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Dilemma: Finding a Primary Care Physician

THE PROBLEM
About a month ago, I woke one morning with a mystery malady: randomly placed aches on the front, sides and back of my torso in about half a dozen specific locations which change from day to day.

These are entirely different from muscle pains I get when I occasionally overdo my fitness workout.

Because I hardly ever get sick and when I do, it is easily identifiable and not terribly important; and because I spend as little time with doctors as I can get away with, I followed my usual procedure when something goes wrong: wait and see.

By mid-afternoon that first day, I still hurt. I tried a pain pill, went bed and waited an endless 90 minutes for the medication to kick in.

This routine continued for next couple of weeks. The aches would be there for a day or two and then I would wake the next day feeling, unless you count general lethargy, almost my normal self again and got on with life believing that whatever had caused the aches was resolving itself.

THE PHYSICIAN
But nooo. After one pain-free day – or two sometimes – the aches returned. Finally I broke down and went to the doctor. And this is where the story I came to tell you today begins.

Over a period of 15 or 20 minutes, the pleasant and clearly competent physician's assistant took my vital signs that, she said, were all within normal range and asked about any changes from what she read out on my chart. The doctor then arrived, sat down at the computer and started typing.

I had a written list of my mystery malady symptoms so I could be concise, along with a couple of unrelated, minor symptoms I wanted to check on while I was there.

Reading off my list, I explained my mystery symptoms and noted that for the previous day and that day, I was pain free but I'd been there before and didn't think the malady had corrected itself.

The only time the doctor looked at me directly and touched me was when he felt the glands under my chin pronouncing them, after a few seconds, to be normal. He returned to the computer and, I assume, entered that information.

The following conversation ensued (paraphrased):

DOCTOR: I can't see that there is anything going on we need to be concerned about and you said that the pain has subsided so you're apparently getting better. Give the MT a urine sample so we can check for a virus.

The doctor then walked toward the door.

RONNI: Wait. I have two other small things I want to ask about.

DOCTOR: Sorry. We're out of time.

And he left after being with me for 10 minutes - probably more like seven or eight minutes.

I peed in the cup and drove home in growing fury – and a little bit of fear. (Two days later, I was informed that the urine test indicated no infection or virus.)

FINDING A NEW PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN
For a couple of days I thought the pains had finally gone away but they returned and have continued that haphazard schedule of a day or two on, a day or two off.

Clearly it was time to find a new primary care physician. I'm 75. There is an old folk tale I'm unwilling to dismiss entirely that no matter how healthy you are, after 75 it's one damned thing after another.

A year or so after moving here, I used online listings of both primary care physicians and geriatricians to find a new doctor. My preference was for the latter but there are fewer of them every year so there's not much chance of finding one with room in his or her schedule.

These days, the web pages of most physicians list what kinds of insurance coverage they accept and I quickly learned that if Medicare is not listed, it is not a oversight. It means they won't consider you.

It took me several days to call all the physicians who listed Medicare and in every case the phone conversation went like this:

RONNI: I'm looking for a primary care physician and would like to make an appointment.

PHONE PERSON: What kind of insurance do you have?

RONNI: Medicare.

PHONE PERSON: I'm sorry, we are not accepting new patients at this time.

I kid you not. Every single one said this.

(I did not find a doctor until I needed cataract surgery a couple of years ago that could not be performed without a full physical exam first. When I explained I did not have a primary care physician, the eye doctor made an appointment with the one I now see.)

A week or ten days ago, I asked a friend who has lived here for decades about finding a physician and she said, “Good luck with that. In this town, they all have waiting lists.” A neighbor I spoke with agreed.

Before long, I will need to repeat the exercise – it's been several years since last time – of calling the list of primary care physicians (and maybe take a stab again at the geriatricians) within a somewhat reasonable distance from my home to see if any will accept Medicare AND a new patient.

(One list is the Physician Compare Directory at the Medicare website where all the doctors do take Medicare. There are other online lists from various sources, often local, usually searchable by Zip Code in addition to specialty.)

Before that, however, another friend has offered to make an inquiry for me and we'll see how that goes.

But the point remains that if Medicare is your health coverage and you need a new physician for whatever reason, you may be out of luck. Of course, when/if I find one, there is no reason to believe he/she will spend any more time with me than my most recent encounter and we don't get to do job interviews before choosing a doctor. It's more like, if one will take you and he or she is still breathing, don't say no.

A fairly short trip around the web turned up multiple stories of elders with Medicare unable to find a physician willing to accept them.

A 2013 NPR story about this dilemma noted that between the year 2000 and 2012, the number of Texas doctors accepting Medicare dropped from 78 percent to 58 percent. There is no reason to believe it is any different in the other 49 states and god knows how low the percentage is now, four years later. Further:

”Seventy-eight-year-old Nancy Martin is one of the seniors who had a tough time finding a physician.

“'I felt frustration, disappointment and I would say, despair. A lot of days I would get to the point where I would think, I'm never going to find a doctor in Austin,' she told the NewsHour. It took a full two years for Martin to find one.

Ten thousand people a day turn age 65 so this problem isn't going away any time soon.

PRE-EMPTIVE NOTE: We are not here for any long-distance diagnoses of my mystery malady so please don't. The issue at hand is important – our experience, discussion and advice (if any) on finding a physician.


Saving Medicare and Contacting Congress

Capitol-diagram

EDITORIAL NOTE: This is a nuts-and-bolts post pulling together some information we are going to need before long. I know some readers don't want any more politics, but emboldened Republicans are hard bent on killing Medicare and they want to do it right after the New Year.

Discussion of Medicare privatization may come up sooner than we expect; Congress reconvenes today, none of the Republicans are shy about pressing their political advantage.

I spent some time over the long weekend, locking down details of one way we can make our voices heard. There will be others, but contacting your representatives is basic to the effort, and there is a right way to do it. Maybe you will want to bookmark some of these links for future use.

* * *

REFRESHER
As I wrote here last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has been pushing a plan to privatize Medicare for at least half a dozen years and is willing to lie to the American public to accomplish it:

”What people don't realize,” Ryan told [Fox News host Brent] Baier, “is because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke, medicare is going to have price controls because of Obamacare, Medicaid is in fiscal straits.

“You have to deal with those issues if you are going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Medicare has serious problems [because of] Obamacare.”

This is exactly opposite of what is true which you can read about on my most recent Medicare post here.

As it looks now, Ryan's new, private Medicare coverage would compete against traditional Medicare. New York Times reporter, Robert Pear, who has closely followed Medicare and Social Security for many years, wrote about Ryan's plan last week and noted this about how it would work:

“'Beneficiaries would have to pay much more to stay in traditional fee-for-service Medicare,' said John K. Gorman, a former Medicare official who is now a consultant to many insurers. 'Regular Medicare would become the province of affluent beneficiaries who can buy their way out of' private plans.”

According to many reports (but who knows what applies in a * administration), Ryan intends to push Medicare privatization (also called voucher plan) legislation as soon as the 115th Congress convenes in January.

Last Friday, in response to the Republican Medicare threat, Senate Minority Leader-elect, Chuck Schumer (D-New York) issued a defiant statement reminiscent of actor Clint Eastwood in a certain movie [emphasis is mine]:

“Medicare is one of the most successful government programs ever created – it’s been a success story for decades. The Republicans’ ideological and visceral hatred of government could deny millions of senior citizens across the country the care they need and deserve.

“To our Republican colleagues considering this path, Democrats say: make our day. Your effort will fail, and this attack on our seniors will not stand.”

I hope Senator Schumer is right but with a Republican-controlled Senate, he will need a lot of backup from the people of the United States and it is we, elders, who best understand the consequences of Medicare privatization.

For when that time comes – and it may be as soon as early January – I have collected some information about how to take our message to Congress and make it as effective as possible. Having this information now will keep future posts on the issue much shorter.

THE BEST WAYS TO CONTACT CONGRESS
I found instructions from a former six-year Congressional staffer, Emily Ellsworth, with an excellent list of what does and does not make the biggest impact.

Twitter and Facebook do not work. Staffers hardly ever check them.

Emailing your representatives is better, but the staffers get so many emails and are so busy, they just use an algorithm to “batch them” and send out form letters in response. (Snailmail is, apparently, dead.)

At Lifehacker where I found this information, the reporter notes that Ms. Ellsworth specifically recommends phone calls:

”...phone calls have to be dealt with when they occur and they can’t be ignored. A large volume of phone calls can be overwhelming for office staffers, but that means that their bosses hear about it.

“Which office you target also matters. Members of Congress have offices in DC, but they also have offices in their home district that they represent. Target your letters and phone calls to your local office and you’ll have an easier time getting their attention.”

Also, says Ms. Ellsworth, “If you want to talk to your rep, show up at [local] town hall meetings. Get a huge group that they can't ignore. Pack that place and ask questions.”

These and other instructions are included in Ellsworth's (irony alert) Twitter chain that is reproduced in full at Lifehacker.

CONGRESSIONAL EMAIL ADDRESSES AND PHONE NUMBERS
U.S. Senate contacts including D.C. and home district offices: You might have to search around to find the state office contacts but with a few exceptions, they are somewhere on the main page.

U.S. House of Representatives contacts including D.C. and home district offices – the latter sometimes called satellite offices: Although I have not looked at the web pages of all 435 Congress people, listings for district offices were on the pages I spot checked.

Over the years here, I've recommended other websites that list Congressional phone numbers but after my latest scrutiny, these appear to be the most thorough and best organized. New members of both the House and the Senate are sworn in on 3 January 2017. Obviously, newly-elected representatives may not have web pages yet on day one.

SCRIPTS FOR PHONE CALLS
Congressional staffers – at home and in Washington – are busy people. Another excellent suggestion is to prepare a short, to-the-point script you can read when you telephone your representatives.

A Google Doc by Kara Waite is messy but is packed with great information – especially this page of scripts (click on "Calling Scripts" at the top of the page). And in the future, I will create some sample scripts as a starting point you can personalize.


ELDER MUSIC: Classical Gas Goes Forth

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.

* * *

Continuing this series of columns (originally named by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist) to highlight lesser known composers who are seldom heard on radio or in concert.

We shouldn't confuse JOHANN SCHOBERT with similarly surnamed Franz Schubert because they were different people. Besides, Franz is too well known to fit into this category.

Schobert

Jo was born in Silesia or Alsace or Nuremberg in 1720 or 1735 or 1740. We do know that he died, though, along with his wife, one of their children, a servant and four friends when Jo insisted that the mushrooms were edible.

In between all that he composed music and played the harpsichord and piano. Here is the first movement of his Piano Trio in B flat major, Op 16 No 1.

♫ Johann Schobert - Trio in B flat major, Op 16 No 1 (1)


Haydn is one of the biggest names in music, but it's not the famous Joseph we're interested in today, but his younger brother MICHAEL HAYDN.

Michael Haydn

Mike was also a gifted composer, so much so that quite a few of his works were attributed to his brother until recent times when modern scholarship has shown conclusively that they really belong to him. This is one such, the third movement of the Violin Concerto in B flat major.

♫ Michael Haydn - Violin Concerto in B flat major (3)


There have been several husband and wife composing teams, the most famous of whom would be Robert and Clara Schumann. They're a bit too well known for this column. In their place I give you the Dusseks, beginning with JAN DUSSEK.

Jan Dussek

Jan was a Czech composer and was widely travelled. He spent 10 years in London where he met Sophia. While in London he was instrumental (sorry) in the development of the modern piano. He wrote mostly for the piano, but he left quite a bit of music for the harp, Sophia's main instrument. This is the third movement of his Piano Quintet in F minor opus 41.

♫ Jan Dussek - Quintet in F minor opus 41 (3)


Jan's wife was SOPHIA DUSSEK.

Sophia Dussek

Sophia was born Sophia Corri in Edinburgh. Her father was Domenico Corri, also a composer of some note at the time. Besides, he was a music publisher, which was handy. Sophia was a singer, pianist and most notably, a harp player. It was for this that she wrote most of her music.

It wasn't all jolly times in the Dussek household, Sophia eventually went off and shacked up with another man (whom she employed to repair her harp – nudge nudge wink wink). Jan left town and they never saw each other again as he died soon afterwards.

This is the third movement of her Harp Sonata No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 2.

♫ Sophia Dussek - Sonata No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 2 (3)


JOHANN BACKOFEN was a German composer who also played the clarinet, harp, flute and bassett horn. Besides that, he was a painter of note.

Johann Backofen

That's really about all we know about Jo, even the year he died is unknown, but some say 1830 because some have to put a number to these things.

Okay, I'll mention the Basset horn: the Basset horn is rather like the clarinet but is larger and has a bit of a bend at the top near the mouth piece. Some examples have another bend in the middle or down the bottom near the horn where all the music comes out.

Here is the first movement of the Quintet in F Major for Bassett Horn and Strings.

♫ Johann Backofen - Quintet in F Major for Bassett Horn and Strings Op 9 (1)


BARBARA STROZZI was adopted by the Strozzi family; she was the daughter of papa (Giulio) Strozzi and his servant, Isabella Garzon.

Barbara Strozzi

It looks as if wardrobe malfunctions aren't only a modern phenomenon. That picture was painted by Bernardo Strozzi, who may be a close relative (or not – no one is quite certain).

Barbara was a singer of some renown and a composer as well, which is why she appears here. Dad was very encouraging of her talents, paying for her to study composition and he even had an academy built where she could perform.

It seems that she was the most prolific composer - man or woman - of secular vocal music in Venice in the middle of the seventeenth century. This is one of her compositions, Sete pur fastidioso, performed by the group LA VILLANELLA BASEL.

La Villanella Basel

♫ Barbara Strozzi - Sete pur fastidioso


FRANÇOIS DEVIENNE was a composer, musician (flute and bassoon mainly) and professor at the Paris Conservatory.

Francois Devienne

He managed to negotiate the Revolution successfully, possibly by setting up a Free School of Music that evolved into the National Institute of Music, and later the Paris Conservatory.

Most of his works are for various blowing instruments, the best known these days are for flute thanks to the work of the great Jean-Pierre Rampal. However, here is something slightly different, the first movement of his Oboe Sonata in G major, Op. 71 No. 1.

Francois Devienne - Oboe Sonata in G major, Op. 71 No. 1 (1)


JAN KALIVODA (or Johann Kalliwoda as the Germans would have it) was born in Prague and studied at the Prague Conservatory.

Jan Kalivoda

Jan was very prolific, and his work covers pretty much every genre of music (except opera, it seems). He was much admired by Robert Schumann who took note of what he was doing (particularly his symphonies).

He led a quiet life (unlike many composers) writing and playing music for many decades for Prince Karl Egon II of Fürstenberg. This is his Nocturne No. 3. Op. 186 for Piano and Viola.

♫ Jan Kalivoda - Nocturne No. 3. Op. 186


ANNA BON was born in Russia because her folks were also in the music biz and got about a bit.

Anna Bon

She was trained in Vienna and apparently became a virtuoso on several instruments but especially the flute. She continued the family tradition of travelling around until she married another musician and the rest of her life is missing from history.

Most of her works that are around today are for flute or harpsichord but here is one of her motets (for an alto singer) called Ad te Virgo caelestis Regina. It's performed by ENSEMBLE LA DONNA MUSICALE.

La Donna Musicale

♫ Ensemble La Donna Mujsicale - Ad te Virgo caelestis Regina


CARLOS BAGUER was taught music by his uncle who was the head organist and composer at the cathedral in Barcelona.

Carlos Baguer

Carlos took over that position when unc died. He's most noted for his symphonies (there are nineteen of them) and he quite obviously listened closely to those that Haydn wrote. He also wrote a lot of religious music, after all that's what he was employed to do.

We'll listen to a bit of a symphony, the second movement of Symphony No. 18 in B flat major.

♫ Carlos Baguer - Symphony No. 18 in B flat major (2)


INTERESTING STUFF – 26 November 2016

TWO FRIENDS FIND SOMETHING IN COMMON

There are all kinds of reasons to feel ambivalent about Amazon.com but this is not one of them.

TGB reader Tom Delmore sent this Amazon television commercial – images and an idea we need more of in this time of troubles we live in.

DEMENTIA RATE DROPPING IN ELDERS

When I was a kid and for years beyond, the universal bad news about health was cancer. In fact, for a long time, people whispered the word.

Times change and so do fears. For quite awhile the equivalent terror has been dementia and I have mentioned here more than once that I wonder, when I forget why I walked to the bedroom or have misplaced my keys, if that was indicative of incipient dementia. I know I'm not alone in those thoughts.

Now, a new nationwide study from the University of Michigan involving 21,000 people 65 and older reports that between the the years 2000 and 2012, the dementia rate dropped by 24 percent.

And nobody knows why. A greater amount of education may contribute to the drop but there are plenty of other possible reasons:

”Interestingly, the researchers noted that the drop in dementia prevalence occurred despite increases in the rates of certain conditions that can increase the risk of dementia: diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity...

“Still, more research is needed to identify all the factors contributing to the decline in dementia prevalence, the investigators said," reports Live Science.

The study is here. You will find reporting on the study here and here.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST TRAILER

When Disney announced it would produce a live-action movie of Beauty and the Beast, the critics came out in droves – no, no, no, only animation can work with such a story, they said.

For several years when I was a young girl, Beauty and the Beast was a favorite. I must have read it several dozen times, word for word and I still remember it fondly. From this trailer, I think the live action version looks marvelous.

Read more about the production here.

DID YOU READ A BOOK IN THE PAST YEAR?

Here is a shocker. A 2016 Pew Research study turned up the information that 26 percent of American adults have not read a book in the past year – barely changed since 2012.

Groups more likely to read books are college graduates, women and young adults. 67 percent of people 65 and older had read a book in the past year compared to 80 percent of young adults.

Here is a demographic breakdown of readers:

WhoHasNotReadBookChart

Although people are reading in many formats these days – tablets, ereaders, cell phones, desktop and laptop computers – the largest group, 38 percent, read print-only books. 28 percent read both print and electronic (as I do) and just 6 percent read in digital formats only.

There is a whole lot more information about American book reading habits at Pew Research.

A GOOD READ: FROM CHARLES SIMIC

Books are good things, but these days, even as a lot of embarrassingly awful crap is published online, there is also an abundance of great thinking and writing being done.

This week's contribution is from The New York Review of Books, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Serbian/American, Charles Simic. He is acclaimed as a poet but I particularly like his prose (he has been writing essays for the NYRB for many years) which in his hands, on any subject, is poetry too.

His latest is titled, “Expendable America,” which captures in the most horribly beautiful way what I have been feeling but not capable expressing - at least not this well or as emphatically. Simic:

”The basic requirement for democratic governance – that the majority of the population agrees on the parameters of what is true and what is false – has been deliberately obfuscated in this country...

“To mislead one's fellow citizens on such a vast scale is evil. We've seen it before. Never the good old days, of course, but the vile stuff we imagined we'd never see again...

“Once the new president settles in and brings the dregs of our society into his administration and they appoint other corrupt and worthless men and women to other positions in the government and start settling scores with their political and personal enemies and keeping their most rabid following happy by deporting, persecuting, or physically abusing some minority, we won't need a crystal ball to tell us what's in store for us.”

It is unfair to quote these three out-of-context paragraphs. Read Simic's essay – as it should be, in full - here.

NYU STUDENT/ELDER HOUSING

There is a lot of support for intergenerational living projects but for the most part it doesn't get beyond research studies and TED talks.

One important exception is Judson Manor, a retirement community in Cleveland that since 2010 has been giving college music students free housing in exchange for the occasional concert. Here's short video about it:

The idea is slowly growing and now, New York University in Manhattan will be trying a pilot project next year. Here's a short radio report:

As the Washington Square News reported,

”Ellen Lovitz, the Senior Advisor to the President for Policy Analysis, explained via email that the pilot will initially consist of about 10 students.

“'During the first year we will assess how the program is working, and make any necessary adjustments, with the expectation that we will be able to scale up to larger numbers by the fall of 2018,' Lovitz said.

“'Our planning process will include consultation with students and with residents of the housing complex identified by University Settlement.'”

There are students and others who complain that the project isn't useful enough (of course they complain; it's New York). I think it's a great start at expanding elder/senior shared living.

You can read more here.

2016 TOP 50 BLOGS ABOUT AGEING

A TGB reader pointed this page out to me: The Healthcare Administrator website's list of top 50 ageing blogs for 2016.

It is published by an Alabama public school health teacher. I am not sure I understand the five criteria and the majority on the list target professionals in ageing services and businesses rather than old people themselves. Still, you might find some of them useful. The list is here.

A MARVELOUS COLLECTION OF PETE SOUZA PHOTOS

All eyes are on the president-elect these days as though President Barack Obama doesn't have another two months to go in his term.

But The Atlantic is on the case in the loveliest way. A fantastic collection of selected photographs covering eight years of the Obama administration from the official White House photographer, Peter Souza. (Souza was also official White House photographer during the Ronald Reagan years.)

In this one, a temporary White House staffer, Carlton Philadelphia, had brought his family to the Oval Office for a farewell photo with President Obama. Carlton’s son softly told the President he had just gotten a haircut like President Obama, and asked if he could feel the President’s head to see if it felt the same as his.

ObamaandSmallKid

Here is Obama visiting with victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

HurricaneSandyVictime2012

And this is Obama working past dark in the Oval Office.

Workinglate2013

There is a large collection of even better photographs at The Atlantic.

*'S NAME REMOVED FROM APARTMENT BUILDINGS

Residents of three apartment buildings successfully petitioned to have *'s name removed from their New York City dwellings. Here is short video report.

DOES A BEAR...

...scratch in the woods?

Apparently so. A lot. Thank reader Momcat Christi for this video.

* * *

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

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


Happy Thanksgiving 2016, Everyone

Some of us may have worried a bit about the outcome during the presidential election campaign but I doubt many – and certainly not me – could bring ourselves to deep-down, really believe our country would be where it is on this 2016 Thanksgiving.

Nevertheless, here we are, and developments from the transition team of the new regime have done little (well, read: nothing) to reassure that the American values reliably trusted (mostly) during our lifetimes still apply.

It is hard to be thankful when the bedrock of the greatest democracy history has known may not hold for much longer. But because, this week, we are only on the cusp of what is yet to be, let us be thankful for what we have. Here is a starter list:

Family
Children
Grandchildren
Friends
Favorite foods
Cats
Dogs
Good books
Nature
Laughter
Music
Add your own items to the list in the the comments below

Also, in my case, I am grateful for the best blog readers and commenters on the internet. Without you, I would not do this or, at least, I wouldn't enjoy it much. You are the best.

In 2013, I vowed that due to my delight at rediscovering Arlo Guthrie's epic Thanksgiving fable, Alice's Restaurant, after the decade or two it lay somewhere in memory limbo, I would make the song the annual holiday anthem of TimeGoesBy.

As I noted that year, I was equally delighted to discover that with a couple of minor lapses, I still knew the entire monologue by heart. I can't say why but it gives me a great deal of pleasure to sing along for the entire 18 minutes, which I took the time to do (with gusto again this year) before readying this post.

Maybe you would enjoy doing that too.

It's a fine ol' song, don't you think.

Just because I can and it's a holiday, I am giving myself a vacation from posting not only tomorrow, Thanksgiving itself, but Friday too (unless something comes over me and I change my mind). Enjoy your holiday and I'll be back here on Saturday with the latest list of Interesting Stuff.

For everyone who honors me year 'round by reading, commenting and/or generally hanging out here,

Thanksgiving


Medicare Part B Premium Increase and Normalizing *

There is a spiral-bound notebook on my desk where I keep a running list of ideas for future TimeGoesBy posts. Some of them are terrible ideas I never use (well, mostly). Others are mainstays – such things as updates or threats to Medicare and Social Security that our age group needs to know.

Mostly, the book is a reminder so I won't lose thoughts I had in passing while doing something else, and I add maybe three or four a week. Since election day, however, there are four new, tightly-hand-written pages now that there are deeply worrying potential dangers afoot in Washington, D.C. that will affect Americans of all ages.

I am telling you this in explanation for what is a new kind of post here now and then that will cover two or three unrelated items that seem to me to be important right now as opposed to having a decent shelf life or, sometimes, even being evergreen.

So here goes with the first one.

MEDICARE PART B FOR 2017
As you know, there was no increase in the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the past two years. That means that for most Medicare beneficiaries there was, also, no increase in the premium for Part B which covers expenses for doctors, other outpatient care and durable medical equipment.

Now, due to the measly .3 percent COLA to Social Security for 2017 (which does not begin to cover inflation that most elders experience) an increase in the Part B Medicare premium is allowed.

The increase in the average 2017 Social Security payment is about $5. It will be wiped out for 70 percent of recipients because the Part B premium, which is deducted from the Social Security benefit each month, rises by 3.9 percent from $104.90 to about $109.

High earners will have an even larger increase in the Part B premium as will certain other categories of beneficiaries. You can see more detail at this PBS page.

It's not that I will go hungry or anything drastic, but so many other fixed expenses are increasing in the new year, by up to 10 percent in at least one case, that I will be cutting back and I expect many of you will be doing so too. This has happened every year for the decade I've received a Social Security benefit and I keep wondering in what year it will become a serious hardship.

In addition, the Part B deductible for 2017 will increase from $166 to $183. The Social Security Administration will soon be sending their annual benefit update letter so you will see your new numbers then.

NORMALIZING THE * ADMINISTRATION CONTINUES APACE
As I mentioned last week, it took less that 24 hours after the election results were in for pundits and most of the media to call for giving the president-elect “a chance” - as if we didn't already know what kind of man he is.

As Rohit Chandan, writing at FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) on Friday about normalization:

”The danger is that by normalizing Trump—a candidate distinguished by an embrace of political violence and open appeals to ethnic nationalism who boasted of getting away with sexual assaults — these commentators will make racist and sexist bullying an acceptable way to run for public office.”

No kidding. His way of speaking has already brutalized public discourse in general. Here is FAIR's accompanying cartoon laying out the media's excuses for normalization:

NeNormalCartoon

Over the past year, Seth Meyers, host of Late Night on NBC-TV, has become my favorite of the late night hosts – I can't stay awake that late but I record his show every night to watch the opening 10 minutes the next day. Meyers is smart, funny and fearless.

Last week, in his “A Closer Look” segment that airs at the top of each show, he pilloried the media and * associates trying to insist * is a normal person. Enjoy.

It is easy, when outrage after outrage is repeated hundreds of times a day in the media, to fall victim to accepting it as normal. Please be vigilant of yourselves and don't let it happen to you.


ELDER MUSIC: 1916

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.

* * *

We have another really early year with music that was recorded at the time. This year we're deep in the first great unpleasantness, but I've eschewed all the songs that refer to that as I really don't like them at all.

The first song wasn't written in 1916, but it was recorded in this year. It's a Stephen Foster song that's still being sung today (as many of his songs are). The version from this year is by ALMA GLUCK.

Alma Gluck

Alma was born in Romania but her family moved to America when she was a kiddliewink. She was classically trained and had considerable success at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

When this new-fangled recording thingie became popular, she was one of the first to recognise its potential. Besides the classical repertoire, she recorded popular songs of the time and became the first classical singer to sell a million records.

Later she married the famous violinist Efrem Zimbalist with whom she had a couple of kids, including Junior (77 Sunset Strip, etc). One of her big sellers was My Old Kentucky Home.

♫ Alma Gluck - My Old Kentucky Home


JOHN MCCORMACK was an Irish tenor who eventually settled in Australia.

John McCormack

He was also classically trained and appeared at Covent Garden where he met Nellie Melba and toured with her (thus the Australian connection). There's another meeting that's interesting to me.

Early on in his old country, he used to sing with James Joyce (yes, the author) who fancied himself as a bit of a singer. Anyway, John sings The Sunshine of Your Smile.

♫ John McCormack - The Sunshine Of Your Smile


ARTHUR COLLINS and BYRON HARLAN make yet another appearance in these years series.

Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan

They were noted for their comedy records and others as well. This one has the rather inspired title of Oh How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wachi Woo.

I remember when I was growing up my elders would berate me about the silly lyrics of the songs I'd listen to at the time. I wish I had known about this one (and others) back then.

♫ Collins & Harlan - Yacki Hacki Wicki Wachi Woo (That's Love In Honolulu) 1916


THE STERLING TRIO was yet another group with whom Henry Burr was associated.

The Sterling Trio

It seems that he was everywhere in the early days of the century, I'm surprised he had time to sleep. We're not in Hawaii, but we're not freezing our butts off either. This is In Florida Among The Palms, written by Irving Berlin (who lived a long time).

♫ The Sterling Trio - In Florida Among The Palms


OLIVE KLINE and LAMBERT MURPHY perform this next song (the recording quality of which is not good at all)

Olive Kline & Lambert Murphy

They both used stage names, they were really Alice Green and Raymond Dixon, but they weren't the first and were far from the last to assume a different name in show biz. Here they perform So Long, Letty.

♫ Olive Kline & Lambert Murphy - So Long, Letty


The sound quality of this next track is vastly superior to all the rest today. It was recorded by SCOTT JOPLIN who wrote the tune.

Scott Joplin

When I say recorded, he created a piano roll in 1916, which is a form of recording and is good enough for me. Some say that folks at Connorized Music Rolls, who did the recording, tinkered with it somewhat as Scott was suffering from terminal syphilis (from which he died a year later) and he was a bit shaky.

Others contend that what you hear is what was put down. I guess we'll never know. This is Pleasant Moments.

♫ Scott Joplin - Pleasant Moments


It's been said that THE PEERLESS QUARTET were The Beatles of their day. I don't know about that as I wasn't there.

The Peerless Quartet

They were certainly well recorded during the teens of the 20th century. I've featured them in most of these early years, and I'm doing so again as they are a handy resource for these columns.

They perform On the Old Dominion Line.

♫ The Peerless Quartet - On the Old Dominion Line


Initially, when I listened to this, I thought, "That's not AL JOLSON". As the song progressed it became clear that it was.

Al Jolson

The song really isn't indicative of his style that we're used to. I guess he was just starting out, trying various things to see what would work. I don't think this one did, but he did commit it to shellac so we have it for posterity.

The song is I Sent My Wife to the Thousand Isles.

♫ Al Jolson - I Sent My Wife to the Thousand Isles


There seems to have been a considerable number of songs about Hawaii this year, such that I could have filled the column with them. I refrained from doing that. However, here's another one by BILLY MURRAY.

Billy Murray

There's a bit of overlap today as Billy was the lead tenor for the Peerless Quartet. However, this is Billy on his own. The song is about the huge expense of phoning from New York to Hawaii. He should have written a letter (remember them?) Hello, Hawaii, How Are You.

♫ Billy Murray - Hello, Hawaii, How Are You


This could also be considered in the Hawaii category as well, it's called Paradise Blues. The singer is MARION HARRIS.

Marion Harris

Marion was the first white singer who was known for singing jazz and blues songs. There were probably others but she was the one who hit the big time with her songs.

Although this is called Paradise Blues, it doesn't sound very bluesy to me. Oh well.

♫ Marion Harris - Paradise blues


INTERESTING STUFF – 19 November 2016

EDITORIAL NOTE

Wow – it's been a hard slog to get through this past week, hasn't it. As a result, I wasn't paying as much attention as usual to collecting items for this post.

Given what I was spending most of my time on, about half today are related to our great political upheaval. If you're tired of that, well there are a handful of others that will, I believe, brighten your day.

RESTORATION OF U.S. CAPITOL DOME FINISHED

Whew – work restoring the interior and exterior of the U.S. Capitol dome has been going on since 2013. Surely you've noticed the scaffolding during these three years every time the news used a shot of that building.

Apparently, the project came in under budget at about $60 million dollars. Here is a video about it:

There are a lot of before-and-after photographs at The Atlantic website along with some terrific historical photos dating to the dome's original construction in the 1860s. Worth your time.

WORD OF THE YEAR

On Tuesday, the Oxford Dictionaries announced the international “word of the year.” It's a hyphenated word this time, “post-truth,” an adjective. The official definition as it will appear in the dictionaries:

”Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

You can read about why it was chosen at the Oxford Dictionaries website where you can also find out about the other words on the shortlist – alt-right, Brixiteer and coulophobia among them.

INCREASE IN HATE SPEECH

There is a lot of reporting like this these days:

”On Sunday night, Hadas Gold, a Politico media writer, began receiving threats on Twitter. One image superimposed a yellow star of David on her shirt and a bloody bullet hole in her forehead. Another photoshopped her face on a corpse in a concentration camp oven.

“The message that came with the photos: 'Don’t mess with our boy Trump, or you will be first in line for the camp.'”

Horrendously explicit anti-Semitic images and pamphlets are being snailmailed to Jewish journalists. I won't post examples on my blog; you can see some here.

In addition, there are many incidents of anti-Muslim attacks and slurs. One of the most heartbreaking is Muslim mothers trying to keep their daughters safe by imploring them to not wear hijab out of the house.

And of course, our country's old standby - many more aimed at African Americans. There is a long list of examples from Twitter here that will make you cry.

This is how it is now for non-Christians and people of color in the United States.

MORE ON THE SAFETY PINS PROTEST

Remember last Monday when I told you about how Americans are wearing simple safety pins to show their solidarity with people of color and immigrants who are too often now in danger? I explained that it had begun last June by people in Briton who disagree with the Brexit vote.

Now it turns out that the history of wearing simple pins as protest is even older than that. In case you missed the comment from 83-year-old Patricia Read on that post, here is what she wrote:

”I had the enormous good fortune to live in Uruguay and Argentina in the early 1960s. One of the stories I learned from my British, Australian and other expat friends was that during WWII the custom was to wear a straight (common) pin.

“Generally it was worn in the lapel. This was also being done in England. The reason was to 'prick Hitler's balloon.'

“Imagine how happy I was to see that same spirit come out of England again. But how unhappy that it has to be so.”

So for people who say the safety pin trivializes the issue, instead of that we now know - thank you, Patricia Read - that it carries a powerful, historical precedent.

HAMILTON CAST SPEAKS TO MIKE PENCE

Vice president-elect Mike Pence attended last night's performance of Hamilton in New York City where the audience loudly booed him as he entered the theater.

After the final curtain call, Brandon Dixon who plays Aaron Burr, addressed Pence directly from the stage with the cast gathered around him

Some of the audio is muffled so here is a transcript of the main point:

"We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out. Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton American Musical, we really do.

"We, sir, we are the diverse America, who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.

"But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.

"Again, we truly thank you for [inaudible] this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women, of different colors, creeds and orientations."

DO MEN FEAR A WOMAN PRESIDENT?

That's the contention of this video. What do you think?

HUM

A solitary dish washing robot living out his life in the back room of a restaurant is enlightened to the world that exists beyond his four walls and with the help of a small friend he breaks free of confinement.

A lovely, little short film by student Tom Teller which was produced on a budget of $2,000 in the spring semester of 2015.

You can see more of Teller's work at Vimeo.

A GOOD READ

TGB reader Katie send me a link to a story about * that ends like this:

”When the levers of power are seized by the small hands of hateful men, you work hard, you stand with those who are most vulnerable, and you don't give up until it's morning again. The rest is commentary.”

That's not giving anything away because the story that gets to that final paragraph is haunting, smart and compelling. It is called, What to Do About Trump? The Same Thing My Grandfather Did in 1930s Vienna.

There are important things to learn between the title and the ending. You can do that here.

SCOTTIE PINWHEEL

What's a Scottie pinwheel? It's so cute your smile will break your face. And thank Darlene Costner for that.

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

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


Medicare in Peril

TolesMedicare

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has wanted to privatize Medicare ever since he first went to Congress 18 years ago. Now, with a new president on deck, he sees his chance.

And just in case that “privatize” word feels a bit toxic, he has renamed the effort to kill the program, Medicare Phase Out. Don't be fooled; it is the same thing as privatization.

But something else may come up in Congress before Medicare Phase Out legislation that will make the first inroads into killing Medicare. Let me explain.

REPEAL AND REPLACE OBAMACARE
The president-elect appears to have backed off somewhat his campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Now he says he wants to keep the pre-existing conditions provision along with one other that allows parents to keep their children on their coverage until the kids are age 26.

As we have learned in the past 19 months, it is impossible to know if what * says has any relationship to what he will do about anything. But until we know differently, we can only work with his statements.

So, in regard to repealing and replacing Obamacare (except for those two provisions), let us remind ourselves what Obamacare has done for Medicare beneficiaries:

Thanks to Obamacare, the donut hole in Part D, the prescription drug plan, has been gradually closing and will be gone by the year 2020. This has already saved elders billions of dollars and will continue to do so.

Also thanks to Obamacare, there are no copays for wellness visits to physicians and certain preventive services, among them annual flu shots, mammograms and colonoscopies.

And a big one, Obamacare extended Medicare's solvency by more than a decade, until 2029, giving more time to figure out how to make the program permanently solvent.

If Obamacare is repealed and replaced, these benefits will disappear and more important for Ryan, he will have already made a major inroad into killing Medicare without even needing to make a targeted effort.

And, he is willing to lie to make Medicare Phase Out happen.

PAUL RYAN'S TACTICS FROM *'S PLAYBOOK
Here is an interview with Ryan from last week with host Brent Baier on Fox News - transcript and commentary from Talking Points Memo:

”What people don't realize,” Ryan told Baier, “is because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke, medicare is going to have price controls because of Obamacare, Medicaid is in fiscal straits.

“You have to deal with those issues if you are going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Medicare has serious problems [because of] Obamacare.”

Now, here is editor of Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall, who has saved me hours of research in his ongoing attention to and coverage of Medicare's peril for which I am enormously grateful:

”First, Ryan claims that Obamacare has put Medicare under deeper financial stress.” writes Marshall. “Precisely the opposite is true. And it's so straightforward Ryan unquestionably knows this. The Affordable Care Act actually extended Medicare's solvency by more than a decade. Ryan's claim is flat out false.

“Second, I've heard a few people say that it's not 100% clear here that Ryan is calling for Medicare phase out. It IS 100% clear. Ryan has a standard, openly enunciated position in favor of Medicare Phase Out. It's on his website. It's explained explicitly right there.”

As the new administration prepares to take power in January, both health programs are in trouble and those who want to kill them will continue to lie. It is up to us to stem that tide and when the time comes to take action.

Meanwhile, keep your eye on Talking Points Memo, also known as TPM. Josh Marshall and his crew are doing a sensational job tracking this issue.

ONE BRIGHT SPOT
The bright spot in this scenario to trash both Obamacare and Medicare is that in addition to the 22 million people with Obamacare who like that pre-existing condition provision and 26-year-old children's coverage provision, there are an additional 56 million insured with Medicare who like that program – even love it.

With all those people, I suspect we, the American people, may have some leverage over this health coverage threat.

There is much more to know about it and plans to make but geez, this has been a hard week for most of us, working out how we feel and what to do about our new world order.

And I haven't made it any easier – the posts this week have been dense to wade through, including this one.

So let's give ourselves a break. There is a holiday coming up next week, time to relax a little – not that I won't be here on the usual days, I just won't ask as much of you or me for a few days.

OH, WAIT A MINUTE: I woke this morning to a pertinent Op-Ed from economist Paul Krugman in The New York Times. It is titled "The Medicare Killers" and you should read it. Here is the link.

If you don't subscribe to The Times or you have used up your monthly allotment of stories, email me (Contact link above) and I'll send the text to you. Well, I'll be out of the house today until mid-afternoon west coast time but after that I can do it.


Advice for Living in an Autocracy

Jan Adams, who keeps her own blog – never more appropriately titled than now, Can It Happen Here? - left this message on Monday's post:

”So glad that TGB will be here, NOT normalizing this catastrophe. Many of us may not live to see a turnabout from this white-lash (Van Jones' appropriate phrasing.) But we sure need to do everything we can in our own age group to help people understand that another way is possible.

“There will be avenues, campaigns, resistance to mistreatment and injustice in which we can participate. We may sometimes feel we have less to lose than younger folks and under conditions of autocracy, that can be freeing.”

Jan has been organizing political campaigns, protests and resistance for liberal and progressive causes all her life and she knows well whereof she speaks.

Soon enough I will alert you to some of the first acts of the * administration that affect elders. But before that, we need to go to school.

As Jan suggests in her comment, we are now engaged in a sustained struggle and we need to ground ourselves in exactly what it is we are opposing and how, generally, to go about it.

That's what today's post is for. It is much longer than even my wordier ones in the past but the information (not my own) is deeply useful and important for us to know. So I hope you will sit back and read it all or take a little at a time here and there throughout the day.

AUTOCRACY: RULES FOR SURVIVAL
We now live in an autocracy. Some people have been tossing around the word fascism but history makes that a more loaded term than I am willing to embrace. Yet.

That section headline just above, as it happens, is the title of an article published last week in The New York Review of Books. It is a survival manual for living in such a country as it names, written by Masha Gessen.

Gessen is a Russian/American journalist and activist who is the author of several books about Russia, including one on the Russian feminist punk rock protest group Pussy Riot, and The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.

Autocracy is something Ms. Gessen knows about from first-hand experience and which you and I know little.

As I read it the first time (and in each subsequent reading, it rang true in every way making me want to say to you, “take heed, take heed.” Here are some excerpts from the main points:

”[*] is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan.

“Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.

“I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now:

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. “He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization...

“Back in the 1930s, The New York Times assured its readers that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all posture.

“More recently, the same newspaper made a telling choice between two statements made by Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov following a police crackdown on protesters in Moscow: 'The police acted mildly—I would have liked them to act more harshly' rather than those protesters’ 'liver should have been spread all over the pavement.' “Perhaps the journalists could not believe their ears. But they should—both in the Russian case, and in the American one.

“For all the admiration Trump has expressed for Putin, the two men are very different; if anything, there is even more reason to listen to everything Trump has said. He has no political establishment into which to fold himself following the campaign, and therefore no reason to shed his campaign rhetoric.

Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. “Consider the financial markets this week, which, having tanked overnight, rebounded following the Clinton and Obama speeches. Confronted with political volatility, the markets become suckers for calming rhetoric from authority figures. So do people.

“Panic can be neutralized by falsely reassuring words about how the world as we know it has not ended. It is a fact that the world did not end on November 8 nor at any previous time in history. Yet history has seen many catastrophes, and most of them unfolded over time. That time included periods of relative calm.

Rule #3: Institutions will not save you. “It took Putin a year to take over the Russian media and four years to dismantle its electoral system; the judiciary collapsed unnoticed...

"The national press is likely to be among the first institutional victims of Trumpism. There is no law that requires the presidential administration to hold daily briefings, none that guarantees media access to the White House.

“Many journalists may soon face a dilemma long familiar to those of us who have worked under autocracies: fall in line or forfeit access. There is no good solution (even if there is a right answer), for journalism is difficult and sometimes impossible without access to information.

Rule #4: Be outraged. “If you follow Rule #1 and believe what the autocrat-elect is saying, you will not be surprised. But in the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock.

“This will lead people to call you unreasonable and hysterical, and to accuse you of overreacting. It is no fun to be the only hysterical person in the room. Prepare yourself.

Rule #5: "Don’t make compromises. Like Ted Cruz [did]..."

Rule #6: "Remember the future. "Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either.

“Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election. They offered no vision of the future to counterbalance Trump’s all-too-familiar white-populist vision of an imaginary past.

“They had also long ignored the strange and outdated institutions of American democracy that call out for reform—like the electoral college, which has now cost the Democratic Party two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote.

“That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be.”

Read – in fact, study - Masha Gessen's entire article at The New York Review of Books website. You won't be sorry and you will learn a lot.

Here, then, are half a dozen other good articles I found about how to resist in this frightening new world we find ourselves in:

SOME IDEAS ABOUT WHAT TO DO NOW
Michael Moore is an experienced protestor and he is highly visible which helps get people to pay attention.

“This is his anti-* to-do list. Among the items: commit to a vigorous fight and push for an amendment to eliminate the Electoral College.

EMBRACE POLITICS AND NON-CORPORATE MEDIA
John Schwartz at The Intercept has some ideas, too, about what to do next: Make politics one of the centers of your life; * succeeded by telling a story – now we need a story; support non-corporate media; and more.

STAY ANGRY
At the Washington Post, the esteemed Leon Wieseltier – writer, philosopher and son of Holocaust survivors - ends his essay titled “Stay angry. That’s the only way to uphold principles in Trump’s America,” thusly:

”The prettification of Donald Trump has begun. When a crushed Hillary Clinton graciously asked that Trump be given 'a chance to succeed,' I confess that I felt no such graciousness. This made me as small as Mitch McConnell, I know.

“But if Trump succeeds, America may fail; and it is America, its values and its interests, whose success matters most desperately to me. No cooling off, then. We must stay hot for America.

“The political liberty that we cherish in this precious republic is most purely and exhilaratingly experienced as the liberty to oppose.”

THE PROPER RESPONSE IS STEELY RESOLVE
Jonathan Chait writing in New York magazine about what we should do now:

“Trump’s allies in Congress are prepared to collect on their devil’s bargain. House Speaker Paul Ryan described the election as a 'mandate' — a curious term for an election in which his party will finish second in the national vote — and Republicans will move with maximal haste on plans to cut taxes for the rich, deregulate the financial industry, and cut social spending for the poor.

“There is no other conceivable course of action: The Republican Party in Washington has been organized over the last three decades as a machine to redistribute resources upward....

“Despair is a counterproductive response. So is denial — an easy temptation in the wake of the inevitable postelection pleasantries and displays of respect needed to maintain the peaceful transfer of power.

“The proper response is steely resolve to wage the fight of our lives.”

HOPE FOR THE BEST, PREPARE FOR THE WORST
A couple of days ago, Van Jones, co-founder of Color for Change and president of the social justice incubator Dream Corps, gave an interview to Mother Jones about our new predicament:

”...we need to put pressure on Trump, to speak out very forcefully that he's the president of all Americans including Muslims, and that his administration, including his law enforcement, is going to take very, very seriously any crimes against any Americas based on their race or their faith, including Muslims.

“He needs to send that signal very, very soon and very, very clearly. Otherwise, he's going to be seen as culpable. And his silence may be interpreted as encouragement, rightly or wrongly.

“I think we have every reason to hope for the best but expect and prepare for the worst. It is conceivable that maybe he won't feel the need to throw so much raw meat at his base and might govern reasonably, but it seems more likely that he'll follow the usual pattern of demagogues.”

I encourage you to read all of these in their entirety. But if you have time only for one, please make it Masha Gessen's rules for survival in an autocracy – because that's where we live now and we need to know more about how to do that.


John Oliver on the 2016 Presidential Election

This is not the usual quadrennial shift in politics we're having in the United States. It is a new world. Everything is upside down. There is nothing we can count on. All we are accustomed to is up for grabs.

Right now, most of the media – big-time newspapers, cable and network television news, a variety of news websites and a bunch of self-important, know-it-all pundits including Oprah Winfrey – are busy normalizing the president-elect. “Give him a chance,” they say, “things will be fine.”

No, things will not be fine.

His second appointment to the highest tier of White House advisers is a man who has spent recent years promoting, even celebrating, white nationalism in addition to publishing vicious anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-immigration attacks at Breitbart News where he was chairman before joining the * campaign.

Does anyone think it gets better from here? How about Newt Gingrich for secretary of state? Rudy Giuliani for attorney general, anyone? Or Ben Carson for education secretary? Sarah Palin's name has been bandied about too.

* is not a normal politician, not even a normal person. Do not allow the media to convince you he is. His sexist, xenophobic, racist and hateful statements are not just another policy position.

We will talk about all this later but Tuesdays at TGB are usually a day off so I'll keep it short.

Sunday night on his HBO program, Last Week Tomight, host John Oliver warned against normalizing * and made a passionate call for action by all of us.

He makes a good start on some of the steps we can take to fight back and there will be additional ideas at this blog in the coming days, weeks and months.

This is the final Last Week Tonight show of 2016. It will return early in 2017. (As is often the case with Oliver, there is a lot of profanity, a quite prolonged section of it toward the end. It's okay. It won't harm you.)


An Elder's Notes on the New World Order

We often talk about how time speeds up as we grow older. It's true. Almost every morning when I brush my teeth, I look in the mirror and think, “Didn't I do this just a few minutes ago?” It feels that way.

Quite the opposite last week. After the election results were in, it felt like each day would never end. It must be lunch time, I would think, glance at the clock and see that it was 10:30AM. The next time I had that thought and checked the time, it was 10:45AM. And so on all throughout the week, like trudging through waist-deep mud.

Lifelong media maven that I am – both professionally and personally – I let go of most of it, particularly television news channels because I cannot bear to see or hear that person who is now president-elect.

I do not expect that to change much in the coming months and years and I have plenty of practice. In the two terms of the Bush II administration, I became adept at automatically pushing the mute button when his visage appeared.

That doesn't mean I haven't kept up – mostly via print media - just enough news to know how regime change is moving along in both official circles and among the public.

Along the way, I ran into some interesting thinkers who are grappling with options for those who oppose the new order in government and which I will share with you soon.

Today, however, some scattered notes and thoughts from the past week.

THE TGB CONVERSATION
What an extraordinary outcry from dozens of you last Friday – a record number of blog comments and Facebook likes.

There is a lot of shared pain, confusion and disbelief among us and I was grateful, reading it all, that somehow TGB has become a safe haven for people who reject the bigotry, misogyny, hate and authoritarianism that is the bedrock of the administration that will take power in January.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT COIN
There was an unusually high number of email unsubscribes from TGB on Friday and through the weekend.

The email distribution service I use offers several choices of reasons for people who unsubscribe to let me know why they are leaving and the most popular in this case was “Offensive, strongly disagree or disapprove.”

Some others - apparently lacking the courage of their conviction – chose “Other or will not disclose.”

However, there is a satisfying number of new subscribers too who, I hope, will soon be joining our conversation.

TWO GOOD PROTEST SUGGESTIONS
The Republican party will soon control it all - the White House, both houses of Congress, a majority at the Supreme Court before long and, as of this election, in 24 states, both the governorship and the legislature.

It is a total takeover and that requires response. I'll be talking a lot about what we can do in days and weeks to come but today, two small things from your comments.

ASTERISK *. Last Friday, a couple of people asked what SFV stood for in my post. It is an acronym for “short-fingered vulgarian” which is my favorite epithet for the Republican candidate to come out of the campaign.

I thought I might use it in place of the president-elect's and eventual president's name which I now will not say or write. But several of you used the asterisk a la Doonesbury and that, I think, is a better idea for this blog: * in place of the name.

SAFETY PINS. Several of you on Friday mentioned safety pins and I have not left the house without one on my jacket, sweater, lapel, etc. since then.

If you are unfamiliar with this protest, it began in Britain last June when people who disagreed with the Brexit vote began wearing safety pins to show solidarity with immigrants and people of color who were victims of racist attacks, and now Americans have adopted it.

Safety Pins

(On Saturday morning, MSNBC host Joy Reid took off her safety pin to give to an obviously pleased Michael Moore.)

That same day, I bought a box of safety pins and in addition to always wearing one, I keep a few with me to pass out when people ask what it means. This is a good thing for all of us to do – think of it as today's POW bracelet, a symbol to call attention.

THE ELDER VOTE
There are a zillion ways to slice and dice the electorate. By political affiliation. Gender. Income. Education. Issues. Ethnicity. Religion. Special interests. And, ahem, age.

Pundits and reporters have attributed the outcome of Tuesday's vote to these divisions and others too. As with all previous elections since I made ageing my daily work, elders as a group have again embarrassed: 53 percent of people 45 and older voted for *. Here's the graph:

Vote By Age Chart

We must not forget this – that old people bear some of the responsibility for the fix our country finds itself in. Maybe if more of my age cohort had voted differently we wouldn't be where we are now, facing what is likely to be an unfortunate future for all age groups.

WHAT CAN WE DO?
The last time I felt this strongly about working for change was in the 1960s during the civil rights and women's movements. Like many of you, I marched and petitioned and canvassed and in my case, produced a lot of radio shows to help spread the word.

It's half a century later now and I can't do as much in person as before nor can some other elders due to waning energy, illness, disability and other normal changes of age.

But this time we have a powerful and effective new tool that did not exist 50 years ago: the internet. That is a great advantage. It widens of the field of activists and while we will rely greatly on younger people to show up in person, old people can help too. Watch this space for more to come.

WHAT'S NEXT
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is beside himself with glee at this election. He has wanted to privatize Medicare and Social Security for as long as he has been in Congress and this is his best chance yet.

It is likely he will make his first attempt at about two minutes after the inauguration ceremony ends on 20 January so we need to be prepared and we'll be discussing that here soon.

With Republican control of every lever of government now, we must be vigilant and ready to move quickly all the time.

MEANWHILE
Breathe. It is the healthiest thing we each can do for ourselves and just in time, The New York Times is on it:

”Studies have found...that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder.

“'Breathing is massively practical,' says Belisa Vranich, a psychologist and author of the book Breathe, to be published in December. 'It’s meditation for people who can’t meditate.'”

You can find the story and several simple breathing techniques here but for those of you who do not subscribe to The Times and have used up your monthly allotment of stories, here is the most basic technique:

  1. Sitting upright or lying down, place your hands on your belly.

  2. Slowly breathe in, expanding your belly, to the count of five.

  3. Pause.

  4. Slowly breathe out to the count of six.

  5. Work your way up to practicing this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes a day.

ONE MORE THING
When Time Goes By began 15 years ago, the intention was - and still is - to explore growing old in all its aspects and it has hardly deviated in all that time. But now, an event of this magnitude needs regular attention too.

In no way am I abandoning the original mission – just expanding it to include what I believe is a national, even international emergency. This is a great time to be a white male; not so much everyone else and I cannot ignore that. So TGB will handle both of these issues now.


ELDER MUSIC: Singing with Van

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.

* * *

Van Morrison

VAN MORRISON is quite happy (or as happy as Van can get) to share the stage and recording studio with other performers. Van may not quite match Willie Nelson in that regard but he is known for performing duets, so today's column will feature some of them.

At one time Van lived in Woodstock, New York, and members of THE BAND were also close by.

Van & The Band

They weren't alone. Bob Dylan, Maria Muldaur and Paul Butterfield were there as well, at least until it became common knowledge and the town was inundated by musical tourists.

The Band recorded their album "Cahoots" at Bearsville, just down the road, and Van dropped in one day and performed a duet with Richard Manuel on the song 4% Pantomime.

♫ Van Morrison and The Band - 4% Pantomime


LINDA GAIL LEWIS is Jerry Lee Lewis's daughter.

Van & Linda Gail Lewis

She and Van recorded an album together called “You Win Again”, named after the Hank Williams song. I've decided to use the title number.

♫ Van Morrison & Linda Gail Lewis - You Win Again


In recent times TOM JONES has recorded some really fine soul and rhythm & blues songs. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I thought he should have done more of that during his career but he might not have had the success he achieved, I suppose.

Van & Tom Jones

In that vein, here he teams with Van on Sometimes We Cry.

♫ Van Morrison & Tom Jones - Sometimes We Cry


Van often performed with his good friend JOHN LEE HOOKER and they also recorded an album together.

Van & John Lee Hooker

Here they are together with a very atmospheric version of I Cover the Waterfront.

♫ John Lee Hooker & Van Morrison - I Cover The Waterfront


MARK KNOPFLER has a distinctive guitar sound. I think it's because he doesn't use a pick so there's a softer sound to his playing. The A.M. especially likes it. I do too.

Van & Mark Knopfler

He has a pretty distinctive voice as well. Mark and Van perform The Last Laugh.

♫ Mark Knopfler & Van Morrison - The last laugh


B.B. KING recorded a couple of albums of duets with various people (and I'm just getting an idea for another column).

Van & B.B. King

His duet with Van is called Early in the Morning.

♫ Van Morrison and BB King - Early In The Morning


GEORGIE FAME was a regular member of Van's band for quite some time.

Van & Georgie 
Fame

Indeed, Van still calls upon his services as a keyboard player. Not just that, he also gets him to sing as well, both as a solo and a duet. It's that latter category we're interested in today. Together they perform Centerpiece.

♫ Van Morrison & Georgie Fame - Centerpiece


Van recorded a song called Whatever Happened to PJ Proby on his album "Down the Road". On his later album of duets he performed the song again and naturally, he had P.J. PROBY along to sing with him.

Well, you would, wouldn't you?

Van & P.J. Proby

P.J. was big in the sixties with a fine baritone voice but became famous for splitting his pants. The first time was accidental, but if you're on a good thing…

♫ Van Morrison & PJ Proby - Whatever Happened to PJ Proby


JAMES HUNTER deserves to be a lot better known.

Van & James Hunter

Van has done his bit in that regard by appearing with him in concert. He also sang on a couple of songs on James's excellent debut album "Believe What I Say". From that album I've taken the old soul tune Turn on Your Love Light.

Van Morisswon and James Hunter - Turn on Your Love Light


MAVIS STAPLES and Van resurrect a song that was originally on Van's album "His Band and Street Choir".

Van & Mavis Staples

That album didn't receive the credit I think it deserved, probably because it followed maybe the two best albums in rock history. However, Van and Mavis rerecorded the song If I Ever Needed Someone, which is well worth a listen.

♫ Van Morrison & Mavis Staples - If I Ever Needed Someone


INTERESTING STUFF – 12 November 2016

80-YEAR-OLD CHINESE FASHION MODEL DESHUN WANG

The New York Times tells us this guy, Deshun Wang, is known as “China's hottest grandpa” and, indeed, he is a charmer, hard to resist. Take a look.

Read the rest of the story at The Times. It will make you feel good.

CHUCK NYREN'S MOUTH HUNTERS

Chuck Nyren, who calls himself writer, gadfly, troublemaker is, more soberly, an international creative strategist, consultant, copywriter, columnist, author, and speaker who also keeps a blog called Advertising for Baby Boomers.

I've “known” Chuck online and via email for at least a decade, admiring his insight into boomers and and his humor about old age. A short while ago, this appeared on his Huffpost page titled Mouth Hunters. Given my two-year, ongoing odyssey with teeth, I understand entirely:

I’ve been thinking about buying this house. Then I was told that it might be time to buy a new mouth.

I can’t afford both.

Let’s say I go with a new mouth. I don’t know if I should buy a mouth that’s move-in ready or a fixer-upper.

A move-in ready one would have great curb appeal. And of course an open floor plan is a must.

The downside: It would be way over budget – and even though brand-new, would have no resale value.

A fixer-upper would be much cheaper, at least on paper. But I’d be taking my chances. Digging into drywall could expose mold and rot. I might have to demolish the whole thing, except for the front. The front might have good bones but I’d probably have to replace a few boards and give it a big-ticket weatherproofing paint job.

Or I could go with the house. The problem would be that after a cleaning, check-up and X-Rays, no honest contractor would guarantee their work because the place is so rickety. A sneeze would knock it down.

It’s all part of getting old. When I was younger all I had to do was move into some place and not forget to floss and brush it twice a day.

Chuck's blog is aimed at marketers who target boomers but even if you're not one of those, you'll enjoy this blog post about how marketing people are too ready to ignore old people and hey, a lot of them actually have money to spend. It's worth your time to take a look.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Here are four short items related to our recent election I have saved up for us. The results of this vote are not going away for a long, long time, folks. We need to be aware.

VAN JONES AND THE WHITELASH

During an election-night discussion on CNN, author, political activist and well-known influencer Van Jones schooled a Republican surrogate about the meaning of the outcome of this campaign. Take a look:

MOST PEOPLE WORLDWIDE WOULD TRADE FREEDOMS FOR SECURITY

On the precipice of a new regime in the White House that has revealed little in the way of serious policy positions, I was reminded of this recent survey involving “about 1,000 respondents in each of eight countries — the United States, France, Britain, Turkey, Egypt, China, India and Indonesia." Emphasis is mine:

”The survey, commissioned by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), showed that many people think their governments are not doing enough to combat violent extremism.

“And a majority in every country polled, including the United States, overwhelmingly approved all 21 options presented to them — among them, requiring identification cards for citizens and visitors; rigorous screening of immigrants; bans on incendiary religious speech; and monitoring of phone calls, emails and social media.”

The last item was the least popular idea. Nevertheless, “overall, 7 in 10 people deem it a good idea. Even in the United States, where the idea had less support, 6 in 10 back it.”

It took a much lower percentage than that to choose the new president-elect. You can read more at the Washington Post.

GET IN TROUBLE – GOOD TROUBLE

Like the item directly above, this one is a bit dusty, a month or two old, but is pertinent now. It involves a beautiful interview by Late Night host Stephen Colbert with civil rights icon and U.S. Representative John Lewis.

Listen to him and take heed about stirring up trouble. Also, don't miss the ending; it's a delight.

NEW ADMINISTRATION TRANSITION WEBSITE

The new administration has already launched a transition website. Note the .gov URL combining a campaign slogan with an official governmental web address.

The idea, apparently, is to provide regular updates on what the new administration is doing during this interim period or, at least, what they want us to know about what they are doing.

And look at this: you too can aspire to work in the the new administration. Information is here and you will find the online application here.

JOHN OLIVER – MULTI-LEVEL MARKETING

I know, it sounds like a yawn. But as is now routine with John Oliver on his HBO program, Last Week Tonight, there is no such thing as dull. You laugh, you cry, you learn and it is always fascinating.

THE ANCIENT JAPANESE ART OF CANDY SCULPTING

Apparently, “amezaiku” - or candy crafting - is an ancient Japanese art of carving and painting lollpops into intricate edible sculptures that is in danger of disappearing.

Twenty-seven-year old Shinri Tezuka is, according to the YouTube page, one of only two amezaiku artists remaining in Tokyo. Tezuka hopes his elaborate goldfish, frog and octopus designs will inspire the next generation of candy crafters to keep the tradition alive.

THE PIANO GUYS AT PETRA

Petra, in Jordan, is the number one place in the world I would like to see. I have missed it on each of my trips to Israel and I'm not likely to get there again. It is an astonishing place.

There is a short overview of the ancient city on the YouTube page of this video. In part, it reads:

”Petra is home to over 800 monuments, buildings, halls, tombs, temples, and gateways sculpted from kaleidoscope sandstone. Its access is guarded by a narrow, protracted 1,000 ft high (300 meter) canyon.

“This remote desert city thrived in its prime because of an intricate, ingenious aqueduct system that carried water over great distances to store in cisterns. Arab tradition believes that Petra was the site where Moses of the Old Testament struck the rock to draw forth water.”

Recently, two men who call themselves The Piano Guys, John Schmidt on piano and Steven Sharp Nelson on cello, went to Petra to perform including, at about 50 seconds into this video, one melody from Rimsky-Korsakov's musical telling of the ancient Middle Eastern tale, Scheherazade.

If you would like to know more about Petra, just type the name into your favorite search engine – they is plenty of fascinating stuff to know about it.

DNA SAVES SERVICE DOG FROM DEATH SENTENCE

In September, a two-year-old Belgian Malanois service dog named Jeb was sentenced to death.

”The Michigan judge who ordered the dog be euthanized said he had no choice,” reported the Washington Post.

“A neighbor had testified that he saw Jeb standing over the lifeless body of his Pomeranian, Vlad. And state law requires that dangerous dogs — ones that cause serious injury or death to people or other dogs — be destroyed.

“But Jeb’s family did not believe he was capable of killing Vlad, said Kandie Morrison, who had given Jeb to her disabled father for use as a service animal.

“This was a dog whose body 80-year-old Kenneth Job relied on to hoist himself up when he fell, she said; a dog that ignored the rabbit he lived with.

So the body of the Pomeranian was tested for Jeb's DNA and like too many mis-convicted (is that a word?) humans, Jeb was exonerated and is now back home working as canine caregiver to 80-year-old Kenneth Job.

Jeb

Of course, the story is more complicated than I have told you and if you go read the whole thing here, it will make you feel good.

* * *

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.


I Will be in Mourning for Awhile

Some people want those of us who are horrified at the result of the Tuesday election to get out and begin changing things. Right now. Start a movement. March. Get busy turning this around. Many are doing this in cities around the country. Nothing coherent yet, just noise. But it is a beginning and I understand the impulse.

Many of us need more time.

By Thursday morning, an embarrassing number of political liberals, pundits and others who fancy themselves to be thought leaders and believe they know better than I how I should feel and behave had a lot of horseshit advice on "acceptance." Many of these people, the same ones who, for more than a year treated the now-president elect as the anti-Christ, are already licking his boots.

He used to be a Democrat, they say. How bad could he be. It was all an act, say others, he didn't mean those things he said. "...we owe it to our nation...to give President-elect Trump a chance," writes Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times.

A chance? A chance for what? We are discussing the man who believes he has the right to grab any women "by the pussy." Who has never met a non-white person he doesn't want to imprison or deport. Who has encouraged xenophobia, misogyny, bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred giving all of it free reign in the land. And as a kicker, a man whose grown sons shoot endangered animals for fun.

A great number of public people, in fewer than 24 hours after the winner was called, have forgotten all that, as though it never happened. I doubt they will ever mention any of it again. But not me. It is the bedrock of who this man is and those things never change.

Okay, it's obvious I'm still angry. Eventually, I will accommodate that and find ways to channel it and if you continue to show up here I can already see myself haranguing you to never forget. But not yet. The human mind and spirit do not heal overnight and contrary to the people who want us all to jump on the SFV's bandwagon, I will never, ever join them.

And right now I need to parse that the unthinkable has happened, that we live in a different world. That takes time.

It is not so long ago that when someone in the family died, people mourned for a long time. Custom dictated that mirrors in the home be covered, social life curtailed and that the mourners wear black (widow's weeds) for up to a year and even more in certain cases.

Everything is faster now and today that kind of mourning is obsolete, even considered morbid. Not me. Given what has just happened, I do not believe it is unreasonable at all.

Two things for sure. Like some people in the comments on Wednesday's post told us, I am wearing black. Complete black, even earrings. Maybe not all the time, but a lot of the time to remind me every day what a terrible thing we as a country have done.

My attire will probably lighten up in time but I own a lot of black clothing so I'm giving it all a new kind of symbolism and meaning.

Second, never again will I say or write that man's name.

Neither of these silly, little protests will change anything. But they will keep what has happened in the forefront of my mind and that will inform choices I make from now on.

Mostly, right now, I want to be quiet and to learn to breathe again. I don't know when I will be done with that and unlike the go-getters, I think it is a good thing to do – to be quiet and reflect.


U.S. Election Day 2016

Yes, yes - I don't usually publish on Tuesday but even is a small way it seems right to mark the end of what John Oliver calls below, our long election nightmare. Or could it be just the beginning? I suppose, now, we will soon know.

Here are two short videos, John Oliver's final words on the campaign from his Sunday HBO program, Last Week Tonight. I couldn't decide on the best order to present them so if you think I've erred, just rearrange them in your head.

See you back here tomorrow, rain or shine, win or lose.


Nothing Else is Important This Week

With close to zero exceptions, every post on this blog for 15 years has been about ageing. I've broken that rule a few times toward the end of this presidential campaign because I don't think, in the nearly 15 year life of this blog, anything more important has happened in the United States and, possibly, the world.

So again today, and probably for the rest of this week, TGB will be about the 2016 election. It is that important. Whatever the outcome tomorrow, political life in the United States is now irrevocably changed - we just don't now how things will be different yet.

For going on two years, we have lived on a daily political diet of misogyny, racism and xenophobia from one of the candidates along with all the worry and terrible feelings that diet engenders.

I had a paragraph here recounting a couple dozen of the most loathsome things Donald Trump has exposed us to and I even dropped that word we're not supposed to say that begins with an "f" (the political one) but then I ran across Andrew Sullivan's story about his fear for the country. Here is a bit of his introduction beginning with the thought that "an accurate account of the past year...

"...is that an openly proto-fascist cult leader has emerged to forge a popular movement that has taken over one of the major political parties, eroded central norms of democratic life, undermined American democratic institutions, and now stands on the brink of seizing power in Washington...

"I find myself wondering if I have lost my marbles. It seems far too melodramatic...there are times in discussions with friends when the catastrophic scenarios we’ve been airing seem like something out of a dystopian mini-series designed for paranoids.

"Please, therefore, discount the following as the product of an excitable outlier if you see fit. I sure hope you’re right. But as it seems more evident by the day that Donald Trump could very well become the next president of the United States, it is worth simply reiterating the evidence in front of our nose that this republic is in serious danger."
You might agree with Sullivan or not - maybe he is right that he is an "excitable outlier" making melodrama of our predicament but I'm not so sure. I urge you to read his piece at New York magazine. Whichever person wins tomorrow, his words will be relevant in the days and years to come.

Somewhere on television over the weekend, I heard it said that for the rest of our lives (more important to young people than you and me, I suppose, but you get the point) we will be asked how we voted in 2016. And if Donald Trump becomes president, the next question will be about what we did – each of us - when the very principles of American democracy were challenged.

Elsewhere, Keith Olbermann has resurfaced during this election campaign after a years-long exile on some obscure TV channel. He is profane and sometimes irritating but I had not realized how much I have missed his bombastic version of righteous anger and indignation.

In his new-ish video show called The Closer on the GQ magazine YouTube channel, here is Olbermann on the crucial importance of Tuesday's election:

As he said, vote in defense of your birthright and our democracy.

MEDIA ANNOUNCEMENT: The New York Times executive editor announced yesterday that the paper is making their digital platform available for free to everyone for today, Tuesday and Wednesday. So if you are usually constrained at the Times website by the 10-article-per-month limit, that won't be this short election period.


ELDER MUSIC: A Little Glass of Wine

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

* * *

I've done a couple of columns on drinking songs but I haven't produced one specifically about wine, the only alcohol in which I indulge.

If I had my druthers, I would pretty much drink some of these wines in the photo all the time (and a few others like them). My bank manager might have something to say about that though.

Wines

I don't like beer – I know, that makes me un-Australian. I don't like Vegemite either so I'm doubly beyond the pale. I don't drink whisky (or whiskey), brandy, vodka or any of those. It's just the grape for me.

Not just me it seems. I found more than 200 songs devoted to the subject (and that's just in their titles). A lot of culling was necessary.

TOM RUSSELL has recorded a number of albums about the area around New Mexico, Texas and Mexico region.

Tom Russell

The album from which this song is taken is not one of those. However, this song is set around the Russian River, a fine wine growing area in California. No matter where the setting is, any song from Tom is worth a listen, and this is no exception. Midnight Wine.

♫ Tom Russell - Midnight Wine


Yet another excuse for me to include JESSE WINCHESTER, and besides, he supplies the title of the column.

Jesse Winchester

Jesse was fond if a glass of wine which we found out when he was here for the Troubadour Weekend, run by winemaker and music buff Andrew Pattison for acoustic and similar performers.

Alas, Jesse is no longer with us and neither is the Troub weekend. Oh well, we still have Jesse's records from which is taken Little Glass of Wine. We also still have Andrew's wines.

♫ Jesse Winchester - Little Glass Of Wine


Almost certainly the most successful Australian rock band in this country, if not internationally, was COLD CHISEL.

Cold Chisel

They were blessed with several excellent songwriters, a great lead guitarist and a charismatic lead singer. They were the real deal. Their song isCheap Wine, something we all want but usually eschew because of its quality – but not always, says he speaking from experience.

♫ Cold Chisel - Cheap Wine


You could probably guarantee that DEAN MARTIN would be present in this column, so I wouldn't want to disappoint you.

Dean Martin

Dean recorded some country sounding albums during his career and the song Little Ole Wine Drinker Me is taken from one of them.

♫ Dean Martin - Little Ole Wine Drinker Me


Three great jazz singers, Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross, got together in the fifties and called themselves LAMBERT HENDRICKS AND ROSS.

Lambert Hendricks and Ross

They were certainly the best jazz singing group that ever was. Over time, Annie left and was replaced by Yolande Bavan. Alas, Dave was killed in a car accident in the sixties. As I write this, Jon and Annie are still with us and I hope neither goes toes up for quite some time.

Their contribution today is Gimme That Wine.

♫ Lambert Hendrics and Ross - Gimme That Wine


I could write a whole column on GARY STEWART's drinking songs.

Gary Stewart

Indeed, I already have but Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, said that's far too much Gary Stewart on a single topic and besides, they're pretty much all the same song, she said.

So, that one has been shelved for now. However, I've used one of the songs today, Backslider's Wine.

♫ Gary Stewart - Backslider's Wine


KIERAN KANE first came to my notice as half of the group The O'Kanes (with Jamie O'Hara as the other half).

Kieran Kane

Since then he's performed on his own as well as with Kevin Welch as another duo, and occasionally adding multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin into the mix. From one of Kieran's solo albums we have Honeymoon Wine. Gotta watch that wine on your honeymoon.

♫ Kieran Kane - Honeymoon Wine


STICK MCGHEE (or Granville McGhee, as his folks knew him) was a jump blues singer, guitarist and songwriter.

Stick McGhee

He was also the younger brother of blues guitarist Brownie McGhee. Stick wrote the song Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee and it's been covered by many over the years, most notably by Jerry Lee Lewis.

The original lyrics to the song had to be cleaned up considerably before it could be recorded and let loose on a poor unsuspecting public. Here's the clean version.

♫ Stick McGhee - Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee


JOHNNY MERCER (and Henry Mancini) wrote the song The Days of Wine and Roses for the film of the same name.

Johnny Mercer

The film's a bit of a downer really but the song sounds quite nice and pleasant. Andy Williams had a big hit with it but we're going with Johnny's version.

♫ Johnny Mercer - The Days of Wine and Roses


I've included this next tune merely because it's such a wonderful title – judging a song by its cover, I suppose. The performers are DOC & MERLE WATSON, father and son.

Doc & Merle Watson

I thought I knew my wine grape varieties but Scuppernong was certainly a mystery to me. Thanks to Dr Google, I found that it's a variety of muscadine native to the southern areas of the United States. It also said that scuppernong is the state fruit of North Carolina.

Well, well, well. To the song, it's Broomstraw Philosophers and Scuppernong Wine.

♫ Doc & Merle Watson - Broomstraw Philosophers and Scuppernong Wine


INTERESTING STUFF – 5 November 2016

DAYLIGHT SAVNGS TIME

It's that ti-i-i-i-me again – fall back. In most of the United States, we turn back our clocks one hour tonight. It hardly seems worth the effort these days when “standard time” lasts only about four months until 12 March 2017.

The Boston Patch website has some facts and a short history of this semi-annual ritual. (Hint: it's not just the United States.)

EDITORIAL NOTE: Once again this week, I find myself with enough items on one subject to take up nearly half the column. We're winding down to the culmination of this awful election period so I'm sure you can guess the topic.

”WE NEED A TOUGH BITCH MOTHER”

From EmmaJay and several other readers, it's comedian Louis CK on Conan O'Brien's late-night show on Tuesday explaining why he is voting for Hillary Clinton. Very funny.

GROWING UP TO BECOME PRESIDENT.

This is from a list at of 17 signs that deserve a medal or, as they put it, a fucking medal. After this past 18 months, I couldn't agree more with this one.

Growuptobeprez

DONALD TRUMP BUS AD IN COPENHAGEN

Someone in Copenhagen shot this video mocking Donald Trump and urging Americans in Denmark to vote for Hillary. As he writes on the YouTube page:

”Hi my friends. Look what I saw in Copenhagen today! Here in Denmark we are very focused on what’s going on in USA. We believe our children deserve to grow up in a safe world ! Please vote!”

JON STEWART'S TRUMP STORY

Last Tuesday evening, former Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, appeared at a fundraiser for military veterans: Stand Up for Heroes in New York City. He told this amazing, funny story about a run-in with Donald Trump:

You can read more here.

HE GAVE HER HALF HIS LIVER AND THEN THEY GOT MARRIED

Twenty-seven-year-old Heather Krueger was out of options. It's hard to find organ donors. Chris Dempsey heard that a co-worker's cousin, a woman he did not know, was dying of liver disease. He did not hesitate to have the blood test which showed he was a match.

And last month, they were married. This is their story:

You can read more here.

WHEN OLD FOLKS WERE PEOPLE

TGB Reader Pat said in her email with this cartoon, “Some days, not hearing so much from my 'adult children,' I feel I'm not 'people'.”

PicklesBrianCrane

More Pickles here.

JOHN OLIVER ON SCHOOL SEGREGATION

I never get over how brilliant and compelling the HBO program, Last Week Tonight, can make any topic. They have never failed me.

I might skim over a newspaper think piece on school segregation; “Yeah, yeah, I'm aware of it.” But not John Oliver and his staff who never fail to make it riveting. Last Sunday's feature is a don't miss.

BUY MORE CHOBANI YOGURT

Turkish immigrant to the U.S., Hamdi Ulukaya, the owner of the Chobani Yogurt company, hires a lot of refugees at his two factories, one in New York state and the other in Idaho:

”...he and his company have been targeted with racist attacks on social media and conspiratorial articles on websites including Breitbart News,” reports The New York Times.

“Now there are calls to boycott Chobani. Mr. Ulukaya and the company have been taunted with racist epithets on Twitter and Facebook. Fringe websites have published false stories claiming Mr. Ulukaya wants 'to drown the United States in Muslims.'

“And the mayor of Twin Falls has received death threats, partly as a result of his support for Chobani.”

Here is a short news story from a year ago about Ulukaya, his factories and his refugee workers:

There are not enough people like Hamdi Ulukaya in the world. Read more about his refugee efforts at The New York Times and buy more Chobani. May the gods keep this good man safe from the haters.

2016 COMEDY WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY FINALISTS

Until this week, I didn't know there was anything called the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. It appears to have begun in 2015 and this is it second year.

This finalists for this years awards have been posted at the website and yes, they are really funny – mostly appearing to do human things. Here are some examples:

Leopardfinalist

Birdconductorfinalist

Lizardfinalist

Take some time to go see all the finalists at the Comedy Wildlife Photo website where you can also see the 2015 winners. You won't be sorry.

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

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