Previous month:
January 2017
Next month:
March 2017

Elders: Don't Let Trump Fatigue Stop You

Protests work. We who are old enough learned that first hand back in the 1960s when we stopped a war, helped force through civil rights legislation and made a big leap forward with women's rights. And it's true again in the 20-teens.

In addition to some wins and the growing resistance movement now, you can tell for sure progress is being made when the opposition gets scared enough to threaten criminal action.

Take a look at this map:

Mapstateswithprotestb ills

Republicans in at least 18 state legislatures have introduced bills that would restrict public protests and in some cases, criminalize them. The Hill reports:

”Arizona Republicans have introduced a measure to expand racketeering laws, which target organized crime groups, to include rioting. The bill would allow police officers to arrest and the seize the assets of those who organize protest events...

“One measure in Tennessee goes so far as to give civil immunity to a driver who hits a protester blocking traffic.

“The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Matthew Hill (R), comes after a car hit volunteers helping protesters cross a street in Nashville as they demonstrated against the Trump administration’s orders blocking immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.”

The Washington Post, in publishing a thorough listing of the various legislation to date noted that there are already plenty of laws throughout the U.S. that control public demonstrations:

“Democrats in many of these states are fighting the legislation. They cite existing laws that already make it a crime to block traffic, the possibility of a chilling effect on protests across the political spectrum, and concerns for protesters’ safety in the face of aggressive motorists.”

The Post reporter goes on to describe pending legislation in each of the 18 states. Some examples:

“An Indiana Senate committee recently toned down a bill that would have allowed police to shut down highway protests using 'any means necessary.' The current version allows police to issue fines for such behavior.”

“A Republican lawmaker [in Missouri] has introduced legislation that would make it illegal for protesters to wear masks, robes or other disguises during protests deemed to be illegal.”

“A bill before the Mississippi legislature would make obstruction of traffic a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and a five-year prison sentence.”

“A novel piece of legislation in Oregon would require public community colleges and universities to expel any student convicted of participating in a violent riot.”

None of the 18 bills has become law yet and according to the ACLU, most of them are unconstitutional. Even so, it takes time, money and effort to fight them and to me, the legislation frighteningly exposes how ignorant or dismissive or both of the First Amendment state Republican leaders are. ACLU senior staff attorney, Lee Rowland:

I bring all this to your attention because it is just one of the many overt and sneaky ways the Trump administration and the Republicans - as much in the states as in Congress - are working hard to strip away constitutionally guaranteed rights.

That, and how easy it is for us to succumb to Trump fatigue. With ten new outrageous assaults on our senses every day, it's not hard to throw up our hands and stop reading the news.

Please don't. I know as well as anyone how hard it is for old people to get out and march for several hours. But there is a lot more we can do if we cannot be there in person.

And it must be us, the people, because I didn't see anything on Saturday at the election of the new leadership of the Democratic Party that will correct any of their ineptness.

Michael Moore has some good ideas for us. Here's the first item of his ten point plan:

THE DAILY CALL: You must call Congress every day. Yes – YOU! 202-225-3121. It will take just TWO MINUTES! Make it part of your daily routine, one of those five things you do every morning without even thinking about it:

  1. Wake up
  2. Brush teeth
  3. Walk dog (or stare at cat)
  4. Make coffee
  5. Call Congress

Further, says Moore, and I agree one hundred percent with this important note:

”[I]f you’re saying to yourself, 'I don’t need to call because my rep is a Democrat!' — that is NOT true. They need to hear from you. They need to know they have your support.

“Don’t believe it? Our beloved Sen. Elizabeth Warren voted in favor of Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development! I’m sure no one in Massachusetts thought they had to call her. YOU DO! She and the other Dems need to hear from the boss — YOU! They work for us – and what boss doesn’t have daily contact with his or her employees?”

Moore includes another terrific idea, a smart phone app someone created called 5 Calls that Moore says “...will dial the friggin’ phone for you and give you talking points for when you speak to your reps!”

It's available for both Android and Apple smartphones. I downloaded it and it couldn't be easier. Give it permission to access you location then, each day, there are a dozen or so issues about which you can call your representatives.

It even gives you a good explanation of each issue then shows you a photo of your representative with his/her phone number. Tap it and the phones dials for you.

Michael Moore has a lot of other good ideas in his Ten Things, many of which even we old folks can do.

We can't let protesting get old. We can't allow ourselves to become bored with it. We can't let President Trump wear us down. Our children, grandchildren and our country, need us to fight back as hard as we can.


ELDER MUSIC: Surf Side Ten

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.

* * *

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist suggested the title. She thinks that inflation has taken its toll over the years and instead of six we have 10. That's fortunate, as that's the number of tracks we have today.

In the late fifties and early sixties there was a craze for surf music. Well, this wasn't universal; it was pretty much confined to the east coast of Australia, particularly Sydney, and the west coast of America, particularly Los Angeles.

Pretty much all the music today will come from those two cities, and from that time (with a couple of outliers).

When you hear surf music, pretty much the first name that will come into your brain is the BEACH BOYS.

Beach Boys

Naturally they'd have to be present but selecting a song of theirs is a bit difficult as there so many of them. In the end I decided on one of their early ones, Surfer Girl.

♫ Beach Boys - Surfer Girl


Although they made quite a few records, THE SURFARIS are best known these days for just two of them.

Surfaris

One of them is the instrumental Wipe Out, probably the quintessential surfer tune. The other is the one we're interested in today, Surfer Joe (which was on the flip side of the single of Wipe Out).

If you know the song, the version today might come as a surprise. It's a longer version than was on that record, there are several extra verses.

♫ The Surfaris - Surfer Joe (long version)


BARRY MANN was a songwriter from the time of most of these, usually with his wife Cynthia Weil.

Barry Mann

He recorded some of their songs as well. These were usually rather tongue in cheek (remember Who Put the Bomp?), and this one is no exception. It is Johnny Surfboard.

♫ Barry Mann - Johnny Surfboard


LITTLE PATTIE had a huge hit in Australia when she was only 15 years old. She was the biggest thing in the country at the time (a little irony there, as she's not very tall, under five foot in American measurements, thus the name).

Little Pattie

For those who are into rock & roll trivia, Pattie's name is Patricia Amphlett and she is a cousin of the late great Chrissie Amphlett, head honcho (honcha? honchess?) of The Divinyls.

Anyway, Pattie's song is (takes a deep breath) He's My Blond Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy.

♫ Little Pattie - He s My Blond Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy


After the Beach Boys, JAN & DEAN are the group most synonymous with this music.

Jan & Dean

It's not too surprising as they often sang on Beach Boys' records at the time and vice versa. I listened to quite a bit of their music but I always came back to the obvious song, Surf City. Sounds just like the Beach Boys.

♫ Jan & Dean - Surf City


A lot of surf music was purely instrumental. I've mostly left those out of the mix today but there's one performer who deserves his place in the sun (and the surf).

Some say he invented the genre of surf guitar music. Some may be right. I give you DICK DALE.

Dick Dale

Dick plays several instruments and he claims his style developed because he started out playing the tarabaki, a Lebanese drum.

As a kid he developed his style, a mixture of rhythm and lead playing so he could do everything himself. It was hugely influential on later guitarists.

Dick plays Surf Beat. He once played with a group called The Del-Tones, no relation to the next item.

♫ Dick Dale - Surf Beat


THE DELLTONES formed in Australia back in 1958 and are still going strong (with one original member still present).

The Delltones

They were originally a DooWop group but later morphed into a fully fledged band. Their biggest success was in the sixties where they had several songs up at the pointy end of the charts, and these days they are one the most entertaining live acts around.

One of their hits from back then is Hangin' Five.

The Delltones - Hangin' Five


Just so you won't be bored with all the surfing music (which, I must admit, has caused my eyes to glaze over), here's a bit of change of pace. It's included purely because of the title (and also because the male singer is – or was – an Australian).

The group, really just a duo, is TRUCKSTOP HONEYMOON.

Truckstop Honeymoon

Their song is Couch Surfing with a Family of Six, a song about their family (well, duh).

♫ Truckstop Honeymoon - Couch Surfing with a Family of Six


Okay, you might think that the songs so far aren't very classy, so now we are going to raise the stakes to a considerable degree. This next one could even be classified as classical music. It's about as high class as is possible in this genre.

This is up there with Bach and Mozart. I give you THE TRASHMEN and Surfin' Bird.

The Trashmen

This really is the zenith, the acme, the ne plus ultra of musical culture of the 20th century.

♫ The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird


The final song didn't come from the time period of most of the other songs today. It's quite recent and isn't really in the same genre but it amused me enough to include it. The performer is JIMMY BUFFETT.

Jimmy Buffett

He says that Einstein Was a Surfer. He's not the only one to make that connection; Philip Glass wrote an opera called Einstein on the Beach. I don't think Philip mentions Einstein surfing though, not in the parts I've listened to.

♫ Jimmy Buffett - Einstein Was a Surfer


Einstein


INTERESTING STUFF – 25 February 2017

There is such an abundance this week of “interesting stuff” that I hardly knew where to begin. Here are some of them.

MONOPOLY KILLS THE THIMBLE

Yes, it's true. Last month, four million Monopoly fans voted on which game tokens to keep and which to get rid of:

You can read more about the changes in this classic game here and here.

What's your favorite Monopoly token? I've always liked the top hat.

NEW EARTHLIKE PLANETS DISCOVERED

Astronomers have found a nearby solar system with seven Earth-sized planets, three of which circle their parent star at the right distance for liquid surface water, raising the prospect of life.

This is such exciting news that there are already hundreds of places online to read more about the newly discovered planets. Here is one.

”DEMOCRACY DIES IN DARKNESS”

For half a century or more, my go-to newspaper as been The New York Times and I doubt that will change in whatever lifetime is left to me.

But more frequently in the past year or so, I spend an equal amount of time with the Washington Post and that is attributable to the “new” editor since December 2012, Martin Baron.

If you saw the movie Spotlight, you know who he is and he has so improved the Post journalistically, that it is now about as far a you can get from the dreary little rag it used to be.

This past week, something new turned up on the front page nameplate of the paper. The New York Times has always had its motto: “All the news that's fit to print” and now the Post has added one:

WapoHeader

Did you see that slogan just under the paper's name? “Democracy Dies in Darkness” seems to me to be a perfect choice for our times that will carry well into whatever the future brings.

"WELCOME REFUGEES" BANNER ON STATUE OF LIBERTY

A 3-foot by 20-foot banner reading "Refugees Welcome" was hung last week just below the observation deck of the Statue of Liberty. It happened on the day that the Department of Homeland Security announced expanded immigration enforcement policies.

You can read more about it at Talking Points Memo.

A WEEK WITHOUT TRUMP NEWS

One reason the new president is so ubiquitous is that all other news seemed to have stopped and there is nothing to know unless it involves Trump.

For a week, The New York Times technology columnist, Farhad Manjoo, avoided as much Trump news as possible. Here are some of his observations:

”My point: I wanted to see what I could learn about the modern news media by looking at how thoroughly Mr. Trump had subsumed it," Manjoo wrote. "In one way, my experiment failed: I could find almost no Trump-free part of the press...

“President Trump is inescapable...

“I spent more time on international news sites like the BBC, and searched for subject-specific sites covering topics like science and finance. I consulted social news sites like Digg and Reddit, and occasionally checked Twitter and Facebook, but I often had to furiously scroll past all of the Trump posts...

“During my break from Trump news, I found rich coverage veins that aren’t getting social [media] play. ISIS is retreating across Iraq and Syria. Brazil seems on the verge of chaos. A large ice shelf in Antarctica is close to full break. Scientists may have discovered a new continent submerged under the ocean near Australia...

“In previous media eras, the news was able to find a sensible balance even when huge events were preoccupying the world. Newspapers from World War I and II were filled with stories far afield from the war.

“Today’s newspapers are also full of non-Trump articles, but many of us aren’t reading newspapers anymore. We’re reading Facebook and watching cable, and there, Mr. Trump is all anyone talks about, to the exclusion of almost all else...

“There’s no easy way out of this fix. But as big as Mr. Trump is, he’s not everything — and it’d be nice to find a way for the media ecosystem to recognize that.”

If you're not a subscriber to the Times and you haven't used up your monthly story allocation, you can read all of Farhad Manjoo's article here.

JOHN OLIVER ON PUTIN

It's good to have John Oliver back at his weekly perch on the HBO program, Last Week Tonight. Most recently, he took on the man who appears to be President Donald Trump's new best friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

HOW THE TOILET CHANGED HISTORY

This is a fascinating little documentary on the commode, throne, privy, latrine, potty, whatever you want to call it. It is not as new an invention as you might think and no, it was not invented by Thomas Crapper (isn't that too bad.)

NEW YORK'S RESTAURANT SALT RULING

Just about every time I eat in a restaurant – any kind of restaurant – my bathroom scale shows me two pounds heavier the next morning.

It's not that I overeat in restaurants, it is that everything is salted beyond any reasonable amount that a human should consume in one day, let along one meal. So my body bloats with retained water, although the two pounds are gone by the following morning.

For some time, New York City restaurants have been required by the Department of Health to let customers know when menu items exceed recommended limits of sodium. The restaurant industry sued over that requirement and they lost.

Here is what the medical website STAT reported about that:

”The restaurant industry will have to stay salty about a New York City mandate imposed on high-sodium items on menus. An appeals court has affirmed that the city’s mandate — which requires menus to stick a salt-shaker symbol next to dishes that contain more than a day’s worth of sodium — was legal and well within the limits of the health department’s authority.

“The restaurant industry said that the menu symbols violated their right to free speech and could run the risk of confusing customers.

“The recommended daily limit of sodium is 2,300 mg [less that 1,500 for people 50 and older]. The CDC has estimated that around 90 percent of Americans, both adults and children, take in too much sodium.”

I wish restaurants where I live would let me know on the menu what the sodium amount is.

YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY COMMERCIALS THIS DOG HAS BEEN IN

The Oscars are coming up on Sunday night and as MTV News online told it in a feature story last year, this dog will never win one but he seems to be the smartest dog on television:

”The most talented movie star in America is two and a half feet tall, 7 years old, and 39 pounds. He has brown eyes, a natural black vest and tail, and his pale chest, arms, and legs are dotted with tan freckles. His name is Jumpy.”

Take a look. You'll be amazed at how often you've seen him.

* * *

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.


Do You Want to Know When You Will Die?

That headline is a more interesting question, I think, for people of the general age (50- or 60-plus) who read this blog than younger people. As it turns out, two new studies released just this week has some answers.

One involved face-to-face interviews with 1,016 adults living in Germany. The other featured similar interviews with 1,002 adults living in Spain. As reported in Pacific Standard,

”Asked if they would want to have an exact time stamp on their eventual death, 87.7 percent of Germans said no. Only 4.2 percent said yes, while 8.2 percent were uncertain.

“A similar percentage, 87.3 percent, did not want to know the cause of their death...

“Spanish participants'...answers on the negative news items were very similar to those of the Germans.”

In announcing the publication of the study, lead author, Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin wrote that “deliberate ignorance” is a “widespread state of mind” and

”...was more likely the nearer the event. For example, older adults were less likely than younger adults to want to know when they or their partner would die, and the the cause of death.”

That makes sense to me. Until 40 or so, most of us believe we are immortal so the idea of one's own death is mainly hypothetical. At my age now, nearly 76, death has become very real and recently, I find Gigerenzer's “deliberate ignorance” a state of mind I'm clinging to for - well, dear life.

Since mid-November, a mystery malady has been plaguing me. His disinterest in the many symptoms led me to fire my previous physician and I found a new one I like better. There is no obvious diagnosis so since late December, I have been undergoing the many tests he has arranged for me.

Medtests3

About once a week, sometimes twice, I drive to the giant medical center he is associated with for a screening – sometimes for blood, other times for x-rays of this or that body part and this week a bone scan.

These are not just to track down what my malady might be. It is also that because I've spent the greater part of my life avoiding doctors and most medical tests, the new doc wants a baseline for future reference.

I can't argue with that but here's the problem: I'm just about the best example you're ever going to find of Gigerenzer's “deliberate ignorance.”

In our brave new world of electronic medical records, I can find out the results of the tests almost by the time I drive home. And when that doesn't happen, they are posted by the next day when an email alerts me to their availability. It never fails – except -

Except once. And that's where my “deliberate ignorance” kicks in, leaving me now gasping in fear when I allow myself to think about that exception.

Every result so far has been in the healthy range of whatever was being tested. I've been incredibly lucky that way all my life.

But for all that good news, there was this: no email and nothing posted to my online medical records after the CT scan of my lungs for cancer two weeks ago. It's not that I've missed it. I check for it every morning.

Let's see if I can explain the emotion of this. With no posted results, I can live in (supposedly) happy “deliberate ignorance.” But not really. I smoked for many decades and three relatives died of various cancers so this test is more fraught that simple blood draws.

The question rolls around in my head: What could that anomalous missing report mean?

As my thinking goes, there must be something so terribly wrong with that CT scan that they don't want to cause a heart attack by having me read it at home alone.

I could email or phone the doctor but as much as this is eating at me, I also don't want to hear terrible news. So I wait and worry trying to be happy in my “deliberate ignorance” until my next scheduled doctor appointment in early March - which, given these circumstances I would rather skip so to remain in my "deliberate ignorance."

I'm fully aware that there could be other reasons for not posting scan results (although I can't figure what they would be). That doesn't help. And I am equally aware that my fear of a deadly diagnosis is not in keeping with my genuine relief at living in a state with an assisted suicide law, as we've discussed in these pages.

Inconsistency, thy name is human.

My uneasiness in this circumstance is not unique and the growing sophistication of medical tests and diagnoses will soon leave many more patients in similarly difficult emotional places at much younger ages, as the researchers note:

”...gene-based medicine 'will put more and more people into situations where they have to decide whether they want to know future health issues.'”

The reporter of the Pacific Standard story explained further:

”In the not-too-distant future, we’ll be able to discover whether we are prone to a variety of diseases. Knowing such information could help us make major life decisions in an informed, thoughtful way.

“But we can only take advantage of this information if we can...emotionally handle the knowledge of when and how we are likely to die. And when that subject is broached, our impulse seems to be to run as fast as we can in the other direction.”

Yup. That is exactly what I'm going through right now – terrified of a bad diagnosis that will turn me into a professional patient. I've been afraid of that for as long as I can remember.

The full study, co-authored by Rocio Garcia-Tetamero of the University of Granada, is available online in the Psychological Review. [pdf]


Elder Use of Marijuana

[DISCLOSURE: I've been smoking pot recreationally since I was in high school with no ill effects I can see. I don't do so often nowadays because in my old age, it makes me cough too much. I haven't gotten around to trying the new edibles that are available here, but I will in time.]

Marijuana

One of the most common afflictions that comes with old age is pain – from arthritis to cancer to neuropathy to back and neck pain to those random aches and pains that come and go and seem to have no known cause.

For many, pain is almost a definition of growing old and these days, increasing numbers of elders are using cannabis (also known as pot, weed, reefer, maryjane, etc.) to treat their pain. As UPI reported in January,

”A new report has found that cannabis use by people over age 50 has increased significantly and outpaced growth across all other age groups.

“The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that in 2000, 1 percent of Americans over 50 had used cannabis within the past year, but by 2012, that number had increased to 3.9 percent.”

In January of this year, The University of Iowa published a study looking into this increased use:

"'Some older persons have responded to changing social and legal environments, and are increasingly likely to take cannabis recreationally,' Brian Kaskie, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Iowa College of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in a press release [according to the same UPI story].

"'Other older persons are experiencing age-related health care needs and some take cannabis for symptom management, as recommended by a medical doctor.'

“...The study participants were more likely to have started using cannabis before the age of 30 and many before age 18.”

Twenty-eight states now allow limited use of marijuana for medical purposes and a half a dozen others, including my state, Oregon, allow unrestricted use of marijuana by adults. It is sold in licensed dispensaries not dissimilar to liquor stores in many states.

And now marijuana is being used in some nursing homes even in states that have not approved its use. From The New York Times:

”At the Hebrew Home in the Bronx, the medical marijuana program was years in the making. Daniel Reingold, the president and chief executive of RiverSpring Health, which operates the home, said he saw its powers firsthand when his own father, Jacob, was dying from cancer in 1999.

“To ease his father’s pain, Mr. Reingold boiled marijuana into a murky brown tea. His father loved it, and was soon laughing and eating again.

“'The only relief he got in those last two weeks was the tea,' Mr. Reingold said.

“When Mr. Reingold requested approval from the nursing home’s board members, there were no objections or concerns, he said. Instead, they joked that they would have to increase the food budget.”

The Times also reports that because federal law prohibits use of marijuana, the Hebrew Home complies with that law and although they recommend and monitor its use, “residents are responsible for buying, storing and administering it themselves.”

The University of Iowa study is titled "The Increasing Use of Cannabis Among Older Americans: A Public Health Crisis or Viable Policy Alternative?" As Science Daily reports:

"The article also focuses on the misuse and abuse of cannabis. It then explores two other prominent public health issues - the misuse of prescription medications and the under-treatment of pain at the end of life - and considers how cannabis substitution may be a viable policy alternative to combating these problems.”

Given the reports of runaway opioid addiction in the United States, this sounds like a good idea to me. The New York Times again discussing a resident at the Hebrew Home:

"Marcia Dunetz, 80, a retired art teacher who has Parkinson’s, said she worried at first about what people would think. 'It’s got a stigma,' she said. 'People don’t really believe you’re not really getting high if you take it.'

“But she decided to try it anyway. Now, she no longer wakes up with headaches and feels less dizzy and nauseated. Her legs also do not freeze up as often.

“For [another resident], Ms. Brunn, the marijuana pills have worked so well that she has cut back on her other pain medication, morphine.”

And so what if, in addition to symptom management, users do get high? Why would anyone care.

All this movement toward cannabis legalization in more than half the U.S. states could be rolled back under the new administration and Congress in Washington.

Although President Donald Trump said during the campaign that he did not object to medical marijuana, so far he has reversed himself on almost every campaign promise.

Plus, both the new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and the new secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, have long records of opposing legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.

Without stretching one's imagination too far and with the growing use of cannabis by elders to control age-related conditions and diseases, any attempt by the federal government to remove or limit its use could be seen as withholding medication from sick and dying elders.


A Thank You. Presidents' Day. And More

Does anyone else have trouble tracking federal holidays after retiring? Sure, I have no problem with Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and the other big ones. But today, Presidents' Day, regularly escapes me.

One consequence is that I told at least one winner of Norm Jenson's book, Mostly Anecdotal: Stories, that I would put it in the mail today. Well, not so fast. No open post office today. So I will send them off tomorrow.

More on the holiday in a moment but first:

Thank-youC

A BIG THANK YOU, TGB READERS
Yesterday ended the week-long, annual donation drive for Time Goes By and it was a resounding success. Like last year, I am dismayed at your generosity and there are so many of you that it's impossible to thank you individually.

So I must do it collectively here.

It was terrific to read the personal notes some of you included with your donations and I enjoyed seeing so many names from so many different places – worldwide – that are new to me. Apparently a whole lot of you read TGB and never comment.

Nothing wrong with that – I do it all over the internet - but it is still a load of fun to see all the new-to-me names.

So thank you all - those who donated and every one of you who didn't too. The community we have created here is unique among blogs and you, the readers did that by paying attention, sharing your information, your knowledge and your opinions that make the comments so rich and thoughtful and fun to read every day.

SOME SAD NEWS
A TGB reader emailed a few days ago to tell me that Diane Schmidley of Schmidleysscribbling blog suffered a stroke, as her daughter explained on Diane's blog.

“This is Diane’s daughter. Mom has had a stroke and is in ICU at the hospital. If anyone reads this, please get the word out and keep her in your prayers. Thank you.”

On Saturday, her daughter posted again that Diane had been moved to the Acute Stroke Unit and further updated:

”She is at George Washington University Hospital in the District of Columbia if anyone is wanting to send flowers, and I can take cards to her. My postal address is: Connie Nystrom, P.O. Box 368, Rixeyville, VA 22737.”

Diane's name has often turned up here in the comments for many years. Of course, she is on our minds with prayers for a fast recovery.

PRESIDENTS' DAY – SOME THOUGHTS
The two-year mark since Donald Trump announced he was running for president of the United States is fast approaching. For a long time it was a joke to most Americans – me too.

No more and to way understate it, we now live in a world that is more uncertain that at any time, I think, during our long lives.

As a result of this new political circumstance, something in me has changed. Never much of a patriot, I took our system, our liberty and freedoms for granted. Not anymore.

Khizr-khan-us-constitution680

Maybe it started for me with Khizr Kahn holding up his little copy of the American Constitution at the Democratic Convention in July. It's not that I haven't read it many times – I own several copies and I sometimes carry a small, portable one with me to read in odd moments.

But during the campaign, my feelings about it expanded into a much greater devotion to the freedoms it grants us that I had before. I have a strong sense, now that it is under attack, that I am responsible for it, that I must be part of doing what is necessary to protect the provisions that created this unique government that is - as we learned to say in school - of, by and for the people. The people.

I wonder if any of that has happened to you.

Among our 45 presidents, a few were great, some might be better forgotten and the majority did pretty well with the times they governed through. So for Presidents' Day, I looked around the internet for some pictures of how they lived in their time.

I found a page of photographs of some president's private homes now preserved as museums. I particularly like the interior shots. Here are a few – take a look at this one, the library in President Harry Truman's home in Independence, Missouri:

TrumanLibraryIndependence

This is the dining room and tea parlor in Monticello, President Thomas Jefferson's home:

Jeffersonsdiningroom

The music room in President George Washington's Mt. Vernon home.

MusicroomatWashtingtn'smtvernon

Let's have one more – President Franklin D. Roosevelt's office at Springwood in Hyde Park, New York.

FDR DESK

There are about 25 more presidential home photos at Business Insider. (You need to cancel your adblocker, if you have one, to see them.)


ELDER MUSIC: A Fifth of Classical Gas


FINAL DAY OF THE 2017 TGB DONATION DRIVE
At last, you have reached the final day of the 2017 TGB donation drive. If you don't know what that is, you can find out details in last Monday's post. If you have donated, a great big thank you. If you would like to donate, use the button below or in the right sidebar.

And if you don't want to donate, that's good too. Just scroll on down to today's post.

* * *

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

* * *

Continuing this series of columns (originally named by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist) to highlight lesser known composers who are seldom heard on radio or in concert, although some of the music today may be familiar to many of you.

JOHANN GEORG KNECHTEL was a horn player (what we call the French horn these days) in Dresden in the mid 1700s. Jo doesn't seem to have had his photo taken, so no picture for him.

He was principal horn player in the court of Dresden at the time and he wrote many works for the instrument. Alas, few remain as many of his manuscripts were destroyed during the egregious firebombing of the city during the war.

Here is the first movement of his Concerto for horn in D major, with the best French horn player from the last 50 years, BARRY TUCKWELL, doing the honors on the instrument.

Barry Tuckwell

♫ Knechtel - Concerto for horn in D major (1)


Felix always contended that his sister FANNY MENDELSSOHN was a better musician and composer than he was (and that's a big call).

Fanny Mendelssohn

Alas, given the mores of the time, it wasn't the done thing for a woman to earn a living doing that sort of thing. However, with the love and support of both her brother and husband, the artist Wilhelm Hensel, Fanny managed to play (a little) and compose (a lot of) music, and even had some published in her lifetime (under Felix's name mostly).

She did manage to get some out under her own name at the time (a lot more now). There are 460 compositions of hers that are known, and are increasingly becoming part of the musical performing repertoire. She and Felix both died of complications due to massive strokes only six months apart. They were both too young.

Her string quartets are far in advance of any at the time, including her brother's, and even today are somewhat challenging. I had one pencilled in, but sorry, I changed my mind and have gone instead for the third movement of the Piano Trio in D Minor Opus 11.

♫ Fanny Mendelssohn - Piano Trio D-Minor Op. 11 (3)


LOUIS SPOHR was a German composer, violinist and conductor.

Louis Spohr

Besides that, all the violinists since his time are indebted to him because he invented the violin chin rest. It seems such an obvious thing but nobody came up with it until Louis did so.

Aside from that, he was a really prolific composer and his compositions are really worth listening to. One of those is the sixth movement of the Nocturne for Winds and Turkish Band in C-major, Op.34. Turkish themes were all the rage back then, even Mozart did some in that vein.

♫ Spohr - Nocturne for Winds and Turkish Band in C-major, Op.34 (6)


Many of you, perhaps most, would know the name BERNARD HERRMANN, especially the film buffs amongst us.

Bernard Herrmann

Bernie was a major writer of film scores, most notably for those of Alfred Hitchcock. Not just Hitch's films, he also wrote the music for Orson Welles' films likeCitizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons and so on. Lots of others, more than 50 in total.

However, he's here today because he also wrote what those inclined in that direction like to call serious music – a symphony, concerto, sonatas etc. One of his compositions was called The Fantasticks, not to be confused with the musical with the same name (he did it first).

This was a piece of music that charted the months of the year. Unfortunately, he only got as far as May and the rest didn't see light of day. That's okay as April is really good (I'm sure April birthday people would applaud that, particularly Ronni, my sister and the A.M.).

Here it is with GILLIAN HUMPHREYS singing the part.

Gillian Humphreys

♫ Hermmann - The Fantasticks April


There's a theme to the remaining tracks, and theme is a singularly appropriate word as you'll see and hear.

ARAM KHACHATURIAN was born in Armenia in 1903. Thus for much of his life he was a citizen of the U.S.S.R.

Aram Khachaturian

He held high positions in the Union of Soviet Composers. Then he was officially denounced as a "formalist" (whatever that is – "anti-people" was the official reason) along with Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Later he was reinstated. A bit of a yoyo existence being a Russian composer of that time.

Anyway, he wrote music for a ballet called Spartacus. I assume Kirk Douglas wasn't in that one. The movement called Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia may be familiar to people who are long time watchers of BBC TV drama programs, and I'm thinking specifically of The Onedin Line.

♫ Khachaturian - Spartacus ~ Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia


Australian readers will need no introduction to the next piece by RONALD HANMER. It's called Pastorale.

Ronald Hanmer

The rest of the world probably does though. However, I can hear the Oz readers saying, "What are you talking about?" When I say this was the theme to "Blue Hills, I can already hear them going dar dar dar dar dar dar dar dar dar dum dum dum dum.

For the rest of the world, Blue Hills was a long-running radio serial that was broadcast from 1949 to 1976.

Ron was an English composer who eventually settled in Oz in 1975 and he really had no idea the impact his composition had on my country before then.

♫ Ronald Hanmer - Pastorale


CHARLES-FRANÇOIS GOUNOD is probably mostly remembered these days for his opera Faust.

 Charles-Francois Gounod

However, there was a lot more to Charlie than that. He wrote more than a dozen other operas, motets, masses, ballets, lots of songs and the usual symphonies, concertos and so on.

One of the "so on" is a piece called Funeral March of a Marionette. I probably only have to say the words Alfred Hitchcock and you'll know this piece of music.

♫ Gounod - Funeral March of a Marionette


FRANCISCO TÁRREGA was a Spanish composer and guitarist of the 19th century.

 Francisco Tarrega

As a guitarist, he probably did more than anyone to bring the instrument into the classical canon. He also wrote music for it.

Probably his most famous work is Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra). Today it's played by Eduardo Fernández.

Although not its theme, it was included in the film Sideways, which managed to bump up the price of pinot noir and reduce the price of merlot. Swings and roundabouts, I suppose.

♫ Tarrega - Recuerdos de la Alhambra


SERGEI RACHMANINOV (or Rachmaninoff) was a Russian composer who left the country when the Bolsheviks came to power. He spent the rest of his life in America.

Sergei Rachmaninoff

He was an excellent pianist and many of his compositions feature that instrument. People who have seen the film Shine will remember the "Rach 3", that is, his piano concerto no 3. That's not one I like at all, but his Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor is a particular favorite.

Here is the second movement. For lovers of old films, this was used extensively in Brief Encounter.

Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 2 C Minor (2)



INTERESTING STUFF – 18 February 2017


TIME GOES BY 2016 DONATION WEEK REMINDER
It's almost over – just one more day of the annual TGB donation week. If you have been AWOL this week, you can learn more here. If you have donated, I thank you. If you have not, that's fine too.

If you do want to help support the work that goes into this blog, click the Donate link just below. If not, nothing will change for you here and you can just scroll down for today's Interesting Stuff.

* * *

NOTE: It is getting harder to find non-Trump-related items for this Saturday post. I'm sure the explanation has something to do with Trump fatigue that increasing numbers of people are writing about.

With that caveat, I've done my best this week to make the list as interesting as possible. Like everyone, I have not yet adapted to this new Trump world. Please bear with me.

ELDERS PROTESTING THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

Fifty women in the 80s, 90s and 100s, took part in the women's march without leaving their Seacrest Village retirement home in Encinas, California. And it wasn't a one time thing for them. Now they spend their time writing their representatives:

“'You can’t leave it up to someone else,' said Bertha Fox, 91, who raised four sons in Los Angeles and dedicated much of her life to volunteering,” reported KPBS News. “'If something is important, you have to do it.'

“They have witnessed a lifetime of historic protests and movements, from Civil Rights and anti-war to abortion and labor rights. Some of the women, including Appleby, have done a lot of marching through the decades.

“'In college I was for solidarity and I came home and I thought my father was going to throw me out of the house,' said Appleby, who also marched for union rights in the 60s, and Roe v. Wade in the 70s.

“Immigration is also on the mind of Rudolph, who said she can’t stop thinking about the uncertain future of Syrian refugees. The crisis echoes the Holocaust, she said. 'There’s no place for them to go in this world,' Rudolph said. 'My God, it just brought it all back.'”

Watch the entire video report frm KPBS-TV and thank Darlene Costner for letting us know about this. We should all be working this hard to resist.

You can read more about these women here.

WALL STREET JOURNAL CLOSES GOOGLE HACK

The Wall Street Journal for many years has had a tighter paid firewall online than many mainstream newspapers but there was a way around which I've sometimes mentioned to you.

If you landed ona WSJ page where most of the story was grayed out, you could copy the headline into Google search and the resulting link would take you to the full, readable article. No more. They turned it off last Monday:

The Journal tested turning off the feature with 40 percent of its audience last year. But the eye-popping moment was when the Journal turned it for off four sections for two weeks, resulting in a dramatic 86 percent jump in subscriptions. The Journal said the full turnoff is a test, but didn’t say how long it would last, reported Digiday.

I'll miss the hack but I can't afford to subscribe to everything I want to read. I'm at my limit now. You can read more here.

WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED TODAY

It's only about three weeks old but Matt Kiser's new blog is already wildly popular. As Poynter explains:

WTFheader

”The concept of his blog was pretty simple: Matt simply wanted to log what he called 'the daily shock and awe in Trump’s America' and make it easy for others to consume.”

He's right that it's hard to keep up these days and to help us out, Kiser spends six hours a day on the blog in addition to his paid job. He explains further:

”There was no grand plan or vision. I'm winging it here. I kind of made a blog, shared it on Facebook, and then it went nuts. Like many, I'm a news junkie, and I was having a difficult time keeping up with the cadence of news coming out of the White House...”

Read more about Matt at Poynter and check out his WTF blog here.

LAUGHING TOGETHER ON THE METRO IN BELGIUM

Let's break up today's list with good laugh. It's a letdown to find out at the end that it's just a Coca Cola commercial but until that's revealed I had fine ol' time laughing at people laughing together.

NO BABIES ARE ILLEGITIMATE

How is it that some idiots don't know that? A bill currently in the state legislature of Tennessee would, if passed, make children born by artificial insemination illegitimate.

”The text of the new bill,” reports Raw Story, “says it immediately 'repeals statute that deems a child born to a married woman as a result of artificial insemination, with consent of the married woman’s husband, to be the legitimate child of the husband and wife.'”

I have no idea what it means in day-to-day life for a child to be named “illegitimate” but it doesn't sound good. You can read more here and here.

THE DEPARTMENT OF SO GLAD I'M RETIRED

Big brother is getting smarter and watching workers more closely than ever before. Technology Review reports

”...that an increasing number of companies are outfitting offices with sensors to keep track of employees. These sensors are hidden in lights, on walls, under desks—anywhere that allows them to measure things like where people are and how much they are talking or moving.

Among many other things, the surveillance can track keystrokes, card swipes and what software employees are using on their computers. Or

”...maybe an employee looks at a lot of sensitive data and schedules a large number of external meetings, so the system flags them as a potential security risk. These are, after all, the problems that keep senior management awake at night.”

“Of course, the such schemes can also be read as creepy, Big Brother-style surveillance.”

Ya think? How far, I wonder, will surveillance go in the future. You can read more here.

KEITH OLBERMANN: TRUMP'S WAR ON IMMIGRANTS

Former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has been holding forth on GQ's YouTube channel since early in the election cycle and he continues now. I hesitate to post his monologues sometimes due to how hyperbolic he can get but even so, he is smart, politically observant and his arguments are cogent.

Here he is a couple of days ago on how Trump's “deportation obsession” will help cripple our economy.

HOW CABINET SECRETARIES ARE VETTED

Thank Elder Music columnist Peter Tibbles for this:

NonSeqiterCartoon

HELPING A MOOSE STUCK IN THE ICE

Did I ever tell you my moose story? During my first month living in Maine, I looked out the window and saw a moost sauntering down the street. He strolled up a driveway across the street, strolled back down, walked a bit further and turned the corner.

Moose are weird looking – prehistoric. And I had no idea if a moose on a city street was an event or if it happened all the time. The photo on the front page of the morning newpaper the next confirmed that it was an event and it's one I never forgot.

Here's another moose story. As the Youtube page explains:

”...we saw the moose make several attempts at getting out of the water, but it could neither get up nor break the ice to get into shore. My partner, Sigrid Sjösteen, eagerly started to chop a pathway to shallower water, where it could reach the bottom and get out.

“We took turns chopping for about 30 minutes before the moose was out of danger.”

Here's how the moose good Samaritans did it:

* * *

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.


Elders, Stress and the U.S. Government

There is a lot to do today so let's start with the winners of the drawing for Norm Jenson's book, Mostly Anecdotal: Stories that we told you about on Wednesday. May I have a drum roll please.

And the winners are:

Estelle D
Linda
Diane

Congratulations to you all. What the three of you need to do now, is email me (use the "Contact" link at the top of the page and send me your snailmail address. I'll then get the books off to you forthwith.

Next:

TIME GOES BY 2016 DONATION WEEK REMINDER
Only two more days until this TGB donation drive for 2017 is done. You can read the details of what it is about on Monday's post.

If you have already donated, thank you – it is much appreciated. If you haven't done so and would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

ELDERS, STRESS AND THE U.S. GOVERNMENT

Stress

When even The American Institute of Stress can't define what stress is, you know you're in trouble:

“Stress is not a useful term for scientists because it is such a highly subjective phenomenon that it defies definition.”

[Eight opaque paragraphs later:]

“While everyone can’t agree on a definition of stress, all of our experimental and clinical research confirms that the sense of having little or no control is always distressful – and that’s what stress is all about.”

Uh-huh - stress is distressful. That is what is called a tautology – defining a word by using the same word.

MedicineNet is a bit more helpful: “a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension” but a note on a different page of that website is better:

”Due to the overabundance of stress in our modern lives, we usually think of stress as a negative experience, but from a biological point of view, stress can be a neutral, negative, or positive experience.”

If I've ever read anything about neutral or positive stress, I don't recall, but it confirms for me that sometimes stress is a good thing. In my career, for example, deadlines had me gritting my teeth but without them I would probably never have finished editing a story or video nor would my work have been as good.

Except for that one Medicinenet reference, all I ever see is how dangerous stress is. Here is one more definition of negative stress, from an article at Medical News Today, that makes the most sense to me:

”We generally use the word 'stress' when we feel that everything seems to have become too much - we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us.”

What's important about that definition and my intro to it (“makes most sense to me”) is that stress – whatever it is or isn't – is individual. You might sail through a situation that leaves me a puddle on the floor. Or vice versa.

According to my cursory reading on stress, it is brought about in elders by such factors as financial hardship, physical decline, healthcare changes, loneliness and there are many, many other “smaller” stressers. Whatever the cause, the effects on our bodies are profound and dangerous to our health. Here is a partial list of stress responses:

Anger
Anxiety
Burnout
Depression
Fatigue
Feeling of insecurity
Forgetfulness
Headache
Heart disease
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Irritability
Lower immunity against diseases
Muscular aches
Nail biting
Nervous twitches
Pins and needles
Problem concentrating
Restlessness
Sadness
Sleeping difficulties

What brought up all this rumination on stress is that since election day, I've felt more worry, fear, anxiety and most of all, helplessness, than I can ever recall. Every day, all the time – and it is not related only to the president. It's the Republican Congress too.

Voucherize Medicare? Privatize Social Security? Repeal Obamacare? And those are almost incidental when you hear this from a White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller:

Let's repeat the most important part of his statement:

“...the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial, and will not be questioned."

Does that not chill you to the bone? And what can I, personally, possibly do to counter this most recent, terrifying turn toward autocratic rule in the United States?

Not much that I can see but it eats at me every day. Sometimes I can barely breathe and with each new move toward the right by the government, I am more frightened – read: stressed – and I'm not alone.

Here are some of the suggestions from the medical community for dealing with stress:

Meditation
Exercise
Good nutrition
Relaxation techniques
Cut down on caffeine
Talk with friends
Keep breathing

It is one thing if the sources of stress are from our own lives. In that case, those suggestions are useful. But what if the source of stress is your government? And what if the people comparing the Trump government to 1930's Germany are not hysterics?

So much for a quiet, fulfilling retirement. Breathe, everyone. Breathe.


Mostly Anecdotal: Stories – Book and Contest


TIME GOES BY 2017 DONATION WEEK REMINDER
The second annual donations drive to help support the increasing costs of maintaining Time Goes By continues today. You can read the details on Monday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB online and the email subscription will always be advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes into this website, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

MOSTLY ANECDOTAL: STORIES - BOOK AND CONTEST
New-ish readers of TGB might not know that for eight-and-a-half years, from 2007 to November 2015, there was a companion blog to Time Goes By called The Elder Storytelling Place.

I didn't write for “ESP”, other people did that and I published their stories. Many wonderful stories, more than 2100 of them over that time. You can still see the blog and all those stories anytime you want – there is a link in the right sidebar under the Features section.

BZCApP2L_400x400Now we have something really special - a book from one of the regular contributors to The Elder Storytelling Place titled Mostly Anecdotal: Stories from author Norm Jenson.

What Norm does in his stories is report his observations of everyday life, reporting the telling details you and I might not have appreciated even as we recognize the incidents he writes about from our own lives.

Norm notices the little things too many people miss – or dismiss – and turns them into charming, funny, insightful short stories.

And I do mean short. Short is his signature style and to show you, I'm going to print a story or two or three from Mostly Anecdotal. This one is titled “Spring.”

”I was sitting on a park bench, a gentle bit of gravity holding me in place, when I heard a robin singing, an American idol.

“He sang his song, hitting all the right notes, and while I saw other birds and heard other songs, it was his that nested in my heart.

“A start. A gentle breeze unaffected by my bit of gravity passed by, and the sun, perched upon my shoulder, shared its warmth.”

They may be short, Norm's stories, but they speak in that small way of our whole world. Here's one of my favorites titled “No Ugly Chicks.”

”He was a shoeshine guy. He was old and wore a baseball cap with 'No Ugly Chicks' embroidered on the front and from below the brim poked his bulbous nose, red and black veins crisscrossing ample sun-scorched terrain.

“His squinting eyes, like tiny black olives with pinpoints of gray, looked satisfied. No chin, no teeth, and Dumbo ears would make anyone wonder why.

“'No Ugly Chicks', I said, raising my eyes to his cap.

“He smiled his toothless grin and said, 'Nope.'”

Lovely, huh?”

Most of the funny stories are too long to quote and snippets don't work well with humor. But we can do one more that shows Norm's shockingly (wonderful) dark humor. Titled “Missed.”

”A rare warbler sits on a branch, noticed by no one. Nearby, wallowing in the dirt, is a bison.

“The arriving birders, chatting but not yet listening, may miss this particular warbler for he is far from home and unexpected. He's singing, 'sweeter, sweeter, sweetest,' but they don't hear him.

“They see a water thrush near the pond. They are attentive now, watching carefully and listening, but the warbler is no long singing.

“John sees the bison, weighing maybe more than a ton, and he sees the unknown warbler, weighing certainly less than an ounce. It is still on the branch, but his view is obscured. He needs to closer.

“Others warn him of the danger, but he sees only the bird.

“By the time John's body is removed, it is dark. The bird has departed, continuing its migration. Both will be missed.”

There are 72 stories in this collection, stories - which Norm defines, in the introduction, as a catchall word for creative non-fiction, flash fiction, prose poetry and memoir.

”I've tried to capture the interesting bits and pieces of life as I see it,” he continues. “I find it's all interesting, if you pay attention.”

In Norm's telling, it IS all interesting. Mostly Anecdotal: Stories is available at Amazon in both Kindle and soft cover editions. But have I got a deal for you: Norm has made three copies available to give away to TGB readers.

As in past giveaway contests, we will do a random drawing. Here's how it goes:

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

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

The contest will close tomorrow night, 16 February 2017, at midnight U.S. Pacific standard time. The three winners will be chosen in a random, electronic drawing and their names will be announced on this blog on Friday 17 February 2017.

Meanwhile, Norm can be found online at his blog, also called Mostly Anecdotal, on Twitter and on Facebook.


Happy Valentine's Day and Update on the Retirement Fiduciary Rule


TIME GOES BY 2016 DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day two of the 2017 TGB donation drive to help support the increasing costs of maintaining Time Goes By. You can read the details on Monday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

Remember when I told you last week that President Donald Trump has signed a memorandum asking the Department of Labor to review President Barack Obama's regulation, the fiduciary rule, that requires investment advisers to put clients' interests above their own when giving advice on retirement accounts.

A reversal of the regulation would do away with the requirement of, basically, honesty.

Last week, in a directly related case seeking to roll back the regulation, brought by the investment community against the U.S. Labor Department in Texas, the court, in a sharply-worded decision, ruled against the plaintiffs. As The New York Times reported:

”The judge, Barbara Lynn, called the plaintiffs’ objections without merit, 'unpersuasive' and 'at odds with market realities.'”
Reuters picks up the coverage:

”The stinging 81-page ruling comes just days after Trump ordered the Labor Department to review the 'fiduciary' rule - a move widely interpreted as an effort to delay or kill the regulation,” reports Reuters.

“The decision by Chief Judge Barbara Lynn for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas is a stunning defeat for the business and financial services industry groups that had sought to overturn it.

“And while it is not expected to stop the Labor Department from delaying the rule's April 10 compliance deadline while it conducts the review, some legal experts say it could make it more difficult for the Labor Department to find a way to justify scrapping or significantly altering the rule.”

Full 81-page decision is here [pdf].

As the ongoing cabinet confirmations continue to show us, we of the resistance are going to live through a lot of defeats and disappointments so we should celebrate the victories when we can. This may be a small step but so far, our side has won this time. Hurray.

* * *

Normally I do not publish on Tuesdays and would have skipped Valentine's Day but I wanted to tell you about the decision of Judge Barbara Lynn in Texas.

So that means I also get to send Valentine greetings letting you know how much each of you means to me. This is a labor of love but it wouldn't be so without every one of you who stops by, leaves comments, shares the posts via Facebook and Twitter and sends suggestions and all the rest you do. You are what make this blog worth it for me.

Valentines-day-03


Second Annual Time Goes By Donation Week

Last year, the first ever Time Goes By donation drive was a big success. Readers were amazingly generous and it has meant that for the past year I have not needed to sweat the always increasing blog costs.

Among other things, last year's drive allowed me to afford a paid account with the email delivery service I had been using so that since then, each day's blog post has arrived in subscribers' inboxes ad-free - no small thing as the free version had become almost unreadable due to the clutter of advertising.

Even before purchasing that ad-free email service last year, Time Goes By online has been a free and advertising-free zone on the internet since it was launched in 2004; that will never change.

When I started this blog before I had retired, I had no idea it would last this long nor that I would last this long doing it. Having been a happy generalist for nearly 50 years in the workforce, I would have bet against my sticking with a single subject for more than a decade. Actually, I would have voted against doing anything for more than a year or two.

But here I am with something that requires at least as much effort and time as any job I had, remains a labor of love after all these years and that while I wasn't looking, turned me into an advocate for elders and our issues.

Neither did I know or expect what a fine gathering place TGB would become – I didn't plan it this way; it happened organically. I would be just one more bloviator taking up space on the internet without the thoughtful, knowledgeable and often funny contributions from the community of readers who post their observations in the comments and send suggestions for future posts and Saturday's Interesting Stuff.

Every day, I appreciate what each of you bring to this vibrant blog. I may write the daily posts and Peter Tibbles may turn out his excellent Sunday music column, but I'm always eager to see what you have to say on the on the subject of the day and I don't ever take this blog and your participation lightly

That said, here I am with the second annual pitch for donations. When I was thinking this through last year, my promise to myself was that I would make it as unobtrusive and unannoying as possible. NPR's frequent drives with all the program interruptions make me nuts; I don't want to drone on at you as they do.

So, the campaign consists of this introductory blog post (including a nice surprise at the end) with a link to the Paypal donation page and a MUCH shorter version of this invitation to contribute at the top of each post through next Sunday. The “rules” are these:

First and foremost: no one is required to donate. Nothing about TGB will change if you do not. This is entirely voluntary.

If you do choose to donate, no amount is too small. Whatever is comfortable for you is all that matters.

You do not need a Paypal account to donate. When you click on the link below, the Paypal donation page will open (it's a little slow sometimes) where you will have two choices:

  1. You can donate via credit card or, if you have a Paypal account, by a money transfer - both in any amount you want.

  2. You can make a one-time donation or choose a recurring monthly donation.

All this works in the United States and internationally.

Let me reiterate: Donations are voluntary. Nothing changes if you do not donate. Here is the Paypal link which you will also find near the top of the right sidebar.

Although the donation button is a permanent piece of the furniture in the right sidebar, you will need to suffer through this campaign only one week a year.

* * *

And now, because you have been so patient throughout this post, here is little gift for you: the main essay from the season opener a few hours ago on Sunday of John Oliver's HBO program, Last Week Tonight. It's about Trump and Truth and Oliver is at the top of his game. The usual warnings about language apply.


ELDER MUSIC: From the Cutting Room Floor

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.

* * *

Here are some random songs from the cutting room floor, as it were. These are pieces I've written over the years that didn't really fit into the category I was writing about at the time, but I didn't want to just throw them away.

I can't call it recycling as these weren't cycled in the first place. There are now enough of them for a column of their own.

The song Misty Blue was written by Bob Montgomery, whose first paying gig was as a duo with Buddy Holly when they were both teenagers. The song was first recorded by Waylon Jennings and it was closely followed by a number of other country artists. It wasn't until Joe Simon, and more especially, Dorothy Moore recorded it that it became a soul classic.

I have recently heard another version I found really interesting and I thought I'd share it with you. However, I'm going to be really obnoxious and not tell you who the singer is. I won't leave you completely in the dark; I'll let you know at the end of the column.

When I played it for Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, she said, "She's not a soul singer". Norma was right. She also said that the singer sounded young. She was wrong. So, here's SOMEONE singing Misty Blue.

♫ Someone - Misty Blue


While I'm on a quizzical bent, here's a question: Can you tell me the name of a first generation rock & roller from Lubbock, Texas, who recorded with The Crickets and who died in a plane crash at age 21?

For those who said Buddy Holly, I hit the buzzer: bzzzzzzzz. You're out. No, Buddy was 22. The answer is DAVID BOX.

David Box

David recorded an album with The Crickets after Buddy died to fulfil some contractual arrangement. Alas, he also took a light plane to a gig that didn't get to its destination.

Buddy recorded a rare cover version of a song: Fats Domino's Valley of Tears, and I think he improved on the original, difficult to do when it's Fats. Here, David performs a cover of Buddy's cover of Fats.

♫ David Box - Valley Of Tears


Given the title of the column, this next song is a mandatory inclusion. It's by the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

The song was written as a joint effort by a couple of the Nittys', Jeff Hanna and Jimmy Ibbotson, as well as their friend, now sadly departed, Steve Goodman. It's a tale of woe. Face on the Cutting Room Floor.

♫ Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Face On The Cutting Room Floor


In 1981, seemingly out of nowhere, BILLY FIELD released an album here in Australia that went to the top of the charts. Indeed, it was the biggest seller for the year.

Billy Field

Several singles from the album did the same. He released another album that did almost as well and then, apparently, completely vanished. He didn’t of course.

Billy is a pianist and he tours with his own jazz band. Also, with the proceeds of the album and singles, as well as from those who covered his songs, he built a recording studio where he records jazz and blues artists.

What was distinctive about him is that in that era when grown men wore tight Spandex on stage and had big, nay giant hair, sang as if they were produced by a computer voice synthesizer and played instruments that sounded the same way, Billy always dressed in an elegant suit and wore a bow tie.

His music was nominally pop but on his song Bad Habits, the backing sounds as if it is a big band from the forties and his singing was that of a blues musician from the thirties. This is Bad Habit.

♫ Billy Field - Bad Habits


Whenever early rock & roll is discussed JOHNNY BURNETTE doesn’t seem to get much of a mention.

Johnny Burnette

There’ll be any amount of talk of Chuck, Richard, Elvis, Buddy, Fats and on and on. A lot of that comes from me of course - however, Johnny is usually not there.

He started out as The Johnny Burnette Trio (or the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio” as it was also called). This group included his brother Dorsey and Paul Burlison. It was a blazing outfit that showed Elvis a few things about rock & roll trio playing.

The Burnettes were actually from Memphis but didn’t record for Sun records.

Sam Phillips turned them down as he thought they sounded too much like Elvis. Elvis was a friend and would visit them and sing and play. “He didn’t know but two or three chords on that guitar, but he was a good singer” was the way Johnny summed up his performance. This is the Trio with Tear It Up.

♫ Johnny Burnette - Tear It Up


In the eighties and nineties THE DOUG ANTHONY ALL STARS (the name itself is an Australian joke that'd take too long to explain to non-Australians) were the most outrageous and anarchic comedy troupe in the country (and probably the world).

The Doug Anthony All Stars

The group consisted of Paul McDermott, Tim Ferguson and Richard Fidler. They are also gifted musicians, especially Paul about whom Tim once said, "We asked Paul to sing one day and he sang like an angel coming down from a bourbon bender".

Paul has not made a musical album and the only way we can hear him sing is on old TV programs. Here they perform Throw Your Arms Around Me, written by the members of the group Hunters and Collectors, who first performed the song.

PAUL SIEBEL has claimed he wrote his most famous song, Louise, as a joke to see if he could write the ultimate country song. Some joke, it sold squillions by Linda Ronstadt and others.

Paul Siebe

He made a couple of good albums - "Woodsmoke and Oranges" in 1970 and "Jack-Knife Gypsy" in 1971 - and well, just stopped. He performs once in a very blue moon.

Paul’s more known as a songwriter than a performer. Some of the folks who have covered his songs, besides Linda, are Jerry Jeff Walker, Emmylou Harris, Leo Kottke, Willy DeVille and many others. I was going to go with one of his other songs but I thought: what the hell, here’s Louise.

♫ Paul Siebel - Louise


Back in high school – that's Oakleigh High for those who want to know about such things, but don't try to find it on Google Maps as it was sold off for condominiums in the nineties – we had a reciprocal agreement with a school in Adelaide.

This was all to do with sports, of course, such that we'd alternate sending male and female teams over there and vice versa. I was in the tennis team, but they only sent four not eight, so I missed out and stayed home.

This wasn't really a bad thing as we got the cream of this other school's girls and with all our jocks over there, well I'd be in with a chance, I thought. And so it proved, sort of.

There was one in particular who caught my eye, and she smiled at me as well. Alas, there was another left-behinder who was similarly struck. I can't imagine what she saw in him.

At the school social (sort of like your prom, I guess) she'd alternate dances with us and be quite amused by the whole situation. Neither of us walked her home – the parents of the family she was staying with picked her up. She (and the rest of them) was (were) only here for a week and I still remember her name but I'm not telling you all, just in case she reads this blog (yeah, fat chance of that). I never saw her again.

Quite coincidentally, BOBBY VEE's song Sharing You was high on the hit parade at the time. As you can imagine, it struck a chord.

Bobby Vee

♫ Bobby Vee - Sharing You


RUSSELL SMITH is the singer, main songwriter and occasional rhythm guitarist for the rock group, The Amazing Rhythm Aces.

Russell Smith

He organized that group and he is one of only two of the original members left. Whichever incarnation of the Aces you want to consider, they were and still are the best southern (USA) rock group ever, and yes, I include the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Drive By Truckers in that assessment.

It's mainly because their songs are better, I think. Russell has also recorded several solo albums and here is a track from one of them, I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight.

♫ Russell Smith - I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight


There's someone I really shouldn’t like. His performances are outrageous, which is no bad thing, but it's all tongue in cheek. He plays golf and hangs around with rightwing politicians. That should put him in my “don’t go there” list. However, I really like Vincent Furnier, or as you probably know him, ALICE COOPER.

Alice Cooper

When he puts his mind to it he can come up with some fine songs. This is one of those, You And Me.

♫ Alice Cooper - You And Me


You don't get a prize for guessing correctly, just a warm inner glow of satisfaction. The answer to who is sing Misty Blue is ELLA FITZGERALD. Yes, really.

Chuck and Jess, in the comments below are correct - it's Dorothy Moore singing, not Ella. See - even I didn't get it right.


INTERESTING STUFF – 11 February 2017

PHIL OCHS – A VOICE FOR OUR TIME

A couple of days ago, Rolling Stone magazine published a story about a new era of protest music for the age of Trump.

Perhaps anticipating something like that, two or three weeks ago, the Washington Post published a lengthy story about a protest singer/songwriter who has been dead for 40 years – Phil Ochs – a story I'd missed but Peter Tibbles and Norma sent me.

(Disclosure: I knew Phil Ochs. We weren't close friends but I produced some radio shows with him, my then-husband and I had dinner with him a few times and we hung out at some of the Greenwich Village music venues when Phil was playing.)

A lot of Phil's music is suddenly “new” again. As the WaPo story reports, one of his songs,

The War Is Over, suggests how political resistance in any age can be enlivened, refreshed and perhaps even galvanized by jarring notes of artistic creativity. Yet it isn’t close to being Ochs’s most philosophical work.

“Take, for instance, There but for Fortune, the most beautiful song ever written about the natural lottery...

“It’s a succinct reminder of the ethical basis of modern liberalism: that in a world with no level playing field, we have sizable obligations to those who are less lucky.

“And it’s an overarching message that Democrats, after a campaign in which their nominee tended to favor discrete policy proposals over sweeping moral vision, would be wise to rediscover.”

Phil's most familiar song is undoubtedly Outside a Small Circle of Friends, but I'm going to play There But for Fortune today.

You can read the Washington Post story here and there are a lot of Phil Ochs' songs here on YouTube.

LATEST NEW WORDS FOR THE DICTIONARY

Merriam-Webster this week announced more than a thousand new words for its dictionary.

”It was a bumper year for the hyphenated or two-part phrases you have most likely used, or perhaps spotted pasted over a photo of Captain Jean-Luc Picard,” explained the Washington Post.

“Welcome the face-palm (the act of covering one’s face with a hand, out of dismay or embarrassment, as demonstrated by the good Starfleet captain), along with binge-watch, side-eye, weak sauce, wayback machine, chef’s knife, town hall, throw shade, ride shotgun and safe space.”

I guess dictionaries wait a long time to accept new words because none of those are new to me in the past year.

What the list lacks in surprise for me, it made up in what The Post called this “cheeky” infographic:

2016-09-08_17-08-24---9f5b7eb6d80d30b688fa9e8f622fef5a

Find out more about all the 1,000 new words at Merriam Webster.

JOHN OLIVER'S HBO SHOW RETURNS TOMORROW NIGHT

And thank god for that. We need this man in our new political time of need.

Yesterday, I showed you Oliver's interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Today, I have a short video from that Rolling Stone interview I mentioned, “Five Things We Learned Hanging Out With John Oliver.”

Oliver is back hosting the Last Week Tonight season premiere tomorrow night on HBO. Since I don't subscribe I am deeply grateful that the network makes the main essay each week available on YouTube and you'll be seeing a lot of Oliver here during this season.

JACKSON HOLE

You've all heard of Jackson Hole, right - the winter destination, celebrity watchers tell us, of the rich and famous that is in Wyoming?

Well, you would be wrong about the location, if like me, you assumed Wyoming. Today we're talking about Jackson Hole, China. Yes, China.

Over the past decade, the video page tells us, more than a thousand families have settled into this community two hours northwest of Beijing. There’s everything an aspiring cowboy could wish for, including timber-frame houses with spacious backyards and a town church straight out of Little House on the Prairie.

I guess it's not much different from having an Eiffel Tower replica in Las Vegas.

MELANIA TRUMP CASHING IN

Apparently it runs in the family – conflict of interest, I'm talking about. Several news organizations are reporting Melania Trump's attorney let slip that the reason she is suing a newspaper over a questionable report about her is that it gets in the way of making a bundle now that she is first lady.

Here's the short version from the Washington Post:

Did you get that part directly from the lawsuit?

"The suit...said the article published by the Daily Mail and its online division last August caused Trump’s brand, Melania, to lose 'significant value' as well as 'major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her,' reports The Post.

"The suit said the article had damaged her 'unique, once in a lifetime opportunity' to 'launch a broad-based commercial brand.'"

Is this legal? If it is, it is still in deeply bad taste. More detail at the Washington Post.

INSPIRATION ON HOW TO RESIST TRUMP

As the YouTube page explains, this video is an adaptation of a talk given by Glenda Russell, PhD, focused on using Trump's election as a springboard to activism and to individual and community growth.

The TV producer in me says that it's longer than it needs to be but there are some useful thoughts, ideas and points to dwell upon for how to deal with our new political era. Thank you to several TGB readers for sending this.

MAKE AUSTRALIA NUMBER TWO

President Trump wants to make America First. Some other countries have followed up on that idiotically tone-deaf declaration with some wonderfully funny videos lobbying to be named number two (see the first from The Netherlands here) and now Australia has joined the contest.

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist at the Elder Music column that is published here on Sundays, sent one of the funniest from an Australian television show called The Weekly with Charlie Pickering which she describes as in the style of Jon Stewart and John Oliver. Enjoy.

STUPID THINGS KIDS CRY ABOUT

It's a good thing for the wellbeing of any children I might have had that I didn't have them. I'm pretty sure the first time a kid of mine tried any of these tantrums, I'd have walked away for good.

Yeah, they're funny in this collection but I wouldn't have laughed for a second if they were my kids.

KidISaidGoodMorning

KidCan'tMarryDad

FootballCryingFootball

I think I'm indulging in more than bit of shadenfreude when I laugh at what the mothers of these kids have to live with. There are more of them at Bored Panda.

WILD BISON RETURN TO BANFF

This is not funny cats or silly dogs or monkeys making us laugh by being too human that I usually post in this spot. Instead, it is a triumph – or the beginning of one - over a dreadful mistake our immigrant ancestors made in wiping out the North American bison.

Let us rejoice in this small improvement. You can read more about the return of the bison at the CBC.

* * *

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.


Trumpian Attack on Old People

Did you know that even after the 2008 financial crisis, it has been legal for financial advisers to steer clients toward investments that produce the biggest commissions for them and not ones that are in the client's best interest?

That's right. Fraud has been legal all this time. It's bad enough for people of any age – few of us understand the complexities of Wall Street investing – but it is particularly hard on retired people.

So, last year, President Barack Obama's administration passed new regulations raising ethical standards that govern the industry. The one in question today is called the fiduciary rule and it

“...requires brokers to act in a client’s best interest,” reports The New York Times, rather than seek the highest profits for themselves, when providing retirement advice.”

Fiduciaryrule

The fiduciary rule was set to go into effect on 10 April 2017. But then, last Friday, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum asking the Labor Department to review the rule which critics say, according to the Washington Post, could limit options for investors and raise costs for financial firms. The White House addressed that issue, as quoted in the Post:

“'The rule’s intent may be to have provided retirees and others with better financial advice, but in reality its effect has been to limit the financial services that are available to them,' White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday.

“'This is exactly the kind of government regulatory overreach the president was put in office to stop,” [Spicer continued.]

Yeah, right. With several Goldman Sachs appointees in the Trump administration, when it becomes a choice between safeguarding elders from predatory advisers and enriching Wall Street, it is easy to figure out which way it will go.

As John Cassidy noted in The New Yorker,

”...five financial stocks account for more than forty per cent of the rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since November 8th. The jump in Goldman’s stock alone accounts for a quarter of the over-all rise.

“On Friday morning, bank stocks rose again. At noon [after Trump signed the fiduciary rule memorandum], Goldman was up four per cent.”

As bad as this may become for retirees, there is much more to be frightened of coming from the Trump administration in regard to financial (de)regulation and I strongly suggest you go read Cassidy's New Yorker piece about that.

It is exhausting trying to keep up with all the ways, every day, the Republican Congress and the president are working to turn our republic into something unrecognizable.

Many serious television commentators and pundits along with their counterparts in print have warned about not succumbing to Trump fatigue, that we can't count on Congress, certainly not the Democrats and maybe not even the courts to keep American democracy safe.

It is up to us, the people, to keep the Constitution and the country intact.

Now, go call your representatives' offices (you have those numbers saved by now, don't you) and let them know where you stand on whatever the Trump firehose has sprayed our way this morning.

* * *

RESISTANCE NOTES:
Okay, maybe not exactly a resistance note but close enough.

Tuesday night John Oliver, who is host of the HBO show, Last Week Tonight, appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote the return of his program which begins a new season on Sunday.

During the interview, Oliver tells Colbert that although he is a green card holder and his wife and son are American citizens, he worries a little bit about being deported depending on the whims (my word, not Oliver's) of our new president. "A green card may not be enough," he says and although deportation is unlikely in his case, there is now, with the election of Trump, "a non-zero chance of it happening."

He and Colbert also mention his cover story interview in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine that you can read here.

It's wonderful to have John Oliver in back in such fine form.


Some Old People's Household Habits

There was a mildly sheepish quality to my voice. I could hear it as, during a long phone visit with a good friend, I tentatively asked (while also wondering to myself if I could quickly withdraw the question if it were poorly received), “Do you ever go all day without getting dressed?”

Not counting sickness of the type that keeps you in bed hoping to die, I had never in my working life of nearly 50 years done that. That is, not until half a dozen years into my retirement and since then, I certainly had not confessed it to anyone.

To my great relief, we had a long laugh together about blowing off the morning shower now and then and not leaving home all day, noting too that as official old people – I'm 75 and he is 78 - there are days when, for no good reason we are too weary of mind, body or both to do anything but stay home. So why get dressed.

There were some guilty feelings the first times I did this and some imagined difficulty in getting to the mailbox “undressed” until I realized that no one would notice, in winter anyway, because I sleep in sweats. In my area, that's daywear for many.

Then my friend and I considered the bed. Or, rather, changing the sheets which I have always considered to be the most difficult and annoying housekeeping chore.

THE BATTLE OF THE FITTED SHEET
In that career half century of mine, I changed the bed every Saturday morning and dropped it off at the laundry along with all the other dirty stuff. Let them try to fold the damned fitted sheet.

FittedSheetsWitch

But that's not the only fitted sheet aggravation. Getting it onto the bed is an exhausting struggle but using a flat sheet is worse when it comes undone during the week. So to this day I live with the battle of the fitted sheet.

For 20 years or so, somewhere there in the middle of my adulthood, I switched to a duvet and comforter but as the years went by, as I got older, trying to get what amounts to an Andre-the-Giant-size pillow case onto the comforter doubled or tripled the bed-changing annoyance. I gave it up.

At that point, I also gave up the top sheet because whether at home, in a hotel, staying with friends, wherever I was, overnight I got so tangled in it that getting out of bed became an Olympic event.

With that change, I took up thin quilts figuring that I could add and subtract them as the weather and bedroom temperature required. That is, until I realized I would need to wash the bottom one, next to my skin, every week creating the need – when I retired and gave up paying others to do my wash – for two loads of laundry instead of one.

Good god, it never ends. Get rid of one hassle in life and two more pop up.

Have I made it clear how much I despise all bed chores? I would have been a terrific rich person; I'll bet Melania Trump does change her own bed.

Ah, but wait. There was a solution.

For decades, I had slept naked but in my incipient old age had switched to those sweats mentioned above. Now that my body, with all its sweatiness, discarded skin cells and other detritus, was almost wholly covered at night, What harm could there be, I said to myself, in laundering that bottom quilt and that bottom sheet every two weeks instead of weekly, cutting in half the time I would need to do combat with the fitted sheet.

Since my first confession to my friend had gone so well, I tried the bottom sheet and quilt wash schedule and not only did he laugh, what a great story I got from him.

He too hates wrestling with fitted sheets and his current living arrangement came with a king-size bed. It, as you undoubtedly know, is the size of a football field - six people could sleep together without touching one another. So for one week he sleeps on one side of the bed and the next week on the other side. Then he washes the sheets.

Like me, he has cut his fights with the fitted sheet by 50 percent..

GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE. OR NOT
We agreed too it gets harder with our advancing years to leave home or, more precisely, to want leave our homes. So often it just seems easier and more comfortable to stay home (with or without getting dressed).

I watch such changes as they come along and although I know perfectly well, as I've mentioned before, that if it is happening to me, it's happening to thousands, maybe millions of others, it was still a great, good surprise when a confession was met with agreement and laughs.

Another old friend in the same age range with whom I regularly have long phone calls told me recently that he too leaves home less and less frequently and was trying out a new home fitness routine to see if it keeps him as healthy as the gym he attends three times a week.

This friend reminded me that pretty much anything you want in life can be delivered - certainly in Manhattan where he lives if not everywhere else. “If this routine works out,” he told me, “I may never leave home again.”

I had another laugh over this stuff that day but not quite as hearty - maybe it is becoming too real...

Does any of this ring a bell with you?

* * *

RESISTANCE NOTES:
Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote in the Senate to confirm billionaire and public school ignoramus, Betsy DeVos, as secretary of Education. You know, the woman who has zero knowledge of public schools and believes guns should be allowed in schools because - grizzly bears. She and the vote are shameful.

Do not ever forget who cast this deciding vote. And do not, come the next Senate election, forget which senators voted to confirm her. It's easy to remember: Every Democrat opposed DeVos as did two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Every other Republican senator voted to confirm.

Now might be a good time, if you have a Republican senator or two, to call their offices and speak your mind. The main switchboard number is 202.225.3121.


Death With Dignity and the Supreme Court Nominee

It's not often I can combine an age-related post with a political one as directly as I can today so I'm taking advantage of it while the opportunity is here.

When I moved to Oregon nearly seven years ago, the state's Death With Dignity Act played no part in my choice although I knew it existed.

Having had plenty of time now to look into it and think about it, I am relieved to have this law. Understand that not just any person can request the drugs and die willy-nilly. There are restrictions:

”A physician must determine that the patient has less than six months and a second opinion is required,” reported my late friend, Pulitzer Prize-winner Saul Friedman in these pages in 2010. “The patient must make repeated requests, waiting at least 15 days between requests.

“If these procedures are followed, an Oregon physician can prescribe the life-ending drugs, which may be taken with or without a doctor present.”

Personally, I think the rules are too restrictive but they are better than not and changing public perception is a slow process.

Oregon was the first state to enact a death with dignity law and since the act was passed 1997, and through 2015, 991 patients have used it to end their lives. Here's the chart:

DWDAoregon

It gives me comfort to know that if my end days are filled with pain, for example, and my days are short, there is recourse for me. It's my life; no one else should have the right to prevent me from making this choice.

Last week, President Donald Trump nominated federal appeals court judge, Neil Gorsuch, to fill the Supreme Court chair left empty when Justice Antonin Scalia died a year ago.

That, I believe, is an illegitimate nomination that should not stand given that Congressional Republicans barely acknowledged President Barack Obama's choice, Merrick Garland, let alone held hearings on him. But let's let that go for today and take a look at who Judge Gorsuch is.

As the Washington Post reported last week, in the year the judge was appointed to the federal bench, 2006:

”...he published a book titled The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. The front cover looks almost like a Tom Clancy novel, with purple all-caps block text set against a black background. But the book itself is a deep, highly cerebral overview of the ethical and legal debate surrounding the practices.”

Gorsuchdeaathwithdignitybookcover

I have not read the book so I am relying on the WaPo reporter, Derek Hawkins, who writes that Gorsuch opposes assisted suicide, euthanasia and death with dignity laws because “the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

Really? Even if the life-taking is done by the person whose life it is? I don't think that is at all as obvious as he makes it sound. The Washington Post again:

”Some of Gorsuch’s sharpest criticisms were directed at one of his fellow jurists, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

“Posner has written in favor of permitting physician-assisted suicide, arguing that the government should not interfere with a person’s decision to take his or her own life, especially in cases where the patient is terminally ill.

“Gorsuch rejected that view, writing it would 'tend toward, if not require, the legalization not only of assisted suicide and euthanasia, but of any act of consensual homicide.'”

Huh? How does that follow? It gets even less rational as his argument continues:

”Posner’s position, he writes, would allow 'sadomasochist killings' and 'mass suicide pacts,' as well as duels, illicit drug use, organ sales and the 'sale of one’s own life.'

“Gorsuch concludes his book by envisioning a legal system that allows for terminally ill patients to refuse treatments that would extend their lives, while stopping short of permitting intentional killing.”

Judge Gorsuch is a young man - 49 now, 39 when his book was published. Aside from physicians trained in science and health and such people as hospice workers, I do not believe that younger adults have any idea what old age is really like. You cannot know until you get there.

Unless he has suffered through a prolonged period of debility and ongoing, untreatable pain, Judge Gorsuch cannot possibly imagine why an old person would find themselves arriving at a place where they know it is time for them to go and even yearn for it.

There are other good reasons to oppose Judge Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court but from my perch here as what a reporter at the Baltimore Sun once called “a bloviator on all things ageing,” this one issue is enough.

Particularly so because if he is confirmed and in addition, Congress follows through on President Trump's recent vow to the overturn the 1954 law restricting political speech by tax-exempt churches, we are heading deep toward Christian control of government.

The New York Times quoted Trump about that vow last week:

“'Freedom of religion is a sacred right, but it is also a right under threat all around us,' Mr. Trump told religious leaders at the National Prayer Breakfast. 'That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.'”

These may never come to pass. But to potentially lose death with dignity laws while gaining unfettered political speech for religious organizations combined with the new survey showing that one-third of Americans believe a citizen must be a Christian to be a real American – well, you tell me what that means.


ELDER MUSIC: 1957 Yet Again

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

* * *

In 1957 we were right in the middle of the first flush of rock & roll, although that wasn't necessarily reflected on the charts as all sorts of music were still being played on the radio. I'll demonstrate that today.

THE RAYS had a couple of minor hits over the years but I must confess that I don't remember any of them.

Rays

They did have one biggie though and I certainly remember that one. It was called Silhouettes. In the way of things at the time, a white group, The Diamonds, also released an almost identical version which, unusual for that era, didn't sell as well.

♫ The Rays - Silhouettes


In 1956 LAVERN BAKER had big hit called Jim Dandy.

LaVern Baker

Because of its success, Lincoln Chase, who wrote it, came up with another in the saga called Jim Dandy Got Married. That one proved quite popular as well, this time in 1957, fortunately for us today.

♫ LaVern Baker - Jim Dandy Got Married


THURSTON HARRIS first started performing in a band called The Lamplighters.

Thurston Harris

He later went solo (often backed by that band). Bobby Day (of Rockin' Robin fame) wrote and recorded a song called Little Bitty Pretty One. This made the low reaches of the charts. Thurston recorded it and took it way up close to the top. This is what it sounds like.

♫ Thurston Harris - Little Bitty Pretty One


MICKEY AND SYLVIA were Mickey Baker and Sylvia Robinson.

Mickey & Sylvia

Mickey was a music instructor and they met when Sylvia came in for lessons. Mickey was an ace guitarist and later made a good living as a session musician.

He was inspired by Les Paul and Mary Ford's music and decided to start a similar unit with Sylvia (and playing Les Paul Gibson guitars). They were successful enough to start their own record company and a publishing company as well as buying a nightclub.

Their biggest success was with the song Love Is Strange, later covered with equal success by the Everly Brothers.

♫ Mickey and Sylvia - Love Is Strange


By 1957 THE CHORDETTES were on a roll.

Chordettes

A few years earlier, they had recorded the first version of Mister Sandman which even I will admit was better than Emmylou, Linda and Dolly's version. So if they can beat that trio they must be pretty good.

Theirs wasn't the first version of that song (Vaughn Monroe, for heaven's sake, has that honor), but they did it best. Sorry to disappoint but it's the wrong year for that one.

Here is a song from this year that's nearly as good: Just Between You and Me.

♫ Chordettes - Just Between You And Me


LITTLE RICHARD produced some of the most raucous songs in early rock & roll (and, if I might editorialise for a moment, some of the best).

Little Richard

However, now and then he released a song that wasn't like that. This is one of those, Send Me Some Lovin'.

♫ Little Richard - Send Me Some Lovin'


DEBBIE REYNOLDS had a hit with the song Tammy.

Debbie Reynolds

This was taken from a film in which she appeared called Tammy and the Bachelor. She played Tammy and the bachelor was Leslie Neilson. He played it straight, which must have been a bit a strain for him.

♫ Debbie Reynolds - Tammy


JACKIE WILSON's treatment of Reet Petite is rather interesting.

Jackie Wilson

He sings it as rock & roll or maybe anticipating soul music. However, the backing for the song sounds as if it comes from a decade earlier, closer to big band than the music of the time. In spite of that it seemed to work.

♫ Jackie Wilson - Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Ever Want To Meet)


In my part of the world, THE HILLTOPPERS had a big hit with the song Marianne.

Hilltoppers

Elsewhere, I believe this version was eclipsed by the one by Terry Gilkyson & The Easy Riders. Terry was something of a songwriter but he didn't write this one. He was also the father of another terrific singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson. However, the version I remember is the one we have today.

♫ Hilltoppers - Marianne


JIMMIE RODGERS was the name of a couple of recording artists, but only one of them was alive in 1957 and that's the one we have today.

Jimmie Rodgers

Jimmie had quite a few hits in the fifties. This is one of his biggest, Honeycomb.

♫ Jimmie Rodgers - Honeycomb



INTERESTING STUFF – 4 February 2017

DON'T EVER AGAIN DOUBT WHAT YOU CAN OVERCOME. EVER

It's been several months since Darlene Costner sent this video and I've waited too long to show it to you. It's a promo for the Rio Paralympics last year. Not the Olympics; the Paralympics.

This is one of the most awesome but even more important, joyful music videos you've seen. Most of us can probably do more than we think we can and I don't mean just physically. Enjoy. Be inspired.

COLORADO'S MOUNTAIN RESCUE DOGS

The YouTube page explains that the Breckenridge Resort in snowy Colorado has its own canine rescue team, the first line of defense for people when an avalanche or other disaster strikes.

32 PERCENT SAY REAL AMERICANS SHOULD BE CHRISTIAN

Christian-crossNew research released on Wednesday by Pew Research asked people in a bunch of countries what it takes to “truly belong” in their countries.

”Thirty-two percent of Americans said one should be Christian to really be American, compared to just 13 percent of Australians, 15 percent of Canadians and 15 percent of Europeans who felt the same way about belonging in their homelands,” reports the Washington Post.

“The same number of Americans — 32 percent — said that being born in the United States is key to being an American. More Americans — 45 percent — said that sharing 'national customs and traditions' was important, and many more — 70 percent — said being an American meant speaking English.”

One third of Americans says these things. I am so embarrassed. You can read more here.

AMERICANS HAVE ALWAYS REJECTED IMMIGRANTS

A week ago, President Trump issued the now-infamous executive order banning Muslims from entering the U.S. For all the protests, many Americans agree with the president.

According to Pew Research last fall, a majority of Americans say that the U.S. does not have a responsibility to accept Syrian refugees and there is a lot of additional evidence that America's xenophobia is nothing new.

Huffington Post reports:

In 1938, 65 percent of Americans told Gallup that the persecution of Jews in Europe was at least partially their own fault, and nearly three-quarters opposed allowing 'a larger number of Jewish exiles from Germany to come to the United States to live.'”

In 1939, according to HuffPost's research, 67 percent of Americans disapproved of taking in 10,000 refugee children from Germany.

1039Germanchildren

In 1984, 62 percent of Americans said the number of refugees entering the U.S. should be lowered either “a little” or “a lot”:

1984refugees

There is much more such evidence through the years that you can see in more charts at Huffington Post.

LIVING OFF THE LAND IN NEW ZEALAND

According to the YouTube page, Warrick Mitchell lives with a small community of others in one of the world's most remote locations: a national forest in Fiordland, New Zealand.

His home is four day's walk from the nearest road and is otherwise accessible only by boat or small plane. But it is gorgeous, so gorgeous. Take a look.

HOW TO BUILD AN AUTOCRACY

If you watch cable news channels, you might have seen David Frum. He is a long time journalist, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine.

He has written a long cover story for the magazine's March print issue titled, “How to Build an Autocracy” in which he explains “how it can happen here.” This is a video lead-in to the story he recorded:

You don't need to be a subscriber to read the piece. The Atlantic released it early to everyone. You will find it here.

STRESS TESTING CALIFORNIA'S REDWOODS

The redwoods are Earth's oldest trees and due to California's years-long drought, they are stressed. As the YouTube page explains, to save them,

”Anthony Ambrose and his team of researchers climb several hundred feet into the canopy, braving (sic) life and limb in the name of conservation.”

That and the photography is breathtaking.

THE RELEVANCE OF DR. SEUSS TO OUR CURRENT POLITICAL TROUBLES

Did you know that Theodore Geisel, Dr. Seuss, worked as a political cartoonist for a couple of years during World War II? I didn't. In particular, he opposed the “America First” movement.

The Atlantic (yes, again – you really should be reading this magazine; they do good work) recently published a story about that episode in Geisel's life and resurrected a few of those cartoons. Here is one:

Seuss WWII

Amazingly relevant now, don't you think? You can read more here where there are also a few more of Geisel's World War II cartoons.

FELINE RESISTANCE MOVEMENT

The resurrection of the word “resistance” is perfect for what is required of us in the times we are living through now. But cats don't need to be reminded; they are born knowing all about resistance.

* * *

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.


Only 12 Percent of Elders Have Dental Coverage

Just two more appointments, if all goes well, and by the end of February I will be finished at last with a long, complicated dental procedure that began in 2014.

About a year ago, I told you about growing new bone in my upper and lower jaws (a medical miracle in my book), the insertion of titanium posts into the new bone when it had fused with my natural bone and then the attachment of an “overdenture” that has allowed me, as I explained then, to bite into an apple again for the for the first time in a decade.

Overdenture

At that point we were finished with my upper denture and now we are rounding the corner to the finish line on the lower one.

I chose the overdentures because I want a better eating and living experience than the traditional denture but I could not afford a full set of implants that would have allowed me to have teeth as permanent as real ones. Overdentures almost do that except that, like traditional ones, they must be removed every day for cleaning.

The implants and overdenture are an engineering marvel but there is no doubt they are wildly expensive. In total, I spent about $33,000.

Even after more than two years to become accustomed to it, that number causes me almost to stop breathing. These fancy new teeth took a great, big, giant chunk out of my end-of-life fund. (I guess I'll just have to die faster when the time comes.)

As hard as it was to make that decision, I am luckier than most elders; at least I had the money to fret over. Most old people do not. And Medicare, by law, cannot help.

When the Medicare legislation was implemented in 1965, it was a deliberate choice to leave off dental coverage (and prescription drug coverage).

According to a 2016 study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, just 12 percent of Medicare recipients (almost all old people) have dental coverage.

In contrast, according to the report of this study in Medical New Today,

”Eighty percent of Americans under the age of 65 are covered by employer-sponsored programs that offer dental insurance, which covers routine cleanings and cost-sharing on fillings and other dental work. Many of them lose that coverage when they retire or go on Medicare.”

No kidding, said she with $33K worth of dental work in her mouth. I'm going to quote this story at greater length than usual because I think these next paragraphs are important for you to know. The researchers

”...analyzed two separate proposals for adding dental benefits to Medicare, estimating how much each would cost. One was similar to the premium-financed, voluntary Medicare Part D benefit that was added to Medicare a decade ago to help cover prescription drugs for seniors.

“The other was similar to a proposal that has been introduced in Congress that would embed dental care into Medicare as a core benefit for all of the program's 56 million beneficiaries, which is not expected to pass before Congress recesses. [RB: It did not.]

“The first proposal, which would cost an average premium of $29-a-month and would come with a subsidy for low-income seniors who couldn't afford that, would run an estimated $4.4 to $5.9 billion annually depending on the number of low-income beneficiaries who participate.

“The second, with a $7 monthly premium and subsidies for low-income people, would cost between $12.8 and $16.2 billion annually. The packages would cover the full cost of one preventive care visit a year and 50 percent of allowable costs for necessary care up to a $1,500 limit per year to cover additional preventive care and treatment of acute gum disease or tooth decay.”

That wouldn't help much – actually, implants and/or overdentures and even traditional dentures would not be possible at all in that scenario. But it would be a start for basic care and here is why that is important:

”Poor dental hygiene not only contributes to gum disease, but the same bacteria linked to gum disease has also been linked to pneumonia, a serious illness that increases the risk of hospitalization and death.

“It can also contribute to difficulty eating, swallowing or speaking, all of which bring their own health challenges. Nearly one in five Medicare beneficiaries doesn't have any of his or her original teeth left, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

The study's author, Amber Willink, PhD, an assistant scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School, says that

"'...a staggering 49 million Medicare beneficiaries in this country do not have dental insurance. With fewer and fewer retiree health plans covering dental benefits, we are ushering in a population of people with less coverage and who are less likely to routinely see a dentist. We need to think about cost-effective solutions to this problem...'

“'Older adults are struggling and the current benefits structure of Medicare is not meeting their needs. We need to find the right solution,' she says. 'Otherwise, it's going to end up being so much more expensive for everyone.'"

Reading this report a few weeks ago as I was writing the final check for my dental work, gave me both a shudder (I am unaccustomed to writing checks with mid-four figures and will never get used to it) but also a strong sense of gratitude.

As much as I still carry concern about taking such a huge chunk of money out of my end-of-life fund, at least it was there for me to make the choice. How lucky is that – so many elders are not.

But why do I think incorporating even limited dental coverage into Medicare won't happen for at least the next four years?

* * *

RESISTANCE NOTES:
In related news, during the election campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump pledged to let Medicare negotiate discounts for prescription drugs as the Veterans Administration does. Then, early this week,after he met with lobbyists and executives of pharmaceutical companies, reports Matthew Yglesias at Vox:

"...he abandoned that pledge, referring to an idea he supported as recently as three weeks ago as a form of 'price fixing' that would hurt 'smaller, younger companies.' Instead of getting tough, Trump’s new plan is that he’s 'going to be lowering taxes' and 'getting rid of regulations.'"

Yglesias further reports that according to Herb Jackson who was the designated pool reporter that day, Trump told the pharmaceutical attendees:

"I'll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market. That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what's happening. But we can increase competition and bidding wars, big time.

"So what I want, we have to get lower prices, we have to get even better innovation and I want you to move your companies back into the United States. And I want you to manufacture in the United States. We're going to be lowering taxes, we're going to be getting rid of regulations that are unnecessary."

This is chilling when you extend similar thinking to Social Security and the Medicare program itself that the Republicans in Congress are planning to privatize. Recall that during the campaign, Trump repeated many times that he would not touch those two programs. Riiiiight.