Previous month:
February 2017
Next month:
April 2017

Resisting Tyranny: It's Up to You and Me

No ageing stuff today. I think we need some time here to talk America's national predicament. The dangers to our liberties, our freedoms, our country and democracy itself grow day by day and if you are not frightened for our future - even near future - you are not, as they say, paying attention. So

”The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy.

“Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism.

“Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.”

- Timothy Snyder in On Tyranny (2017)

Following the defeat of the frightful healthcare bill last week (of which the president made clear he is as ignorant as he is about, for example, foreign policy, the reasons a government cannot be run like a business or the threats of climate change), Democrats seem to believe Trump has been soundly defeated and it is smooth sailing from now on.

In fact, a couple of days ago this headline appeared in the Washington Post: “Democrats, Once Threatened by Trump, See Little Reason to Worry.”

Oh, for god's sake, the Dems are going to blow it again. Have they not noticed that although the healthcare bill was pulled, much more continues:

Paul Manafort. Steve Bannon. Steve Miller. Vladimir Putin. Does anything need to be said about their goals?

Both houses of Congress just voted to repeal internet privacy rules. The president has said he will sign the bill and then broadband providers will begin selling any and all of the personal information they collect about our activities online (which is vast) to whomever they want.

Don Jr. and Eric Trump announced that they regularly speak with their father, keeping him apprised of the doings of the family business. Does anyone really think this information does not affect the president's governing agenda or that he is not participating in decisions for the family business?

Ivanka Trump has been given a White House office and security clearance. She is taking no salary but says she is abiding by the conflict of interest requirements of all federal employees. Uh-huh. Just like her father, I suppose. Also, no one understands what her job is or what possible expertise she might have about anything.

Donald Trump and his bootlicker, Sean Spicer, continue every day to insist that up is down, left is right, day is night, black is white and - let me not pull any punches – lie without shame.

And now, General Flynn has asked for immunity in exchange for testifying about Trump/Russia connections. This is monumental on the order of Watergate.

Even so, What a puny list I've made compared to the large number of stupid, ignorant, frightening and potentially illegal actions from the president and the Republicans who are in control of the entire Congress. Whether it is dirtier air now for everyone or continued attempts to defund such important institutions as Planned Parenthood or collusion with foreign states, it is impossible to keep up.

The Democrats are not going to protect the country, nor is Congress and the media isn't helping as they chase each day's new shiny object of no value. Many non-governmental organizations are working hard against the onslaught from Washington but they cannot do it without us – you and me.

Last weekend, Yale University Professor of History Timothy Snyder appeared on Bill Maher's HBO program, Real Time to discuss his new book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.

Here is that interview. (I couldn't find a video copy that is not visually distorted so just go with it – listen to the words and ignore the video. Also ignore all of Maher's mishigas during the interview and especially in the last two minutes or so. As he tends to do, he just refuses to let interesting people be interesting but Snyder is more than worth your time.)

OnTyrrany Professor Snyder's On Tyranny, published last month, explains how easily tyranny can come creeping in on silent feet and destroy democracy before we notice what has happened. He also shows us what to watch for and what we must do to fight back.

On Tyranny is an inexpensive, small-format book that is available at Amazon and most other online and offline retailers. Each chapter, only four or five pages long, is one of the 20 lessons we need to know.

Somehow in that small space, Snyder has packed in the history he calls on to make the connections between the past and today, and shows how we can use that knowledge to craft our responses.

You can easily read the book in an hour. Please do that. Then re-read it. And then re-read it a third time while you highlight or make notes on what you want to remember.

If enough of us do this and put Professor Snyder's lessons to use, it might save our democracy.


Elder Orphans' Documents

Back in 2015, I wrote about elder orphans – old people who have no family or are estranged from their family and, either way, have no one they feel comfortable asking to handle health, legal and financial issues on their behalf if they become incapacitated or when they die.

Definition of Elder Orphan
In 2016, I carried on at some length here about a definition of elder orphans which is more complex for some people than can be obvious but has also been made more complicated than it needs to be.

Plus, some people who write about elder orphans – even some medical professionals who weigh in - are quite hysterical about how awful being an elder ophan is. That just is not true and I wrote about that last year. It's still worth a glance.

For today's purposes, the first paragraph above will do as a definition.

Lastwill

The Witnessed Documents
I have been remiss in not following up further on this issue. But a TGB reader recently emailed explaining that she, like me, is an elder orphan, that she had read the 2015 post in which I admitted to having made almost no arrangements for someone to make decisions for me or for my final wishes. She wondered if I have made any progress.

Happily for me, I have. I'm not finished but I've completed work on the major documents and, thanks mostly to my excellent attorney, John Gear, who pressured me in the kindliest way to get these documents done, it was not too painful.

I now have, duly executed:

Last Will and Testament
Durable Power of Attorney
Oregon Health Information Release Authorization

The documents, in order, (1) distribute my assets upon my death, (2) give my named agent (who, in my case, is also my heir) permission to act on my behalf in legal and financial matters, and (3) is an authorization to release my health information to my health care surrogate (same person).

POLST
Having recently found a new physician, I have also completed and signed a POLST, a Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment laying out what medical interventions I do and do not want in an extreme or end-of-life situation, and naming my surrogate so that medical professionals, in whatever condition I'm in, can contact her.

A POLST is a state-specific document in the U.S., called a MOLST in some states, that can be updated and/or revoked or changed, etc. if you choose. It is registered with the state for easy access by medical professionals.

That sounds like it should cover everything, but no. There are financial documents I have now completed too.

Ducks_in_a_Row

Financial Documents
At my death and upon presentation of my death certificate, my named beneficiaries will have full access to my accounts as if they were me. Both my local bank where I keep a checking and savings accounts and my investment advisor supplied the forms which I have executed and they now have in my records.

If your money matters are larger and more complex than mine there could be more to do. Consult your attorney and/or financial person.

Letter of Final Instructions for Survivors
This is a big deal - at least in size. It is an enormous document. It includes wishes for handling of remains, memorial service or funeral and complete list of property, various kinds of accounts, online assets, passwords, personal and family information and much more.

Although I have a file in which I'm collecting information, I haven't done this yet and I will probably break it up into two or three documents. (In my first draft of today's post, I made some lists of the items needed but it went on for several pages.

So instead of that, take a break now for a moment and follow this link [pdf] to the website of a financial consultant who posted a sample letter of instruction form.

Although it is nearly 20 years old – no spaces for email addresses or online information - it is amazingly thorough otherwise and extremely useful as a guide for collecting all the information your survivors will need and want.

According to my attorney (and many others), the final instruction letter should NOT be kept with your will which itself should not be in a safe deposit box because the bank will not release the contents of box until they have a death certificate. (A lot of people keep their will and other important documents in the freezer, sealed tightly in plastic.)

However you choose to store these documents, be sure the people you have selected to handle your end-of-life needs have copies or can easily get to them.

Also, you should review all your documents every year or so and update them as necessary. Your birthday a good reminder to do this.

Finding Your Surrogate
This blog post does not and is not meant to cover everything. There are other kinds of documents and an amazing array of different end of life choices.

Also, I understand that the biggest difficulty for elder orphans can be finding the person(s) to rely on to handle your affairs at the end. That's part of what took me so long and I have no advice to help you on that – only my personal experience.

My choice is an old friend I have known since she was a child who is now a mother. It is not ideal that I am on the west coast and she is on the east coast but I trust her completely and she has agreed to take this on for me.

My one worry is how difficult it might be to disrupt her life when I die or, moreso, if I am incapacitated and she needs to make life and death decisions as my health surrogate.

In just the past couple of weeks it occurred to me that there is one person nearby who I have come to know over three years who I would trust completely to make the right medical decisions for me and who is, like my east coast friend, enough younger than I am to probably outlive me.

Perhaps, I have been thinking, I could name him to be my health surrogate, leaving the rest to my friend on the east coast. However, he is also one of my various professional healthcare providers so even though we've become almost friends, it might not be appropriate to even ask him about doing this. I don't know. I continue to ponder it.

Meanwhile, writing this post has lit a fire under me to get that letter of instruction done. That will take awhile. An easier task is to arrange and pre-pay my green cremation. My east coast friend knows what to do with the ashes.

Hourglass


A Creepy Vampire Story About Anti-Ageing

UPDATE 1:30PM: I just noticed that the 3 April edition of The New Yorker has a story on this topic titled, "Silicon Valley's Quest to Live Forever," written by Tad Friend. If you have access to the magazine online, you can read it here.

* * *

It's pretty hard to go wrong investing in anti-aging products. According to a report released in 2016 by Zion Market Research of Sarasota, Florida:

”...global demand for anti-aging market was valued at USD 140.3 billion in 2015, is expected to reach USD 216.52 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 7.5% between 2016 and 2021.”

In case, like me, you wonder what the “anti-aging market” products actually are, Zion Market Research supplies a handy list of some of the most common ones:

Botox
Anti-Wrinkle Products
Anti-Stretch Mark Products
Anti-Pigmentation Therapy
Anti-Adult Acne Therapy
Breast Augmentation
Liposuction
Chemical Peel
Hair Restoration Treatment
Microdermabrasion
Laser Aesthetics
Anti-Cellulite Treatment
Anti-Aging Radio Frequency Devices

And that doesn't begin to cover the products and services that fall into categories that sound like science fiction.

Cryogenics, for example – freezing your body or even just your head to be defrosted later when, presumably, new techniques will give you additonal life although I always wonder what people who chose only to freeze their heads would do for a body to go with it.

Aubrey de Grey, a well-known British computer scientist and age researcher believes that in the not-too-distant future, medical advances will stop aging in its tracks.

Several technology billionaires are spending a lot of their money on research intending to end death entirely. Google has backed a project called Calico with the ambition of “curing death.”

As the Washington Post reported two years ago, Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of Paypal

”...and the tech titans who founded Google, Facebook, eBay, Napster and Netscape are using their billions to rewrite the nation’s science agenda and transform biomedical research.

“The entrepreneurs are driven by a certitude that rebuilding, regenerating and reprogramming patients’ organs, limbs, cells and DNA will enable people to live longer and better.

The Washington Post also reported that Oracle founder Larry Ellison

”...has proclaimed his wish to live forever and donated more than $430 million to anti-aging research. 'Death has never made any sense to me,' he told his biographer, Mike Wilson. 'How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there?'”

Ellison says outright what other tech billionaires don't quite say aloud, that they are really looking for immortality and some of them are convinced their money will actually purchase it for them.

I'm not going anywhere near the moral, ethical and philosophical questions that raises.

Instead, after all that background, I want to tell you about the creepiest anti-aging project in existence, something I can only think of as the Vampire Project. As so much medical research does, it started with mice.

Mice

Two years ago, Nature reported how some scientists were rejuvenating old mice with the blood of young mice in a procedure called parabiosis:

”By joining the circulatory system of an old mouse to that of a young mouse, scientists have produced some remarkable results. In the heart, brain, muscles and almost every other tissue examined, the blood of young mice seems to bring new life to ageing organs, making old mice stronger, smarter and healthier. It even makes their fur shinier.”

Or so it seemed and it is not a stretch to imagine, if this research is successful, young people selling their blood to rich old folks because it certainly would not go cheap.

Farfetched? By last fall, this was reported in Time magazine:

”In the new study, the scientists created a way to exchange the blood of young and old mice so that the mixture was 50-50. They found that old mice had some improvements in muscle repair and liver fibrosis, but young mice experienced worsened cell formation in the brain and impaired coordination, and the declines happened rapidly.

“'The big result is that a single exchange hurts the young partner more than it helps the old partner,' says study co-author Michael Conboy of UC Berkeley. 'That means the negative stuff in old blood is more potent and overriding than the good stuff in young blood, at least in the short term.'”

Mouse rejuvenation

That sounds like it would put a crimp in the young/old blood transfusion theory of immortality but we would be wrong. At a private clinic called Ambrosia in Monterey, California, right now people can pay $8,000 to have blood plasma from teenagers and young adults pumped into their veins.

Ambrosia owner, Jesse Karmazin says that

"...within a month, most participants 'see improvement' from the one-time infusion of a two-liter bagful of plasma, which is blood with the blood cells removed,” MIT Technology Review reported in January.

Of course, there is a big difference between studies with plasma and studies with blood and MIT has strong reservations.

”Several scientists and clinicians say Karmazin’s trial is so poorly designed it cannot hope to provide evidence about the effects of the transfusions. And some say the pay-to-participate study, with the potential to collect up to $4.8 million from as many as 600 participants, amounts to a scam...

“Over the last decade or so, such studies have offered provocative clues that certain hallmarks of aging can be reversed or accelerated when old mice get blood from young ones. Yet these studies have come to conflicting conclusions.

“An influential 2013 paper in Cell showed that a particular component in young blood, GDF11, increased muscle strength, for example, but other researchers could not replicate the finding.”

There is a lot more science explanation in these articles than I've subjected you to but if you are interested, follow the links above. And there is more here and here and here

Mainly, I am interessted in the elitest conceit of a bunch of billionaires who fund these vampire projects for their own ends when their almost unlimited resources could be put to such great good uses in the world. Here's a video about one of these guys who ran for president last year.


ELDER MUSIC: Send More Chuck Berry

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.

* * *

The spacecraft Voyager 1 and 2 have now left the solar system (or not, depending on how you define it, but we won't go into that) and both have a gold record attached that have sounds of the Earth, people speaking and so on.

There is also music – Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Blind Willie Johnson, Louis Armstrong and more. CHUCK BERRY was on there as well.

It seems that at least one of these has been intercepted by aliens and a message they sent back has recently been decoded and it read, "Send more Chuck Berry". Alas, there is no more Chuck but there's plenty of his music in the vaults.

You all probably think you know Chuck's music: Johnny B. Goode, Maybellene, Roll Over Beethoven, Sweet Little Sixteen, etc.

I'm not here to prove you wrong. After all, those songs and many like them were the template for rock & roll and the world of music would be the poorer without them. Today I hope to show there was more to Chuck than those famous songs.

Chuck

Chuck started out playing the blues and he got together with fellow blues-man Johnnie Johnson. Indeed, Chuck pretty much took over Johnnie 's group, who became his backup band for some years. Johnnie can be heard playing piano on Wee Wee Hours.

♫ Wee Wee Hours


Chuck

I'm not completely eschewing his famous songs; I've included two of them (a couple more if you're really familiar with Chuck's oeuvre). You Never Can Tell was always a bit of the odd one out when it came to his biggest hits. It's one I really like.

♫ You Never Can Tell


Decades early, Chuck seems to be anticipating dub and reggae as well as hip hop all in the one song. Cuban music too, given the title: Havana Moon.

♫ Havana Moon


Chuck

An interesting combination of classic blues style and DooWop with Chuck's lyrics pertaining to school days, young girls and the like. Make of this what you will, Childhood Sweetheart.

♫ Childhood Sweetheart


Chuck

Chuck as lounge singer, with some tasteful guitar playing it goes without saying (even though I've done just that). This was from a rehearsal for a record where someone left the tape rolling. It only surfaced when, as with many other artists, just about everything has seen the light of day. The song is I'm Through With Love.

♫ I'm Through With Love (Rehearsal 1986)


Chuck seems to have had an excessive interest in Brenda Lee in the song named after her. I'm not going to comment further.

♫ Brenda Lee


Now a rare cover song. Drifting Blues was written by Charles Brown, who Chuck, at least initially, sounded awfully like in his singing. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, wouldn't think that's a bad thing as she's a huge fan of both performers. Here it is.

♫ Drifting Blues


Chuck

Too Much Monkey Business is one of his songs that's rarely covered, probably because it's such a tongue twister. You really have to be on your mettle to perform this one. Lots of the phrases from the song have been usurped for other purposes over the years.

♫ Too Much Monkey Business


Chuck regrets that he can't be understood in Spanish, at least according to this next song. Of course, all he had to do was plug in his guitar and start playing and he'd be understood immediately. I suppose that the guitar might get in the way of what he seemed to be trying to achieve. We'll never know. The song is Lajaunda (Espanol).

Lajaunda (Espanol)


Chuck

I'll end with one of his hits, one of the famous one. I just have to say "Hail, Hail Rock and Roll" and quite a lot of you will know that I'm talking about School Days.

♫ School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell)


Not quite the end. Chuck deserves an extra, one that pretty much defined him and all he stood for: Brown Eyed Handsome Man.

♫ Brown Eyed Handsome Man



INTERESTING STUFF – 25 March 2017

ODE TO FORGETFULNESS

This is all too familiar to me and probably to many of you too.

Comedian Mack Dryden, who used to write for Bill Maher, has a whole lot more videos and his website is here.

SURPRISINGLY COMPLICATED PROP MONEY

Not just anyone can make fake money for movies and TV shows. As the YouTube page explains, it is a

”...highly regulated endeavor that is closely watched by federal authorities, so Rappaport has to be extra careful to ensure his fakes never make it into circulation. Still, when your prop money is the go-to for rap videos and has been featured in over 175 films and shows, we think it's safe to say that your cash is king.”

Take a look:

THREE NEW MONOPOLY TOKENS ANNOUNCED

Remember last month when I told you that Monopoly planned to kill the thimble token and a couple of others. Now they have done it. Here's the story:

The T-rex, ducky and and penguin tokens will be available in a new release of the game in the fall. In a statement, Jonathan Berkowitz, a senior vice president at Hasbro Gaming, said,

“The next generation of tokens clearly represents the interests of our fans around the world, and we’re proud to have our iconic game impacted by the people that feel most passionate about playing it,” according to The New York Times.

ELMO GETS FIRED

It's a long time – probably fall – until President Trump's budget will become final and many changes can happen between now and then. However, in the first draft, funding for PBS is being cut which means - Sesame Street's Elmo would be fired:

WHO SAID IT – STEVE BANNON OR VOLDEMORT?

Buzzfeed recently published a little quiz: Ten quotations about which you are asked to choose whether White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said it or if the Harry Potter character, Voldemort, said it.

BannonVoldemort

I've read all the Harry Potter Books, I closely follow American politics in Washington, D.C. and I thought this would be slam dunk for me. But nooooo. I correctly identified only four out of ten.

You can test yourself here.

EXPERT INTERRUPTED DURING LIVE TV INTERVIEW

This video took the internet by storm last week. Watch what happened when Professor Robert Kelly was being interviewed by a BBC reporter about South Korea:

It was too delicious for Jono & Ben not to wonder what would have happened had it had been a mommy who was interrupted instead of a daddy. Here's their take:

Thank my friend Jim Stone for sending this.

THE PHYSICIST WHO MAKES AMAZING ORIGAMI

As the YouTube page explains:

”Twenty five years ago, physicist Robert Lang worked at NASA, where he researched lasers. He has also garnered 46 patents on optoelectronics...

“But in 2001, Lang left his job in order to pursue a passion he's had since childhood: origami. In the origami world, Lang is now a legend, and it's not just his eye-catching, intricate designs that have taken the craft by storm.”

I think you'll enjoy this:

EATING FOR A HEALTHY OLD AGE

One of the major cuts in President Trump's budget is to the National Institutes on Health of which the National Institute on Aging is a part.

The website has a terrific section on healthy eating in old age, what changes are needed and how to make them.

“...as you age, some foods may be better than others for staying healthy and reducing your chance of illness,” they explain.

NIH healthy eating old age

There are sections on important nutrients, shopping, changes in healthy choices as we get older. And much more. Take advantage of this while you can. Such information is likely to be the kind that is canceled and disappears with the Trump budget.

You'll find the NIA healthy eating in old age section here.

THE CUTEST THING: QUOKKAS

I only recently heard of quokkas – a marsupial native to Australia (home of Sunday's music columnist, Peter Tibbles). And it is the cutest thing you've ever seen. They call it the happiest animal in the world. Apparently it's friendly too. Take a look:

Bored Panda recently published a whole batch of cute quokka photos. Here's a mama with her baby:

Quokka with baby

And another:

Cutequokka

How's that for leaving you today with big, warm hug? You can see more cute quokka photos at Bored Panda.

* * *

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.


Not Like Them – Those Other Old People (Again)

[EDITORIAL NOTE: This week has been too busy and I ran out of time to write today's post. But that's okay – I could use a day off - and this one, a rerun, caused a good deal of introspection and some differences of opinion in the comments when it first appeared here nearly three years ago.

Let's see how it goes this time.

* * *

Hardly a week goes by that I do not receive a press release or reader email alerting me to a photography exhibit of elders. So much so that it is hard not to conclude that it is becoming a growth industry.

The two most common categories are closeups of wrinkled skin and old people participating in sports - or, sometimes, both in the same series.

It is always better, I believe, so see more portrayals of old people, in any medium, than not. But too many of the photographs are just ordinary and stand out only for having been shot in harshly lit black-and-white which, as any denizen of the internet and certain galleries knows, is the signal that you are in the presence of “art.”

You can choose to reject that designation if your judgment tells you otherwise particularly, in my case, when it seems the photographers' goal is to shock us with the apparent ruin of 90-year-old bodies.

In June, Lillian B. Rubin died. She was 90 years old, a sociologist, a psychologist and author of several useful and well-received books including, in 2008, 60 on Up: The Truth About Aging in the 21st Century.

In reading Rubin's obituary, I was reminded of the opening line in that book,

“Getting old sucks. It always has, it always will.”

Anyone who has been reading this blog for longer than a day or two know that I disagree. But I do know what she was getting at and some of that is contained in an article she wrote for Salon in 2011:

”...old age - even now when old age often isn't what it used to be – is a time of loss, decline and stigma.

“Yes, I said stigma. A harsh word, but one that speaks to a truth that's affirmed by social researchers who have consistently found that racial and ethnic stereotypes are likely to give way over time and with contact, but not those about age.

“And where there are stereotypes, there are prejudice and discrimination – feeling and behavior that are deeply rooted in our social world, and consequently make themselves felt in our inner psychological worlds as well.”

In a short but remarkable section of that Salon article, written when Rubin was 87, she admits to her own prejudice against old people. As she recalled the interviews with elders that she conducted for 60 on Up,

”...I found myself forced back on myself, on my own prejudices about old people, even though I am also one of them.

“Even now, even after all I've learned about myself, those words – I am one of them – bring a small shock. And something inside resists.

“I want to take the words back, to shout, 'No, it's not true, I'm really not like them,' and explain all the ways I'm different from the old woman I saw pushing her walker down the street or the frail shuffling man I looked away from with a slight sense of discomfort.

“I know enough not to be surprised that I feel this way, but I can't help being somewhat shamed by it.”

My own “small shock” and “surprise” and “shame” is that sometimes I catch myself, when I pay attention, feeling like Rubin. Because even though I am hyper-aware, thanks to the work I do for this blog, that I am one perilous fall or terrible diagnosis away from disastrous need of part- or full-time care, I feel different from those who do.

But what Rubin was getting at when she wrote that getting old sucks is not so much the physical manifestations as the emotional and spiritual changes that our culture does not acknowledge even as it is the major source.

Rubin and I share a disdain for the relentless focus on youth, the anti-aging industry, the dubious value of brain games, elders who pretend they are not old.

It is the less than artful photography of ancient bodies I mentioned above that comes to mind when I read part of Rubin's conclusion in her Salon piece:

”...we're living in a weird combination of the public idealization of aging that lies alongside the devaluation of the old. And it isn't good for anybody.

“Not the 60-year-olds who know they can't do what they did at 40 but keep trying, not the 80-year-olds who, when their body and mind remind them that they're not 60, feel somehow inadequate, as if they've done something wrong, failed a test.”

Until we, as a society, find a way to value the late years of elders' lives – all the years, in all their manifestations - there will continue to be old people like Lillian Rubin, me and a certain percentage of you who are ashamed to know that sometimes we feel “not like them.” Until we are forced, one day, to admit, finally, that we are.


Travel While Old (and Resistance Notes)

[EDITORIAL NOTE: These travel complaints have been on my mind for a couple of weeks but they aren't wildly important unless you feel as I do. The Resistance Notes at the end are important.]

Greece2

During my working life, I traveled a lot, sometimes hopping on a plane at a moment's notice to go across the country or across an ocean. I loved visiting places I'd only read about or seen in movies and the airlines, in those days, made getting there and back a pleasant, even glamorous, experience.

The 1970s and 1980s were prime time for airline travel. Plenty of room even for people with long legs, reasonably good meals served hot (even special ones if you ordered ahead), aisles wide enough that you could get up and stroll around to stretch your legs without banging into people who were napping.

Remember 747s? The middle rows were five seats wide and when I was traveling between Los Angeles and New York, there were often a few that were entirely empty so I used one as a full-length bed and slept the whole way. No objections from the flight attendants who even gently woke me when it was time to buckle up again for landing.

Best of all, the price was the price. Whatever was quoted to you was what you paid. No surprise charges for an aisle or window seat or food or checked baggage or carry-on items or, maybe soon, oxygen.

Unless you can afford first class, air travel has become torture and I don't think I need to recount all the ways it is now made so terribly difficult, even painful.

Full-aircraft-xlarge

Therefore, I was surprised to read the results of an AARP survey about baby boomers' travel plans for 2016:

”Most respondents (97%) planned at least one domestic trip and nearly half (45%) planned international ones,” reports Irene S. Levine in MarketWatch (reprinted from Next Avenue).

“While most research about over-50 travelers focuses primarily on boomers, data on the Silent Generation (those born between 1925 and 1945) suggests that with improved health and increased longevity, these folks, too, are opting to travel...”

[DISCLOSURE: Ms. Levine interviewed me for this travel story.]

The report goes on to discuss how boomers are willing to spend more money than younger people to avoid hassles, they demand better service, plan trips far in advance and are intent on checking items off their bucket lists, among other changes from their youth.

Bora-Bora

From the quotations in the article, they are gung-ho about getting out and about to seeing the world as often as possible by air.

“We take ourselves less seriously because we have lost loved ones and realize what really is important in life.”

“Life is unpredictable and I think we need to do as much as we can while we can.”

“Loving every minute of travel even when it isn’t so great. Aren’t we lucky to be able to go?”

Well, not me. Can it be that I am alone in finding being crammed into a plane seat that doesn't accommodate even my five-foot, two-inch size? Or enduring flight delays of many hours (happened on my last three flights in a row with the worst food on earth at airports)?

Crowded-terminal_Editorial

How about the literal mile and more that must be walked between flights? Worse, once you finally get to the gate, you find it's been changed to another gate half a mile from where you are standing and none of those little jitneys airports used to have to carry people from here to there are anywhere to be found.

I've turned into such an old fart that it's just too much work to contemplate a plane trip and because there isn't anywhere I want to go that isn't at least six hours from where I am, it's a full day trip when you count to and from airports which means I'll be exhausted for at least a day after I arrive.

In addition, there is something else in play that I haven't entirely worked out. I just like being home. We have mentioned here that even after too many social engagements in a row (in my case, two days worth does it), we need some down time to recharge.

For me, it's not just dinner with friends or a meeting or other kind of gathering that psychically exhausts me. Being in the vicinity of hundreds of other people for several hours, even if I don't know them or speak with them, is exhausting. I don't entirely understand but it seems to be related to the normal hubbub of being surrounded by a huge group.

Or not. I haven't sorted that out yet but the bottom line is that I'm quite happy at home and my nearby environment. And I'm amazed, given those AARP statistics, at how many people put up with what I find too odious to suffer through.

What do you think?

* * *

RESISTANCE NOTES
There is a lot going on in Washington, D.C., enough to give me a major headache AND heartburn. Here are two items that I'm sure you're aware of.

First Item: Tomorrow, unless the Republicans change their mind, the full House of Representatives will vote on Trumpcare. Or, as it is more formally known, The American Health Care Act (AHCA).

The bill devastates Medicaid, harms people age 55-64 in other ways too and undermines the financial stability of Medicare. You'll find more detail about all that at this two-page Justice in Aging fact sheet [PDF].

It would be a good thing for you to call your representative today and tell him or her what vote you prefer.

Second Item: Last week President Donald Trump released his budget plan but it's not his alone. The budget contains many of the cherished draconian dreams of Republicans.

Instead of me, let's have John Oliver, host of the HBO show, Last Week Tonight, tell you about the bill's troubling priorities:


When Your Whole World Feels Empty

Grieving

Fairly regularly, we discuss loneliness at this blog mainly due to the oft-repeated cultural belief that all old people who live alone are lonely. The general media pick up this idea from startling research reports that loneliness in elders leads to early death, as much as by seven-and-a-half years.

I've read that research and it has convinced me. What I do not agree with, however, is the extent to which the media apparently believe all people older than 50 or 60 who live alone are lonely.

Certainly some people are generally lonely all the time but I think for most of us it is a sometime thing that comes and goes depending on circumstances – that for most of us it is not a permanent condition.

That said, I'm here today about a singular aspect or type of loneliness that I don't believe we have mentioned.

A week or two ago, I ran across a quotation credited to a man I had never heard of, Phillipe Aries, a French medievalist and historian of the family and children (according to Wikipedia), who died in 1984 at age 69.

Probably because we do talk about the difference between loneliness and being alone fairly often here, the quotation has been rolling around in my head ever since I first saw it:

”A single person is missing for you and the whole world is empty. But one no longer has the right to say so aloud.”

With each re-reading, my mind, my heart went straight to the handful of times in my life when, as I walked own the street, people were rushing to and fro, couples kissing, car horns honking, panhandlers begging, dogs sniffing at each other, music pouring out of a bar, a cop car's siren wailing and I wanted to scream: "What are you doing being so normal, doing everyday things? Can't you see that my world ended yesterday? That nothing will ever be the same?"

Not only was my world suddenly empty because someone I love died, I wanted the rest of the world to be empty around me.

The quotation is often mis-attributed to Joan Didion who referenced it in her book, The Year of Magical Thinking but is actually from Aries' book, Western Attitudes toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present, published in 1975.

In addition, having now looked into the quotation fairly extensively, too often only the first sentence is quoted. It may be true on its own but it is a much richer, more important with both sentences.

Time was when people grieved the deaths of loved ones for a year or more. Widow's weeds and a circumscribed social life especially for widows - not so much widowers - and other rituals to help assuage the loss.

Nowadays, only the most religious Jews sit shiva for seven days. At memorials I've attended for people with other or no religion, we are expected to tell funny stories and, as the quotation shows, get on with life afterwards as though nothing has happened.

We have, beginning in the 20th century, deprived ourselves of our grief. There are any number of psychological treatises on death and grieving but I think those short two sentences from Aries are enough to know that we probably should rethink our reserve about expressing grief.

To get through it without much fuss – preferably briefly (see you tomorrow at work) – is our oh-so-modern way of a loved one's death. To repeat:

”A single person is missing for you and the whole world is empty. But one no longer has the right to say so aloud.”

image

A few weeks ago I met a woman near my age who is becoming a friend. As we are gradually exchanging life stories and episodes so to come to know and understand one another, I learned that she is a widow of about two years.

What did not happen in that conversation is that I did not say something like, “Tell me about him.” No one ever told me to skim right past such information but I know that it is sort of expected – I've seen it often and I've done it before.

Many of you know this personally and although I was married for only six years many decades ago, I don't I have any difficulty imagining emptiness when a husband or wife of 20 or 30 or 40 or more years dies. I have no trouble imagining that it will be a long time before you feel anything like having a full life again.

One of loneliest thoughts I had when my mother died was that no one was left alive who knew me when I was a little girl. Fortunately for me, I had two or three weeks to clean out her home with my step-brother who was staying with me.

We were together in our grief with plenty of time to talk, without reservation – or sit silently together sometimes - and my emptiness was partially relieved by spending those weeks with Joe. It was a good and healthy and fine time together for us.

It has not been like that when cherished friends have died.

One thing that happens is that other friends and acquaintances who know what happened verbally tiptoe around you for a few days but they don't make room for conversation about your devastating event beyond “Sorry for your loss” and then they move on.

I understand that people often don't know what to say but maybe we're just out of practice. Having given it some thought now – spurred on by a new friend and a quotation from a 42-year-old book – maybe we just need to say something as simple as “tell me about him” or “what do you miss most.”

And if it's too soon, undoubtedly the person will tell you and you can let it go for awhile. But I'm pretty sure the time comes when each of us wants to talk about a person who, when they died, made the whole world feel empty.

What do you think?


ELDER MUSIC: More Hooked on Classics

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.

* * *

The name was suggested by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and has nothing to do with that dreadful bunch of records that came out some decades ago.

This is the second in the series; it's a sister to the columns called "Classical Gas" (another lot named by the A.M.). In this case, I feature more well-known composers, unlike the other ones which are devoted to lesser knowns.

Let's begin with one of the most important composers in history, JOSEPH HAYDN.

Haydn

Papa Jo is most noted for his symphonies, string quartets and other instrumental music - however, he wrote quite a lot of vocal music as well. Actually, he wrote quite a lot of every sort of music.

While he was in the employ of Esterhazy (father and son), he not only wrote and produced his own music, he also staged operas by other composers. One of those was Guiseppe Anfossi and his opera La Metilde Ritrovata. However, it needed something extra so Jo wrote the aria “Quando la Rosa non ha più Spine” for inclusion in it.

Here we have NURIA RIAL performing that aria.

Nuria Rial

♫ Haydn - Quando la rosa


CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS was best known for his symphonies, particularly the Organ Symphony as well as works like The Carnival of the Animals, Danse Macabre and so on.

Saint-Saëns

These really don't float my boat. He wrote smaller works like string quartets, piano trios, violin sonatas and the like. One smaller piece I particularly like is his Romance for Horn and Piano, Op 36. This is for French horn and piano obviously.

♫ Saint-Saens - Romance for Horn and Piano Op 36


I was lying in bed the other morning listening to the radio (which is how I get inspiration for quite a few of these tracks) and they played a beautiful piece of music. That's obviously MOZART, I said to myself but I don't recognise it.

Mozart

Fortunately, they told me what it was and naturally I searched my music and there it was (several times). A version I have was even better than the one they played, not surprisingly it's by RENÉE FLEMING.

Renee Fleming

The aria is L'amerò, sarò costante from one of Wolfie's lesser known operas, “Il Rè Pastore” or The Shepherd King. K 208 for those who are interested in such things.

♫ Renée Fleming - Mozart Il re pastore K.208 - L'amerò sarò costante


Not too long after they played the previous piece of music, they featured this one. I could lie in bed and have my column organised for me I thought at the time. This one was by LUIGI BOCCHERINI.

Boccherini

Old Boccers is another favorite of mine and he had a string quartet augmented by another instrument, in this case a guitar. Actually, two instruments - there are some castanets towards the end of it. Not really needed, but I suppose they add color and movement.

This is the third movement of his Guitar Quintet No. 4. It has the name Fandango (thus the castanets, I suppose).

♫ Boccherini - Guitar Quintet No. 4 (3)


CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH was the second son of the great J.S. Bach to go into the family trade.

Bach-CPE

He was hugely successful in his time and his music is still played today, probably more so than his brothers'.

I want to play for you what is called a Symphony for Strings. It's an interesting amalgam of baroque (although it's gone somewhat beyond baroque) and classical (it isn't quite a fully fledged classical piece). It's as if Vivaldi and Haydn sat down and wrote it together, although that would be unlikely as Haydn was only nine years old when Vivaldi died.

Anyway, here is the first movement of his Symphony No 2 in B flat major.

♫ CPE Bach - Symphony no 2 in B flat major (1)


I think that VINCENZO BELLINI ranks just behind Puccini and Mozart as an opera composer.

Bellini

Vince is not only a favorite of the public; other composers admired him as well. Verdi raved about his compositions and Wagner, who pretty much didn't like anyone but himself, said he was spellbound by his works. Liszt and Chopin were both fans.

Quite a few of his operas are regularly performed today. However, what I've selected is far from his most famous and is not often performed. It's the opera "Adelson e Salvini" and the aria is Dopo l'oscuro nembo sung by LENA BELKINA.

Lena Belkina

♫ Bellini - Adelson e Salvini Dopo l'oscuro nembo


PYOTR TCHAIKOVSKY sure could write a good tune.

Tchaikovsky

Actually, he wrote a whole bunch of good tunes, many of which have become the most popular works in classical music (and some of the best – I'm thinking of his fifth symphony)

Besides writing ballets, symphonies and concertos he also wrote operas, the best known of which is "Eugene Onegin". From act two of that opera is the Waltz, often performed as a stand-alone orchestral piece, as it is today. This is a real earworm. Sorry.

♫ Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin - Waltz


It's difficult to say what is BEETHOVEN's most famous composition, more than a dozen could fit the bill.

Beethoven

The one I've selected today certainly makes the short list. I had not thought about it for a long time until I was reminded of it by my sister, and that was enough for me to include it today.

It's a solo piano work, officially called Bagatelle No 25 in A Minor, and it was probably written for Therese Malfatti, a student of Ludwig whom he wished to marry. She turned him down.

Over the years, Ludwig's original title of Für Therese got lost along the way and these days it's known as Für Elise. The pianist is Gerard Willems.

♫ Beethoven - Für Elise (Bagatelle in A minor) WoO 59


GUSTAV MAHLER wrote nine and a half symphonies – that half, the tenth was incomplete when he died.

Mahler

These are quite long and are considered, by those who dwell on such things, to be important. "Important" is always in implied capital letters. All except number 4, which is shorter and considered of lesser note  That one's my favorite of his.

Like Beethoven's Ninth, it has a vocal final movement, in this case a single soprano, not a choir. One of the versions I have has KIRI TE KANAWA performing that role.

Kiri Te Kanawa

So, here is the fourth movement of Symphony No 4.

♫ Mahler - Symphony No 4 (4)



INTERESTING STUFF – 18 March 2017

IMPEACHABLE

Remember the music group, Peter, Paul and Mary? They were important protest singers back in the Sixties. Now, Peter Tibbles, who writes the Sunday music column here, has forwarded a new song from Noel Paul Stookey.

Stookey's musical colleague, Peter Yarrow, wrote this about his new song:

Impeachable is an example of Noel’s extraordinary ability to write a super-funny, very surprising yet also, highly nuanced, lyric. He is, and has always been, an amazing songwriter.

“In its first public performance last weekend Impeachable brought the audience at our concert in Thousand Oaks, CA to its feet with a prolonged standing ovation. There were screeches of delight the likes of which I have never before heard at a Peter Paul and Mary concert.”

Read more at Reader Supported News.

CHOCOLATE MUSEUM

Mmmm. Yummmm. There are chocOlate museums in such places as Orlando, Cologne, Barcelona, Bruges and more. For quite awhile there have been Jacques Torres chocolate museums in other boroughs of New York City, but finally one opened in Manhattan recently.

The Manhattan Jacques Torres Chocolate Museum is located around the corner from where I lived for 25 years. It is the single good reason I have found to not still be living there – way too easy to overindulge.

Here's the Chocolate Museum website and you can read more here.

COLBERT MOCKS MADDOW - DESERVEDLY

It's been several months since I stopped watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Far too regularly, she stretches 20 minutes of information into 60 minutes of program by repeating everything she says five and even six times. I'd had a enough when I stopped tuning in.

A friend who knows I ignore Maddow called on Tuesday evening to tell me to tune in – that she had some Trump tax returns.

Nothing different happened. She spoke about what she was going to show us for more than 30 damned minutes before holding up the paltry two pages that mean next to nothing in terms of new information. It was a total waste of my time and of her show's time.

Plus, she took credit for them landing at her show when the pages actually had been sent anonymously to Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, David Cay Johnson.

The next night, on The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert performed a near-perfect parody of that Maddow show and her well-known mannerisms. Thank you, Colbert – she deserves calling out on this. Here it is.

HEINZ USES MAD MEN AD IN REAL LIFE CAMPAIGN

If you were a Mad Men fan, you might recall an episode in season 6 when Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm), serves up a proposal for a deceptively simple ad campaign for Heinz ketchup. Here is the scene:

Now it is about to become a real-life print advertising campaign almost entirely as it was shot for the TV show:

”Per Adweek,” reports Vanity Fair, “Heinz just greenlighted the ads—and will run them almost exactly as Draper intended, beginning today, in print and out-of-home executions in New York City.”

Adweek reports that 'the ads are officially being credited to Heinz’s current agency, David Miami, and to Don’s fictional 1960's firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.'”

What's that old saying about life imitating art? You can read more here.

CAN YOU GUESS THE VOICE of THE YELLOW M&M?

As long as we're talking about commercials, listen to this one starring the yellow M&M:

Do you know which popular actor has been the voice of the yellow candy for 21 years? Scroll to the bottom of today's post for the answer.

IMPEACHARA

Here's a tongue-in-cheek "commercial" about a drug for what ails you, maybe all of us. Journalist Irene S. Levine was the first of several readers to send it to me. It's subtle – be sure to stick around for the ending.

MOST SEARCHED FOR OUT-OF-PRINT BOOKS

OldBooks2

Online used book seller, Abebooks, published the Bookfinder list of most searched for out-of-print books for 2016.

What came in first? The 1974 novel, Westworld a companion book to the movie starring Yul Brynner, both written by Michael Crichton. Abebooks explained that the sudden interest in the 43-year-old book was due to

”HBO's revival of Michael Crichton's science fiction thriller Westworld was one of the best things on TV in 2016...The 10-part series premiered on October 2 and concluded on December 4.”

Here are the rest of the top five most searched for out-of-print books:

Sex by Madonna
Permaculture: A Designer's Manual by Bill Mollison
Unintended Consequences by John Ross
Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman

You coulda fooled me. See the entire top 30 list at Abebooks with links to those that are available at their website – including a few that you'll recognize.)

JAPANESE CONFECTIONERY KNOWN AS WAGASHI

The art of wagashi goes back hundreds of years in Japan. As the YouTube page explains:

”These ornate sweets, meant to reflect the delicate beauty of nature, were traditionally created to accompany the Japanese tea ceremony. They are often shaped to resemble traditional flower motifs, and change with the shifting seasons.

“At Fukushimaya, approximately 200 different types of sweets are created throughout the year, with daffodils and camellia blossoms ushering in spring.

Take a look:

WHY ARE CATS THE WAY THEY ARE?

Like me, you may know a lot of what is explained in this TED-ed video but I learned a few things and maybe you will too.

Full lesson is here:

ANSWER TO THE VOICE OF THE YELLOW M&M

JK_Simmons_2009 It is the likeable actor, J.K. Simmons, star of stage, screen, television and even video games. Not to mention the ubiquitous Farmers Insurance commercials: (“We know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two.”)

There is more than you probably ever wanted to know about him here.

* * *

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

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


What Trumpcare Tells Us About Social Security

If you want to know what the Republicans in Congress will soon try to do to Social Security, pay attention to today's post.

Socialsecuritycard

As we have discussed in these pages many times over the years, Republicans have wanted to kill Social Security and Medicare since they were enacted in 1935 and 1965, respectively.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan is well known for his past attempts (so far failed) to kill Social Security, and the Robin-Hood-in-reverse American Health Care Act (aka Trumpcare) being debated now is a good indication – whatever happens to it – of what he and other Republicans will soon attempt with Social Security.

You have probably heard this widely reported premium nightmare people not yet old enough for Medicare will face if the ACHA becomes law:

"A 64-year-old earning [$26,500] will get sticker shock...Under the Republican plan, health insurers would be free to charge the senior more, raising that person's premium to $19,500.

“But the tax credit would be only $4,900, and the 64-year-old's share of the premium would then be $14,600 — about 10 times higher than the 21-year-old's."

You can comfortably assume that draconian changes of this kind will be adapted to fit Social Security when the Republicans move on to attack that program.

Ezra Klein, who is editor-in-chief at Vox and one of most knowledgeable policy journalists we have, made this video with a clear, easy-to-understand explanation of Trumpcare. It's worth five minutes of your time, keeping the future of Social Security in mind as you watch.

Late last year, Representative Sam Johnson (R-TX), chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee at the House Ways and Means Committee introduced H.R.6489 - Social Security Reform Act of 2016 - which he described as a "plan to permanently save Social Security."

At the time, estimable Los Angeles Times reporter, Michael Hiltzik called foul on that description:

”Followers of GOP habits won’t be surprised to learn that it achieves this goal entirely through benefit cuts, without a dime of new revenues such as higher payroll taxes on the wealthy.

“In fact, Johnson’s plan reduces the resources coming into the program by eliminating a key tax --another way that he absolves richer Americans of paying their fair share, while increasing the burdens of retirement for almost everyone else.”

To move forward, the bill needs to be reintroduced in the new 115th Congress which has not been done yet but undoubtedly some form of those changes will show up in future Social Security legislation.

In January, Social Security guru, Nancy Altman, wrote about another, more secretive way Congress may try to cut, if not entirely kill, Social Security (and Medicare). It's complicated, involving back-stage rules changes, but here is Altman's short explanation: Congress would transform the programs avoiding personal accountability by

”Using changes in the arcane rules of the budget to force through subsequent cuts...By the time the American people realize what’s happening, the rules that usher in the changes are in the past, and those voting for the cuts can claim that they have no choice, for budgetary reasons.

“The rule that has been adopted was telegraphed shortly after the election when Representative Tom Price, Chairman of the House Budget Committee and Donald Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, proposed changes to the budget rules, which, if enacted, would end Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as we know them.”

As you know, Tom Price was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services and Medicaid “as we know it” is already on the chopping block with Trumpcare.

One way or another, the Republicans will try to kill Social Security and as the president has made evident already with other campaign promises, we cannot depend on his repeated statement not to cut Social Security and Medicare to hold.

In fact, former South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney who was recently confirmed as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has said that the president promised only to “save” Social Security. Nancy Altman had a few words to say about that:

“Mulvaney and other Republican elites, who hate Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, are now claiming that Trump was simply promising to 'save' these programs.

“Like the infamous comment about destroying the Vietnam village to save it, they argue that cutting or even dismantling these programs 'saves' them. In this twisted logic, Trump can cut these vital benefits, and not break his campaign promise not to cut them!

“The American people are not going to be fooled. If Mulvaney succeeds in convincing Trump to sign on to cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, or even worse, ending them as we know them, Trump voters will know that they have been betrayed.

“And all Americans will know that the Republicans in Washington, including Trump, are working for Wall Street, not Main Street.”

Oy. This administration is sure going to keep us busy. You can listen to a 10-minute interview with Nancy Altman about Trumpcare here - from fair.org.


Hot Flashes and a Resistance Note

EDITORIAL NOTE: If you are a guy or a woman who's not interested in this topic, scroll down past it for today's Resistance Note.

At first I rejected this topic when a reader suggested it. Most women who read this blog are well past that annoying life event but “Jessie” kept pestering me so I looked into it. Surprise, surprise.

The most common age range, the experts tell us, that women experience the beginning of menopause is between 48 and 55. That it lasts up to ten years or so means a lot of TGB readers may be sweating through this week's east coast blizzard.

It shocked me at age 42 when the doctor told me my period was three weeks late because menopause had begun. My reaction was one part relief that I wasn't pregnant and one part, ”Wha-a-a-a-a-a-a-t? At my age?”

Okay, I was a little young for it but obviously it's not something I could control so I moved on. We've discussed this before but “Jessie” said it was worth redoing, so here goes – on the menopause subtopic of hot flashes.

Hot-flashes1

Here's a piece of useless information about it from medicinenet:

“About 40% to 85% of women experience hot flashes at some point in the menopausal transition.”

With a range 45 percent, that tells us nothing. And i'm probably not the person to consult. I know only three or four things – anecdotes, actually - about hot flashes that may or may not be widely pertinent:

  1. It is AMAZING that your body can go from dry to soaked in under a minute. That's impressive. It frequently happened as I was just finishing my makeup before work while also soaking my hair. So I began my morning routine all over again with the hair dryer.

  2. I learned to keep a beach towel in bed with me so that when night sweats woke me, soaking the sheets, I could roll over onto the towel and go back to sleep on a dry surface.

  3. My mother dyed about 10 pieces of lace, each to match the color of a sweatshirt. She sewed the lace pieces onto the shirts, an elegant solution which became my standard top under suit jackets for work so that when I broke out in a sweat, the shirts soaked it up without showing much. My mom could be quite clever sometimes.

Real_women_dont_have_hot_flashes_they_have_power_surges_sign

During that period of hot flashes, I had a first appointment with a new gynecologist, a highly respected woman who also taught at the one of the top medical schools in New York City.

After the exam, she said she would prescribe HRT (hormone replacement therapy) to ease my hot flashes. I declined, citing a recent, widely-noted study about risks of various cancers connected with HRT.

The doctor argued with me, even raising her voice. I explained I didn't believe a few sudden sweat episodes were worth risking cancer. She argued. As I left her office, she said to me – I have never forgotten: “You'll be sorry when your face gets wrinkled before its time.”

So here I am decades later all wrinkly in the face and elsewhere but (knock wood) cancer free so far. It's a crap shoot what causes cancer in one person and not another but this a tradeoff I would make again in a – well, New York minute.

Maxinehot-flushes-sat

A lot of women complain about hot flashes but fewer are using HRT rhese days. And really – the hot flashes are only an inconvenience, not life-threatening and personally? I found them kind of funny.

The Mayo Clinic has a smart, easy section about hot flashes. (Hint: they don't mention the vinegar, secret herbs, teas, vitamins and supplement “cures” some people suggest.)

What's your experience?

* * *

RESISTANCE NOTES – OLIVER ON TRUMPCARE

(To catch up newcomers, Resistance Notes is an occasional section appended to the main story of the day to help keep track of what happens, these days, at such high speed in Washington. Even large news organizations are having trouble keeping pace so what's a little one-women website supposed to do?

The answer is now and then when the day's topic relates to ageing but I want to pass on some short, resistance-related information, I will post it here at the bottom of the main story. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.)

Today it is the most recent main video essay from John Oliver on his Saturday HBO program, Last Week Tonight, about the American Health Care Act (AHCA) this week.

Colbert doesn't hit a home run every week but it happens more often than not and when he does, it is magnificent. For me, it is a crime to wait seven days to show it to you as I usually do.

So here is the brilliant analysis of Trumpcare from John Oliver and his crew – serious and funny all at once, as they are so good at doing.


Ben Carson's Geezer Surgery (and More)

There is no dearth of reasons to rant, rail and rage against the new president for the disgraceful caliber of people he has placed in positions of power throughout the departments, offices and agencies of the federal government.

Even a few Republicans have been embarrassed by the obvious lack of experience or knowledge of some nominees. Think Betsy DeVos, Rex Tillerson, Rick Perry, Scott Pruitt, among others.

In some cases, however, a person who is given high political office is deeply unqualified in more disturbing ways: ideologically, ethically and morally.

Carson

On Saturday in these pages, I mentioned that Dr. Ben Carson, in his first official speech as the new secretary of the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), equated the men and women who were taken from their homes by force and shipped off to America to become slaves - with “immigrants.”

That is only the most obvious of the offensive moments in Carson's speech a week ago. Here is a short transcript of another, when he spoke about his previous work as a neurosurgeon:

”With a kid, you can operate 10, 12, 18, 20 hours and if you're successful, your reward may be 50, 60, 70, 80 years of life.

“Whereas with an old geezer, you spend all that time operating and they die in five years of something else. So I like to get a big return on my investment.”

I'll pause for a moment to let the potential consequences of that perspective on housing and related civil rights sink in.

Most days, I record the Late Show with Stephen Colbert so I can watch his monologue the next day. One of the “rewards” for my effort is way too many ageist jokes (although no more than the other late-night hosts).

But this time, to his great, grand credit, Colbert called out Carson.

This is that segment with the two parts from the secretary's speech I've highlighted along with two others that deserve equal piles of scorn:

You'll find some of the instant Twitter reaction to Carson's slave/immigrant comment at Huffington Post.

It's not that Secretary Carson is more ideologically or ethically challenged or any less knowledgeable about his new position than some other appointed leaders in this most reprehensible federal administration in my lifetime.

But he does appear to be the most candid about his shortcomings; whether by accident or design is hard to know.

What I do know is that there is so much double-dealing, overreach, hubris, lying, ignorance, secrecy, possible criminality and even treason along with open disdain for the Constitution, the rule of law and the citizenry itself that we must recognize every instance we see.

That isn't easy because there are several new ones every day. But we must not allow the bizarre beliefs of Secretary Carson and those of everyone else in the Trump administration to become so normal and ordinary that we are no longer shocked.

Do not let that happen to you or the people you know.


ELDER MUSIC: Put a Tiger in your Tank

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.

* * *

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake, of course, something we learnt at school, and wondered about rhyming eye with symmetry at the time. Still do.

Tiger

The column on Lions seemed to be pretty popular so naturally when you're on a good thing = thus, tigers today.

I thought of other big cats but there weren't enough songs for any but tigers. In my opinion, the lions' songs were more interesting than these but they're not too bad. I'm sure you'll find something to tickle your fancy.

LEE HAZLEWOOD wrote many, many songs that others have covered but he also recorded quite a few, both on his own and with Nancy Sinatra.

Lee Hazlewood

Lee's on his own today; he wants A House Safe from Tigers. I know that will fit the bill as a song but I wonder where Lee lives if that's what he requires. Actually, I believe there are more tigers in Texas than in all of India so maybe that's what he had in mind.

♫ Lee Hazlewood - A House Safe from Tigers


I haven't featured much DJANGO REINHARDT, a grievous oversight.

Django Reinhardt

I'll make partial amends today because he has a tiger tune. Django, of course, was one of the most influential guitarists in history. He usually played with violinist Stéphane Grappelli, as he does on Django's Tiger.

♫ Django Reinhardt - Django's Tiger


RICHARD CLAPTON (no relation to another musician with the same surname) is an Australian singer, songwriter and guitarist.

Richard Clapton

He had a couple of hits in the seventies and quite a few albums that did well. He's still out there performing and recording. Goodbye Tiger is one of the songs from back then that did okay for him.

♫ Richard Clapton - Goodbye Tiger


Also in Oz, but a bit earlier, from the trad jazz revival of the late fifties, early sixties, FRANK JOHNSON'S FABULOUS DIXIELANDERS were one of the premier performers of that style.

Frank Johnson

When I was looking for tiger songs, I found that this one could have filled two or three columns on its own. You probably don't need me to tell you that it's Tiger Rag.

♫ Frank Johnson's Fabulous Dixielanders - Tiger Rag


MUDDY WATERS has probably performed songs about just about everything under the sun so I wasn't surprised when he turned up here.

Muddy Waters

Indeed, he supplies the title for the column (which of course came from a petrol commercial some time ago – yes, we had it here in Oz too). Muddy wants to put a Tiger In Your Tank. I don't think he's talking about filling up the car.

♫ Muddy Waters - Tiger In Your Tank


APRIL STEVENS had a solo singing career before she teamed up with her brother Nino Tempo. Together they had several really good songs that made the pointy end of the charts. She then went back to singing solo.

April Stevens

One of her hits, which she recorded a couple of times, is Teach Me Tiger.

♫ April Stevens - Teach Me Tiger


Although born in Texas and brought up there and later in Arizona, BUCK OWENS is mostly associated with Bakersfield, California.

Buck Owens

He's credited with creating the "Bakersfield sound", a stripped back form of country music rather akin to honky tonk. Much more interesting than the sausage-factory country music out of Nashville. Buck's song is I've Got A Tiger By The Tail. As long as he keeps away from the other end.

♫ Buck Owens - Ive Got A Tiger By The Tail


Here's one for those of us who grew up in the fifties. There's some dialogue in Stan Freberg's The Old Payola Roll Blues that goes like this when they decided they needed a teenage idol for their record...

"Hey kid."

"Who me?"

"Can you sing?"

"No."

"Good, come with me."

That's Stan's idea of how FABIAN (or someone like him) became a recording artist.

Fabian

He possibly became a film actor the same way, or maybe because he was already a pop idol. Anyway, good luck to him, I say. He had a hit with a song called Tiger.

♫ Fabian - Tiger


Whenever I hear the name RUSTY DRAPER, I always think of the song Freight Train.

Rusty Draper

That song is hardwired into my brain and has been that way since the fifties. Rusty recorded other songs, of course, one of those is Tiger Lilly.

♫ Rusty Draper - Tiger Lilly


JOE HILL LOUIS was a one man band.

Joe Hill Louis

He sang, played guitar, harmonica and drums (and probably other things as well) all at the same time. He recorded for a variety of labels but most notably for Sun Records.

He had a few disks released under his own name and he also played guitar and/or drums on other people's records. One of his songs is Tiger Man which was also covered by Rufus Thomas and Elvis.

♫ Joe Hill Louis - Tiger Man


There's an extra song today and it'll be obvious why. Back in the late fifties and early sixties, answer songs were all the rage. This usually meant putting new words to the previous tune, always a big hit.

As this is an answer column to the Lions one, it's only fair that we have an answer song to one of those from that column. This is provided by THE ROMEOS.

The Romeos

We had The Lion Sleeps Tonight, so now we have The Tiger's Wide Awake. Answer songs were seldom anywhere as good as the original and that is the case today. Oh lordy, this one's bad.

The Romeos - The Tiger's Wide Awake


INTERESTING STUFF – 11 March 2017

FIVE-YEAR-OLD WINS SPELLING BEE

I would have lost to young Edith Fuller, at my age now, on the word she spelled correctly to win. As it is, she is the youngest spelling bee winner ever and she won against some students three times her age.

You can read more at the Washington Post.

CLEVER EXHIBIT OF FICTION GENDER GAP FOR WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH

Loganberry Books in Cleveland, Ohio, made an important statement about the gender of fiction writers by reversing all the novels on their shelves written by men so we cannot see the titles and names. Take a look:

Loganberrybooks

Here's a close up:

Loganberrycloseup

You can read more at Huffington Post and you can visit the Loganberry website where there are more photos.

THE MAN WHO MAKES MAZES

Adrian Fisher is, they say, the world's pre-eminent maze de signer. In his career, he has created more than 700 mazes in 40 countries.

”...like all skillful mystery-makers,” notes the YouTube page, “Fisher's greatest talent in maze-making is knowing how to perfectly blend the intrigue of exploration with the satisfaction that comes from finding your way.”

HUD SECRETARY BEN CARSON SAYS SLAVES WERE IMMIGRANTS

You may have heard that last week, in his first speech to employees of the Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD) where he is now secretary, Dr. Ben Carson announced that slaves were immigrants. Here's the video with some Twitter reaction appended:

You can read more at the Washington Post and I'll have more to say about Dr. Carson's speech in these pages on Monday.

IT'S DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME AGAIN

Why don't we just give up daylight savings time; it's not like it has a purpose anymore and even with computers, WiFi and Bluetooth that do it automatically, I still have way too many clocks to change tonight.

Dst2

Tonight's the night – move your clocks AHEAD one hour. It will be darker when you wake on Sunday.

HOW SMALL ARE WE IN THE SCALE OF THE UNIVERSE

While we're considering the sun and daylight in relation to our clocks, how about this – human size compared to that of the universe. Here's a Ted Talk designed to make us feel deeply insignificant.

DRAGON'S BLOOD

Scientific journals have a penchant for publishing “maybe breakthroughs” that are no doubt of interest to fellow scientists but are not much so to the rest of us since it will usually be years (if ever) before discoveries are translated into useful results.

But sometimes they are just plain interesting. This is a komodo dragon, the largest reptile on earth. (Image from remotelands.com)

Komodo_7B

As an article in The Economist explained last week:

”Komodo dragons, which are native to parts of Indonesia, ambush large animals like water buffalo and deer with a bite to the throat. If their prey does not fall immediately, the dragons rarely continue the fight.

“Instead, they back away and let the mix of mild venom and dozens of pathogenic bacteria found in their saliva finish the job. They track their prey until it succumbs, whereupon they can feast without a struggle.”

As you undoubtedly have read, antibiotics are becoming less and less effective putting humans at risk we haven't encountered for decades. And that is where, perhaps, komodo dragons come in to save the day – as a “promising source of chemicals on which to base new antibiotics.”

Working with fresh komodo blood, a team of scientists in Florida,

”...identified 48 potential [antimicrobial peptides] that had never been seen before. Their initial tests were equally promising.

“Dr Van Hoek exposed two species of pathogenic bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, to eight of the most promising peptides they had identified. The growth of both species of bacteria was severely hampered by seven of the eight; the remaining peptide was effective against only P. aeruginosa.”

A lot of Latin but with apparently good news although it may take years to see results for humans. Still worth knowing if only to read the phrase “dragon's blood” in real life, not a horror movie.

You can read more at The Economist.

A MOST SATISFYING VIDEO

This is a great video to watch when everything seems to be going wrong – in your personal life or in the world at large. It feels so good when things are done amazingly well, just right and, sometimes, even perfectly.

If you liked this here are two more: One. Two.

BALD EAGLES IN DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA

Once almost extinct, bald eagles are back from the brink. So much so that there can be videos like this one of a fisherman sharing his catch with a whole, big flock of eagles.

* * *

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 and the Republican Healthcare Plan

EDITORIAL NOTE: This is a busy week for me so I'm writing this on Wednesday. God knows what will happen regarding the new healthcare plan by Friday morning when this is posted to TGB. If anything important changes, I'll try to update it but no promises.

* * *

Healthcare introduction

The ACHA, also known as the American Health Care Act (or Ryancare or Trumpcare if you prefer) released on Tuesday hit a firestorm of criticism from everywhere. That includes, according to ABC News,

”...AARP, the House Freedom Caucus, GOP senators including Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, Heritage, the Club for Growth, tea party groups and even, yes, Breitbart News.”

In some circles, it was scorned as Obama Lite and that the “Obamacare cure is worse than the disease.” Other responses as reported in mainstream news media:

”Ryan disappoints his friends with Obamacare replacement bill. Close allies in conservative policies circles found little to love with the GOP's health care proposal.” (Politico)
”The GOP’s plan guts the Medicaid expansion, defunds Planned Parenthood, and sunsets a federal rule that requires that qualified insurance plans cover things like mental health care, maternity care, and pediatric dental and vision care, among other things.” (The Daily Beast)
”If you’re poor, you will not have the money to pay the premium, leaving you without insurance." (Newsweek)

And don't think that if you are 65 or older and a Medicare beneficiary that it doesn't affect you. As Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid expert, Nancy Altman, explains

”Seniors aged 65 and over, as well as people with serious disabilities, rely on Medicare for their basic health insurance. That program will be seriously weakened if the Republican plan to gut the ACA is enacted. It is estimated that Medicare’s revenue will drop by $346 billion.

“The Republican bill to repeal the ACA drains Medicare to gives tax breaks to wealthy Americans and corporations. In fact, even before Republicans pass a so-called 'tax reform bill,' this bill’s giveaway amounts to a whopping $525 billion tax break for the wealthiest among us.”

There is little doubt that the $346 billion drain on Medicare revenue would negatively affect these items that, with the passage of Obamacare, came into being for Medicare:

  • the ongoing reduction of the donut hole in the Part D prescription drug program

  • annual wellness visits without a copay

  • free annual flu shot

  • the extension of Medicare solvency to the year 2029.

The many TGB readers not quite old enough for Medicare would be hit particularly hard if this new healthcare bill is passed. Vox reports:

"In general, the impact of the Republican bill would be particularly severe for older individuals, ages 55 to 64. Their costs [of annual premiums] would increase by $5,269 if the bill went into effect today and by $6,971 in 2020. Individuals with income below 250 percent of the federal poverty line would see their costs increase by $2,945 today and by $4,061 in 2020."

Which brings us to effects of Medicaid changes in the bill. The estimable Nancy Altman again:

”The GOP’s bill, if enacted, will place caps on Medicaid spending, again shifting costs away from the federal balance sheet and to the balance sheets of states and individuals.

“If that is enacted, seniors needing long term care and their families may find themselves out of luck, since nursing home care is extremely expensive. It is estimated that the typical annual cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $80,300. Very few families can afford that huge cost on their own.

“And the impact on seniors not yet 65, and so, not yet on Medicare, will be the harshest of all. They will have more difficulty obtaining insurance and will face higher health care costs if this legislation is enacted and implemented.”

On Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Tom Price, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and a physician,

”...would not commit to reporters that consumers would be able to keep their current doctors if the plan were passed, whether it would provide insurance at a lower cost, or that it would not add to the nation’s deficit. On each point he said simply that those were the administration’s goals.”

Of course not because no one knows, least of all writers of the bill. It was not been submitted to the Congressional Budget office for scoring, as is customary for any new bill.

Republicans, who control both the House and the Senate, expect Congress to vote on the bill by mid-April. President Trump supports it even though, as quoted by the Washington Post, he said in January:

“'We’re going to have insurance for everybody,' Trump said. 'There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.' People covered under the law 'can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.'"

Which, like his other campaign promises so far, is apparently dead. Maybe he never meant it to begin with. It is said that the president will fly here and there across the country to promote the bill. I wonder what he will tell his voters who expected not the lose the coverage they have now.

Let's give Nancy Altman that last word today:

”The truth is that all of these cuts [in the healthcare bill] are entirely unnecessary. In fact, Medicare should be expanded to cover all of us.

“Medicare and Medicaid are more efficient than private insurance. Other nations are able to provide health care as a right, at a fraction of the cost with better health outcomes.

“We should be building on the successes of Medicare and Medicaid and the cost savings measures of the ACA. But instead, Republicans in Congress want to take us backwards.”


Old/Young Friendship

It's hard to keep up these days and it is worrisome how Trump's daily eruptions leave so little time to spend with stories, books, music, ideas and people whose thoughts and ideas help explain the world, expand our minds and give us joy. The best ones also teach us something about ourselves.

But on Monday, I accidentally bumped into one of those - a charming, luminous story (and writer) to believe in and cherish.

It happened while I was driving home from a meeting. The radio station I tuned in was partway through an interview with novelist, poet and playwright, Victor Lodato, with whom I was not familiar. He was discussing his essay on “modern love” that had recently appeared in The New York Times.

When I got home, I tracked down the essay in which Lodato explains that he was in his early 40s when he met 80-something artist, Austin, who lived next door to the house he had rented in a town away from home to finish a new book.

”From the beginning,” he writes, “there was something about our interaction that reminded me of friendships from childhood, in which no question was off limits.

“On religion, she claimed to be an atheist. I admitted to being haunted by the ghosts of a Roman Catholic upbringing. She said her sisters believed in hell and worried about her soul.

“Austin, though, seemed afraid of nothing, least of all death. I said I was still afraid of the dark.

“'Living alone,' she said. 'It can make you funny.'

“I laughed but changed the subject, telling her I would like to see her paintings.”
(I stole this image from The New York Times. It is by Brian Rea and I think he caught the essence and beauty of Lodato's story.)

NYTIMESBrianRea

When Lodato's six-month lease was up, he renewed because he hadn't finished writing his book and more, because he “couldn't imagine a better neighbor” than Austin.

“What was perplexing, I suppose, was not that two people of such different ages had become friends, but that we had essentially become best friends. Others regarded our devotion as either strange or quaint, like one of those unlikely animal friendships: a monkey and a pigeon, perhaps.”

Austin kept painting and Lodato kept writing and they kept hiking and reading and cooking dinners together until three years had passed. One day, Austin showed Lodato a copy of the vows that had been read at a wedding she had attended:

“'I never had anything like that with the men in my life,' she said, pointing to the vows. 'We loved each other, but we didn’t have that.' She was crying now, something she rarely did.

“I took her hand and said, 'Well, you have it with me. Everything but the sex.'

“At which point, the monkey kissed the pigeon.

“That night, I had an odd realization: Some of the greatest romances of my life have been friendships. And these friendships have been, in many ways, more mysterious than erotic love: more subtle, less selfish, more attuned to kindness.”

Lodato's is a compelling essay, not the sort you stop reading until you get to the end but that paragraph did it for me.

“Yes,” I found myself thinking – maybe I even said it aloud sitting alone at home - and I would add one or two adjectives to Lodato's list: comfortable and comforting.

Or maybe, for me, it is mutual old age that makes friendship with men now as special as Lodato explains. Certainly easier than the sexual romances of my past. But there are a couple of friendships in my life where we are separated by almost as many years as Lodato's and Austin's too.

Friendship is a mysterious thing. You can't plan it and although you can put yourself in places where you are more likely to meet people, friendship cannot be forced. It happens. Or not.

But what Victor Losado's essay does is shatter common expectations of with whom we can find it and how magically it can happen so quickly sometimes.

EdgarandLucy200Losado's story is more deliciously complex than I have shown you and you can read it at The Times. His second book, Edgar and Lucy: A Novel was published yesterday and is available at Amazon, among other booksellers.


The Shifting Sands of (My) Ageing

Over the weekend a friend who has been active in elder issues for many years said to me that he had mostly stopped reading about ageing, that everything important has been said.

We had other things to talk about and didn't pursue that line of thought for any distance but I recognized that without having made a deliberate decision, I too have been reading less about growing old for at least a year.

Although I still follow two or three dozen elder issues and topics in the news most days I am, after these 21 or 22 years at age research, a master at knowing from headlines and first sentences if I need to read further.

Books too have become easier to choose. With the exception of a handful of remarkable writers and thinkers, most often the answer is don't bother. There is a lot of repetition going on.

When I started studying growing old in 1995 – in my mid-fifties - there was hardly any popular or even academic writing about it and certainly not in any positive sense. Mostly it was about how awful ageing is and everyone should do anything possible, spend any amount of time and money to avoid it.

It was so widespread, I thought, “Geez, if it's going to be this bad, I may as well shoot myself now,” but I was too curious about how the future would play out for me to take myself seriously. (And I secretly never believed it is so awful.)

In books and magazines and videos and such, during the intervening years, a growing number of people have recognized that growing old has been unnecessarily maligned but nothing has changed in the overall culture:

After age 50, hardly anyone, no matter how qualified, can find a good job. Comedians still build careers with grandpa incontinence jokes. And the soft tyranny of ageist stereotypes in all corners of society continues without letup.

We are so accustomed to ageist representations of old people that even elders themselves don't notice. Here is an example from four or five years ago but if you pay attention, you'll see them every day.

VirginAmerica

This one which is widely used in many north American and European cities helps sustain the belief that old age is synonymous with sick and unhealthy. For the record, it is not.

Elderroadsign

Without having as much external input from others about growing old now that I'm reading less, here are some of the items that have been rattling around in my own head recently; obviously not fully developed (each one could be a blog post) but I think you'll get the point.

My age is only part of who I am but because all people are trained from the cradle to reject old age, it is the first and, most of the time, the only thing others think is important to know about me.

Of course, my age has a influence on how I see the world. At minimum that difference, after living all this time and always being a curious sort, is that I have a lot more knowledge and information to call on in making decisions and forming opinions.

Just because sometimes mine is not the “cool” point of view doesn't make me wrong nor invalidate my ideas. But too often old people are dismissed in what they say merely because they are old. And it is okay, in our culture, to do so with condescending amusement: “Isn't she cute, that old woman.”

Too many old people are in the closet about their age - from extreme cosmetic surgery that is always apparent to being coy about the actual number of their years.

What the deniers need to understand is that every time they pretend to be younger than they are or lie about their age or present themselves as “not like those other old people,” they reinforce tolerance of ageist behavior. They are part of the problem.

Those “get-off-my-lawn” old guys. (I suppose there are also women of this type.) Too often old people are their own worst enemies.

Way too many younger adults are talking about what it's like to be old and how old people should live and arrange their lives. You are free to call me a slow learner but all on my own without help from anyone else, I have learned two – and ONLY two – truths I believe in, in my seven-and-half decades:

  1. With the possible exception of trained medical personnel, no one knows anything about what it's really like to be old until they get there.

  2. The second one doesn't apply today but if you're curious: If it is happening to me, it is happening to millions of other people

It is long past time when people who make decisions about old people, individually and collectively - whether they are scientists, social workers, caregivers or government policy makers – must include one and preferably more old people in forming conclusions and making choices that will affect elders.

On a personal level, I am surprised that I haven't changed as much as I thought I would by now when I was younger.

For all the years I've packed on, I'm still carrying the same baggage from my upbringing as I did when I was 20 or 30 (I just see it more clearly now). The major emotional experiences of my adult years get in the way of my behavior pretty much as they did back then which is to say, not attractively.

But as I wrote a few posts ago, I'm done with self-improvement. Little, if anything, will change about me now. Maybe old people are all like Popeye: “I yam what I yam.”

* * *

RESISTANCE NOTES
There's a lot going on in Washington about meetings between Russian representatives and Trump associates during the election campaign and now in the White House.

Many citizens – even a large number of Republicans – are calling for a special prosecutor (or someone similar) to investigate these issues. The White House and many Congressional Republicans, especially those who head up intelligence committees, are trying to avoid doing this with the usual, "Move along, nothing to see here, folks."

This is just a reminder to keep up your calls to your representatives in Congress. I assume you have your telephone numbers. If not and you have a smartphone, you can download 5 Calls that makes it easy for you. It's available for iPhones and Android phones.

Last week, TGB reader janinsanfran who blogs at Since It Has Happened Here told us about another service she uses called Daily Action. Give them your phone number and Zip Code and they will text you a daily action alert. Obviously, you need a text-messaging phone for this to work but most so-called "dumb phones" can do that.


ELDER MUSIC: Greg Brown and Family

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.

* * *

Greg Brown

GREG BROWN is the best unknown singer/songwriter around at the moment and he's held that status for the last 20 or 30 years now. I will do my best to remedy that situation a little bit.

Greg's recorded more than 30 albums over the years; few, if any, have made a dent on the charts. I have many of them and they are really good, some superb.

I think one of the reasons for his lack of recognition is due to his insistence on living and recording in his native Iowa rather than hanging out at the usual places musicians hang out. Some of you may have heard him as he performed regularly on A Prairie Home Companion.

The songs are in no particular order, except that I'll end with what I consider his best song. There are also a couple from members of his family and a friend. Most of the songs have his long time friend and collaborator BO RAMSEY playing lead guitar.

Bo Ramsey

"44 & 66" is an album from very early in Greg's career and it already points the way that his songwriting would take in later years. That album contains the song Ring Around The Moon and he has the help of Prudence Johnson who was once a singer in the jazz group Rio Nido.

♫ Greg Brown - Ring Around The Moon


Greg Brown

Jumping a couple of decades to the album "Slant 6 Mind". I recount down below how I came across this one, the first of Greg's that I owned. With the song Speaking in Tongues, he really gets into a slow-burning gospel groove.

♫ Greg Brown - Speaking in Tongues


Greg is married to noted singer/songwriter IRIS DEMENT.

Iris Dement

Regular readers of the column will know what a fan I am of Iris's music. She mostly performs her own or (occasionally) traditional music but she has recorded some of Greg's songs. This is one of them, The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home.

♫ Iris DeMent - The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home


Greg Brown

Greg has written a number of songs that reference real people. This one is about the poet Kenneth Rexroth. Well, not him, but his daughter. However, Greg doesn't tell us which one as Ken had two of them.

Anyway, given the subject matter, it's no surprise that the song is called Rexroth's Daughter.

♫ Greg Brown - Rexroth's Daughter


Greg Brown

Another song about real people, well, one real and another for which the evidence is a little shaky. The song is quite tongue in cheek and I always smile when I hear it. Greg sings Jesus and Elvis.

♫ Greg Brown - Jesus and Elvis


Greg has three children, CONSTANCE BROWN, ZOE BROWN, and PIETA BROWN.

Pieta & Constie Brown

That's Pieta and Constie. I couldn't find a picture of Zoe (sorry, Zoe).

All three of them are musicians and Pieta is also a pretty good singer/songwriter. I can recommend her albums (well, the three I own anyway; I can't say about the others). The three of them got together and recorded one of dad's songs, Ella Mae.

♫ Pieta, Zoe & Constie Brown - Ella Mae


Greg Brown

The first song I remember hearing of Greg's, many years ago, is called Mose Allison Played Here. Another song about a real person, alas one who died not too long ago.

My local community radio station played it and mentioned it was from an album called "Slant 6 Mind". I went to my favorite record store and, goodness me, they had it.

They also had a couple more of his CDs which I also bought as I'm a bit compulsive when it comes to music. I wasn't disappointed. Here's that song.

♫ Greg Brown - Mose Allison Played Here


ELIZA GILKYSON is an old friend, so I'm counting her as part of the family.

Eliza is a good singer/songwriter herself. Perhaps it's in the genes, as her father, Terry Gilkyson, was a songwriter in the fifties who also sang as well. Her brother was in a couple of bands and works as a studio guitarist.

Eliza has recorded for Greg's own record label, Red House Records, since 2000 and there are many fine albums out there. Here she covers one of Greg's songs, Sleeper.

Eliza Gilkyson

♫ Eliza Gilkyson - Sleeper


Greg Brown

I kept changing my mind about which song to include in this spot. It depended on my mood. I finally decided to go with You Drive Me Crazy because it was a little different from the other songs, a nice contrast to them. It's more grinding blues than folk music.

♫ Greg Brown - You Drive Me Crazy


Greg Brown

As I said in the introduction, I'll end with the song I consider Greg's best, Poet Game, from the album "The Poet Game". It was recorded in 1994 and is still relevant today. Besides, it's a terrific song.

♫ Greg Brown - Poet Game


INTERESTING STUFF – 4 March 2017

THIS GIRL (OF ALL AGES) CAN VIDEO

Sport England just released a new video for the This Girl Can campaign which, they explain,

”...encourages women to challenge cultural assumptions about femininity that prevent them engaging in sport and exercise. The ad uses extracts from Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Women poem alongside real women taking part in sport

Including, please note, old women too.

Thank lilalia who blogs at Yum Yum Cafe for this.

HEALTH CARE IS COMPLICATED

Apparently, President Donald Trump was surprised to find out early last week that healthcare and coverage for healthcare is not easy. Take a look:

Here's a response to Trump's surprise, a haiku by Michael Belodeau posted at Kaiser Health News:

Health care policy
Complicated. Huh, who knew?
I did. Didn’t you?

JOHN OLIVER ON OBAMACARE

To create a theme, here is the main essay from John Oliver on his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight” last Saturday. God, I missed him while the show was on hiatus. Here he is at his funniest while being deeply serious too.

TURNING CREMATED ASHES INTO VINYL RECORDINGS

I've been known to write, from time to time, about burial innovations from simple shrouds to mushroom suits, green cremations to biomass pods that let a decomposing body power lights. You can read about those here.

Now, a company in the United Kingdom can turn your loved one's cremated remains into a vinyl recording:

”Ask Studio is an offering of British company Andvinyl that involves pressing your cremains into a series of musical discs...

“Each record has 24 minutes of audio (12 per side) and a single person’s cremated remains can be turned into up to 30 such discs...

“Music is not the only option, either — the user supplies the sound, so it can be a song or simply a message to a family member, spouse, friend or other loved one.”

Find out more at Gajitz.

LEONARD COHEN'S DEMOCRACY

When poet/musician Leonard Cohen died last year, most people had his Hallelujah on repeat for days.

But given this election campaign that was distorting our politics at the time, a better memorial for Cohen might be his 1990 Democracy. Canadian TGB reader Gillian suggested that to me in an email that is is almost perfect for our 2017 circumstance.

So here it is with the lyric below the video so you can follow along.

It's coming through a hole in the air
From those nights in Tiananmen Square
It's coming from the feel
That this ain't exactly real
Or it's real, but it ain't exactly there
From the wars against disorder
From the sirens night and day
From the fires of the homeless
From the ashes of the gay
Democracy is coming to the USA
It's coming through a crack in the wall
On a visionary flood of alcohol
From the staggering account
Of the Sermon on the Mount
Which I don't pretend to understand at all
It's coming from the silence
On the dock of the bay,
From the brave, the bold, the battered
Heart of Chevrolet
Democracy is coming to the USA

It's coming from the sorrow in the street
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin'
That goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat
From the wells of disappointment
Where the women kneel to pray
For the grace of God in the desert here
And the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the USA

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on

It's coming to America first
The cradle of the best and of the worst
It's here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it's here they got the spiritual thirst
It's here the family's broken
And it's here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way
Democracy is coming to the USA

It's coming from the women and the men
O baby, we'll be making love again
We'll be going down so deep
The river's going to weep,
And the mountain's going to shout Amen
It's coming like the tidal flood
Beneath the lunar sway
Imperial, mysterious
In amorous array
Democracy is coming to the USA

Sail on, sail on

I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight
Getting lost in that hopeless little screen
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
That Time cannot decay
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
This little wild bouquet
Democracy is coming to the USA

AMAZING NEW BOSTON DYNAMICS ROBOT

I've told you about Boston Dynamics' robots at least twice and they just get better. Boston Dynamics explains that its latest,

”...called Handle...stands 6.5 feet tall, travels at nine miles per hour and jumps four feet vertically. It uses electric power to operate both electric and hydraulic actuators, with a range of about 15 miles on one battery charge.

“Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex.

“Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs, Handle can have the best of both worlds.”

Mashable describes Handle as moving like a “world-class athlete." Wired says it is an “evolutionary marvel.” Take a look for yourself:

JUST IN TIME FOR SECRETARY BETSY DEVOS

As soon as the completely unqualified Education Secretary Betsy Devos adjusted her opinion of transgender bathrooms to match the White House point of view, this new report about school vouchers, which she strongly supports, was released:

”...wave of new research has emerged suggesting that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them,” reports The New York Times. The results are startling — the worst in the history of the field, researchers say...

“Researchers examined an Indiana voucher program that had quickly grown to serve tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. 'In mathematics,' they found, 'voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement.' They also saw no improvement in reading.

“[In Louisiana's voucher program]...Public elementary school students who started at the 50th percentile in math and then used a voucher to transfer to a private school dropped to the 26th percentile in a single year. Results were somewhat better in the second year, but were still well below the starting point.”

More about Secretary DeVos's squishy transgender politics here and the voucher research findings here.

EARTH SHIPS

As YouTube explains,

”The New Mexico desert is a landscape of harsh extremes: brutally hot in the summer, frigid in the winter. It was the perfect testing ground for architect Mike Reynolds' "earthships"—houses of unconventional design material and utility that are completely self-sustained.

“They're built with used tires and empty glass bottles and produce their own electricity, water, and food. For Reynolds, sustainable houses are the key to making a home in a better future—and now, the rest of the world is catching on to Reynolds' genius eco-friendly designs.”

Take a look:

There is another video and more information at The Atlantic.

JAPAN'S ALL-NATURAL MONKEY SPA

I keep thinking I've featured this spa that warms Japanese macaques during their cold, four-month, snowy winters but I can't find it. I've seen various video and am always charmed. The YouTube page explains,

”The Jigokudani Valley in Japan's Joshinetsu-Kogen National Park is a high altitude, snow-covered landscape of cliffs and chasms that holds a surprising secret: naturally occurring hot springs that bubble with subterranean heat and fill the air with steam.

“However, we humans aren't the only primates who have discovered the hot springs. In the early 1960s, Japanese macaques moved down from the higher forests above the valley and made themselves right at home in the warm waters. These snow monkeys have been using them as a warm-up spot ever since.

* * *

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.