, academic researchers who specialize in ageing, and healthy lifestyle advisers who range from physicians to media bloviators like me – emphasize the big three prescriptions for successful ageing:

Physical and cognitive fitness
Active social life
Good diet and other healthy habits

There's nothing wrong with those admonitions except that they are all we are told about successful ageing with the accompanying implication that they will help us maintain a facsimile of youth.

As if that is the meaning of growing old. It is not.

So today, let's take those three “rules” as a given, set them aside and talk about some some other ways to think about how we age.

APPEARANCE
It is a blessing that I am intrigued with how my body and face show increasing signs of age - almost by the day now. A deeper wrinkle next to my mouth. Creases in my forehead more permanent. The crepe-y skin on my belly getting crepe-ier.

I cannot take credit for my fascination with these changes; it just happened along the way but I am grateful for it.

Imagine what it must be to regret one's face in the mirror every morning. It would be a dreadful affliction made worse in that it cannot be changed and attempts to do so – Botox, surgery, etc. – fool no one.

We all get old. When we do, we all look old. Get over it, stop paying attention to wrinkle remover ads (none of them work) and do something more interesting.

PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS
Without giving a single inch to the cultural conviction that growing old is only about disease and decline, it is good to learn acceptance, as becomes necessary.

If you can't clean the whole house in one go anymore, slow down. Do it in two days, three days or as long as it takes.

If, like me, you need a day off from people the day after a social engagement, do it. Learn to say no.

In recent years, there has been a not-so-subtle urging for old people to push themselves to physical extremes. Every time there is a news story about an 80-year-old climbing Mt. Everest or bungee jumping off a bridge, the unspoken question to the reader is, what are you doing sitting there watching television?

Do not accept this kind of thinking.

Even among the healthiest among us, if we live long enough, our physical capabilities will wane. It's okay. Do as much as you can or feel like doing and let the rest go. You won't be a bad person for it.

GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF
One of the most common things you hear from the recently retired is that they don't know what to do with all the time they have. Advice from the advocates is always the same: volunteer, join a club, get active.

You can do all those things if they are what interest you but now, at last, there is time to reflect on your life, think about where your life has taken you, what you have learned, note your accomplishments, forgive yourself for your failures and maybe set a new course.

This takes quiet time, alone time. Make notes, write a memoir even if it's only for yourself. These years are the time to remember, recall and work out what it all has meant to you.

This hardly covers it. The point I wanted to make today, and this doesn't really do it well, is that the emphasis of the “successful ageing movement” is pretty much 100 percent on physical health and the appearance of youth, and that is not good enough.

There is so much more to life and whatever the gurus of ageing well think, that IS what we are still doing at our age: living. In all ways available to us. Just like younger people.

The first and most important thing to remember about growing old is this: there is no wrong way to do it.

* * *

AFTERWORD: I was/am dissatisfied with this piece. It had been rolling around in my head for several days, I liked the general idea and had made some notes. But as happens sometimes, it is lacking. It just didn't develop well.

Nevertheless, I needed to move on with other plans and – good, bad or indifferent, the post needed to be to be finished.

Now, five or six hours later on a Sunday afternoon, I've been reading a couple of chapters in a book about perception of time that I will tell you more about at a later date because a great deal of it addresses the issue of how time seems to accelerate as we age.

In that regard, there is a relatively short passage that relates to the question of ageing well that applies to today's post. It is from Felt Time by Marc Wittman.

The author is discussing a work titled On the Shortness of Life by first century CE statesman and philosopher, Seneca, in which he scolds his countrymen who put off living until too late.

”...in Seneca's opinion, life only seems short to us – that is, to pass faster and faster - because we waste time on so many useless activities. 'Useless' does not necessarily mean lazy Sunday afternoons on the couch. Seneca endorses anything but an unconditional work ethic," writes Wittman.

“On the contrary, he wants to demonstrate that many of our pursuits in life – and especially the work we choose, which eats up all our time – keep us from things that would really prove fulfilling and offer an emotionally rich existence.

“At this juncture, the reader may reflect on his or her own activities. What is keeping us from doing what we really want to do? In other words: life is, in fact, long, if only we know how to use our time.

“In the language of memory psychology: Live in such a way that your life is varied and emotionally rich; then you will live for a long time.”

Wittman and Seneca are a bit more concerned with longevity than I intended to discuss today, but Seneca's advice is an excellent prescription for successful ageing.

Or, I could have kept this a lot shorter by quoting Joseph Campbell: "Follow your bliss."


ELDER MUSIC: Creeque Alley

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.

* * *

Creeque Alley is a song by THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS about the formation of that band.

Mamas & Papas

It was written by Papa John, John Phillips, who was the main songwriter for the group.

♫ The Mamas and Papas - Creeque Alley


As you heard, the song starts with the line...

John and Mitchy were gettin' kind of itchy
Just to leave the folk music behind

John, you know. Mitchy is Michelle Phillips, John's wife. They were both in a group called THE JOURNEYMEN which is where they met.

Journeymen

Upon spying her, John instantly dumped his first wife and children, one of whom became the actress and singer Mackenzie Phillips, and took up with Michelle, later marrying her. From the Journeymen, we have Hush Now Sally.

♫ The Journeymen - Hush Now Sally


Continuing with the song...

Zal and Denny workin' for a penny
Tryin' to get a fish on the line
In a coffee house Sebastian sat

And after every number they'd pass the hat

Denny was Denny Doherty, the fine tenor voice in The Mamas and the Papas. Zal was Zal Yanovsky. He and Denny were Canadians and were in a group there called The Halifax Three. Sebastian is John Sebastian and went on to form the LOVIN' SPOONFUL with Zal.

Lovin' Spoonful

There was a plethora of songs from which I could have chosen something. It was really a matter of the mood I was in at the time. My mood suggested Darlin' Companion with the unmistakable voice of John Sebastian singing lead.

♫ Lovin' Spoonful - Darlin' Companion


Back to the song...

McGuinn and McGuire just a gettin' higher
In L.A., you know where that's at

McGuinn is Jim (later Roger) McGuinn who went on to create one of the finest bands of the era, THE BYRDS.

Byrds

The song of theirs I've chosen is from a little later in their career. It seems that Peter Fonda wanted Bob Dylan to write music for his film Easy Rider. Bob refused but wrote a verse of a song and told Peter to "give this to McGuinn.”

He did and got a theme song for the film and McGuinn got an album out of it called “Ballad of Easy Rider.” That was the name of the song as well.

As an aside, it seems that Peter was a big fan of The Byrds, and early on he had them round to his place to play for him. Gee, that'd be al lright. The story is that he based his character in the film on McGuinn and Dennis Hopper's character on David Crosby.

♫ The Byrds - Ballad Of Easy Rider


McGuire is Barry McGuire, once in the NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS and later had (and is still having) a rather successful solo career.

New Christy Minstrels

From the Christys (Christies?) here is a song that made it to the charts, Green, Green.

♫ New Christy Minstrels - Green, Green


That lead vocal was by BARRY MCGUIRE.

Barry McGuire

His most famous song, written by P.F. Sloan, is Eve of Destruction but you probably know that one. Instead, here's something very unlikely, Try to Remember from the musical "The Fantasticks.”

♫ Barry McGuire - Try To Remember


The song again...

When Denny met Cass he gave her love bumps
Called John and Zal and that was the Mugwumps

We've already met Denny, John (Sebastian) and Zal. Cass, naturally is MAMA CASS (Cass Elliot, originally Ellen Cohen).

Mama Cass

Mama Cass first came to notice in a group called THE BIG 3.

Big 3

They weren't hugely successful but they did release a couple of records including this one, The Banjo Song. You might know it under another name.

♫ The Big 3 - The Banjo Song


After The Big 3, Cass got together with Denny, John (Sebastian) and Zal and, as was mentioned in the song, formed THE MUGWUMPS.

Mugwumps

John was soon replaced by Jim Hendricks who had been in The Big 3 with Cass. They made one album. Listening to their record, you can hear hints of what was to come later. See what you think with Everybody's Been Talkin'.

♫ The Mugwumps - Everybody's Been Talkin'


After the demise of The Mamas and The Papas, Mama Cass had a decent solo career until her untimely death (heart attack; ham sandwiches were not involved).

She began with a song that was actually on a Mamas and Papas album but was released as a single under her own name, Dream a Little Dream of Me.

♫ Mama Cass - Dream A Little Dream Of Me


And ending the song...

And California dreamin' is becomin' a reality.

Naturally, I'll play that song by THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS.

Mamas & ;Papas

The Mamas and Papas - California Dreamin'


Here is a bonus. I remember seeing this program a few years ago and recently found it on YouTube. It's Barry McGuire singing, and updating, his most famous song perfomred live on Australian television program, Spicks n Specks, in 2009.


INTERESTING STUFF – 7 May 2016

LONDON MARATHON IN SPACE

Last Sunday, the city of London held it's annual marathon. British astronaut Tim Peake ran the race in real time in the International Space Station. Peake is not the first astronaut to run a marathon in space; two preceded him and it's not easy.

Take a look:

You can read more about marathon running in the space station at The Guardian.

JOHN OLIVER – CICADAS

John Oliver's HBO program, Last Week Tonight, was off last Sunday but he delivered a short web exclusive about this year's cicada return in the eastern United States after their 17 years underground.

It's not what you think.

A NEW WAY TO TRACK YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN D.C.

ProPublica has taken over a data project from The New York Times that will expand and make it easier for us to track what our elected officials are doing in Congress:

”While the original interactive database at The Times focused on bills and votes, our new project adds pages for each elected official, where you can find their latest votes, legislation they support and statistics about their voting.

“As we move forward we want to add much more data to help you understand how your elected officials represent you, the incentives that drive them and the issues they care about.”

And there is more:

“This isn’t the only congressional data site out there, and our goal is to send visitors to other sites that offer valuable features. That’s why we’re linking to individual lawmaker and bill pages on GovTrack and C-SPAN, for example.”

The service is named Represent, is easy to navigate and updated daily. Here is a screen grab of its main page:

Represent

Try it out here, and you can read about how it came about, what it can do for you now and what is planned for the future at ProPublica.

SLACK COMMERCIAL FOR AMAZING TEAMS

Those of us long out of the workforce may not know that Slack is an online messaging service for teams that, they tell us, reduces the number of emails and meetings needed.

I've never used Slack – I probably don't need it - but like the two commercials I showed you last week, this one is a standout – the animal workers are rendered magnificently as individuals.

JIMMY KIMMEL AND REAL SCIENTISTS TAKE ON SARAH PALIN

There's a movie going around that purports to disprove climate change and Sarah Palin has been promoting it. Last week, on his ABC-TV late night show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel along with some real-life scientists, took on her misguided allegations:

THE OLDEST SAKE DISTILLERY IN THE WORLD – 850 YEARS

Maybe I've told you before that what I like best when I visit Israel is walking the streets of the old city in Jerusalem where, knowing that for 4,000 years people have lived and loved and fought and died and walked exactly where I am, I can feel my place in the continuity of human life through all those generations as I can nowhere else.

Once, a man selling household goods told me his family had operated that stall for a thousand years. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. The point is that it could be.

Below is a video about the oldest sake distillery in the world. Situated in Obara, Japan, it has been in the same family for more than eight centuries.

”After the 2011 earthquake and nuclear meltdown, they feared the water in their ancient wells had been poisoned and they would have to close. Luckily, the water was deemed safe and today they carry on their (very long) time-honored tradition.

I found this video at Great Big Story.

NEW TIME-KEEPING FOR A DIGITAL AGE

In the Metropolitan Diary column of The New York Times this week, reader Martin Hochbaum reports:

”Dear Diary:

“My commuter bus home from New York City leaves from Gate 20 in the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The sign posted next to the bus line’s departure schedule reads, 'Due to the inconsistencies of Port Authority clocks, all buses will leave on cellphone time.'

“Surely it won’t be long before CPT becomes accepted as the standardized acronym for all scheduling.”

EVOLUTION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Time Goes By reader Cathy Johnson sent this video about how far back in history you and I would be able to understand the English language.

There is an interesting discussion of the historical language changes covered in the video at the YouTube page.

DARING RESCUE OF A CAT IN A TREE

The cat has been stuck high up in a tree in the Bronx for five days or so. Finally, an animal activist, Pedro Rosario, said he'd climb the tree in a rescue effort:

”Rosario is originally from the Dominican Republic, where he said people climb trees all the time, but he had not climbed one in a while, so he was initially very nervous about his rescue attempt.

“However, he eventually summoned the courage to start his ascent, rented a ladder to give him a boost and was ultimately able to get Missy down safely - although she did not seem that grateful to be rescued.

"'I got on the tree,' he said. 'I climbed all the way up to the top, grabbed the cat, got bit by the cat, got scratched by the cat. But we got it down.'”

You can watch the rescue in this video, and read more at dnainfo.com.

* * *

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” 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.


Old People's Take on the 2016 Presidential Campaign

This blog is about “what it's really like to get old.” Almost always, you can rely on that and when the topic does go sideways, usually there is a component – however small – that involves elders.

Maybe not today. We'll see.

Earlier this week, two of the three remaining Republican candidates for president dropped out the race and Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee of that party. The “presumptive” part is a short-term formality and already I'm tired of it. Let's just call him the nominee.

At every move during the primary season, Trump has outfoxed the media who let down the country - and by that I don't mean only us voters but the founding fathers and the Constitution itself - by covering the campaign as entertainment.

The media gave Trump more face time by magnitudes than any other candidate, fawned over him like the rock star he thinks he is, never held him to account for any of his vague or frightening or insincere or changing-by-the-minute policy positions.

The most important decision a country makes, choosing its leader, has been turned into a reality show by the media and there is no indication that will change during the general election campaign between now and November 8.

The subject of Trump almost always comes up at the weekly current affairs discussion group I attend and following the Indiana primary this week, it took more than the usual amount of time.

God knows emotions run high in this election campaign, but the 25-30 attendees at the gathering are mostly careful to control our political feelings. Maybe it's because we are all old and have a lot of experience at how testy - and possibly poisonous - people can get over politics.

This week, however, one attendee proposed an act I will not repeat here that might, the person suggested, take place between the election of Donald Trump and the inauguration, and asked what the rest of us thought about that.

Everyone punted including, I am sorry to say, me as though each of us were repeating a silent mantra, "don't go there, don't go there, don't go there." Since then it has been eating at me that I did not, at minimum, ask, Are you suggesting what it sounds like you are?

Thanks to Trump alone, our public political conversation has become so course, so vulgar and so violent that it has seeped down to a polite little social forum and I doubt the one I attend is the only place it has happened.

Donald Trump is a dangerous man in a certain kind of way. Out of fear, maybe, of being tagged with Godwin's Law*, hardly anyone with a public voice says HOW he is a danger to the United States and the world.

One who just did so, however, is Andrew Sullivan, a conservative (and controversial) political pundit who stepped out of retirement this week to comment on what he calls our “dystopian election campaign.”

While invoking Godwin's Law himself in a long, fascinating and readable essay in New York magazine, he wrote about Trump:

”To call this fascism doesn’t do justice to fascism. Fascism had, in some measure, an ideology and occasional coherence that Trump utterly lacks.

“But his movement is clearly fascistic in its demonization of foreigners, its hyping of a threat by a domestic minority (Muslims and Mexicans are the new Jews), its focus on a single supreme leader of what can only be called a cult, and its deep belief in violence and coercion in a democracy that has heretofore relied on debate and persuasion.”

Generally, people's fascist and Hitler references are disproportionate to their topic but in this case, not so much. Further, Sullivan says,

”...Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others.

“In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.”

One person who has dipped her toe in those waters is the MSNBC host, Rachel Maddow. Here is a portion of what she said at the top of her program on Wednesday night following the Indiana primary this week. (My apologies for the low quality of the video; it's the best I could locate.)

She is right, we are in uncharted political waters and the pundits who almost to a person told us Trump did not have chance of attaining the nomination will undoubtedly be equally mistaken in any predictions they make between now and November 8.

It seems to me that this is the most important, most potentially earth-shaking election of our long lives and for that reason I want to give us old people a chance to weigh in here.

Or maybe I'm just trying to atone for not speaking out when I should have in that discussion group this week. Either way, I'll shut up now and it's your turn. What do you make of the Trump candidacy? How has he affected the campaign so far? The country? Can he win the presidency? Please don't guess - give us your reasons. And how do you imagine a Trump presidency at home and in U.S. relationships with the world?

Andrew Sullivan's essay in New York magazine had me riveted. You can read it here.

* GODWIN'S LAW: If an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism.