Previous month:
December 2016
Next month:
February 2017

First They Came For the Immigrants...

On Saturday morning, I put the finishing touches on what I thought would be today's post about President Donald Trump's awful first week in office. It began like this:

Does anyone else think it's weird that President Donald Trump shows off his signature to camera every time – every single time! - he signs something? “Look ma, I learned how to write my name.”

Trump Signature

That was meant only to note a minor but strange behavior quirk among so many others this man exhibits as a lead-in to a report on the president's flurry of terrible executive orders last week along with other appalling executive branch events and the ways we, elders, can resist.

Then I tuned in to the news to see that spontaneous crowds of protesters had erupted at dozens of airports around the United States and in a lot of other countries as travelers from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen were detained in the U.S. by border agents.

PortestersJFK2017_01_28

The authorization for this detention is Trump's Friday executive order (full text) banning immigrants, refugees and even legal green card holders traveling to the U.S. from those seven majority-Muslim countries, as The New York Times reported:

”The president’s order, enacted with the stroke of a pen at 4:42 p.m. Eastern on Friday, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries...”

Make no mistake, this is a religious test and there has never before been one in the United States. For god's sake, it is the first founding principle.

At least one federal judge blocked part of Trump's Muslim ban - in particular, ordering that refugees and others detained at U.S. airports not be sent back to their home countries.

People from those seven countries were detained willy-nilly – mothers with children, the sick and infirm, old people.

Lawyers throughout the U.S. rushed to airports, working through Friday night and into Saturday and Sunday to help get the detainees released from custody while numbers of protesters grew as this CNN compilation video shows:

Sunday morning, White House Chief of Staff, Reince Preibus, appeared to roll back the ban on green card holders but then confused the issue when interviewed by Chuck Todd, host of the NBC News program, Meet the Press:

"'We didn't overrule the Department of Homeland Security, as far as green card holders moving forward, it doesn't affect them,' Priebus first said.

“But when pressed by host Chuck Todd on whether it impacts green card holders, Priebus reversed himself, saying, 'Well, of course it does. If you're traveling back and forth, you're going to be subjected to further screening.'

“Asked whether the executive order would affect U.S. citizens, he again indicated it would, suggesting it was up to the 'discretionary authority' of a Customs and Border Patrol agent whether to question citizens coming from the countries in question.”

RB UPDATE SUNDAY EVENING: The White House reversed itself saying that green card holders will henceforth not be affected by the by the Muslim ban.

In addition, CNN reports that Trump said in an interview on Friday

”...that persecuted Christians will be given priority over other refugees seeking to enter the United States, saying they have been 'horribly treated.'

“Speaking with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump said that it had been 'impossible, or at least very tough' for Syrian Christians to enter the United States...

“The United States,” the CNN report continues, “admitted a record number of 38,901 Muslim refugees in 2016, according to a study conducted by Pew. But nearly the same number of Christians, 37,521 were also admitted.”

Let me repeat, this Muslim banning executive order is a religious test no matter what Trump and his White House sycophants say and from day one in the United States, there has never been a religious test.

To that point, even Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who lately has sounded like the president's best buddy, had this to say on Sunday:

”In an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, McConnell said he supports the notion of strengthening the country's process of vetting immigrants for national security, but not the targeting of specific sects.

“'I don't want to criticize them for improving vetting. I think we need to be careful; we don't have religious tests in this country,' the Kentucky senator said on This Week...

“McConnell told Raddatz of the executive order, 'It's hopefully going to be decided in the courts as to whether or not this has gone too far.'”

Could it be that this executive order is at last too much even for the Republican Congress?

Flipping around the dial on Sunday, I heard Virginia senator and former Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine say that his office has been deluged with phone calls from supporters registering their objection to this executive order. At least one other Democratic Congress person said that too.

I report this to remind readers who believe calls to their Democratic representatives are not necessary because those reps are already on the side of the angels.

Well, that's not always so but more importantly, it lights a fire under them when they get lots of calls and it makes an impact when they can say that on television.

So call your representatives whatever party they belong to. Here's an idea: TGB reader Annie Lindsay made me aware of this:

CallCongress

Print it out and tape it to your refrigerator. Or make your own. And if you can get to your airport today to join the protesters, do that too.

If not, the phone calls are good. The women's march and this nationwide outpouring a week later? Something big is happening and we elders need to do our part.

One more thing. Let us not ever forget the famous words of Martin Niemoller, a protestant pastor who spent the last seven years(!) of the Nazi regime in concentration camps:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


ELDER MUSIC: Sweetheart of the Rodeo

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.

* * *

Self indulgence time once again. Today I’m featuring one of my favorite albums of all time by one of my favorite groups of all time: THE BYRDS and "Sweetheart of the Rodeo".

This column is for the nit pickers and obsessives among us (like me), baby boomers and those who like hardcore country music.

Byrds - Sweetheart3

Back in 1968, The Byrds released this album that proved to be hugely influential but at the time was rather scorned. The album, due to the influence of Gram Parsons who was in the group at that stage, consisted of their own songs plus those of other writers old and new.

There is a lot of country music, but not exclusively, there’s some Bob of course and a bit of soul music. Wherever The Byrds performed someone else’s song on the album, I’m going with the original version just so you can hear how it sounded before they got to it.

The Byrds didn’t slavishly copy the originals, they put their own stamp on the tunes, but you won’t know that unless you’re as familiar with the album as I am.

The Byrds at this stage were the two original members Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman plus Gram Parsons and Kevin Kelley.

Byrds

They had some help from their friends and studio musicians. The album is credited with inventing country rock. It didn’t, of course, there were others before it. It may be the one that brought this style into prominence, but I doubt that, as it sold about 17 copies at the time (a couple of which I bought).

It is only in retrospect that the album has gained the kudos it deserves.

The songs today are in the order they were on the album, starting with a BOB DYLAN song, You Ain’t Going Nowhere.

Bob Dylan

In this version, Bob names McGuinn as he believed that he (McGuinn) changed the lyrics on a previous version of the song. On a later version, McGuinn names Bob just to show he was listening (or something).

Anyway, this is (one of) Bob’s version(s).

♫ Bob Dylan - You Ain't Goin' Nowhere


Next is an original song written by MCGUINN and HILLMAN, the two original Byrds still in the group at the time (as I said in the intro): I Am a Pilgrim.

McGuinnClarkillman

That’s them with Gene Clark, another of the original Byrds with whom they formed a really fine trio after The Byrds split. The banjo player on the track is John Hartford.

♫ The Byrds - I Am a Pilgrim


Now a song written by Ira and Charlie Louvin.

Louvin Brothers

Here they are as the LOUVIN BROTHERS with the song they released in 1958, The Christian Life. The Byrds did it better.

♫ Louvin Brothers - The Christian Life


The Byrds didn’t just cover country songs for the album, although that was their main source of songs, there was a soul singer in the mix as well. That was WILLIAM BELL.

William Bell

The song was written by William to express his homesickness when he was in New York, a long way from home. Many people have recorded it but his is the definitive version of You Don't Miss Your Water.

♫ William Bell - You Don't Miss Your Water


Next, a song written by LUKE MCDANIEL. He recorded it under a pseudonym, Jeff Daniels.

Luke McDaniel

It seems that Luke didn't like the contracts he was offered as a singer and he decided to write some songs and send them to other artists under his pseudonym. Later he also recorded under that name.

Whoever he was, what we're interested in is You're Still on My Mind.

♫ Jeff Daniels - You're Still On My Mind


Pretty Boy Floyd was written by WOODY GUTHRIE and contains some lines that are still relevant today. It’s not alone in Woody’s canon in that regard.

It wasn’t Pretty Boy’s tale so much as the line “Some will rob you with a six gun and some with a fountain pen” that caught my ear. Nothing seems to have changed in seventy or eighty years.

Woody Guthrie

Here is Woody’s original version.

♫ Woody Guthrie - Pretty Boy Floyd


Now I can indulge myself with a couple of songs that GRAM PARSONS wrote. The first of these is Hickory Wind.

Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris

Gram later rerecorded the song on his "Grievous Angel" album. That album has also been rereleased with alternate versions of various songs, so I’m going with one of those.

Unlike all the others today, this one was recorded later than The Byrds’ album. Here, of course, we have Emmylou providing harmony.

♫ Gram Parsons - Hickory Wind


These days there are at least three (that I have) versions of the next song. The one from the album that McGuinn sang, a rehearsal version by Gram included on the super duper rereleased CD version of the album with a bunch of extra tracks, and the original recorded version that didn’t appear on the album but has surfaced on their box set.

It seems that McGuinn stripped Gram’s vocals from this one and recorded his own (with some nice harmony in The Byrds’ style from Hillman). Here is the version with GRAM PARSONS singing lead on One Hundred Years From Now, one of his own songs.

Gram Parsons

♫ The Byrds - One Hundred Years from Now


WILF CARTER was Canadian and he was a huge success in his native country, as well as America and elsewhere (including Australia).

Wilf Carter

He also had a parallel career as Montana Slim. His song refers to his native country - The Blue Canadian Rockies.

♫ Wilf Carter - The Blue Canadian Rockies


MERLE HAGGARD needs no introduction from me for people who are interested in this style of music.

Merle Haggard

Merle is one of the half dozen most important people in country music for the last 50 years. He performs his song Life in Prison. He knew about prison life. Fortunately for us (and him), it wasn't life that he spent there.

♫ Merle Haggard - Life In Prison


The original album ended as it began with a BOB DYLAN song.

Bob Dylan & The Band

Bob’s version is from the famous/infamous “Basement Tapes”. This is from when he was holed up in Woodstock after his motorcycle accident with The Band and they’d try out new songs and play old songs and do whatever they liked.

They recorded these to see how they could improve on them. Naturally, as this was Bob, somehow these tapes managed to escape and were released in bootleg form.

When the record company eventually released a “real” version, as with anything of Bob’s from that time, it sold like a new iPod (although I've never understood why they sell so well).

This surprised Bob: he said then that he thought everyone already had a copy. The song is Nothing Was Delivered. This is far from Bob's best, at least this version, and I generally skip it. However, I've included it so the album is complete. The Byrds did a much better job of the song.

♫ Bob Dylan - Nothing Was Delivered



INTERESTING STUFF – 28 January 2017

CAROLE KING'S UPATED VERSION OF ONE SMALL VOICE

In 1971, I got through the first horrible weeks of separation prior to my divorce by listening to composer Carole King's “Tapestry” album over and over and over and over again . She has been a favorite ever since.

Last Saturday, 74-year-old King took part in the Women's March in Stanley, Idaho, in a snowstorm with 29 other people, almost half the population of that town where she now lives.

She also released a video of her 1983 song, One Small Voice. Here it is:

You can read more about the song and her small-town march in Rolling Stone magazine.

TOM TOLES' WOMEN'S MARCH CARTOON

Our political cartoonists are doing a better job than many news pundits of capturing the zeitgeist, day-to-day, of what is happening to our country under the new president.

And then there is this lovely one from Tom Toles about the Women's March.

Womens-march2Toles

NINE FOOT NOODLES

There is a tiny village in China, just 300 residents, where they continue a centuries-old tradition of making nine-foot, thread-thin noodles by hand. One maker, 51-year-old Lin Fagan, worries that only the old people now know how to do this and when they die, the art will be lost.

Here is how it is done:

THE NETHERLANDS WELCOMES TRUMP

It will not save us from the worst developments to come out of the Trump presidency and the Republican-majority Congress, but our terrible predicament has given rise to a widely varied universe of comedy perpetrators who, along with the cartoonists (see above), help us laugh through our resistance.

TGB reader Joe Zeee was the first of at least 50 readers (the most ever for a single item) to send this fantastic video made in The Netherlands. Tens of millions of people have watched it now so you may have seen but it's so good that I keep going back to it and you might like to also.

H.L. MENCKEN'S REMARKABLY PRESCIENT 1920 QUOTATION

TGB reader Peggy B sent this quotation from the “Sage of Baltimore” that could have been written yesterday.

Mencken1920

BAD LIP READING THE INAUGURATION

Certainly by now you know of the folks who turn out the Bad Lip Reading videos and if you don't, their name tells you all you need to know.

This one, Bad Lip Reading the Inauguration, is one of their best:

RARE HEAVY SNOWFALL IN KYOTO

TGB reader Bob Fenton sent a link to this collection of photographs from a recent big snowstorm in Kyoto, Japan. They are gorgeous:

Heavy-snowfall-kyoto-japan-pagoda

Heavy-snowfall-kyoto-japan-cats

More photos from the Kyoto snow storm at Bored Panda.

OBAMACARE V. AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

I'm pretty sure Jimmy Kimmel is the last late night talk show host who regularly does the once-ubiquitous (back in the Steve Allen days) man-in-the-street interviews on topics of interest and, always, comedy too.

In the past week or so, you may have read that there are people who voted for President Trump because he promised to repeal Obamacare but who are surprised now to find out that their own recently-acquired health coverage, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is the same thing.

Kimmel's crew went out into the streets of Los Angeles to ask people whether they prefer Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.

OLLIE THE CAT

Not too long ago, TGB reader Trudi asked for an update on Ollie the cat. It's hard to tell anyone about him because he doesn't actually do anything these days.

He will be 13 years old later this year. He is lazy, has no interest in toys and although we talk to one another several times a day, Ollie has hardly any interests beyond food and sleep.

This is where he takes his major daily nap, after breakfast and until early afternoon:

OllieUnderCover

Did I mention that he doesn't like to have a camera pointed at him? He is amazingly adept at avoiding it:

OlliesBack

You might have noticed that he's quite fat. That might be because sleep his favorite activity. Also, if there is not enough food forthcoming, he bites my ankle - sometimes hard enough to draw blood - which is a powerful motivator to keep at least a few nibbles in his bowl.

OllieEating

He's so fat that he's looking a bit like a furry beached walrus these days:

FatOllieontheFloor

If it doesn't involve food or getting to a favorite napping spot, he doesn't like to move around but after many attempts, I did catch this rare (and fuzzy) shot of him strolling through the living room.

OllieWalkingLR

He doesn't like to be wakened from any of his various daily naps. This shot pretty well expresses his attitude about that – although not as grumpy as he can be:

PosingonBed

And now you know why there hasn't been much to say about Ollie in recent years.

He has a lot of rules about how our household should be run and I break them at my peril. But somehow we have come to accommodate one another and we're good friends, good roommates.

My father-in-law, half a century ago, explained that he and his wife often went all day, from breakfast to dinner, in different parts of their house without running into one another. But, he said, “you know there is another heartbeat in the house.”

Yes. That's Ollie and me. If you are interested, here is an adventure tale about how Ollie the cat, ten years ago when he was three, lost his outdoor privileges.

* * *

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.


Done With Self-Improvement

EDITORIAL NOTE: Please take note of a new regular section at the bottom of today's post.

* * *

During most of my adult life, the United States has been big on self-improvement. Thousands of books bear witness to this – such titles as the granddaddy of them all, How to Win Friends and Influence People from the 1930s. You will undoubtedly recognize some of the biggest sellers since then including

Think and Grow Rich
Psycho-Cybernetics
The Power of Positive Thinking
Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
You Can Heal Your Life
The Road Less Traveled
Dress For Success
Your Erroneous Zones
I'm OK, You're OK
The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People
Codependence No More
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom

And so on ad infinitum. These self-help classics and thousands of lesser volumes promise that if you just change yourself in one particular way, you will be rich and famous and happy.

Or something like that.

I was never a strong fan of self-help books but there is a lot of pressure in American culture to be working on bettering yourself. Constantly.

It's hard to resist and over the years I did succumb to several personal development books even as I was disappointed at how thin and shallow the advice is.

Whatever change they promised, the result for me - not surprisingly - was some measure of guilt and self-loathing at not being good enough to master the instructions. Not exactly the what I was going for when I picked up the book.

Now that I have reached an age where I ought to be able to skate toward the end, they haven't eased off, these self-help gurus.

There is hardly an elder website worthy of the name that isn't stuffed with articles about how to achieve “positive ageing,” “creative ageing,” “successful ageing,” “better ageing” “purposeful ageing,” and one of my favorites, “how to look younger as you get older.” And much more.

But here's the thing: At 75, I don't need any help to “exercise my mind” or take up “lifelong learning.” I've been doing those things steadily, day by day since before I can remember and I doubt there are many people who can avoid it. By now, I'm not going to “overcome any fears” that I haven't already. And I don't have enough time left to worry about “identifying my blind spots.”

It exhausts me just to even think about doing such things at my age. I'm not saying the self-help industry is a sham but I've learned that there is no secret ingredient, no idea, no revelation that will make you or me a better person.

That comes from inside, from quiet times with ourselves, from living by the values we believe in.

It may have taken me way too long to get to this but no book, no guru, no facile elder webpage about how to age well is going to change me anymore than they did when I was young. I'm done with self-improvement and getting on with living however many years of life remain to me, warts and all.

Old People at Play

* * *

RESISTANCE NOTES:
(So much is happening so quickly in the new administration that even large news organizations are having trouble keeping pace, let alone a little, one-woman website like this. So now and then when the day's topic relates to ageing but I want to pass on some short, resistance-related information, I will post it here at the bottom of the main story. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.)

Here is the first go:

On Wednesday, in his daily email newsletter from Axios, Mike Allen reported on America's latest reading habit:

"'1984 sales soar after Trump claims, alternative facts' per AP: 'First published in 1949, Orwell's classic dystopian tale of a society in which facts are distorted and suppressed in a cloud of newspeak topped the best-seller list of Amazon.com [last] evening...

"Sinclair Lewis' 1935 novel about the election of an authoritarian president, It Can't Happen Here, was at No. 46. Aldous Huxley's Brave New World was at No. 71. Sales also were up for Hannah Arendt's seminal nonfiction analysis, The Origins of Totalitarianism."

This is terrific, good news. I re-read all four of these books during the election campaign along with Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. They are important instruction manuals for the times we are living in now.


Excellent Tool for Doctor Visit

Improving-your-doctor-patient-relationship

For good reasons that are not pertinent to this post, in November I fired my doctor. Five or six weeks later, after an hour with my new primary care physician, I was pleased to feel that I had found someone I can work with and whom I like.

But when I got home, I realized I had not mentioned two or three issues that while far from being critical were still things he should know and that should be in my record.

I was somewhat chagrined since before that first meeting, I had worked for a couple of days to prepare a list of items and had believed I had done a good job. So as soon as I got home, I started a running list in a computer file that I can keep up like a grocery list for the next appointment.

Since then, however, I have found an outstanding online tool from the National Institute of Aging. The NIA is division of the National Institutes of Health which for decades has funded internal and external research into many aspects of growing old.

The external program funds research and training at universities, hospitals, medical centers, and other public and private organizations nationwide. (All this is administered under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services so we will need to keep a sharp eye on its funding and other issues once the new secretary is approved by Congress which, unfortunately, appears to be Georgia Representative Tom Price.)

I've used the NIA's extensive website for a long time but somehow missed the section I'm here to tell you about today titled, Talking to Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People.

It is amazingly thorough and informative with a long list of chapters to help you collaborate with your physician and be a full participant in your care:

”In the past, the doctor typically took the lead and the patient followed. Today, a good patient-doctor relationship is more of a partnership,” states the first sentence of the section.

“You and your doctor can work as a team, along with nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers, to solve your medical problems and keep you healthy.”

There follow such chapters as:

Choosing a Doctor You Can Talk To
How Should I Prepare...for an Appointment
Making Decisions with Your Doctor
Discussing Sensitive Subjects

And eight more.

Throughout all the the 12 chapters are useful tips – on giving information, for example, on asking questions or providing definitions you might not know like what “board certified” means. And that barely scratches the surface.

The guide was first published in 2010 and updated in April 2016. It is a definitive guide for all things related to visits with your physician(s).

Today, however, I want to show you why I decided to devote an entire post to this guide. The Institute has created a three-part worksheet to fill in before your appointment with prompts that help ensure that you don't forget anything and that you can print to take with you.

The first section asks you to list your concerns.

The second section includes changes since your last visit, your diet, medications and lifestyle; your thoughts and feelings; and everyday living – injuries, daily activists, exercise and more.

The third section asks you to list the details of all the medications you use.

It is incredibly thorough and a professional can skim through the worksheet in a few minutes saving a lot of time that then can be used for face-to-face examination and discussion.

Here is what it looks like:

NIH Worksheet FINAL

Although it is titled for elders, I think people of all ages can benefit from this. Here are some of the links you need:

Main page, the starting place

The Worksheets

Section on additional resources

If you want a hard copy, you can print out each section or, on the left side of every page is a link to a PDF version that you can save to your computer or print.

Whether you just hang on to the URL, keep an electronic copy on your computer or print it, there are not many instruction manuals in life as good as this 44-page guide.


The New President's First Official Act

FIRST, A NOTE FOR INTERNATIONAL TGB READERS: The outpouring of protest at the Saturday Women's March in cities across the U.S. turned out to be much larger than anyone anticipated – certainly me.

USWomensMarchesNYT

And what surprised me most - in the best possible way - is that more millions of people in cities around the world joined the protests.

WomensMarchesWorld

(Both images from The New York Times.)

Something big is happening, it is worldwide and we all need to nourish it, encourage it and keep it moving forward for all the reasons the marchers took to the streets on Saturday.

I mentioned this not long ago but it bears repeating: when necessary and reasonable, Time Goes By will be part of that resistance because our democracy, my democracy (I had no idea I was so patriotic until now) may depend upon it.

First and foremost, this blog has always been about “what it's really like to get old” as it says up there on the banner, and that will never change.

Time Goes By benefits greatly from readers and commenters who live in other countries and I have always been careful to write about ageing in a general sense, for all of us wherever we live.

But by necessity now, sometimes TGB will need to be America-centric to address both threats to all Americans, and to American elders specifically (as today) which other media too often overlook. I apologize to international readers but I don't see any other way for the foreseeable future.

There will still be plenty of good conversation about growing old – just please bear with me while I try to work out a balance.

* * *

FIRST TRUMP EXECUTIVE ORDER COULD GUT OBAMACARE
On his first day in office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order (which has the force of law without Congressional approval) that will scale back parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Here is the new press secretary, Sean Spicer, making the announcement to reporters in the White House briefing room:

Well, that certainly was vague while being ominous too. Did you hear the reporters in the room asking, “What does that mean?” as Spicer left the room? Me too.

Before I get to that, let me remind you that there are a few important elements of the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – that benefit elders specifically.

There is a full list of ACA Medicare benefits here.

In addition, Obamacare opened Medicaid to low-income adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty line in states that opted to expand their Medicaid programs – so far, about 15 million people in 31 states and the District of Columbia have benefited.

What we do not know now is how this first presidential executive order (full text), signed on Friday, will affect Obamacare provisions for Medicare.

Politico calls the order “sweeping” and wrote that it

”...encourages federal agencies to dismantle large parts of Obamacare, possibly including the hugely unpopular mandate requiring most Americans to purchase insurance.

“While only Congress can repeal the law, the nine-paragraph order effectively tells the federal government to take as much leeway as possible to 'ease the burdens' on individuals, states and the health industry.”

The Washington Post offered some additional ideas of what the order may mean:

“'Potentially the biggest effect of this order could be widespread waivers from the individual mandate, which would likely create chaos in the individual insurance market,' said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“In addition, he said, the order suggests that insurers may have new flexibility on the benefits they must provide.

“'This doesn’t grant any new powers to federal agencies, but it sends a clear signal that they should use whatever authority they have to scale back regulations and penalties. The Trump administration is looking to unwind the ACA, not necessarily waiting for Congress,' Levitt said.”

In a bit more detail, The New York Times suggests that the executive order should be seen more as a “mission statement” more than an “edict that can instantly change the law.”

”Mr. Trump has sent a strong signal that he intends to fight the health law...And the order, crucially, notes that agencies can act only 'to the maximum extent permitted by law.' (How the Trump administration interprets those permissions, of course, is yet untested.)

“The order spells out the various ways that a Trump administration might fight the parts of the health law until new legislation comes...Regulations can be changed, but, as the order notes, only through a legal process of 'notice and comment' that can take months or years.

“How much of the order is bluster and how much it signals a set of significant policy changes in the pipeline is unclear. The order was not specific and did not direct any particular actions.”

In other words, the order urges agencies of the federal government to try to destroy Obamacare by chipping away at provisions without actually have to use the word “repeal,” while giving them plenty of time to come up with a replacement.

There is no reason to believe that provisions for Medicare recipients won't be among the ones changed or removed. And there is nothing we can do about it. According to Wikipedia,

”...executive orders are subject to judicial review, and may be struck down if deemed by the courts to be unsupported by statute or the Constitution.”

Unlikely. We will need to use our resistance tools elsewhere.


ELDER MUSIC: Name Dropper Hummel

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.

* * *

That heading is rather scurrilous because there's no evidence whatsoever that JOHANN NEPOMUK HUMMEL engaged in that sort of thing but, my goodness, he could have been the greatest name dropper in musical history if he'd wanted to.

After all, he was taught by Joseph Haydn; he lived for a couple of years with the Mozarts; he was a good friend of both Beethoven and Schubert and he taught Mendelssohn.

He was also good friends with Goethe (but he wasn't known for his musical accomplishments, although a lot of his poems have been set to music by several of the finest composers). Besides all that, Jo had a serious influence on the works of Schumann, Chopin and Liszt.

He really could have given up the composing lark and made a career appearing on TV talk shows chatting about all those. So, it's Hummel and the others today, which gives me a good excuse to play some of my favorite composers (and some others).

I'll start with the man himself, JOHANN HUMMEL.

Hummel

Jo was born in Pressburg which these days is called Bratislava in what we now know as Slovakia. Back then it was in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

He showed great promise early on, such that he caught the ear of Mozart who decided to take him on as a pupil, and also invited him to live with the Mozart family for a while (that turned into two years).

The musical piece I've chosen isn't from that early period living with the Mozarts; I'm going to jump ahead and play something from later on, his Cello Sonata in A Major, Op. 104, the second movement.

♫ Hummel - Cello Sonata In A Major, Op. 104 (2)


As I mentioned, Hummel lived with the Mozarts (from the age of eight to ten). WOLFGANG MOZART was impressed with his talent and gave him lessons during that time. I imagine Wolfie's father was possibly in the mix as well as he was considered one of the finest music teacher at the time (or since, for that matter).

Mozart

Wolfie probably taught him a thing or two about piano playing as that turned into the main instrument for which he wrote. I thought that, as all the other selections here are instrumental, I'd have some vocal work from Wolfie who was a master at producing great music for the voice, particularly for female singers.

This is the first movement from his Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165, sung by KIRI TE KANAWA.

Kiri Te Kanawa

♫ Mozart - Exsultate, jubilate (1)


After Wolfie, MUZIO CLEMENTI was the next to give Jo some music lessons.

Muzio Clement

The Muz was born in Italy but spent most of his life in England which is where he met Jo and taught him. He was a teacher to several of the next generation of composers. Besides all that he designed and built pianos and was also a music publisher, which probably paid more than composing.

However, it's his compositions we're interested in, and the one I've chosen is the Violin and Piano Sonata Op.2 No.3 in G Major, the first movement.

♫ Clementi - Sonata Op.2 No.3 In G Major (1)


All up, Hummel spent about four years in London and he was there when the French Revolution broke out. His next gig was going to be a tour of France but he changed his mind about that.

Coinciding with his stay, JOSEPH HAYDN was on one of his regular London visits.

Haydn

Papa Jo composed a piano sonata for him and Hummel gave the first performance of it for which Papa Jo thanked him and gave him a guinea (a reasonable sum at the time). They both returned to Vienna after that and more lessons eventuated.

Around this time, the keyed trumpet was invented and Haydn, being an adventurous soul (musically), wrote some music for this new instrument. Here is the third movement of his Trumpet Concerto in E flat major.

♫ Haydn - Trumpet Concerto in E flat major (3)


Hummel was a bit of a one for lessons, as he also received some more from JOHANN ALBRECHTSBERGER.

Albrechtsberger

He must have been the most educated musician around and considering who gave the lessons, oh my goodness. Besides being a teacher, Albie was a composer of some note as well, demonstrated by his Partita No. 2 in C major, the first movement.

There's some harp in there as well as flute and keyboard.

♫ Albrechtsberger - Partita No. 2 in C major (1)


ANTONIO SALIERI has had the worst press of any composer in history what with all the books, films and plays about him and Mozart.

Salieri

So, let's set the record straight – he did not murder Mozart, he had no hand in his death. Indeed, they quite liked and supported each other in their musical endeavors. I'm sorry that the truth is a lot less interesting than all that plotting, but that's the way it was.

He's in the mix because he's another who taught our man of the day. So, I'm quite happy to play his music, in this case the first movement of his Chamber Concerto for oboe, two violins, viola and cello in G major. That's really just a string quartet plus oboe.

♫ Salieri - Chamber concerto for oboe, two violins, viola and violoncello in G major (1)


LUDWIG BEETHOVEN was a friend of Hummel for many years but it probably won't surprise you to learn that they had a falling out.

Beethoven

It's conjectured that this occurred because Ludwig didn't like Hummel's piano transcriptions of his symphonies and other works. This might not have been entirely an artistic difference because copyright didn't exist then and Ludwig didn't see a penny for these.

It might also have to do with the singer Elisabeth Röckel, who was a friend of Beethoven's. More than a friend from his point of view but Hummel raced her off and married her.

Much later, on hearing of Ludwig's serious illness, Hummel rushed to Vienna and visited Ludwig several times before he died. Apparently they reconciled in the last days of Beethoven's life.

Here's something from Beethoven that's a little off the beaten track for him, the sixth movement of his Sextet for 2 horns & string quartet in E flat major, Op. 81B.

♫ Beethoven - Septet for strings & woodwinds in E flat major, Op. 20 (6)


FRANZ SCHUBERT dedicated his last three piano sonatas to Hummel. They have the Deutsch numbers 958, 959 and 960.

Schubert

Some say that these are derivative of Beethoven and who could blame him in the sphere of piano sonatas? However, if you listen with open ears, they are distinctly by Franz. See what you think.

Here is the great Daniel Barenboim playing the third movement of hisPiano Sonata No. 21 in B Flat, D.960.

♫ Schubert - Piano Sonata No.21 In B Flat, D.960 (3)


As I mentioned in the introduction, FELIX MENDELSSOHN was one of his pupils.

Mendelssohn

Admittedly it was only for a short time. Robert Schumann thought of becoming a pupil too but didn't, although he did practise a lot of Hummel's piano pieces.

Franz Liszt also wanted to become a pupil but his dad wouldn't pay the tuition fee (which was fairly high by all accounts). So, we're left with Felix and his Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, the third movement.

♫ Mendelssohn - Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (3)


I'll end with the man himself again. HUMMEL is the only person who has ever come close to matching Mozart for writing music for the clarinet.

Hummel

As an example here is the fourth movement of his Clarinet Quartet.

♫ Hummel - Clarinet Quartet(4)



INTERESTING STUFF – 21 January 2017

A SENSE OF PURPOSE

This is a video about what happened when the U.S. Department of Labor stepped in to enforce their employment regulations against piece workers in a retirement home.

It was produced last year by students in The Academy of Integrated Humanities and New Media (AIM), a two-year film program for juniors and seniors at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California, which happens to be my alma mater.

What do you think?

Each semester AIM students produce short documentaries and other projects. You can find a collection of their videos at their YouTube page.

WOMAN DIES WHEN NO KNOWN ANTIBIOTIC WORKS

We have been hearing about antibiotic resistance for years but until now, the variety of antibiotic medicines we have seemed to keep us from catastrophe. No more.

”Public health officials from Nevada are reporting on a case of a woman who died in Reno in September from an incurable infection,” reports STATnews.

“Testing showed the superbug that had spread throughout her system could fend off 26 different antibiotics.

“'It was tested against everything that’s available in the United States...and was not effective,' said Dr. Alexander Kallen, a medical officer in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of health care quality promotion.'”

After being treated for a broken femur in India where drug-resistant infections are more common than in the U.S., the 70-year-old woman was found in Nevada to be infected with

”CRE — carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae. That’s a general name to describe bacteria that commonly live in the gut that have developed resistance to the class of antibiotics called carbapenems — an important last-line of defense used when other antibiotics fail,” explains STATnews.

“CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden has called CREs 'nightmare bacteria' because of the danger they pose for spreading antibiotic resistance.”

Terrifying.

There is additional information on this deadly infection at Huffington Post.

FOLEY ARTISTS

Maybe you've seen that phrase during movie credits. They are the sound artists, an amazing and important part of all television and movie crews.

When I was producing television shows, it was one of my favorite parts of the process, getting together with men and women who tweak and even create needed audio, sometimes from nothing.

Once, I needed to add the missing sound of two tap shoes hitting the floor simultaneously – one each for Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire - to punctuate the end of their dance routine in a movie clip. The Foley artists didn't have anything appropriate in their library so they set about inventing the sound.

They tried slapping a piece of metal on wood. It didn't sound right. They tried the various shoes among all of us in the room, each one on different surfaces. All wrong.

After about an hour, one of the guys went into the sound booth and tried slapping his hand against his thigh. Amazingly, it was close but still short of what it should be. So another guy, wearing denim jeans instead of whatever the first guy was wearing tried. Voila!

We had a good tap sound for Crosby and Astaire that had somehow been lost from the clip.

As the YouTube page for this video explains, when you are immersed completely in a movie much of that is due to the magic of Foley artists. When the work is done right,

”...you won’t be able to tell that the 'natural' sounds on screen are manufactured with studio props. That's the challenge for Warner Bros. Foley artists Alyson Moore, Chris Moriana and mixer Mary Jo Lang. Theirs is a practice in recreation, one creative element at a time.”

Enjoy this little little documentary about how they do their work.

AN AGE-OLD ARGUMENT BETWEEN SPOUSES

And a great, good laugh, too.

BEN FRANKLIN'S FIRST PRINT JOB

Long before he became a founding father, young Ben Franklin went into the printing business.

What appears to be his first piece of printing at age 17 went on exhibit this week at the University of Pennsylvania after not being seen for nearly 200 years.

”Penn Libraries recently acquired the only known surviving copy of a 1723 Franklin broadside, showing an elegy for a Philadelphia poet and printer named Aquila Rose, and topped with a bold skull and crossbones motif.”

BenFranklinFirstPrintJob

The scrapbook in which the broadside was found will also be on display at the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center until February 10 – if you happen to be in the area. You can read more at The New York Times.

SWEAR MORE, FEEL BETTER

I've known that for most of my life. When I've stubbed my toe or cut my finger in the kitchen – particularly anything that hurts, a long string of #$%^&*() always makes it feel better.

Now there may be some scientific backup for my belief:

There is more than you ever wanted to know about how and why swearing is good for you at the BBC.

WHITE HOUSE GLAM ROOM

According to Us magazine, the White House will be renovated to include what they call a “glam room.”

"'There will absolutely be a room designated for hair, makeup and wardrobe,' [Nicole] Bryl, who has worked with [Ms.] Trump for more than a decade and helped 'soften' her look during her husband Donald Trump's presidential campaign...

"'Melania wants a room with the most perfect lighting scenario, which will make our jobs as a creative team that much more efficient, since great lighting can make or break any look,' she said.”

Bryl also tells the magazine that

”...that each makeup session takes 'about one hour and 15 minutes of uninterrupted focus. If you want the look to be flawless and have it last [throughout the day], you do have to take a little extra time to make that happen.'”

Oh please. These next four years are going to be even harder to get through than I had imagined.

If you must, you can read more here.

SNOW DAY AT PORTLAND ZOO

As you might have noticed from my photos in last Saturday's Interesting Stuff, we had a big snowstorm in the Portland, Oregon area about ten days ago. Much more than happens in most winters.

That made some of the animals at the Portland Zoo really, really happy. Thank my friend Jim Stone 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.


What are You Doing During Today's Inauguration?

Civil Rights hero John Lewis has been the representative for the state of Georgia's Fifth Congressional District since 1987. He has taken a lot of tweet vitriol from the new president for announcing that he is boycotting today's inauguration.

Me too (along with several dozen additional federal legislators) which, since I live about 3,000 miles from Washington, D.C., just means I will not be watching on television.

In no way is that meant to scorn or disparage the office of the president nor do I believe – even with possible Russian interference in the November election and FBI director James Comey's reprehensible behavior toward Hillary Clinton – that Donald Trump should not be sworn in.

Alternately, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland takes a different view. Yesterday, he told CNN reporter Chris Cuomo that while he believes others should boycott the inauguration if they want, he is attending the because he wants to be a witness to history.

Further, however, he told Cuomo that if the public knew what he and some colleagues had heard in the classified briefings about Russian interference in the election and other information, they might not attend the inauguration themselves. This six-minute exchange is a more informative interview than we usually get on cable television:

Note that Cummings says the information from those classified hearings will come out later.

We, the citizens of the United States, can respect the office of president while generally opposing the man himself – which is the intention of my personal boycott.

To tell the truth, however, I have a long-standing appointment and several errands that will take me away from home today for all but the oath of office so I didn't put a whole lot of thought into my boycott. I would not have missed President Barack Obama's inaugurations for anything; this one doesn't matter to me beyond the fear I feel for the future of our country and for us, the citizens of America.

Besides, what am I really missing. There will be more reporting than anyone needs of the inauguration address and since Trump disavows or changes his mind about everything he says faster than anyone can parse it, it doesn't really matter what he tells the nation today.

Apparently, a lot of people feel as I do about today's event. One website I ran across asked readers how they planned to spend the day, offering these four choices:

Watching the ceremony
Protesting
Avoiding the spectacle
Moving to Canada

I do recall reading news stories about how tens of thousands of Americans, on the day following the election in November, were Googling what is required to immigrate to Canada.

Remember when, a few weeks ago, I posted a Dr. Seuss parody titled How the Trump Stole America written by a North Carolina minister named John Pavlovitz?

He's had some thoughts about what dissenters can do on this inauguration day to resist. Here's the short version:

Serve someone
Financial activism
Get your hands dirty
Reach across a divide
Read
Pray
Reassure your children
Cultivae gratitude
Be visible
Create
Rest

You can read Pavlovitz's full post with explanations of his 11 points at his website.

Resist200Since I am already committed for several hours today, I like the last one in that list for us - for elders - so we can store up a lot of energy for the long resistance we need to undertake starting now.

What are you doing today?



The First Sneak Attack on Medicare, Social Security Has Already Happened

And we didn't even know it.

Social Security Medicare Cards

Remember, back on the morning of 3 January when the new 115th Congress convened, Republicans had already voted in secret the night before to shut down the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE)?

And how, when word got out, so many thousands of furious citizens phoned Congress that the House was forced to rescind that clause? Before noon?

It was a jubilant win for the good guys that day but there is more in the new rules package that got lost in the hubbub and celebration:

”Unnoticed by most was an additional provision, which is one part of the Republican game plan to destroy Social Security and Medicare,” writes Nancy Altman at Huffington Post last Saturday...”

This is slightly complicated (as the Republicans intend) but not something we can't understand if we pay attention – and it is crucial that we do.

Start with this from Altman:

Social Security...and Medicare...do not go through the appropriations process because, as monthly pension payments and medical insurance, they must pay what is owed, not what Congress chooses to spend.

“If Social Security and Medicare were subject to the whims of every Congress, they would be radically transformed. No one could count on the benefits they had earned.

For this reason, Social Security and Medicare are unique among most federal agencies and departments whose work can be hobbled and even destroyed with funding cuts during the appropriations process by representatives who don't like those departments.

As Altman explains, Republicans have an almost religious belief that the private sector can do anything better than government can and because Social Security and Medicare bypass the appropriations process, the GOP has hated those two programs from the moment they were each enacted.

So here is what the House Republicans wrote into the new rules package that will be in force for the next two years. Altman again:

“...the new rules require the relevant committees to make 'recommendations for changes to existing law for moving [unspecified] programs...from mandatory funding to discretionary appropriations, where appropriate.'

“Note the vague language,” writes Altman. “Republican politicians understand how popular Social Security and Medicare are.

Yet they desperately want to destroy the programs, which put the lie to their anti-government agenda by illustrating clearly that there are some tasks that the government does much better than the private sector.”

Now, here is the stealth part that the Republicans hope will slip by and/or mystify other politicians, the press and citizens (emphasis mine):

”The solution? Cut and radically transform Social Security and Medicare, but do it in a manner that avoids political accountability.

“Using changes in the arcane [new] rules of the budget to force through subsequent cuts fits that bill perfectly.

“By the time the American people realize what's happening, the rules that usher in the changes are in the past [voted in on 3 January 2017], and those voting for the cuts can claim that they have no choice, for budgetary reasons.”

Representative Tom Price, current chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed other changes to the budget rules which if enacted, says Altman, “would end Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as we know them.”

Price is the president-elect's nominee to become Secretary of Health and Human Services where he will have direct control of Medicare and Medicaid and will be a trustee of Social Security.

Nancy Altman understands more about Social Security and Medicare and the politics thereof than just about anyone on the planet. She is founding co-director of Social Security Works and and a regular contributor on these issues at Huffington Post.

Along with Josh Marshall and his reporters at Talking Points Memo, she is the foremost defender and topnotch explainer of the sometimes cryptic issues around these programs.

Please read Altman's entire story on the stealth attack at Huffington Post. We need all the education we can get to be articulate enough to effectively resist the upcoming Republican attempts to dismantle these programs.

In some ways, the Republicans in Congress are more dangerous to the American way of life that the president-elect and you can expect additional stealth attacks in almost any area Congress controls. We're all going to be busy for the foreseeable future.


A Delicious TGB Extra

Time Goes By does not usually publish on Tuesday but this is too delicious to hold back especially because it does have a sell-by date - Friday 20 January – after which it is not as rich.

It happened Sunday in Scotland's Sunday Herald newspaper where Damien Love is the television columnist. You will find his review of President Trump: The Inauguration about halfway down the the online listings here.

And this is how it appeared in the print edition's featured highlights:

SundayHeraldTrump

The Twitterverse has had a fine ol' time passing this around and you'll find some commentary on the "preview" at the BBC. A few people object; I think they have no sense of humor - we need to remember to laugh about our predicament now and then, even if darkly.

* * *

FYI: You will find the cabinet nominee hearing schedule for this week here.


How Do You Want to Live the Rest of Your Life?

EDITORIAL NOTE: Here is an old-fashioned word for you: nonplussed (to be surprised and confused so much that you are unsure how to react). That's how I feel.

There is such a gigantic amount to be said following the nominee hearings, the Russia-related political events of last week and Trump's attack on John Lewis on Martin Luther King weekend that I don't know what to say first. Or second. Or third.

I am politically speechless for the time-being so even though I think there ought to be a discussion about our collective political nightmare, we'll do something else today.

* * *

When I first started this blog 14 or so years ago, hardly anything was published in the popular press about ageing. When old people were mentioned at all, it was sure to be ageist, negative or both - often something about how awful life after 40 is.

That changed with a vengeance beginning in 2006, when the entire media took notice at once that the oldest baby boomers were turning 60 that year. Suddenly, ageing was lucrative, if not “cool.”

Every magazine did a cover story that year about the don't-trust-anyone-over-30 generation's crossover into old age.

A torrent of books followed, along with a slew of articles in print, on brand new old-age websites, and right behind all of that a sudden upsurge in the number of people self-identified as “senior life coaches” - apparently for those of us who need instruction on how to grow old.

All that and more are still around - a now well-established corner of the lucrative personal advice market - so much so that I receive half a dozen press releases in an average week about new books, sometimes a television show, magazine or online articles whose writers I am told I should interview.

The thing is, however, they all have the same advice. After you translate the psychological or academic jargon of many and plow through the filler, each expert boils it down “empowerment” - bumper sticker wisdom ready-made for embroidering on a pillow, or the internet equivalent thereof, that we've known for most of our lives:

Be positive
Be true to yourself
Be who you truly are
Age gracefully
Successful ageing

That last one is a common promise of age gurus that leaves me wondering what the opposite looks like. Some time ago, one “expert” I was being asked to interview believed that decluttering the house was all anyone needed to “empower” their old age.

Nothing wrong with cleaning up but let's not overstate its transformational “power” of throwing out old knick-knacks.

You don't have to go far to find old age advice but these banal prescriptions, a lot of them from the flourishing life coach industry, sound flimsy, inadequate and ineffective. And anyway, why can't we just let life happen?

After we got past the fireman and princess stages, hardly any kids I knew in school had an inkling of what they wanted to be when we grew up and only a handful of the few who were passionate about becoming a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief actually did it.

Although teachers regularly asked us to write essays about our career goals, I never could come up with an answer.

After high school with adulthood looming, I didn't need a teacher to goad me into thinking about what to do with my life although by then, in keeping with the predicable stage of development I was passing through, it seemed more an existential question than the need to choose an occupation.

Pondering what might bring me personal satisfaction didn't get me any closer to to finding a worthwhile or interesting way to pay the rent than high school essay assignments so I made a deliberate decision to not make a decision.

I clearly recall thinking it through when I was 20 or 21: I would just keep on keeping on, putting one foot in front of the other and see where it would lead me - starting out with my single marketable skill, typing.

And you know what? It worked. It worked out amazingly well for me: several related careers producing radio, then television, then being part of the team creatiing one of the first news websites in the mid-1990s which gave me an internet career for the decade until I retired.

Without exception, it was compelling, satisfying work thaty expanded my knowledge of the world every day while giving me the chops to do this blog which has extended the same pleasures and rewards into my later years.

How lucky is that for someone without a plan?

No small part of the ongoing research for this blog has been paying enough attention to the senior life coaches and other old-age gurus (as distinct from medical and health information) to keep up with what they prescribe.

So far, there has been nothing useful to pass on to you that the ancient Greeks hadn't already told us (see above list).

Although it is not their purpose, what these “experts” have convinced me is that I should live the rest of my life as I did during the preceding half century – just keep moving and see where it takes me. After all, it worked well then; why not now?

What about you? Do you have a plan for how to live the rest of your life? Did you ever have a plan or, like me, did you just let it happen?

Makeyoursoulhappy1


ELDER MUSIC: Tom Rush

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.

* * *

Little Tommy Rush from New Hampshire (as he once called himself on record) started out as a folkie and an interpreter of blues songs. He began his career in Boston, as he majored in English at Harvard. He became a regular on the folk circuit of the time and is still performing to this day.

Tom Rush

Way back, there was a train that ran between Chicago and New Orleans that had no name, or maybe it was called “The train that ran between Chicago and New Orleans”.

In 1911, in honor of the anticipated opening of the Panama Canal, this train was named the Panama Limited. In 1974, this train had a name change to the City of New Orleans (named after the song).

However, it's the Panama Limited we're interested in and it was still called that when Tom recorded the song early in his career. Tom actually got the source of the train wrong in the song – he said it was Washington rather than Chicago. That doesn't spoil a good song.

♫ Tom Rush - Panama Limited


Tom Rush

Way back in the sixties, some time before Bob Dylan went electric, Tom recorded a (semi-) rock album that nobody commented on at the time except me who thought it was brilliant. I still do.

The album was "Take a Little Walk With Me". If you don't have it, search it out; it's one the finest albums ever recorded.

Side one had Tom backed by a rock band and side two was more traditional, except that he had Bruce Langhorne playing very tasteful lead electric guitar behind him.

So, putting on side one, we find that Tom covered songs by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly and others, as well as one of his own in the same vein. I've chosen Who Do You Love.

This has been recorded many times over the years. One of the interesting ones was by Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks (The Hawks later left Ronnie and became The Band).

Another was by Quicksilver Messenger Service who devoted a whole side of an album to the song. As much as I like Quicksilver, that was a tad too much. There was also the original by the great Bo Diddley.

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, says that Tom's is the best version because she can understand the words. I don't know if that's a good thing in a rock song but we're going with it.

♫ Tom Rush - Who Do You Love


Tom Rush

Turning the record over we have several contenders for inclusion. The one I've chosen is Joshua Gone Barbados written by Rick Von Schmidt.

♫ Tom Rush - Joshua Gone Barbados


I can't help myself; I'm flipping the record back to side one. The song that Tom wrote is called On the Road Again. There have been quite a few songs with that title but this is the best of them.

♫ Tom Rush - On the Road Again


Tom Rush

As a youth I decided to teach myself to play guitar. I learnt the chords, even some of the more esoteric ones - diminished, thirds, sixths and so on. I even managed to change chords without hesitation.

However, whenever I played an album of Tom's, instead of it inspiring me to practise harder and get better, I'd say, "Oh, I'll never be able to do that" and not play for a month or two.

That's why I'm writing this column rather than heading the bill at some guitar fest or other.

Recently (recently in terms of most of the readers of this column), Tom brought out an instructional DVD showing how he played a dozen or so of his best known tunes.

I bought it, not because I wanted to play them - by that stage my arthritis had reached the stage where I couldn't play for more than five minutes or so before it got too painful. No, I bought the DVD because Tom also played those songs right through just accompanying himself on guitar.

I've now given up entirely trying to play guitar. Fortunately, Tom hasn't. From that DVD we have a song and a tune he originally recorded on his "Circle Game" album, No Regrets and Rockport Sunday, joined into a single track.

♫ Tom Rush - No Regrets ~ Rockport Sunday


Tom Rush

Tom was a discoverer of talent before anyone else. He was the first to record songs by Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Jackson Browne even before they had recorded albums themselves. It's been said that Tom is the only male who should be allowed to record any of Joni's songs.

I originally had a couple of hers penciled in but alas, hers got the chop. As did Jackson's. James managed to survive with one of his earliest songs, Something in the Way She Moves.

♫ Tom Rush - Something in the Way She Moves


Tom Rush

I gather from what Tom says about it that Child’s Song is one of his favorites. It was written by Murray McLauchlan and Tom's version first appeared on an album called "Tom Rush" that was the one that came out in 1970 - there was an earlier album with the same name.

♫ Tom Rush - Child's Song


Tom Rush

Like quite a few others, Tom recorded a country(-ish) album called "Ladies Love Outlaws" that included that song, but I won't. A more enjoyable one from my point of view is one called Jenny Lynn.

♫ Tom Rush - Jenny Lynn


Tom Rush

Getting right up to date, I'll finish with a couple of songs from his most recent album "What I Know" and after all this time in the business, Tom should know quite a bit.

One of those songs is East of Eden, which as far as I can tell has nothing to do with the Steinbeck novel or the film.

♫ Tom Rush - East Of Eden


Tom Rush

Another song from the album, and one very appropriate for this website, is What an Old Lover Knows.

♫ Tom Rush - What An Old Lover Knows


Tom Rush

These days I've noticed that new albums occasionally have a bonus track. I think that rather strange.

Okay, if they rerelease an old album there may be some songs that weren't originally included that deserve seeing light of day. However, if it's a new one why call it a "bonus" rather than another track? Well, if they can do it so can I.

Here's a bonus track, suitable for all of us reading this called Remember Song.

♫ Tom Rush - Remember


INTERESTING STUFF – 14 January 2017

SOMETHING SPECIAL HAPPENED AT THE SUPERMARKET

Between an old person and a four-year-old kid.

MY GOD, I WILL MISS BARACK AND MICHELLE OBAMA

On 6 January at the White House, Michelle Obama gave gave her final speech as First Lady. In case you missed it, here it is:

You will find the full 20-minute version here.

Then, on Tuesday 10 January, President Barack Obama gave his farewell speech in Chicago. You can watch that at full length here.

99 MILLION YEAR OLD BABY DINOSAUR TAIL FEATHER

When the words “feather,” “dinosaur” and “baby” are in the same phrase, how can you not pay attention.

There is additional information at NPR.

TRUMP ODDITY FROM 1958 TV SHOW

My friend Jim Stone sent this video from a TV series titled Trackdown that was broadcast in 1958. See what you think:

The video doesn't look tampered with to me but I didn't quite believe it either. So I checked around to web to see what I could find. Here's what Snopes says:

”The television series Trackdown really did produce an episode featuring a 'Trump' character who came to town claiming that only he could prevent the end of the world by building a wall (and also sold special force propelling umbrellas to deflect meteorites).

“The episode (S1, E30) aired on CBS in 1958 and was titled 'The End of the World,' featuring actor Lawrence Dobkin playing the role of 'Walter Trump.'”

Weird, huh?

ANSWERS ABOUT POTENTIAL CHANGES TO MEDICARE

With threats from the Republican Congress and president-elect Trump to repeal Obamacare and voucherize Medicare there are a lot of questions. AARP answered five of the most important. Here is one:

“Q: I’ve heard about the voucher-type plan that House Republicans hope to implement soon. How would this plan change Medicare?

“A: (in part)...opponents — including AARP — say the amount of the voucher may not be enough to keep up with health care inflation, so older adults could end up paying more for care and for insurance that has fewer choices of doctors and other providers>”

You can read the entire answer to this question and the other four questions and answers at AARP. They are clear, concise and to the point.

AN 18-CARAT GOLD TOILET

I'm late to this story. It first turned up last September when a new show from Italian artist, Maurizio Cattalan opened at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. According to a page at the museum's website, it is

”...the first piece the artist has exhibited since his 2011 retrospective at the Guggenheim...a working toilet cast from gold that has been installed in a bathroom on the museum’s fifth floor.

“Cattelan intends visitors to use the toilet just as they would any other facility in the building.”

Cattelan-America_ph003_870

The artist gave his piece the title, “America”, and explains that

“'...the title came after [the work], and it was a matter of trying to deconstruct the object,' says Catallan. Separately, he said, the title and piece didn’t mean anything. 'Together, it has meaning.' Come spend a little alone time with 'America,' and you can ponder that meaning for yourself.”

More information here.

TOO BIG FOR A BUMPER STICKER

Bumper stickers are a long-time American communications medium – most frequently, I think, for political statements. You see a lot of them during election seasons.

Sometimes, however, a good pithy statement is still too long for a bumper sticker as my friend Jim Stone pointed out about this one so let's give it a day of life on this blog post.

Quotation2

MY WINTER WONDERLAND

It has been more than six years since I last woke to that special kind of hush there is after an overnight snowfall. But that happened Wednesday morning. Here is the first photo I shot in the dark.

Snow 1

It was a big-deal snowstorm which doesn't much happen in this part of Oregon. Depths ranged from three or four inches to more than a foot in some places. About seven or eight inches in my neighborhood.

This was the first snowfall worthy of the name since I moved here in 2010, and I hadn't realized how much I miss a "real" winter storm as in New York and Maine where I lived before. This is what it looked like as I was leaving my apartment.

Snow 2

It was still snowing at that point so I decided to wait before sweeping my walkways but when I suited up to do that, I was amazed to see that some good Samaritan had got there before me and done a beautful job. Here is the gorgeous winter wonderland from another window.

Snow 3

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY

Monday the 16th of January is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. My friend Richard Lombard sent this video a couple of days after the holiday last year so I saved it for this year.

Certainly you know that Lin-Manuel Miranda is the genius behind the ground-breaking and fantastic Broadway show, Hamilton: An American Musical. Manuel attended Hunter College Elementary School in Manhattan when he was a kid and as he explains on the YouTube page:

”Our elementary school music teacher, Barbara Ames, wrote THE BEST Martin Luther King song so that her students would have something to sing in January, in addition to We Shall Overcome.

“It's a crime that the world doesn't know this song. So I put out a call, and over 50 alums spanning 15 years showed up to sing it with me.

“Huge thanks to Arthur 'The Geniuses' Lewis on piano, Lisa Siegmann and Danny San Germano at Hunter, and Jennifer Raab, president of Hunter, for letting us go back home to make this.”

I'm pretty sure you will want to clap along with them. That's Lin-Manuel Miranda in the lower right of the screen giving the introduction.

* * *

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.


The Long, Slow Winding Down of Old Age

Lately, I have made a few choices to do something or not do something because – well, it seems to be connected to my time dwindling down. Or, at least, that's the reason I “think” I am doing and (mostly) no longer doing some things.

That idea has some background in my life. Let me tell you about my great Aunt Edith who was born in 1895.

She left her home in Chicago at age 15 to join a traveling dance troupe.

Edith1911dancer250

A few years later, the troupe left her behind in Portland, Oregon, when she was laid up with pneumonia so she found a job in an office, eventually becoming the manager.

Those of you who live in the Portland area might like to know that in 1923, my great aunt Edith was queen of the Rose Festival. In those days, they were not chosen from high schools but more or less appointed from suggestions made to the Rosarian organization.

Here she is with her “court” from a book, Portland Rose Festival, written by George R. Miller.

QueenEdthandhercourt1023

Until she retired at age 70 in 1965, Aunt Edith worked all her life in various corporate executive positions at a time in history when hardly any women worked out of the home. Here she is at age 68:

Edithage68

In addition, she cared for her ageing and sick parents when they could no longer rely on themselves and she raised her sister's son, my father, from age 10, among other family obligations she took on as need presented itself – and there was plenty. It was always something in my family and Aunt Edith handled it all.

She was my favorite relative.

By the time she retired, I was long gone from Portland, in New York City then, and every week we spent an hour or so on the telephone together discussing cooking, books, the news, politics, telling each other funny stories and we also regularly wrote letters – remember those?

She included her recipes (she called them receipts) in those missives along with New Yorker cartoons and sometimes entire articles clipped from newspapers and magazines.

She knew everything that was going on in the world and had an opinion on all of it in addition to being funny, especially, in her later years, about the minor physical irritations of growing old. She was just great.

By the mid- to late-1970s, the letters still arrived mostly on schedule but they were shorter and there were fewer enclosures. In our phone calls, she didn't have as much to say about world affairs and increasingly repeated the same stories from her childhood in Chicago that I had heard many times.

(Thank god for telephones without video in those days: you could make faces to help yourself get through the one hundredth telling of the story about Fluffy the cat without the speaker knowing how impatient you were being.)

I don't mean to suggest that these changes were sudden. Aunt Edith's disengagement was noticeable in the beginning and it increased only gradually over a decade or more. At one point she said that she had given up reading books because her eyes tired so easily now and she lamented the fact that most of her friends were dead, even many who were younger than she.

When she made a joke about not being able to stand up after scrubbing the kitchen floor on her hands and knees (“Hello, Aunt Edith,” I said. “There is the newfangled thing called a mop with a long handle.”), my brother, who lived in Portland, arranged for a regular house cleaner.

Over time it felt to me as if, perhaps, interest in her own world and in the world at large was diminishing because they were becoming fuzzier, less clear - metaphorically, not physically - and she paid less and less attention.

Her time to leave was coming nearer and she did that in 1984, at age 89 after what was to my eyes, decade long period of preparation, an unwinding if you will, and a letting go of her attachment to the world.

Ever since then, I have believed that if Aunt Edith's “preparation” is not how it happens for everyone who doesn't die suddenly or unexpectedly, it happens to some, maybe quite a lot and without making a big deal of it, I've watched for those signs in myself.

In just the past year or so, there have a few small but, I think, telling changes. Examples:

The 2016 presidential campaign notwithstanding, I watch much less cable news which is to say political news since that is about 90 percent of what those channels cover. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that it has taken me this long to become tired of the repetition (which was around long before Trump) and know that if anything important happens, it will be hard to miss.

Similarly, I have unsubscribed from a large number of news and commentary email newsletters. Again, it is the repetition that has made them irrelevant. Aside from a handful of commentators and columnists I respect and look forward to reading, I don't feel I need to keep up in as much detail as I did during the 40 years that it was my job to know what was going on in every area of news, politics and culture and have continued in the decade since retiring.

This applies too to a lot of reporting and commentary about ageing – I've eliminated about half of what I was reading or, lately, not reading and feeling guilty about it. (There's no more guilt if they don't show up in the inbox.) Ageing news tends to be even more repetitous than political news - if that's possible.

And I'm not proud to say that I've let the frequency of email correspondence with friends decline. It just seems that there is not as much to say as there once was. I get up, I work on the blog, I attend a couple of meetings or lunches each week, I shop, cook, read and sleep. Maybe in my old age my thinking has slowed and I use up all that kind of energy writing TGB. Or not. I don't know. But something has slowed me down.

As much as I find certain technology advances captivating, I have been hesitating for a long time before making new purchases. Most recently (for a year or more) it's the Amazon Echo Dot. I just love it. I read every new report about it and it costs only $49 - that's not a stretch for me. But I still haven't bought one.

There are some other purchases I've put off and may never make because at my age, how much will ever use them seems to be my reason although I can't be certain and it could be, unrelated to usage, that I'm simply in the earliest stages of what we might call, today, great Aunt Edith syndrome.

Not even collectively can a case be made that this list of minor changes represents the early stages of preparing to shuffle off this mortal coil, as they say. But then, maybe they are.

Maybe I am at the very earliest stages of following in Aunt Edith's steps toward the end. I wouldn't mind if that's what I'm doing now because I am going to be big-time pissed off if I die while I'm still interested and curious. I want to feel done with this life when it's time to leave and Aunt Edith's gradual letting go seems to be a good way to make that happen.

I'll update you when/if there's more to say about this.


How Trump Will Get Anything He Wants From Congress

I believe this is important enough to publish on what is usually an “off day” for Time Goes by.

donald_trump

If you have been following the Republican/Democratic discussion over repealing Obamacare, it has become obvious that it is way too complex to replace the ACA than can be done in a week or two.

Nevertheless, on Tuesday that is what Donald Trump demanded: that Congress repeal Obamacare and replace it “within weeks,” as The New York Times reported.

Further from The Times [emphasis is mine]:

"...[Trump] threatened Democrats who might stand in his way, saying he would campaign against them, especially in states that he won in November.

“'I feel that repeal and replace have to be together,” said Trump “for very simply, I think that the Democrats should want to fix Obamacare. They cannot live with it, and they have to go together...'

“'It may not get approved the first time, and it may not get approved the second time, but the Democrats who will try not to approve it will be at risk, warning that 'they have 10 people coming up' for re-election in 2018. That alluded to Democratic senators in states he won.

“'I won some of those states by numbers that nobody has seen. I will be out there campaigning,' he said.”

That is, campaigning against any Democrat who does not vote in line with Trump.

Is there any precedent for this from a president? Dear god, what have we wrought.


News About Old People - 11 January 2017

Here are a few items I want to tell you about that do not quite fit Saturday's Interesting Stuff and are also not big enough or meaty enough for a post of their own. Even so, I think you might be interested in some of them and unlike the Saturday post, these all relate to growing old.

If you like this, I'll do it every now and then. Let me know.

* * *

I'M NOT AGING “WELL” - I'M OLD

As you know, I insist on using the world “old” - there is nothing wrong with it or with being old. It's a perfectly good description of people from about age 60 on.

EricaManfredNot long ago, Senior Planet contributor, Erica Manfred, wrote about how deeply denial of age has wormed its way into our culture:

”People used to think of growing old as part of the natural progression of life from birth to death. Not anymore,” writes Erica. “Now we go directly from middle age to you’re-just-as-old-as-you-feel.
 “Old age” has been dropped from our vocabulary.

“'You’re not old!' people say when I describe myself that way. I’m 74 with an assortment of age-related ailments and a generous complement of sags and wrinkles. If I’m not old, who is?”

Erica wants elders to stop judging one another by how “youthful” we act or look and hurray for her:

“I’m taking a page from Martin Luther King:” she says. “I have a dream that one day elders will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the tautness of their muscles but by the content of their character.”

You can read more of her essay here.

STUDENT LOANS IMPOVERISHING ELDERS

A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reveals that elders (age 60/62 and older) are drowning in student loan debt:

Although most student loan borrowers are young adults between the ages of 18 and 39, consumers age 60 and older are the fastest growing age-segment of the student loan Market.

“This trend is not only the result of borrowers carrying student debt later into life, but also the growing number of parents and grandparents financing their children’s and grandchildren’s college education.”

The details are horrifying, as Huffington Post explains:

”A full 68 percent of older borrowers living in poverty with Social Security garnishment are only seeing their benefit cuts devoted to interest and fees.

“The federal government is profiting from this mess. Every time a debt collector scrapes a Social Security check, the U.S. Treasury Department collects $15.

“'Our government is shoving tens of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities into poverty through garnishment every year ― and charging them $15 every month for the privilege, “ says Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. 'This is predatory and counterproductive.'”

Read the full CFPB report [pdf] here. The Huffpost story is here.

86-YEAR-OLD INTERNATIONAL JEWEL THIEF NABBED

On 13 December 2016, reports The New York Times, 86-year-old Doris Payne

”...was arrested on Tuesday by the police in Dunwoody, an affluent suburb north of Atlanta, after she slipped a Lagos diamond necklace worth nearly $2,000 in her pocket and was stopped by a security guard, according to the Dunwoody police.”

It wasn't the first time. Payne has been stealing jewelry in the capitols of the entire world for 70 years – and getting away with a lot of it. There's even a documentary and a movie about her. Here's the trailer:

Apparently, she's really good at it. You gotta love her, criminal or not. You can watch documentary at YouTube for $3.99.

BEAUTIFUL RURAL RETIREMENT HOME IN JAPAN

In the mountains of Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan, sits an amazing retirement home for two old women.

It was designed by architect Issei Suma who is known for his intriguing buildings. This this structure shaped like five tents that due to the harmonious flow and the design that perfectly combines minimalism with an ecological style.

The building also features a spiral-shaped indoor pool that can be accessed by wheelchair and a common kitchen for both ladies, their caregiver and a cook. The 100 square meter complex is called Jikka. Take a look.

Thank lilalia who blogs at Yum Yum Cafe for this story.

TYPES OF DEMENTIA

If you read only the news media, you would think that Alzheimer's Disease is a synonym for dementia, and that just is not so.

Not long ago, Medical News Today (MNT) published a list with descriptions of types of dementia which typically involve problems with thinking, reasoning, and problem solving:

Alzheimer's
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
Dementia with Lewy bodies
Frontotemporal dementia
Parkinson's disease
Huntington's disease
Mixed dementia
Normal pressure hydrocephalus
Vascular dementia
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

I'll bet that's a longer list than you thought - it's certainly true for me. There is more useful information at MNT.

ELDERS READING MANY MORE BOOKS THAN IN THE PAST

As the Gallup organization announced recently:

”Despite Americans' ability to access more information, social networks, games and media than ever before, as well as the lingering rumors of the book's demise, Americans still say they are reading books.”

According to the Gallup report, the most meaningful reading behavior since 2002 is evident among elders, Americans who are 65 and older.

”Collectively, they are reading more books than the same age group did in 2002. The percentage reading one or more books increased from 68% to 85%, including a four-percentage-point increase in those reading 11 or more, from 33% to 37%.

Here's the chart to go with that information:

BookReadbyAgeGallup

Most readers of all age groups are reading “real” books. Take a look at this chart:

BooksFormatsGallup

You can read more details at the Gallup website.


Call To Action Now: Senate Confirmation Hearings This Week

EDITORIAL NOTE: This is much longer than I intended and that's just how it is today. There's more stuff to know these days than my ability, sometimes, to summarize.

* * *

Remember when I told you last week that it was thousands of telephone calls from voters to Congress that forced House Republicans to reverse their decision to trash the Office of Congressional Ethics?

Too many news outlets reported that it was the president-elect's tweet that made the difference. No, it was not. Most members of Congress agree that it was the deluge of constituent phone calls that forced them to backtrack.

Throughout our coming resistance campaigns, do not forget that. Such is the mindset of our Congressional leaders that their number one concern is not the benefit of the country or its people; it is being re-elected next time.

If you are in the D.C. area and can visit your representative(s), go for it – that impresses them more than anything. But second are live phone calls. They work.

* * *

GOP CONFIRMATION BLITZ
Here we go. As mentioned in that Friday post, the Republicans are going to try to snow everyone into inattention by doing so much at once that no one – Democrats, press, the American public – can keep up. As Politico noted last week:

”Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has personally urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) not to schedule simultaneous hearings on Trump’s selections, warning that such a move would test the new relationship between the two leaders.

“But the GOP ignored the entreaty by scheduling the attorney general, secretary of state, CIA director, education secretary, homeland security chief and transportation secretary all for the same day.”

That would be Wednesday this week, 11 January and the Republicans, as to be expected these days, ignored Schumer. Here are the nominees whose separate hearings are currently scheduled to be held that day:

Nominees

Actually, Jeff Sessions, who is the most controversial of all the nominees so far, is scheduled for a two-day hearing beginning on Tuesday 10 January and all the other nominees should be scheduled for more than one Senate committee session. At the risk of stating the obvious, just how are citizens expected to follow this bum's rush?

Further, most of the background checks and ethics clearances have not been finished. Bad enough but wait, there's more.

KICKER
Here is the kicker to these multiple hearings: The Republicans, in addition to scheduling hearings of five of the most crucial appointments in one day are getting extra help at confusing the country from the president-elect:

On the same day, 11 January, Donald Trump is holding his first open press conference since July 2016. Now what do you think will lead the news on Wednesday and how much short shrift will these nominees get?

OTHER NOMINEE HEARINGS THIS WEEK
In addition to Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, 10 January: Retired Marine General John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security

Thursday, 12 January
Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Wilbur Ross for Secretary of Commerce

1. All the schedules are subject to change at Republican whim

2. Do your homework on these nominees. Track down the arguments for and against each one's confirmation

3. You can start that with the short version at this Washington Post page but go further, Google them and see what you learn.

And here is something worth knowing that I've excerpted from a The New York Times report:

”Donald Trump’s transition team and Senate Republicans are determined to railroad several nominees to his cabinet of billionaires and moguls through to confirmation without fully revealing business interests that could disqualify them, say people both inside and outside government who are working on the transition process.

“This is unprecedented, potentially illegal, and the clearest sign yet of Mr. Trump’s cavalier attitude toward criminal laws preventing federal officials from profiting from public service.”

WHAT WE NEED TO DO
So our job this week is to:
Do our homework on these nominees

Follow the hearings as best we can depending on how much attention the press pays as the president-elect's press conference shuck and jive is the shiniest of shiny object this week

Deluge our senators with phone calls about where we stand about each of the nominees

You might throw in how you feel about cramming this many confirmation hearings into one day, especially one when the president-elect holds a press conference

To prepare for your call, use those scripts in the Indivisible Guide and this page under the header “Calling Script” to help write a script in your own words.

Even with as many conflicts of interest there are with nearly every nominee – all of whom are millionaires, billionaires, insiders or highest level military – I expect all, with the possible exception of Jeff Sessions, to be approved.

We are not going to win everything we resist but maintaining democracy is never-ending work and we are as responsible to do our part as every other age group. And it IS relevant to our lives.

Remember that slogan from the Sixties: The personal is the political. My friend Tony Sarmiento sent a link to the Wikipedia page about that for us.

Call your senators before the vote of the full Senate on these nominees. Wednesday is a good day to do it.

* * *

EXTRA: How the Confirmation Process Works
In case you are wondering how the confirmation process works – first of all it is contained in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Appointments Clause which, a different Wikipedia entry explains:

"...empowers the President of the United States to appoint certain public officials with the 'advice and consent' of the U.S. Senate. This clause also allows lower-level officials to be appointed without the advice and consent process."

ABC News provides us with the best, most succinct description of the process I have read:

1. A nomination is given to the relevant Senate committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee, for example, handles the attorney general nomination.

2. That committee can then hold hearings, vote to move the nomination straight to the Senate floor for a vote or not move on it at all (in which case, the committee effectually kills the nomination).

3. After hearings, the committee votes to report a nomination to the full Senate, requiring a simple majority. It may vote to report the nomination favorably, unfavorably or without recommendation. If a committee sits on an appointment, the full Senate may vote to invoke cloture and move the nomination along.

4. If a nomination clears committee, it moves to the Senate floor for a simple majority vote. Filibusters are not an issue here because Democrats changed Senate rules three years ago to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for most nominations. Supreme Court picks are still subject to filibuster.

Certainly I know that I am asking for a lot. Please keep in mind this new government is not business as usual. These appointments are not normal. And "it" CAN happen here. We must each do our part to prevent it.


ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up in 2016 - Part 2

(You will find Part 1 of Toes Up here.)

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.

* * *

Merle Haggard

MERLE HAGGARD was one of the three or four most important country artists of the last 50 years. He had a huge influence of those who came after him and even on some who preceded him.

He decided to make a career in music when he first heard Johnny Cash play at San Quentin where he was banged up at the time for armed robbery. He turned his life around and country music along with it.

I think he had the finest singing voice in country music. He also wrote many of his songs. It was difficult to come up with one song but I decided on Footlights rather than one of his more famous songs.

The song is about a musician who doesn't always enjoy being onstage the way he used to but doesn't really have a backup plan. Pretty much sums up Merle. (78)

♫ Merle Haggard - Footlights


CARLO MASTRANGELO was an original member of Dion and the Belmonts who had many hits in the fifties and early sixties. He and two classmates formed the Belmonts (named after the street where he lived). Dion DiMucci, also from the same area, later joined and one of the great vocal groups of the era was born. (78)

Kitty Kallen

KITTY KALLEN was a successful singer in the forties, during the war, but more especially just after when her songs hit a nerve with the returning troops and their families.

She sang with all the big bands of the period and her career continued through the fifties and on into the sixties. She began performing as a kid on radio and she never stopped singing. From the fifties is a song I remember of hers, Little Things Mean A Lot. (94)

♫ Kitty Kallen - Little Things Mean A Lot


ROBERT STIGWOOD was an Australian entrepreneur who managed the Bee Gees and Cream. He is also responsible for the films Saturday Night Fever and Grease.

He produced the initial versions of the stage musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita giving Andrew Lloyd Webber his initial success (deep sigh). (81)

Nikolaus Harnoncourt

NIKOLAUS HARNONCOURT was an innovative conductor who was a leader in the use of period instruments in playing baroque and classical music. He also conducted many operas as well.

Nik was trained on the cello and later took up the viola da gamba. He played with, and conducted, pretty much all the great orchestras of the world. Here he plays cello on J.S. Bach's Cello Suite No.1 in G, BWV 1007. The Minuet I & II. (86)

♫ JS Bach - Minuet I & II


PRINCE Nelson was a guitarist, songwriter, singer, performer, record producer and all round strange person. He released a considerable number of albums many of which sold millions of copies. He was one of the most influential musicians of the last 30 years. He wasn't my cup of tea but I'll admit he was a really fine guitar player. (57)

Lonnie Mack

LONNIE MACK was one of the electric guitar masters as well as being a fine blue-eyed soul and country singer. He was an extremely influential guitarist and many who followed paid tribute to him.

He started playing early and was busking on the streets of Aurora, Indiana, before he was a teenager. He began playing professionally when he was 13.

Although generally eschewing big cities, he performed in most of the famous venues and besides his own records, he can be heard on albums of others such as The Doors, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ronnie Hawkins, Albert Collins, Dobie Gray, Arthur Crudup and others.

He can be honored (or blamed) for the development of the rock guitar solo, combining finger picking and power chords. From his fine album "Glad I'm In The Band", this is Let Them Talk. (74)

♫ Lonnie Mack - Let Them Talk


CHIPS MOMAN was a record producer, guitarist and songwriter who was best known for his work at Stax records. Later, he produced records for Elvis, Bobby Womack, Carla Thomas, Willie Nelson and others.

He wrote songs that were hits for Aretha Franklin, Waylon Jennings, James Carr and B.J. Thomas. He also played guitar on most of those records. (79)

David Bowie

DAVID BOWIE was a singer, songwriter, performer, guitarist, actor, producer and many other things as well. He changed the face of popular music several times.

David was taken into the collective hearts and bosoms of the generation who were too young for Elvis, The Beatles and Bob Dylan and they installed him on their own pedestal. I've always thought his music, good as it was, to be rather calculated and ultimately there was always something cold at the centre of even his greatest work.

To give him his due, he refused a knighthood; other British performers should have followed his lead. This is a song that made the charts a couple of times, Space Oddity. Even people unfamiliar with his music will know this one. (69)

♫ David Bowie - Space Oddity


JEAN SHEPARD was a pioneering country music singer and songwriter. She first made the charts (with Ferlin Husky) with A Dear John Letter. They followed that with Forgive Me John where she was trying (unsuccessfully) to get back into John's good books after John's brother gave her the flick.

Jean had many country hits, although fewer than she might have as she didn't follow the country music line and went her own way. She was a fine honky tonk musician when that style was out of favor with the controllers of the genre. (82)

Buckwheat Zydeco

BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO or Stanley Dural to mum and dad, was a zydeco musician who was one of the few of that genre who crossed over to the mainstream charts. This was probably due to his performing English language songs as well as the standard zydeco repertoire.

He played the accordion and was inspired to take up that instrument when he played with the master, Clifton Chenier. Buckwheat played with many musicians over the years, including Eric Clapton, U2, the Boston Pops Orchestra , Willie Nelson, Keith Richards and on and on.

Here he performs the Bob Dylan song, On a Night Like This.

♫ Buckwheat Zydeco - On A Night Like This


EMILE FORD was a musician and singer from Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. Besides singing, he was also a sound engineer and he also invented a system called "Music Minus One" that was the basis for karaoke (deep sigh).

He was responsible for the all-time champion earworm song, What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For? (78)

Glenn Yarbrough

GLENN YARBROUGH was an internationally successful folk, country and pop singer. He started out performing in clubs in Chicago and later moved to Aspen where he started a club called the Limelite where he formed a group that he named, The Limeliters.

They had a number of hits and Glenn went solo and had some more, including The Honey Wind Blows. (86)

♫ Glenn Yarbrough - The Honey Wind Blows


PETER MAXWELL DAVIES was an English classical composer and conductor. He started out writing avant-garde music but later turned his hand to music that people actually liked listening to. He conducted orchestras in Britain, America, Germany and elsewhere. (81)

Sonny James

SONNY JAMES was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, fiddle player and record producer. He had a multi-million selling song in the fifties, that he wrote himself, called Young Love. It was covered by several others at the time.

He was also a bit of an actor appearing with such as Jayne Mansfield, Basil Rathbone, Lon Chaney and others. Like Johnny Cash, he recorded a rather successful live album from a prison, Tennessee State Prison in his case. He also wrote music for several films. Sonny performs his biggest hit. (87)

♫ Sonny James - Young Love


PHIL CHESS, along with his brother Leonard, founded Chess Records, the foremost label for recording blues. Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Robert Lockwood Jr are only a few of the great musicians associated with the label.

Not just blues - Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Etta James all began their careers there as well. (95)

Bobby Vee

BOBBY VEE's career began when he and his band were hastily substituted for Buddy Holly after Buddy's death in the aircraft accident. Soon after they had a regional hit which brought him to the notice of big record companies.

After that he had dozens of Top 100 hits. The hits dried up after the sixties but he kept touring and recording. One of the hits he had, written by Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison, both members of The Crickets (Buddy's band, who weren't on the fateful tour), was More Than I Can Say. (73)

♫ Bobby Vee - More Than I Can Say


Like a lot of singers, SHARON JONES started singing in a choir at her church. She later made a living as a wedding singer. It took her some time to become a real singer, as it were, but when she did, she and her band The Dap-Kings became one of the most exciting acts around.

They recorded a number of albums and toured constantly (quite often to Australia where she was immensely popular). Alas, pancreatic cancer took her far too soon. (60)

HERB HARDESTY was a New Orleans saxophone player who recorded and toured with Fats Domino for nearly 60 years. He also played on other New Orleans artists' records. He played jazz and was a member of several big bands - Duke Ellington and Count Basie most notably. Besides that he played behind Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Dr. John and Tom Waits. (91)

Leon Russell

LEON RUSSELL was the super-star who never was. I saw him in San Francisco in 1970 and expected a meteoric rise in his career. I was wrong. However, he was a fine musician; he played piano and guitar with equal facility, and probably other instruments as well.

While still a teenager he became a session musician for the "Wrecking Crew", the group who played on all of Phil Spector's hits as well as others such as the Beach Boys. He also wrote many songs with which you'd be familiar. This is Leon with one of his songs that B.B. King covered so well, Hummingbird. (74)

♫ Leon Russell - Hummingbird


Also…

PAUL BLEY was a Canadian jazz pianist who one of the notable players in free jazz. (83)

GOGI GRANT had a big hit with The Wayward Wind, and also recorded soundtrack records. (91)

DALE GRIFFIN was a drummer for Mott The Hoople and a record producer. (67)

JOE RIVERS was the "Joe" in the fifties' pop duo Johnnie & Joe. (79)

MADELEINE LEBEAU was a French actress notable for her appearance in the film "Casablanca" leading the crowd in the nightclub singing La Marseillaise. (92)

ROB WASSERMAN was a classically trained violinist and double bass player who turned to jazz and pop. (64)

FRANK SINATRA JR continued in the style of music made famous by his father. (72)

PRINCE BUSTER was a Jamaican musician who was one of the principle developers of ska and rock steady music. (78)

BILLY PAUL was a soul and R & B singer who is most famous for the song Me and Mrs. Jones, and was an outspoken champion of civil rights. (81)

OSCAR BRAND was a Canadian folk singer and had a long running radio program in New York that went for 70 years. (96)

DANIELA DESSÌ was an Italian operatic soprano who performed in all the expected roles. (59)

JIMMY LEVINE was session musician (keyboards) for soul and R & B records. (62)

RICHARD HAMLETT was lead singer for the gospel group The Fairfield Four who modernized the music they recorded. (84)

GIB GUILBEAU was a Cajun, country and rock musician who was a sometime member of The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Swampwater. (78)

CLIFFORD CURRY was a soul singer who had several hits in the sixties and seventies. (79)

KAY STARR was a fifties' pop singer who crossed many genres of music, best known for the song Rock & Roll Waltz. (94)

RAY COLUMBUS was New Zealand's first rock star. He was a singer, band leader and songwriter who had considerable success in his home country as well as Australia and elsewhere. (74)

JIM LOWE was a singer, songwriter and radio host most noted (by me) for the original version of Green Door. (93)

JOE LIGON was the founder and lead singer for the gospel group The Mighty Clouds of Joy. (80)

RALPH JOHNSON was the lead singer for The Impressions after Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield left the group. (67)

ELLIOTT SCHWARTZ was a classical music composer and music professor. (80)

GEORGE MICHAEL began his career as half of the pop duo Wham and later went on to have a very successful solo career as a singer and an advocate for gay rights. (53)

RICK PARFITT was the guitarist, singer and songwriter for the rock group Status Quo who had many hits in the seventies (68)


INTERESTING STUFF – 7 January 2017

HOLLYWEED

What a great New Year's Day prank. Someone in Los Angeles changed the giant Hollywood sign. Take a look:

You can find out about who pulled this off at Buzzfeed.

HOW AMAZON WILL TAKE OVER THE WORLD

In case you think they've already done that, this video from nerdwriter is here to disabuse you of that belief but show you how the company WILL do so.

You can read more about this on the YouTube page.

IN REGARD TO TRUMP'S BELIEF THAT HE'S KNOWS EVERYTHING

Donald Trump regularly tells us how smart he is, how he knows things other people don't know and that he knows how to do everything. TGB reader EmmyJay found this cartoon that takes him down a peg or so.

New yorker Plane Cartoon

A PLANET IN OUR SYSTEM CALLED NIBIRU?

Some scientists believe there is a gigantic planet in our solar system that we cannot see and it might obliterate Earth in October. Take a look:


You can read more about this at the Washington Post.

A LITTLE BOY AND HIS HUGE SHAGGY DOG

Isn't this the happiest thing you've seen all day?

Little-kids-big-dogs-friendship-photography-andy-seliverstoff-18

You can see more photos of this kid and his dog along with other small children and their great big dogs at Bored Panda.

WHEN I DIE

Philip Gould, who was an adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair, a visiting professor in media and politics at the London School of Economics and a member of the House of Lords, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in 2008.

In the summer of 2011 he was given three months to live. This video titled When I Die, made during the last two weeks of his life, “reveals his quest to find meaning in what he called 'The death zone.'

“Gould believed that for the terminally ill and those close to them, there can be moments of joy, resolution and inspiration just as intense as those of fear, discomfort and sadness.”

Thank TGB reader Tom Delmore for this joyful - yes, joyful lesson about both life and death.

CHARLES BLOW'S LAST 2016 COLUMN

Since 2008, Charles Blow has been an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times writing about politics, public opinion and social justice.

His final column for 2016 was titled “Donald Trump, This is Not Normal!” In it, he wrote:

“...the election of Donald Trump poses such a significant — and singular — threat to this country that for me all other issues are unfortunately, temporarily I hope, subsumed by the unshakable sense of impending calamity he presages...

“The next four years could be epochal years in the history of this country. They could test the limits of presidential power and the public’s passivity.

“I happen to believe that history will judge kindly those who continued to shout, from the rooftops, through their own weariness and against the corrosive drift of conformity: This is not normal!”

Yes. But there is so much more to this column that is worthy of your attention. Please take the time to read it all. You can do that here.

WHO DO YOU THINK THIS SINGER IS?

Peter Tibbles, who writes the Sunday Elder Music column here, sent me this audio. Take a listen and see who you think the singer is:

Stardust

If you didn't guess correctly, it is Willie Nelson's son, Lucas. It sent chills down my back, the first time I listened, at how much he sounds just like a young verion of his dad. Here's a video of the same, live performance of Lucas singing Stardust with Red Young on keyboards.

SHIPPING THE INTERNET ARCHIVE TO CANADA

You know the Internet Archive, right? It is a massive and amazing online, digital, searchable library that includes text, audio, video, software and images totaling, at the moment, 279 billion web pages.

One section of it is called the Wayback Machine where you can view images of websites from “wayback” in the past. In fact, you can even see one of TimeGoesBy's first iterations before the photo banner.

Not long ago, Internet Archive founder, Bewster Kahle (who is a true hero of free speech) announced that in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, he is moving a copy of the vast archive to Canada.

Recently, he explained the reasons to host Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

You can read more about the move at Alternet and you can explore the Internet Archive for yourself here.

THE DRONGO BIRD VERSUS THE MEERCATS

Watch the drongo bird of the Kalahari Desert take advantage of the local meerkats. From the BBC:

* * *

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.