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ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up in 2017 - Part 1

[Toes Up in 2017 - Part 2 is here.]

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

* * *

Oh my, a lot of good performers and others associated with the music industry died this year. Soon there'll be no one left. Well, no one that our readers know and love. This is the first of two columns.

Chuck

CHUCK BERRY was one of the three or four most important musicians in the development of rock & roll, maybe the most important. Unlike all the others at the time, except Buddy Holly, he wrote his own songs that were sly, humorous, joyous and sad. He brought a joy and freshness of language.

His singing was subtle and more akin to a jazz singer than a rocker. Also, and importantly, he could play his guitar like a'ringing a bell. Every guitarist since who wanted to play rock & roll copied his style and his licks, at least initially.

Although he started in rhythm and blues, he brought elements of country and jazz into his singing and playing. He was one of a kind. Chuck performs, as only he can, Brown Eyed Handsome Man. (He was 90)

♫ Chuck Berry - Brown Eyed Handsome Man


FRED WEINTRAUB, as owner of the Bitter End in Greenwich Village, showcased all the up-coming folkies of the sixties (and later). He also started the careers of most of the best comedians of the last sixty years.

Later Fred was a movie producer, most famously for the film of the Woodstock festival. (88)

BRUCE LANGHORNE was a session guitarist most noted for playing on Bob Dylan's first electric albums. He also played on records by Tom Rush, Judy Collins and many others. Bob Dylan has said that Bruce was the inspiration for his famous song, Mr Tambourine Man. Bruce also wrote many film scores. (78)

PAUL OLIVER was one of the foremost writers on blues music. His books were instrumental in reviving the careers of many great blues performers. (90)

Nicolai Gedda

NICOLAI GEDDA was one the greatest tenors of the 20th century. Indeed, he was almost certainly the most versatile and industrious. He was Swedish by birth and grew up bilingual in Swedish and Russian, due to his adoptive father (who was Russian).

Unusually for an important and prominent opera star, he was quite shy and very modest about his talent. He not only performed all the famous tenor roles, he sought lesser known challenging music as well. Here he performs the aria Allons! Courage et confiance (etc) from Offenbach's "Tales of Hoffman". (91)

♫ Nicolai Gedda ~ Hoffmann - Allons! Courage et confiance..C'est elle! Elle sommeille


TOMMY ALLSUP was a country guitarist who played with Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, George Jones and, most notably, Buddy Holly. He famously "lost the toss" and gave up his seat to Ritchie Valens on the plane that cost Ritchie's life. (85)

JIM NABORS was best known for acting in TV programs, but he had a fine baritone voice and recorded many albums. (87)

USTAD ABDUL HALIM was an Indian sitar player who also dabbled in western music, collaborating with Dave Brubeck and others. (89)

George Young

GEORGE YOUNG was a songwriter and member of Australia's most successful rock group of the sixties, The Easybeats. Afterwards, he teamed up with fellow Easybeat Harry Vanda to become a hugely successful songwriting and producing team. He was also instrumental in the creation and success of the group AC-DC that contained two of his brothers.

The most famous song that Vanda and Young wrote and performed while in the Easybeats is Friday on my Mind. The singer was the late Stevie Wright, and Vanda and Young played the guitars. (70)

♫ The Easybeats - Friday On My Mind


Malcolm Young

George's brother MALCOLM YOUNG was a co-founder and rhythm guitarist for AC-DC, a group that even surpassed The Easybeats (and every other group from Australia) in popularity. Their success was mostly due to the combination of Malcolm's churning rhythm and brother Angus's inventive lead guitar. (64)

LOUIS FREMAUX was a French conductor who was also part of the French Resistance during the war. Later he attended the Paris Conservatoire where he topped his class. His major positions were as conductor of the Birmingham and Sydney Symphony Orchestras. (95)

BARBARA COOK was a Broadway singer and actress who appeared in just about every musical in the fifties and sixties. (89)

GRADY TATE was a jazz drummer who also worked as a session musician, particularly on Motown and other soul records. (85)

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

GEOFFREY GURRUMUL YUNUPINGU was generally just known as Gurrumul. He was blind since birth. He was from a musical and activist family in Arnhem Land in northern Australia and he had one of the most beautiful voices in the world.

Gurrumul was a unifying voice in Australia between the indigenous community and the mainstream society. He sings and plays Wiyathul. (46)

♫ Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu - Wiyathul


BILL HORVITZ was an experimental guitarist and composer who worked with many of the greatest jazz musicians. He also wrote music for film, dance, and theatre. (69)

HAYWARD BISHOP was a Nashville based session drummer who played on the records of just about every country musician, as well as quite a few pop ones as well. (71)

GORD DOWNIE was lead singer and songwriter for the group the Tragically Hip, one of Canada's most revered bands. (53)

Tom Petty

TOM PETTY was taught guitar by Don Felder, later a member of the Eagles. Tom's first semi-successful band was Mudcrunch that also contained several people who went on to form Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

This group kept alive the style and joy of rock & roll and made Tom a worldwide star. He was later a founder and member of the superest super group of all time, the Traveling Wilburys (along with Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne).

Tom was an advocate of artistic control of their creations and of artistic freedom. Tom and the Heartbreakers play Refugee. (66)

♫ Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Refugee


GEORGES PRÊTRE was a French conductor who spent many years with the Vienna Philharmonic. He was also head conductor with several American orchestras. (92)

DON MARKHAM was a saxophone, trumpet, bass, keyboards player who started in jazz but ended up in Merle Haggard's band for decades. (85)

AL JARREAU was a jazz and pop singer who also performed on Broadway. He won several Grammies and also wrote some songs. (76)

BRENDA LEWIS was an opera singer who was equally adept at musical theatre. As well as the traditional opera roles she performed several original modern opera roles. (96)

Glen Campbell

GLEN CAMPBELL was a guitarist of the first order. He was also a fine singer, TV host, actor, songwriter and session musician. He was a member of the "Wrecking Crew", Los Angeles session musicians who played on just about everyone's records from that city in the sixties.

After a brief stint as a Beach Boy (replacing Brian Wilson) he became huge in the country and pop fields covering songs by John Hartford and (especially) Jimmy Webb as well as performing his own songs. This lead to TV programs and pretty much everything else.

Glen sings one of Jimmy's songs, Wichita Lineman. (81)

♫ Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman


VALERIE CARTER was a backup singer for many artists, including Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and many similar artists. She also wrote songs that many of those recorded. (64)

EDI FITZROY was a Jamaican reggae artist who was successful in his home country as well as elsewhere that music is appreciated. (62)

CLIVE STARK was an Australian radio presenter who specialised in classical music but was happy to include other musical genres as well. (81)

BELTON RICHARD was a Cajun accordion player and singer who played not only Cajun but rock and roll and "swap pop" music. He was equally proficient singing in French and English. (77)

BUTCH TRUCKS was one of the two drummers for the Allman Brothers Band. He laid down the solid beat that the others could work against. He was one of the founders of the group and had known the Allmans since they were teenagers. (69)

Gregg Allman

It was a bad year for the band, as fellow founder of the group GREGG ALLMAN also died. The group was named after Gregg and his older brother Duane who died in a motor cycle accident a long time ago.

Gregg was the singer and piano player for the group. He also wrote some of their songs (the writing was shared around). He found time, at one stage, to marry Cher. Here, with his own song as a member of the band, he sings and plays piano on Wasted Words. (69)

♫ Allman Brothers - Wasted Words


ROBERT “P-NUT” JOHNSON was a singer for the Bootsy Collins Band as well as George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic. (70)

DON HUNSTEIN was a photographer whose album covers you would all know. His most famous was "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan". (88)

SONNY BURGESS was an early pioneer of rockabilly and rock & roll music. He recorded at the legendary Sun Studios at the same time as Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and others. (86)

BILLY BURNETTE was a country songwriter and producer, and also a performer in his own right. He was good friends with, but not related to, fifties' stars Johnny and Dorsey Burnette. (76)

Della Reese

DELLA REESE was discovered by gospel great Mahalia Jackson, but she sang mostly jazz and big band music early on. She made the charts several times in the fifties and early sixties and later made a number of well regarded albums, mostly closer to jazz in style.

Della was also an actress and appeared in many films and TV series. Della sings one of her hits, Someday, You'll Want Me to Want You. (86)

♫ Della Reese - Someday You'll Want Me To Want You


JOHN GEILS was the guitarist for the J. Geils Band who had hit albums in the seventies and eighties. (71)

CEDELL DAVIS was a blues guitarist and singer. He suffered from polio as a child so he was unable to fret the guitar properly so he developed a distinctive slide guitar style using a butter knife. (90)

BUDDY GRECO was a jazz and pop singer and pianist who sold many records. He later appeared in Las Vegas many times. (90)

James Cotton

JAMES COTTON was a blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter. He had a long time association with Muddy Waters where he alternated the harp role with Little Walter. He managed to secure the services of the great blues pianist Otis Spann as part of his own group.

Later he performed with the cream of musicians in his field – Michael Bloomfield, Delbert McClinton, Keb Mo, Gregg Allman and many more. Today, James informs us that he is a Cotton Mouth Man. (81)

♫ James Cotton - Cotton Mouth Man


MEL TILLIS was a country singer and songwriter who wrote many hits for others as well as for himself. He also appeared in several films and on TV. (85)

CHRIS CORNELL was the lead vocalist for Soundgarden and was a leading figure in the grunge movement. (52)

CASEY JONES was a drummer, singer and front man for several blues bands. He was also a long-time member of Albert Collins's band.

(77)

Jon Hendricks

JON HENDRICKS was the most important male jazz singer in history. He not only sang, he wrote lyrics that were interesting, unusual and often downright difficult. Never dull though.

He was erudite, funny and had a masterly way with words. He later held several academic posts. Jon was trained as a lawyer but didn't practise.

He got together with Dave Lambert and thought it would be a good idea to write words to some of Duke Ellington's more challenging works. Jon later wrote words to Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk compositions.

Jon and Dave got together with Annie Ross and formed Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, the most important vocal group in jazz. Jon later collaborated with Kurt Elling, The Manhattan Transfer, Bobby McFerrin, and surprisingly to me, the Grateful Dead.

Here Jon sings In Walked Bud, a song about Bud Powell, accompanied by Thelonious Monk. (96)

♫ Jon Hendricks - In Walked Bud


Alas, this is only part 1. There will be more next week.



INTERESTING STUFF – 30 December 2017

ELDER UPTOWN FUNK

Canadian TGB reader doctafil alerted us to this video by a group of elders in Sarnia, Ontario. They call themselves the Landmark Village Players (after the name of their retirement community) and what they have done here, according to CBC News is

”...a remarkably accurate re-creation of the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars music video for Uptown Funk.

I dare you not to smile and, maybe, even get out of your chair to dance along with them.

You can compare the Landmark Village Players version of the video to the original Bruno Mars vid here. Note there have been more than 2.8 BILLION views of this video since its release in November 2014.

GENEROUS PEOPLE LISTEN TO THEIR HEARTS – LITERALLY

Now who could resist a headline like that. Especially when it comes from a medical news website. In appears that some researchers in the U.K. and Sweden have discovered a link between altruism and people who listen – literally – to their hearts.

”Interoception — a fancy word that describes how in tune you are with your own body — has been found to be linked with how willing you are to give.

“...participants had to decide, in repeated scenarios, whether to give different amounts of real money to others or keep it for themselves...there was no way that the receiver of this giving act could penalize the giver in any way, and the giver was assured that they would never meet the receiver...

“To assess interoception, participants were [also] asked to complete a 'heartbeat detection task.' In it, they had their own heartbeat recorded with an electrocardiogram.

“They were then asked to listen to a range of sounds that were either in or out of sync with their heartbeats, and they did so without being able to feel their own pulse.

“Those better able to tell whether the sound was in or out of sync had higher interoception.”

Those are just some bare-bones explanation. There is much more at Medical News Today.

THE RARE WHITE STRAWBERRIES OF JAPAN

As the YouTube page explains:

”In Japan, there's a specialty fruit craze sweeping the nation, from square watermelons to grapes the size of Ping-Pong balls. Still, the crown jewel of the luxury fruit basket is the white strawberry, bred to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot sweeter than its classic red counterpart.

“We took a tour of Yasuhito Teshima's farm in Karatsu, Japan, to find out why so many people are spending a pretty penny for a taste of these famous white berries.”

Take a look:

STEPHEN HAWKING'S PREDICTIONS FROM 2017

magazine rounded up physicist Stephen Hawking's 2017 predictions. Here are two of the six they found:

1. “Humans must colonize another planet within a hundred years.
In a BBC documentary released earlier this year, titled Stephen Hawking: Expedition New Earth, the physicist explained his prediction that soon, the human species will have to leave Earth and repopulate somewhere else in the universe, either on a spacecraft or on another planet.

“The physicist warned that if humans don’t become a multi-planetary species and settle on other worlds, our species could die out within the next century.

2. "Trump Will Push Earth Over The Brink
Hawking is not a fan of U.S. President Donald Trump, and earlier this year commented that the president’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement could lead to irreversible climate change, The BBC reported...

“According to Hawking, Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of this deal could be the final step towards drastic climate problems that may have serious effects on all life on Earth.”

More Hawking predictions at Newsweek.

HOW POOP SHAPES THE WORLD

I've explained in past posts what a surprise it has been to learn to speak about pooping with my various cancer doctors, nurses, etc. It doesn't come to me naturally.

Then this video showed up on my screen and it's amazing what it has to tell us. As the YouTube page explains:

”One creature’s waste is another’s fuel, and all over nature these leftovers help new life spring up. Here’s how whales, birds, worms, bats, and more help the world breathe clean, thanks to their poop.”

LEST WE FORGET – TRUMP'S 2017 RACISM

As The Root notes on its page with this video:

”Water is wet, the sky is blue and Donald Trump is a racist. And in 2017, Trump was on a roll. Here’s a quick rundown:

HOW ANIMALS SLEEP

A short, little video about how important sleep is to all earth's creatures.

2017 COMEDY WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS

This is the third year of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards and these three winners will leave you laughing for sure.

"What's Up Doc" by Olivier Colle:

WhatsUpDoc

"All Dressed Up and Ready for Church by Carl Henry.

AllDressUpAndReadyForChurch

"The Laughing Dormouse by Andrea Zampatti.

TheLaughingDormouse

You can see more winners here, and all the 2017 finalists here (which are just as funny as the winners to me), along with the finalists and winners from 2016 and 2015.

* * *

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.


A Small New Years Potpourri

During these end-of-year holidays, I've mostly kept it light in these pages and sometimes, too, let others do the telling for me. And so it is again today as we head into 2018.

RONNI BENNETT INTERVIEW
The senior center in my town is called the Adult Community Center (ACC) where I have volunteered in various ways, meet friends there for lunch now and then, and I currently host a twice-monthly public affairs discussion group.

Too many old people reject senior centers and they are missing a lot. You can read about that in this TGB blog post, Are You a Senior Center Snob?, from 2013.

I'm telling you this today because Nicolette Hume is the new volunteer coordinator at the ACC who is also the webmaster of the center's brand new blog. She just launched the first story in what will be a continuing web series titled “Everyday People of Lake Oswego – Life Stories from our Exceptional Community.”

And guess who is the first interviewee? Yay. Me.

A few weeks ago, I spent a couple of hours with Cliff Newell, a recently retired reporter from the weekly paper, The Lake Oswego Review and he did a fine job of making sense of my ramblings.

You will find Cliff's story, Time goes by...A conversation with Ronni Bennett, here. Nicolette is the photographer.

Be sure to leave a note for them on the page.

THE COFFEE SPOT
doctafil is a long-time reader and commenter here at Time Goes By. She Canadian, lives in Montreal, travels a lot and then, under her real name Brenda Henry, writes wonderful little short stories about where she's been.

Her most recent collection is titled Weirdo Parfait which you can read about in this Interesting Stuff post from May 2017.

That is by way of a short introduction. doctafil has a way with words and she left this wonderfully fanciful description of Time Goes By on Wednesday's post this week. I am so charmed by it, so certain that if, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I just believe hard enough it will be true. Here's what doctafil wrote:

”Ronni, your blog is like a NYC coffee spot- friends drop by for java, conversation and good times. Ronni's Place is solid dark brick and stone outside, oak tables and a fireplace inside. There is a small stage with open mike nights for local writers, poets, blues singers.

“You're at your favourite table surrounded by your cyber pals. You're back in the city that never sleeps. Your apartment is upstairs. Ollie's looking out the window. He's smiling like he knew this would all happen. Fat snowflakes are falling.”

I'm pretty sure that from this day forward, I will always picture Time Goes By as this perfect, New York City coffee place.



Looking Back at 2017: Trump and Cancer

From any point of view, the year 2017 was one of the most momentous in my life.

The last time I lived through something of as much significance, I think, would be in 1992, when I moved to Sacramento for several months to care for my mother during the final months of her life. (Story of that experience is here.)

At least as consequential as the death of a parent, however, is life in the United States these days under President Donald Trump. It's not like I need to explain it to you:

The man is disgusting in word and deed. He daily trashes the norms of civil society, politics and, possibly, the law. He has so defiled the tenets and principles of a democratic republic that scholars, historians and journalists worldwide now regularly warn of parallels to 1930s' Germany.

And he may yet find a way to dodge special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation.

Is there any other news these days besides Trump? Only monumental hurricanes seem to qualify and then just briefly.

Remember the days when the daily White House press conferences were broadcast live only during crucial events? When presidential speeches interrupted prime time TV only for declarations of war or resignations from office? When the president actually spent his days working instead of sending obnoxious and ignorant tweets in between golf outings?

Nowadays, the only time we don't see Trump on camera is when he wants to hide what he's doing, as when he has signed a few unpopular executive orders behind closed doors.

It is bad enough knowing there is nothing I can do to change anything. Worse, it has become apparent that members of Congress will not do anything to stop him either. Big talk, no action and that's unlikely to change.

By June, worry about the future of the United States was never far from my mind. I was and still am frightened for all citizens and immigrants, for the spillover into the rest of the world, and for the uncharted future.

As many of us have discussed in these pages, the political turmoil has been exhausting with hardly any way at all to avoid it every day. And then. And then in June...

“They” told me I have pancreatic cancer. If our lives are pretty well divided into public and private sectors, suddenly every aspect of mine was fraught, and on a particularly large scale.

I'm lucky enough to have been eligible for the Whipple surgery, am getting through chemotherapy now and will know in March 2018 if any of it has been effective against this dread disease.

Meanwhile, there have been some changes. When my surgeon first explained the Whipple surgery to me six months ago, he said it involves a long, six-month recovery period. I have not believed that for at least two months; my external incisions are long healed and unless I forget a pill, there is no pain.

Then, a week or so ago, internal processes seem to have at last settled down to normal, pre-surgery function for the first time.

To explain, a good chunk of my pancreas was removed along with the entire gallbladder, the duodenum, a small amount of stomach and nearly two dozen nearby glands. Then, of course, all the various hoses among these organs had to be reconnected in new combinations.

The way the health professionals track how well all these internal changes are healing is to ask me questions about bowel movements. I was shocked and quite a bit embarrassed when beginning on the first day after surgery, every person who walking into my hospital room ask some version of “Have you pooped yet today?” “Have you farted yet?”

And they haven't stopped asking since then. These folks talk about bowels the way you and I discuss the weather and they want to hear about size, shape and color. Geez – no one told me how hard it would be to get used to that conversation. I'm still not quite there.

Because my much smaller pancreas can no longer produce the amount of enzymes my body needs, I take a pill to replace those enzymes before eating anything – even a small snack. When, on occasion, I forget, the pain is not pleasant and it had been turning up occasionally even when I had taken the pill.

That is, until about 10 days ago. Since then, pain is almost non-existent and those damned bowels I've struggled with to get right since June are at last as normal as anything I had experienced before the surgery.

Here is the weird kicker: this change arrived almost exactly six months to the day of the Whipple surgery – the amount of time the surgeon had said it would take my body to recover.

So you won't catch me questioning a world-class expert ever again.

These two events are the whole of my personal 2017. Trump and cancer cover it for me and if anything else of note happened, I can't recall. What I wish for now is that both are overcome in 2018.

Now it's your turn to tell us about your 2017.



Merry Christmas To All – 2017

This blog has been around long enough now – there was a first, tentative appearance in 2004 - that some traditions have been formed.

At U.S. Thanksgiving last month, there was the fifth annual rendition of Arlo Guthrie's epic monologue, Alice's Restaurant.

So it is only fair that today, for Christmas 2017, I have for you the sixth annual playback of Penelope Keith's marvelous reading – as Miss Cynthia Bracegirdle – of And Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree: A Cautionary Tale for Christmas Showing That it is Better to Give than to Receive.

In the comments on the Christmas 2015 post, the writer, Brian Sibley, left a note for us about the recording:

”You might like to know that I wrote this piece and that it was first broadcast on the BBC (Radio 4) on 25 December 1977.

“You can hear the original recording on my Soundcloud page here. You can read the script here.”

That's enough intro – here is the wickedly funny Penelope Keith with And Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Penelope Keith - And Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, Ronni, Crabby Old Lady and Ollie the cat thank you for the fine community you create and sustain here all year every year and we wish you a big, fat, bright red

Happy-holiday680


ELDER MUSIC: Christmas 17

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.

* * *

Christmas Oz

Well, the weather is warming up – not just warming up, it's getting damn hot. That can only mean one thing, Christmas is nigh. Deep sigh.

I guess that also means that I'll have to produce a collection of jingle belly, white christmasy, chestnut roasty songs that are totally at variance with the way Christmas really is around these parts. Oh well, on with the motley.

I remember from the great folk scare for my youthhood/early adulthood that one of the regular songs that was performed was Go Tell It on the Mountain, especially the version by Odetta, but others as well.

We won't use that one, instead here is a more recent version of the song with an unlikely pairing – the BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA and TOM WAITS.

Blind Boys & Tom Waits

However, when you listen to them they really fit well together. At least, I think so as they are all some of my favorite performers. See (or hear) what you think of them.

♫ Blind Boys of Alabama - Go Tell It On the Mountain


BELTON RICHARD suggests that You're All I Want For Christmas.

Belton Richard

Well, that's pretty easy, assuming you're happy to go along with it. If not, he's going to be quite disappointed when he checks his stocking. The complication is that he sings it in French, so if you're not conversant with that language, you may not know that you have to pop into the said stocking.

♫ Belton Richard - You're All I Want For Christmas


I haven't gone totally outrageous this year, although I was tempted (I'm tempted every year). To prove that point, here is BROOK BENTON.

Brook Benton

I must have been feeling mellow when I selected Brook, which is probably good news for you. His song is Soul Santa.

♫ Brook Benton - Soul Santa


J.B. SUMMERS is easy to buy for at this time of the year. He says: I Want A Present For Christmas.

J.B. Summers

Well, that's pretty easy, he doesn't specify what – a pair of socks, some hankies, a hippopotamus, a giraffe. Well, maybe those last two would be a bit difficult. Anyway, Here's J.B. with Doc Bagby's Orchestra.

♫ J.B. Summers With Doc Bagby's Orchestra - I Want A Present For Christmas


DUKE ROBILLARD is an outstanding blues guitarist. He's also a splendid jazz guitarist. I'm sure he could hold his own in other genres as well.

Duke Robillard

He's made several albums that also featured female singers, most notably MARIA MULDAUR, who seems to be on all of them. I'm certainly not complaining about that.

Maria Muldaur

One of those has the song Santa Claus Blues.

♫ Duke Robillard - Santa Claus Blues (Feat. Maria Muldaur)


POPPA HOP started life with the name Harding Wilson, and soon after that he was known as Hop Wilson.

Poppa Hop

Although not well known these days, his guitar playing, not all that evident on the track today, influenced numerous later players of the instrument. Today he wishes everyone, well, probably just one person, Merry Christmas Darling.

♫ Poppa Hop - Merry Christmas Darling


For a complete change of pace from all the other songs today I give you JULIE LONDON.

Julie London

Julie's always welcome to sing under my Christmas tree. Indeed, she sings I'd Like You For Christmas. I hope she's referring to me, but I suspect that isn't the case.

♫ Julie London - I'd Like You For Christmas


Poor old COCO MONTOYA is on the road again at this time of the year, performing, making a living.

Coco Montoya

That's the way it is for many musicians. He hopes that he won't have to do this forever, but I suspect that he'll be on the road a while, along with most of his ilk. He tells us about it in A Bluesman's Christmas.

♫ Coco Montoya - A Bluesman's Christmas


Christmas in Oz

As I sort of implied in my opening statement, I'm sure most people in the northern hemisphere know that Christmas falls in the middle of summer in Australia, but I've found that they really can't conceive of the concept until they actually experience it themselves.

Most don't like it, but some do. I've spent a few Christmases in America, a couple in the snow, and it's just wrong. It's so fundamentally, absolutely, totally wrong to be cold at Christmas, to have snow and ice and all the rest. If the sun isn't shining, if it's not really hot out, if you can't go around in shorts and T-shirt it's just not a proper Christmas.

I've played this before, a long time ago, but it's worth another listen. TIM MINCHIN pretty much captures what I'm trying to say.

Drinking White Wine in the Sun. I'd rather drink white wine in the shade, but Tim's from Perth, and they're a bit strange over there.

A sentimental song about Christmas. This version is taken from the Australian 'Ready For This?' DVD. Every year, all proceeds from the sale of (either version) of...

ChristmasOz

So to the traditional moment of couth.

In Roquemaure (in France) at the end of the year 1843, the church organ had been recently renovated. To celebrate the event, the parish priest asked Placide Cappeau, who was a wine merchant and a bit of a poet, to write a Christmas poem.

Even though he wasn't at all interested in religion, he did so. Perhaps it was because it was Christmas or maybe the priest was a good customer. Just speculating. Somehow or other ADOLPHE ADAM got involved and wrote the music.

Adolphe Adam

Adolphe is best known as a composer of ballet music ("Giselle" etc). The poem and song is called Cantique de Noël, (generally known as O Holy Night in English). We have the wonderful ELĪNA GARANČA to sing it.

Elina Garanca

♫ Adolphe Adam - Cantique de Noel



INTERESTING STUFF – 23 December 2017

THE COFFIN CLUB

Reader Kathleen Noble send this music video from New Zealand about members of the Kiwi Coffin Club who “cope with death and loss while bringing some fun and personality to their own final journey” says YouTube.

U.S. GETS FIRST INTERNATIONAL DARK SKY RESERVE

In the early 1970s, I had a weekend home in the Catskill Mountains about a three-hour drive from Manhattan.

Through those years, I was awed every week, looking at the sky when we arrived each Friday night. More stars than any city dweller can imagine and I don't think I've seen that natural array since then.

Now it has been announced that Idaho is now home to the first Dark Sky Reserve in the United States.

DarkSkyReserve

”The International Dark Sky Association, an Arizona-based nonprofit that advocates against light pollution, designated an area covering more than 1,400 square miles as the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve on Monday.

“The reserve includes the Sawtooth Range and other wilderness areas that offer brilliant views of the night sky.”

You can read more at Huffington Post and at Awol.

AMAZON'S NEW SERVICE CAN BE USED FOR MORE THAN JUST GETTING MORE STUFF WE DON'T NEED

Rob Bliss produced this video about helping others and includes this introductory note on the YouTube page.

”Note: this video is NOT SPONSORED OR AFFILIATED WITH AMAZON. I'm sure this technique could be used with Postmates or whoever else too. I simply wanted to demonstrate how easy and convenient it can be to bring a person in need, what they need, and to encourage that behavior.”

Take a look:

AFTER U.S. KILLS NET NEUTRALITY, U.K. MAKES HIGH SPEED ACCESS A RIGHT OF ALL CITIZENS

As you know, earlier this month the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) killed net neutrality, the law that gave everyone, large corporations and little tiny blogs like this one, equal access to the internet.

Some advocacy groups are fighting back but it will be a tough uphill battle that may seep into the midterm elections next year.

So while the Trump administration is working to limit citizens rights, the United Kingdom has just enacted a law, The Digital Economy Act, that by the year 2020 will make high-speed internet a human right in the country.

”Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: 'We know how important broadband is to homes and businesses and we want everyone to benefit from a fast and reliable connection...[and] have decided that only a regulatory approach will make high speed broadband a reality for everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live or work', reports Engadget.”

“The government will now begin setting out what the Universal Service Obligation (USO) must include. It's expected that legislation will be passed in early 2018 and that it will take roughly two years to formally introduce the minimum expected speeds...”

Other countries are making strides, small and large, while the U.S. seems to be in retrograde.

JAPAN'S ZERO WASTE TOWN

It feels like I might have posted this video before but what the hell, I like it.

”The village of Kamikatsu in Japan has taken their commitment to sustainability to a new level,” reports the YouTube page.

“While the rest of the country has a recycling rate of around 20 percent, Kamikatsu surpasses its neighbors with a staggering 80 percent. After becoming aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide associated with burning garbage, the town instated the Zero Waste Declaration with the goal of being completely waste-free by 2020.”

Of course it is a very small town, hard to apply the same principles to big cities, nevertheless it is impressive what they have accomplished for themselves and as an guide to other towns' waste futures.

11 THINGS WOMEN COULD NOT DO IN THE 1920s

When I got married in 1965, I was not allowed to have a credit card in my name. It was in my husband's name.

Fortunately, that had changed by the time we divorced in 1971, but it's taken a long time for women to gain parity in some of the simplest things. Some examples:

⚫ Have Their Own Name Printed On A Passport
⚫ Keep Their Citizenship If Marrying A Non-Citizen
⚫ Work The Night Shift
⚫ Hold A Job While Pregnant
⚫ Serve On A Jury

You can see the rest of the prohibitions against women at Mental Floss.

VINTAGE U.S. GAS STATIONS

I could do without the treacly music but it's fun to recall what part of the local landscape looked like when I was a kid:

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO CURE CANCER?

Okay, this is your serious study video for the day. It does an excellent job of explaining how cancer works – or actually, what we understand at this point about how cancer works.

Forty percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime – everyone is touched by it personally so it's good to know a little about how this still-dread disease works.

The book that is promoted at the end. The Emperor of All Maladies from Siddhartha Mukerjee which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011, is a stunning achievement. Worth the read if you are interested in such things.

Here's the TEDed video:

CHRISTMAS PUPPY CUTENESS OVERLOAD

They tiny little puppies doing what puppies do – this time at Christmas – until they tire out and fall asleep.

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

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



Inspiring Trees That Refuse to Die

At the beginning of this long holiday weekend, it feels unseemly to write about any on my long list of topics about elders and politics. Celebration and camaraderie and love should be the focus of these few days once a year. It may be just aspiration to do so but a good enough respite, don't you think?

Just in time, Darlene Costner sent an email with photographs of a bunch of trees that refuse to die. They continue living in ways that few could anticipate, but each used the circumstances it found itself in to prevail.

As you may suspect, given my big cancer event during this past year, it awes me to ponder the obstacles these trees overcame to keep going. Before I post the video of the photographs, here's what Darlene Costner said when she included the still shots in her email:

”You have deep roots so maybe you are a tree. Just refuse to die. Do you think that would work for us?”

They say that trees have been on earth for 370 million years. No wonder. I found the series inspiring to the point of teariness, and also soothing. Maybe, if I'm willing to bend to the circumstances of my changed life as these trees have done, I can survive longer than expected too.

(I found the inappropriate music mildly annoying. Like me, you may want to mute it. It was nice to watch in the silence.)



Existentialism of Pancreatic Cancer

It is not difficult to understand that a diagnosis of cancer – in my case, pancreatic – might produce an existential crisis or, at least, a renewed look at what you have supposed these many years is the meaning of your life, and of the choices you have made.

This struck me with force last week when one of my physicians suggested I take an antidepressant.

The doctor's idea was not without cause. It's not going too far to say that for several days I had found myself mired in a slough of despond, trying to wade through a bunch of negative thoughts that bubbled up unbidden.

The worst was the notion of my unprovable belief that the chemotherapy is not working. So what is the point, thought I, of struggling through it. I also spent some time wondering such things as how incapacitated I might become if/when the disease progresses and I tried out various scenarios of how I would die and...

Well, you get the idea.

The doctor recommended sertaline, generic Zoloft, that he said would help lift the evident depression I was experiencing. I told him I'd do some homework, think about it and get back to him.

It is not an easy drug. As all the reputable medical websites explain, it is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

The many potential side effects cannot be dismissed without serious consideration:

⚫ Skin rash or hives (with or without fever or joint pain); difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat require emergency attention.

⚫ Such symptoms as anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself should be reported to one's physician right away.

⚫ Not to mention agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

There are worse. I will spare you.

The thing about moods, I have noticed in my going-on eight decades, is that they change. Sometimes for obvious reasons, sometimes not so clear.

Mood is closely related to happiness or lack thereof and there have been a lot of books and magazine articles in the past few years about how to achieve happiness. My point of view has always been that one cannot know happiness and probably not even just a buoyant mood without having experienced negative feelings.

Happiness is not a goal in my world, it is a byproduct. The feeling arises when I've been doing something pleasurable or fulfilling or achieved something I have worked hard for.

Happiness cannot be forced any more than depression can be. To me, they are opposite sides of the same coin and I have often welcomed unhappiness or depression or melancholy because those feelings are as crucial to understanding one's self and one's world as discovering what gives you pleasure, i.e. happiness or contentment.

And so I do not want a false or drugged happiness. Especially with the possibility of those side effects; I already live with the same or similar ones from the chemotherapy.

For many years before I was confronted six months ago with the reality of an immanent death sentence, I have always thought – and still do - that I want to be lucid when I die and not in pain. I want to experience the process with as much attention and clarity as possible - the last great adventure of earthly life.

Only half joking, my plan had been to live as long as my great Aunt Edith did (89) or her sister, my grandmother, 92. That's probably not a good bet now. But that doesn't change what I have always intended in the waning years of my life, particularly, the final weeks and months:

I want to feel all the emotions that go with the winding down, that go with knowing that death is no longer theoretical. I want to watch myself make peace – if that is what happens, or not - with existence as I experienced it, with its ending and with the single event that equalizes us all.

No matter how it feels to go through that final phase of life, I want to be certain they are my feelings and not imposed by a drug.



Trump Administration Tries to Ban 7 Words

Unless you're sensible enough to take the weekend off from Trump-related politics, you already know about this story: that the U.S. Centers for Disease (CDC) are now forbidden from using a certain seven words in reports and official budget documents:

Diversity
Entitlement
Fetus
Transgender
Vulnerable
Evidence-based
Science-based

As Newsweek reported, the CDC staff was told,

”...that rather than using the phrases evidence-based or science-based, they should instead say: 'The CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.'”

Oh, of course, wishes and science. They go together like salt and pepper - why didn't I think of that.

After the announcement on Friday, objections poured forth onto Twitter and elsewhere from scientists and concerned citizens far and wide. Bruce Y. Lee at Forbes:

To ban any of these 7 words would be absurd and frankly a gigantosaurus waste of time...Banning the word 'vulnerable' certainly won't make 28.2 million Americans under the age of 65 who are uninsured or the over 46 million who live in poverty go away.

“Similarly what exactly will prohibiting the words 'transgender' and 'entitlement' do besides force people to search their thesauruses or thesaurusi? Plus, 'entitlement' has other uses such as 'what sense of entitlement gives one the right to override science and reality'"?

And from the AP:

”Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health, says these things matter 'because the words that we use ultimately describe what we care about and what we think are priorities.'

“'If you are saying you cannot use words like ‘transgender’ and ‘diversity,’ it’s a clear statement that you cannot pay attention to these issues.'”

By Sunday, the volume of alarmed complaints had grown loud enough that the CDC or, rather, the Trump Administration was forced to backtrack saying that the new language was for use only in budget documents to help, as The New York Times put it: “when appealing for funding from Republican conservatives in Congress.”

The genesis of the seven-word ban remains in question and no one has been able to find out who issued the order. According to the Times:

There seemed to be confusion around the public health agencies about whether the ban originated at the agency’s parent department, Health and Human Services, or inside the C.D.C. itself; and whether such a ban would apply beyond budget documents.

“The Food and Drug Administration was quick to note that it had gotten no such instruction. An agency spokeswoman, Jennifer Rodriguez, said, 'We haven’t received, nor implemented, any directives with respect to the language used at F.D.A. to describe our policy or budget issues.' The National Institutes of Health referred inquiries to Health and Human Services.”

This isn't just another weird, little screw-up in the Trump administration. This is an attempt to censor. Other agencies are said to be subject to the ban of these seven words and such bans – books, movies, words, etc. - are always an attempt to control thought.

It is crucial to a democracy that all people are allowed free speech – that means saying anything they want whether anyone else likes it or not. This word ban is an attempt to thwart that right supposedly preserved in the Constitution but now under attack from many angles by the Trump administration.

Words are important and it is important to use the right words for what you mean to say. I keep a little quotation on my desk from Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts school in the “Harry Potter” series – in this case the book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:

”Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”

True but don't be afraid of this authoritarian grab for control. Instead, don't let the government tell you what you can say. Ever.



ELDER MUSIC: 1931

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.

* * *

You must remember this…

Well, if you're like me, you'll remember Dooley Wilson performing the first song. However, it had been around for some time before Dooley made it a classic. It was first recorded by JACQUES RENARD and his orchestra with vocal by FRANK MUNN.

Jacques Renard & Frank Munn

After hearing this one I'm struck at how much better Dooley's version was. We are looking at 1931 though, and this is one of those from that year – Rudy Vallee was the other. As Time Goes By.

♫ Jacques Renard (Frank Munn vocal) - As Time Goes By


You knew that BING CROSBY would be present today, so I won't disappoint you.

Bing Crosby

I'm very familiar with this song as my dad was a fan of Bing. He had a five album set of the crooner (these were unusual back when I was a kid, it's really only in the era of CDs that multiple albums became common). I became very familiar with all the songs as we didn't have very many records back then. One of the songs on that collection was I Found a Million Dollar Baby.

♫ Bing Crosby - I Found a Million Dollar Baby


Far and away the most famous song of CAB CALLOWAY is Minnie the Moocher.

Cab Calloway

He pretty much had to perform it everywhere he went. 1931 was the year he recorded it for the first time. Here is what the original sounds like.

♫ Cab Calloway - Minnie The Moocher


There was a rather good British science fiction TV series in the nineties called Goodnight Sweetheart. It used the song of that name as its theme. It was performed by RAY NOBLE and his orchestra, with vocal refrain (that phrase was used a lot at the time) by AL BOWLLY.

Ray Noble & Al Bowlly

That's Ray in the white suit and Al on the left.

Although the series was not a comedy, it didn't take itself too seriously, unlike most of that genre, that's why I liked it. Anyway, here is that song.

♫ Ray Noble (Al Bowlly vocal) - Goodnight Sweetheart


Here is the finest blues singer in the first half of the century. You need no prompting from me to know that I'm talking about BESSIE SMITH.

Bessie Smith

It seems that she's in a bit of a quandary since her man done gone. Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl is that way she says it, and boy, does she say it well.

♫ Bessie Smith - Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl


Way back, indeed in 1931, WAYNE KING (with vocal refrain by ERNIE BURCHILL) performed Dream a Little Dream of Me.

Wayne King

People of a certain age will recall Mama Cass's version of the song. She did it much better than these folks, but she wasn't around in 1931 so we have to go with this other version.

♫ Wayne King (Ernie Burchill vocal) - Dream A Little Dream Of Me


THE MILLS BROTHERS are another group I would pretty much automatically include in a column. They perform the famous song Tiger Rag.

Mills Brothers

As it said on the label: “No musical instruments or mechanical devices were used in this recording other than one guitar”. So, all those things that sound like instruments are just them doing mouth noises. It's far from the best thing they ever did, but even lesser Mills Brothers is worthy of hearing.

♫ Mills Brothers - Tiger Rag


Here's another song that will be familiar to you, but perhaps not by FRANKIE TRUMBAUER with ART JARRETT and trio on vocals.

Frankie Trumbauer

I have no idea which is Frankie and which is Art. I'll leave it up to you to imagine.

The song has been recorded by hundreds of performers over the years, many of whom did it better than these folks. However, they are the ones we have for this year. The song is Georgia On My Mind.

♫ Frankie Trumbauer (Art Jarrett & trio vocal) - Georgia On My Mind


At last, we have LOUIS ARMSTRONG.

Louis Armstrong

Louis was having a fine old time with this one, nothing serious, not innovating or anything like that. He was just having a good time saying that I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You.

♫ Louis Armstrong - I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You


Is it just me, or does RUSS COLUMBO sound awfully like Bing? Could do worse, I suppose.

Russ Columbo

Russ really didn't give Bing a run for his money in the long term as he died at the ridiculously young age of 26 in a "shooting incident" when he was visiting a friend of his. Before that (of course, before that) Russ recorded You Call It Madness (But I Call It Love).

♫ Russ Columbo - You Call It Madness (But I Call It Love)



INTERESTING STUFF – 16 December 2017

MEDICAL TERMS FOR MINOR MEDICAL PROBLEMS

An interesting thing that has happened from my cancer treatments with many visits to clinics and doctors is that I get to watch them at their jobs and pertinent to this, listen in on their conversations with one another. It's often filled with words I have never heard before.

This week I ran across a feature story listing some fancy medical terms that professionals use for commonplace health issues. Some examples:

Corn: That callus on your foot may be soft, in which case it’s a heloma molle. If it's hard, it's a heloma durum.

Getting the wind knocked out of you: This feels bad, but doesn’t last very long. Just a transient diaphragmatic spasm.

Sneeze: Why sneeze when you can sternutate?

There are about 18 more of these at Mental Floss.

HEATHROW CHRISTMAS ADVERT

British TV Christmas commercials are always beautifully produced. Here's a cute one this year for Heathrow Airport.

YOU CAN'T MAKE UP THIS STUFF

I've checked all over the web and this is a true story:

”A surgeon has admitted burning his initials into the livers of two transplant patients with a laser beam,” reports The Telegraph

“Consultant Simon Bramhall, 53, branded "SB" on the organs of a man and a woman undergoing transplant operations.”

I am speechless. I cannot imagine how doing this could even occur to anyone let alone follow through. You can read more here.

INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM

I had no idea this existed. As the YouTube page explains,

”At the International Spy Museum, there's something for the spy in all of us. Gain access to world's largest collection of international espionage artifacts - gadgets, weapons, bugs, cameras, vehicles, and spy-tech that defies classification.”

Here's a short introductory video:

More at the museum's website, and here is the museum's YouTube page which has more than 200 short videos about the museum and espionage.

BEAR CUB QUINTUPLETES

Darlene Costner sent some still shots via email of this adorable and huge bear family. Then I found a video with those stills so you can now see them.

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD STARTS JOSHUA'S HEART FOUNDATION

At age five, Johsua Williams started a non-profit to feed the homeless where he lived. Since then he's fed 300,000 people. Now age 16, he continues his work with a whole lot of others helping out and expanding the project. Take a look.

Find out more about Joshua's Heart Foundation here.

CATS WHO CRASHED NATIVITY SCENES

Cats do what cats want to do – it's hard to dissuade them – and they are expert at making themselves the center of attention at any cost.

Cats-crashing-nativity-scenes3

Cats-crashing-nativity-scenes

CatNativity1

There are 17 more photos of cat-crashed nativities 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.



Crabby Old Lady and the Things They Don't Tell You About Getting Old

Crabby Old Lady will be here in a moment but for a few sentences this is me, Ronni. After I wrote today's post, members of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on Friday to kill Net Neutrality. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about what that then impending vote, if passed, would mean for you and me.

Answer: more expensive internet services for all of us and in the case of small blogs like this one or startup businesses counting their pennies, having your website "throttled" (slowed down) if you don't pay big fee. It's now law of the land.

This vote was taken, by the way, even though more than a million FAKE comments were found at the FCC website supporting repeal.

We'll talk about this more next week. Meanwhile, there are rumblings of at least one state attorney general and a number of public interest political organizations that oppose repeal will be suing to repeal the repeal. Some hope. Maybe.

* * *

There are all kinds of things they don't tell people about growing old. Throughout the midyears, most people sort of know it's mostly old people who are afflicted with cancer, heart disease and diabetes, for example. In fact, they are even called “diseases of age”.

But most convince themselves that such events are too far in the future to cause concern and anyway, it won't be me, says everyone.

Today, however, Crabby Old Lady is talking about the relatively benign afflictions that accompany old age – they won't kill you but they are massively annoying, and they never go away.

HAIR OR LACK THEREOF
Let's start with hair: ear hair, nose hair, thin hair, no hair. Ear hair shows up mostly on men and Crabby had assumed that was true for nose hair too. Wrong. If she is not vigilant, it could grow long enough to braid.

More men appear to be bald than women but Crabby is catching up. The hair on the back of her head was becoming so thin that a couple of years ago she took to collecting hats and mostly does not leave home without wearing one. Lately, however, the loss is worsening.

Undoubtedly Crabby Old Lady should be grateful that chemotherapy hasn't made her bald (yet), but that place on the back of her head and now her front hairline are becoming thinner by the day – a lot more skin showing that hair.

CHIN HAIR
This hair misery gets its own paragraph. It's amazing how fast these isolated – three or four at a time – hairs appear dotted across Crabby's chin and pulling them out with a tweezer causes big-time pain.

This wasn't a problem for most of her life and even though she finally found a specialized razor that works quite well, Crabby resents the need to keep up with those stray hairs.

AGE SPOTS AND FRECKLES
When she was a kid, Crabby longed for smooth unblemished skin but I was stuck with freckles, little brown spots that she believed then were unattractive at best, ugly at worst.

Life goes on and sometimes you find a way to accommodate disappointments. In this case, when Crabby learned of age spots that commonly turn up on the backs of the hands of old people, she thought, “Oh, goodie. When I get old, age spots will hide the freckles."

The flaw in that thinking is obvious and anyway, no one would confuse age spots with freckles. Crabby doesn't like either one but she honestly doesn't care nowadays. It is one of the great benefits of old age - not caring about all sorts of things anymore.

THE MIDNIGHT BATHROOM RUN
For most of Crabby's adult life, she believed it was men who couldn't get through the night without two or three or more trips to the bathroom.

It's been about ten years since she was disabused of that error. Unless Crabby is the only one, it's women too.

LOST FINGERPRINTS
This wasn't as important before cell phones started using fingerprint ID technology. Did you know that old people can lose their fingerprints? As reported here four or five years ago,

”...the elasticity of skin decreases with age, so a lot of senior citizens have prints that are difficult to capture,” reported Scientific American.

“The ridges get thicker; the height between the top of the ridge and the bottom of the furrow gets narrow, so there's less prominence. So if there's any pressure at all [on the scanner], the print just tends to smear.”

This also happens to people like bricklayers and tilers whose fingers have been worn flat.

It seems as soon as a new security technology comes along, there is a glitch its creator didn't take into consideration. Already with cell phone facial recognition, the wrong people's faces are being identified as correct.

Undoubtedly you can come up with more irritating afflictions that Crabby Old Lady has overlooked: eye floaters and tinnitus come to mind. And there there is this: when some new malady manifests itself, it can be hard to know if it requires a doctor visit or is just some new aggravation about which there's nothing to be done.

It's not as if the late actor Bette Davis didn't warn us: “Old age ain't for sissies,” she said.



AG Sessions Aiming For Marijuana Prosecutions

Today's story is an update of one from 23 October 2017 titled Cannabis and Chemo about my first visit to a marijuana dispensary to see if I could find relief for my insomnia.

Over-the-counter sleep aids don't work for me and my doctors are reluctant to give me prescription sleep drugs but one of them suggested weed (I live in Oregon where both medical and recreation marijuana are legal).

I'm expanding on this story because in the past two weeks, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it clear he intends to find a way to agressively prosecute marijuana growers, distributors, sellers and users. He believes marijuana use is "only slightly less awful" than heroin addiction.

Oh, please.

”Sessions argued that the DOJ's hands need to be untied when it comes to prosecuting marijuana dispensaries, 'particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.' reports Amanda Marcotte in Salon.

“There is, of course, no evidence,” she continues, “that marijuana use is contributing to the opioid crisis and, in fact, there's a significant link between legalized medical marijuana and a decrease in opioid overdoses.”

First of all, opioids are about 50 times more addictive than heroin and they are the cause of the current epidemic. Rolling Stone magazine reports that early in 2017,

”...the National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering released a landmark report determining that there is conclusive evidence that cannabis is effective in treating chronic pain.

“What's even more promising is that early research indicates that the plant not only could play a role in treating pain, but additionally could be effective in treating addiction itself – meaning marijuana could actually be used as a so-called 'exit drug' to help wean people off of pills or heroin.”

The reason this is of great interest to elders is that they are the fastest growing group to adopt cannabis for medical reasons.

Motley Fool reports that a recent Gallup poll shows

”...a record 64% of Americans now want to see pot legalized nationally. That's up from 60% in 2016...Support for medical weed is even higher, with a separate survey from Quinnipiac University in April 2017 finding 94% support for legalization.”

But even as old people are fast adopting marijuana especially for medical use, even growing their own in some cases to cut down costs, their acceptance of legal weed lags significantly behind young people's. Motley Foolagain:

“In the combined 2003 and 2005 analysis, Gallup found that only 29% of seniors supported the idea of legalizing weed. By 2016, as noted, this was up to 45%.

The magazine notes that it's hard to tell if elders are increasingly embracing the use of pot or if younger adults are growing into the elder age category.

However - different polls, different results. In October of 2016, The Pew Research Center survey demonstrated widespread support for sensible cannabis laws in nearly every demographic.

”The poll, conducted in August, shows 37 percent against legalization. A decade ago, opinion on legalizing marijuana was nearly the reverse – just 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed, Pew reported.

Millennials – those ages 18 to 35 – are more than twice as likely to support legalization of marijuana as they were in 2006 (71 percent today, up from 34% in 2006), and are significantly more likely to support legalization than other generations.

Among Gen Xers — ages 36 to 51 — a majority (57 percent) support legalization, a considerable jump from just 21 percent in 1990.

But even Baby Boomers— ages 52 to 70 — are seeing the light: 56% percent support legalization, up from just 17 percent in 1990.”

Obviously, legalization is a trend that can't be denied.

As I noted in my previous pot post, marijuana is useful for helping to treat and/or alleviate many of the symptoms of the “diseases of age” - cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, arthritis, depression and glaucoma among many others.

I use it for sleep, having switched from cannabis candies to tincture. I have noticed – as I did in all the decades I smoked pot for fun – that there is, for me, a mild hangover the next day. I feel slightly sluggish physically and mentally so I use it only every second or, sometimes, third night.

Eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational use while 29 states and the District of Columbia have done so for medical use. In 2014, Congress passed The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment which bars the U.S. Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute people buying or selling medical marijuana in states that have legalized it.

Last Friday, that amendment would have expired leaving AG Sessions free to prosecute except that Congress renewed it even over objections from Sessions. However,

”Ames Grawert of the Brennan Center for Justice told Salon, 'Every time, there’s sort of a dance around whether it will actually get cut this time or not."

“It’s reasonable to be at least 'a little concerned,' Grawert said, that Sessions' pressure will eventually convince congressional Republicans to dump the amendment.

In response to that, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, and a bipartisan group of 24 other lawmakers earlier this year introduced a new piece of legislation, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, which would prevent the federal government from prosecuting any marijuana users, growers or distributors who are in compliance with state laws.

With all the real troubles in our country you would think the attorney general would have better things to do than chase down people whose health benefits from cannabis along with a business that brings in billions of dollars in taxes to states where the drug has been legalized. I sure don't want to lose my sleep remedy now that I've found it and I'm pretty sure millions of other elders feel the same way about the reasons they use marijuana.

You might want to let your representatives in Washington, D.C. know where you stand on this issue – even if you don't use marijuana. You can find their contact information here.



Rethinking Ageism

There has been a surge recently in the number of print media stories about ageism. Two I've seen are important.

In November, Joseph F. Coughlin, who is founder and director of MIT’s AgeLab, noted in Time magazine that old people even have their own town in Florida, The Villages. (Not that similar places don't exist elsewhere.)

At The Villages, there are a 157,000 residents age 55 and older who have developed their own culture, norms and lifestyle, says Coughlin, and he sees a “troubling possible future” where old and young segregate themselves from one another:

”The way this could happen is simple,” he writes. “Society fails to recognize the needs, desires and aspirations of older people, treating them as invisible — or, worse, as a problem to be solved.

“We continue to write a story of old age that retires people away from everyone else, rather than finding ways to engage them, to activate their talents. In response, it’s only natural that older people would choose to cloister themselves away.”

Actually, we – meaning young and old - are way ahead of Coughlin. Many of the majority of elders who do not live in Villages-style communities find other ways to isolate themselves from younger generations. And if they won't do it themselves, those younger people will do it for them.

In a recent issue of The New Yorker, staff writer Tad Friend looked into the intractable endurance of ageism quoting, at one point, four psychologists who wrote the book, Ageism: Stereotyping and Prejudice against Older Persons.

”[...they] point out that many people preserve themselves from 'death thought accessibility' by shunning 'senior citizen centers, bingo parlors, nursing homes, golf courses, Florida, and Rolling Stones concerts.'

“The authors dryly conclude,” notes Friend, 'Another way to avoid older adults is to keep them out of the workplace.'”

No kidding. A lot of us on this blog who had every intention of working longer know all about that how that works, and Friend takes Silicon Valley to task for the tech industry's patently ageist hiring practices.

As it turns out too, according to Friend, the widespread belief that Eastern cultures treat their elders with more kindness, care and understanding than our Western culture does just isn't so:

”A meta-analysis by the academics Michael S. North and Susan T. Fiske reveals that Eastern societies actually have more negative attitudes toward the elderly that Western ones do...”

And further, say North and Fiske, efforts to make old people more understandable to the young,

”'...have yielded mixed results at best.' Having students simulate the experience of being old by donning weighted suits and vision-inhibiting goggles, or exposing them to 'intergenerational contact' – actual old people – doesn't lead to kumbaya moments.

“'Such approaches do not appear to incite a long-term desire among the young for interactions with elders,' they regretfully conclude, 'and contact can backfire if older adults are particularly impaired.'”
"

It doesn't help that, as Friend writes, we tend to caricature elders into only two categories: "raddled wretches and cuddly Yodas", denying them full, rounded humanity as the young are automatically granted.

As Friend notes throughout his piece, it is fear of death that drives ageism which is what probably makes ageism unavoidable.

”If ageism is hardwired, how can we reprogram ourselves? Greenberg and Co. suggest three ways:

⚫ Having the elderly live among us and fostering respect for them
⚫ Bolstering self-esteem throughout the culture to diminish the terror of aging
⚫ Calmly accepting our inevitable deaths.

“They note, however, that 'all these directions for improvement are pie in the sky, particularly when we think of them at a society-wide or global level of change.' So ageism is probably inevitable 'in this potentially lonely and horrifying universe.'”

Or, from cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker:

”The irony of man's condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.”

Personally and however fearful it may be, I'm working hard to live every moment I have left to its fullest.



ELDER MUSIC: Various Classical

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.

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PYOTR TCHAIKOVSKY sure could write a good tune.

Tchaikovsky

The one I have today will be guaranteed to get you up waltzing around your kitchen, bedroom or wherever you happen to be listening. I have selected the Waltz from the start of the second act of his opera “Eugene Onegin”. Set those tootsies free.

♫ Tchaikovsky - Waltz from Eugene Onegin


GEORGE HANDEL was born the same year as J.S. Bach, as well as geographically quite close to each other too. However, there's no evidence at all that the two giants of Baroque music ever met.

Handel

J.S. was somewhat of a homebody and George liked to get about a bit, first around what is now Germany and then to what is now Italy. He was much taken by the Italian style of music and started writing music in this manner.

He returned to Hanover where he encountered another George: the Elector of Hanover. Both Georges went to England where they stayed for the rest of their lives. Our George became one of the greatest composers of all time and the other one had a minor role as George the First.

One of our George's compositions is the secular cantata “Apollo and Daphne”, HWV 122. From that we have Felicissima quest'alma, sung by JULIA LEZHNEVA.

Julia Lezhneva

♫ Handel - Apollo e Dafne HWV 122 ~ Felicissima quest'alma


CHARLES AVISON was an English composer who spanned the Baroque and Classical periods.

Charles Avison

He was born in Newcastle to poor parents. Not much is known of his childhood, but he landed in London and studied with Francesco Geminiani, whom he greatly admired. He was mainly an organist but wrote for many different instruments.

He later returned to Newcastle where he stayed for the rest of his life. Charlie did okay for himself as he died a very rich man and he left the loot to his three surviving kids. Here is the fourth movement of his “Concerto No.6 in D major.”

♫ Avison - Concerto No.6 in D major (4)


FELIX MENDELSSOHN visited Britain many times.

Mendelssohn

Quite a few of his compositions were inspired by his visits or he actually wrote some of them there. He seemed to like Scotland and several of his works reference the country. Probably the most famous of which is the Symphony No 3 in A minor, Op 56, also known as the Scottish Symphony.

On his last visit before he died, he conducted that symphony and among the gathered throng were Victoria and Albert (the people, not the museum). Here is the second movement.

♫ Mendelssohn - Symphony No.3 in A minor op.56 'Scottish' (2)


CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI is one of the major figures in music – he's up there with Beethoven in the changes and developments he made.

Monteverdi

He is the first person that we know of who wrote operas; certainly his operas are the earliest that are still performed today. He took a little bitty thing called the madrigal and fleshed it out to become wonderful, exciting pieces of music. It's one of those that we're having today.

From his fifth book of madrigals this is Quel sguardo sdegnosetto. See if you can pronounce that early in the morning. The wonderful DANIELLE DE NIESE sings it.

Danielle de Niese

♫ Danielle de Niese - Monteverdi ~ Quel sguardo sdegnosetto


IGNAZ PLEYEL was the 24th child of an impoverished school teacher. No wonder he was impoverished, especially as Iggy was nowhere near the last – there were 38 kids in all. The mind boggles.

Ignaz Pleyel

Fortunately, Iggy was good at music and he caught the ear of some rich noble man who paid for his music education. He was taught by Johann Vanhal, a friend of both Mozart and Haydn, and Iggy went on to a career in music, that alas, is largely forgotten these days.

He was also a music publisher and piano designer and maker. He ended up quite rich. In his day he was considered a rival to both Mozart and Haydn, and his music is in a similar style to both of those. See what you think of the first movement of his String Quartet in D Major, Ben. 337.

♫ Pleyel - String Quartet in D Major Ben. 337 (1)


I have mentioned the birthplace of BERNHARD CRUSELL before, but it's such a wonderful name I'm going to do it again. He was from Uusikaupunki in Finland. Indeed, that town has a Crusell Week each year.

Crusell

Bernie's family moved to Sweden when he was a lad and both countries like to claim him as their own. He was apparently a really fine clarinet player and wrote many compositions for the instrument. Although not devoted entirely to the instrument, it certainly features prominently in the first movement of the Divertimento in C major, Op.9.

♫ Crusell - Divertimento in C major Op.9 (1)


ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK was a Czech composer who also travelled extensively, most notably to Britain and the United States about which he wrote several of his best known and loved compositions.

Dvorák

I'm not using any of those today. What I have is the second movement of one of his Four Romantic Pieces for violin and piano, B. 150 (Op. 75).

♫ Dvorak - 4 Romantic Pieces Op.75 (2)


GIUSEPPE JACCHINI was an Italian cello player and composer in what's now Italy in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

Giuseppe Maria Jacchini

His skill on the cello and his many works for the instrument put it on the map – he was one of the earliest composers to feature it. He also wrote many works for the trumpet and we're going out with a bang with one of those. Here is the first movement of his Sonata D Minor.

♫ Giuseppe Maria Jacchini - Sonata D Minor (1)



INTERESTING STUFF – 9 December 2017

CHRISTMAS WINDOWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

The New York Times has a beautiful collection of department store Christmas windows from around the world:

Saks Fifth Avenue, New York City:

Saks03HOLIDAYWINDOWS2

Selfridges, London:

SelfridgesHOLIDAYWINDOW2

Many more to see at the NYT.

10-YEAR-OLD UNLOCKS MOM'S IPHONE

When the Apple iPhone X was released a few weeks go, a big deal was the facial recognition to indentify the owner and unlock the phone.

Apparently, it is not quite as secure as advertised as the parents explain:

”We were sitting down in our bedroom and were just done setting up the Face IDs, our 10-year-old son walked in anxious to get his hands on the new iPhone X. Right away my wife declared that he was not going to access her phone.

Acting exactly as a kid would do when asked to not do something, he picked up her phone and with just a glance got right in.”

Here's a re-creation of the event with mom and the kid:

More explanation at the Wired magazine story.

AMERICAN ELDER HEALTH CARE VERSUS OTHER COUNTRIES

According to the 2017 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults 65+ in 11 nations finds those in the U.S. are the sickest and most likely to face economic hardship.

The survey focuses on the challenges that adults 65 and older face in 11 countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Here's the salient chart:

CommonwealthChartElderHealthcarebyCountry

Even with Medicare for this age group in the U.S.,

”A disproportionate share of U.S. elderly face economic challenges,” states the report.

“One-quarter reported they often worry about having enough money to buy nutritious meals or pay for necessities like housing. Rates of economic vulnerability are lowest in Norway (3%) and Sweden (4%).”

See more of the health discrepancies among the 11 countries at the Commonwealth Fund website.

THAILAND'S AMAZING, DANGEROUS RAILROAD MARKET

As the YouTube page explains,

”In Samut Songkhram, about an hour outside Bangkok, is Maeklong Railway Market, one of the largest produce and seafood markets in Thailand. But beyond the selection of fresh fruit and fish, the market has become infamous for one thing—the train that runs directly through it.

“In 1905, the Maeklong Railway built a commuter train line through the center of the popular market. But rather than move, the vendors adapted to the new conditions, working around the train that passes through eight times a day, seven days a week.”

Here's a video of it:

INTERESTING DISCUSSION OF TRUMP'S BEHAVIOR FROM BRAIN SPECIALIST PHYSICIAN

There has been a lot of agonizing in the news medis among psychiatrists about whether they are allowed to diagnose President Trump without examining him in person.

It seems to me that one doesn't need a medical degree to know something is not right with the president, but then I ran across this article not by a psychiatrist, but a physician who is a neurologist, a specialist in the diseases of the brain.

Here is part of his overview:

”In turning my attention to the president, I see worrisome symptoms that fall into three main categories: problems with language and executive function; problems with social cognition and behavior; and problems with memory, attention, and concentration.

“None of these are symptoms of being a bad or mean person. Nor do they require spelunking into the depths of his psyche to understand. Instead, they raise concern for a neurocognitive disease process in the same sense that wheezing raises the alarm for asthma.”

Read the whole article at Stat.

WHY DO WE KISS UNDER MISTLETOE?

The biology and mythology of the Christmas mistletoe tradition from TEDtalks.

WILDLIFE IN DECEMBER

This doesn't need an introduction – just enjoy.

THE POLITICAL POWER OF JOHN OLIVER

When the big threats to net neutrality emerge every now and then, the host of HBO's Last Week Tonight show, John Oliver, has stepped in with a forcible rebuttal:

“Oliver’s net-neutrality pieces speak to one of the HBO comedian’s strongest qualities: his ability to inspire passion even around the most arcane of subjects,” writes Laura Bradley at Vanity Fair. “Oliver’s explanations,” she continues, “always replete with humor and gimmicks like the creation of the Web site “gofccyourself.com,” help combat apathy. That might be why he and his viewers have seemingly managed to crash the F.C.C.’s website both times he addressed the subject.”

That's just one short take from Bradley's about the renaissance in 2017 of late-night talk shows – much to the betterment, in my opinion, of needed public political discourse.

Read the whole article at Vanity Fair.

RACCOON RESCUE

From the YouTube page:

”This is just an awesome rescue of a raccoon by some kindhearted individuals who came across him on a Jeep Club outing.

“It appears that the raccoon got trapped when a tree fell and pinned him to the ground. They used the jack from their jeep to raise the tree and free the raccoon. The raccoon appears to OK as he scampers off and climbs another tree.

Here's the video:

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

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


Six Months Into Cancer Treatment

It's been six months now, half a year since they told me I have pancreatic cancer. I've recovered from the huge Whipple Procedure surgery, made peace with the medications I need to take for the rest of life and am enduring chemotherapy which continues until March.

image

One of the things I mentioned in early notes here about this cancer is that I would not allow myself to become a professional patient. Oh, please – was I really that naive? My every day now is ordered by the needs of the disease.

MEDICATIONS
Most obvious are the meds. I count them out once a week into one of those little plastic containers divided into AM and PM. But that's not the full story. There is one pill I must take for before every meal, every snack, essentially every time I want to put even a bite of food or cookie or a piece of candy in my mouth. Hard to remember sometimes.

Two others that are each prescribed for morning and for evening cannot be taken together. And of course, these and all the others never need refills all the same time. It's an ongoing daily chore to be sure each med is being taken correctly at its time of day with the proper accoutrement. I screw up now and then even with a chart taped to a kitchen cabinet.

MEAL PLANNING
Because part of my stomach was removed in the Whipple Procedure, I now eat several small meals a day. It takes a lot of planning, shopping, organizing before I even get around to cooking and I'm still learning that I cannot eat nearly as much as I once did at a single meal.

I think about food a lot – what to have for the mid-morning snack (don't forget the pill), the need to prep vegetables for the lunch-time meal, the midday snack (don't forget that pill). And clean up the kitchen after each meal.

None of this is nearly as much fun as having regular three meals a day that I used to enjoy cooking. Not so much now.

CHEMO SIDE-EFFECT PREVENTION
There are all kinds of potential side effects that come with the territory of chemotherapy. Fatigue is the most common affliction but the list is way longer than that, although no one gets all of them.

So I rinse my mouth several times a day to prevent sores there. I rub a special cream into my feet and hands four times a day in hope of preventing a really gruesome side effect.

To help prevent infection due to what is called a “compromised immune system” during chemo, I always use medical gloves to clean Ollie the cat's litter box twice a day and I wash my hands constantly which, of course, requires more lotion after each washing.

At my monthly meeting with the oncologist yesterday, the oral chemo pills of which I have been taking two twice a day since the infusion chemo began was removed from my regimen. It caused the sudden, dramatic drop in my red cell count that required four units of blood a couple of weeks ago. It also has contributed to the ongoing anemia.

These are much more serious than the hand-and-foot syndrome that the same oral chemo probably helped cause to turn up in the past few weeks. Fortunately, it's not progressed to that gruesome effect So if all goes during December as the doctors expect, I'll be relieved of these difficulties.

The downside is that European studies over several years have shown that combining this oral chemo with the kind of infusion I get weekly extends three-year survival rate of pancreatic Whipple and chemo patients by about 15 percent to 70 or so percent.

But the doctors believe that the extraordinarily sudden drop in red blood cells is serious enough that preventing it happening again is crucial and this move should do that. I have gone along with them.

MANAGING FATIGUE
When I remember to use the tincture of cannabis, I sleep much better – “better” meaning longer than three hours. Even up to seven sometimes and then the fatigue, which builds during the three weeks of chemo before a week off, is more manageable.

MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS
Interspersed with all the daily cancer responsibilities are chemo infusion appointments, occasional tests doctors want, check-in with my primary care physician every few weeks not to mention surprises like the overnight hospital stay for the recent blood transfusions and endoscopy (which came out clean).

How come no one told me how futile it is, with a cancer diagnosis, to try not to become a professional patient? There are so many different things to do and to keep track of to treat this insidious enemy, it is a full-time job.

I try to get through these chores each day without thinking about the big, fat, ugly reason for them. I save that for when I'm worn out toward the end of the day – or, rather, that's when the thoughts none of us ever want to have erupt on their own. A few:

Will I be here at this time next year?
What will the prognosis be when chemotherapy ends?
What if the chemo doesn't work?
How will I die?
Do these negative thoughts affect how well treatment works?

And so on.

It's not always that bad. Sometimes I feel a close-to-joyful acceptance of what I believe is the natural and normal order of life: "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Just not yet, please. I still have a few things I want to do.

From the first day after diagnosis and for reasons I don't know, I abandoned my usual head-long, deep dive into research when something new happens. In this case, I have limited myself to just the basics of pancreatic cancer and its treatment but few details and no research studies.

Instead, I rely on the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals at OHSU who have been dealing with this disease and treatment plan to answer my questions and I do my best to follow what they advise and prescribe.

I know how lucky I am to have been eligible for the Whipple Procedure. When the surgeon first described it to me six months ago, I asked what would happen if I rejected it (it was as awful in his description as it is for real). “You'll be dead by the end of the year,” the surgeon said.

That certainly focuses one's attention. I did the surgery and I'm still here at the end of the year. But mostly I am both too busy with daily maintenance and personally indisposed to see this as a “battle” against cancer - unless the fight consists in this now-professional patient keeping track of all the cancer chores.

Which, apparently, leaves it to you and others to “battle” the cancer, to stay positive for me which you are doing in abundant numbers according to your comments and emails. And don't think that I am not impossibly grateful to you all.


Crabby Old Lady's State of the Union

Today's post isn't precisely about ageing but Crabby Old Lady needs to get some of this off her chest and suspects a lot of you may want to also.

Have there ever been so many different things going wrong – painfully, horribly, terrifyingly wrong all at once - in the U.S. than now? It's not even possible to list them all.

Biggest of all is the ongoing confrontation with North Korea. Crabby hasn't been this frightened of the potential reality of nuclear war since she hid under her desk at school in the 1950s. How does it not make it worse to taunt the Supreme Leader with juvenile name-calling?

TAX REFORM BILL
The tax reform bill has made it clear as never before that the Republican Party philosophy is simple: more for me, less for you. And now they've doubled down on it by openly admitting that adding $1.4 TRILLION to the deficit is a deliberate decision made to be able to claim the necessity to make deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

That's big too. The Pay-Go law may require $25 billion in cuts to Medicare the moment Trump signs the bill into law which would cut back care and treatment for millions of people.

There has been some reporting on that but not enough that anyone not dependent on Medicare would notice. (According to a new Quinnipiac Poll, only 29 percent of Americans approve of the tax reform bill; 53 percent disapprove.)

NORMALIZING TRUMP
Remember how, right after the November election, many reporters and pundits were admonishing the public to not normalize Trump's behavior?

Guess what? Everyone, including those pundits, not only accepts presidency by tweet storm now, we expect it on a daily basis and the pundits analyze his every Twitter utterance as though it is a policy announcement.

Which it has become. Who needs Congress or even Executive Orders? The president tweets and it instantly becomes policy. If, in Trump's ignorance, the tweet goes wrong, he can just have his lawyer take the fall for his mistake as happened this week.

There are a lot of people in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere – Republicans usually – for whom Trump's word is their marching order. Case in point, supporting an accused pedophile for the U.S. Senate in the upcoming Alabama election. No Republican will now disavow Roy Moore.

ADMINISTRATION LIES
Can anyone count the number of lies from this administration? It's hard to keep up when it's every day, and when any given lie is no longer convenient he and his aides just make up another and refuse to acknowledge if it contradicts the first one.

NATIONAL PARKS
And how do you feel about the cuts Trump made to national parks earlier this week? Trump reduced Bears Ears National Monument area by 85 percent and the Grand Staircase-Escalante by about 50 percent which, according to The New York Times is the “largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history.”

This move opens about two million acres of wilderness to potential commercial development. Crabby had no idea until now that a president could just do that, all alone without Congress.

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Then there the continuing story of alleged sexual misconduct among mostly famous men in glamour businesses. You know the list: Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Glenn Thrush, Garrison Keillor, Jon Conyers, Roy Moore among many others.

There is a fuller list here which, like all the other lists, does not include the predator-in-chief, Donald Trump.

Speaking of lies, earlier this week, he tried to say that was not his voice on the Access Hollywood tape. Billy Bush set the media straight on that.

Most women Crabby Old Lady knows have been sexually harassed at work, including Crabby herself. Pats on the butt, inappropriate jokes and suggestions. In some places Crabby worked, women made note for one another of which men to keep a distance from in order to avoid unwanted touches.

There was never any question of complaining. Everyone knew they would be the ones to be fired.

Some think, thanks to so many women coming forward, those days are gone. Many are claiming this is a watershed moment for women, that workplace sexual harassment will end now.

Don't count on it. Crabby hopes she is wrong but news stories fade, the public gets jaded (see “normalization” above) and the media is always chasing the next new thing.

VENTING
And here's a question for you: how is it that the president's every single cabinet appointment is the worst possible choice. Worst, that is, if you are idiot enough to believe that the country's leaders are there to run a government by, of and FOR THE PEOPLE, and not to (further) enrich themselves.

Given how ignorant, uninformed and erratic the president is, Crabby Old Lady worries every day about what terrible predicament he will get the country into.

It's not like Crabby has any solutions. She just felt the need, on this otherwise single-topic blog, to acknowledge a problem (well, a large set of problems) that are more important than growing old.

It helps to vent now and then, and to give everyone here a chance to do that too.


How the Tax Bill Harms Elders

BarbaraLeeTweet

I'll get back to that tweet from the California Congress member in a bit. First:

In case you slept through the weekend, in the early hours of Saturday morning, the Senate voted along party lines 51 to 49 to pass their version of H.R. 1: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the sweeping tax reform bill that pretty much steals money from everyone else and gives it to corporations and the very rich.

Many different senators were adding and subtracting and changing items in the bill – often hand-written in the margins - until about two minutes before the vote took place. Here is Montana's Democratic Senator Jon Tester:

No one, not a single person in that legislative body had read the entire bill, let alone had any time to understand it or weigh the consequences before voting.

And don't apply any “what-about-ism”. Do not let the fact that Democrats have done this same thing in the past deter you from heaping contempt for those 51 yea-voting Republican senators, nearly every one of whom lied to the public about who will benefit and who will lose from the bill.

There are only three reasons, all of them corrupt, to vote for a bill that will affect every American and crush tens of millions of them:

To appease the Trump base who scare the crap out of Republicans who are up for re-election in 2018

To deliver on legislative promises to their rich and powerful campaign donors

To have this one and only thing to show the public that they did something this year besides sit on their thumbs

WHAT'S NEXT?
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now goes to the conference committee to iron out the differences between the Senate version that passed on Saturday and the House version that passed on 16 November.

When that work is done and the bill is reconciled, it will be voted on in both chambers of Congress. Over the weekend, some pundits predicted that could be as soon as this week.

WHAT'S IN THE BILL “FOR” ELDERS
There are painful shockers in H.R. 1 for just about everyone who is not in the top one percent of wealth holders but we are concentrating on elders here not because I think they are more important than the poor, working and middle classes but because that's who we are at this blog.

With the caveat that especially with all the late-night, last-minute alterations, no one yet knows or understands the entire bill, here are some of the reported changes that will affect old people if the bill becomes law.

AUTOMATIC MEDICARE CUTS
Sarah Kliff, writing at Vox, notes that H.R. 1 is really a health care bill that affects more than 100 million Americans who rely on the federal government for their health insurance. The bill, she writes,

”...includes tax cuts so large that they would trigger across-the-board spending cuts — including billions for Medicare. The last time Medicare was hit with cuts like this, patients lost access to critical services like chemotherapy treatment.”

(Can you tell how terrified I am right now about that?)

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) explains in more detail why this would happen:

”...the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that the tax bill would trigger an automatic $25 billion cut to Medicare, as required by the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (PAYGO).

“In response, the President’s Office of Management and Budget would be required to cut Medicare payments to health care providers...”

SOCIAL SECURITY COLA REDUCTION
Both the Senate and House versions of the bill would replace the standard cost-of-living index currently in use (CPI-U) to calculate COLA adjustments to Social Security, military and federal civilian retirement benefits with the more slow-growing chained CPI. As the NCPSSM notes:

”According to the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration, three years after becoming law, calculating the COLA based on the chained CPI would decrease Social Security benefits by about $130 per year (0.9 percent) for a typical 65-year-old.

“By the time that senior reaches 95, the annual benefit cut would be almost $1,400, a 9.2 percent reduction from currently scheduled benefits.”

REPEALING THE OBAMACARE MANDATE
Among the reasons AARP opposes this tax bill concerns people who are not quite old enough for Medicare, those between age 50 and 65:

” Eliminating the mandate would leave 13 million additional Americans without health coverage over the next decade, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

“Repealing the mandate would also drive up premiums by roughly 10 percent in the health insurance marketplace; 64-year-olds could see their tabs jump by an average of $1,490 a year.”

THE MOST FRIGHTENING CUT OF ALL
The most insidious cut in the tax bill is the stealth move (by design?) to eventually eliminate Social Security, Medicare and other social programs that stupidly uninformed legislators and partisans refer to as “entitlements” instead of earned benefits. It goes like this:

Because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the tax bill will balloon the federal deficit by an unfathomable $1.4 trillion, the bill will become the Republicans' reason to enact their long-term, dearest wish – to kill these programs altogether.

Newsweek explains how Republicans intend to play out this goal:

”[Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and] Other key Republicans have hinted that after the tax bill passes they’ll take on welfare and entitlement programs.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that he wants Republicans to reduce spending on government programs in 2018, and last month President Donald Trump said that welfare reform will, 'take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes.'

“Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Thursday that 'liberal programs' for the poor were wasting Americans’ money.

"'What's coming next is all too predictable: The deficit hawks will come flying back after this bill becomes law,' said Senator Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.) 'Republicans are already saying “entitlement reform” and “welfare reform” are next up on the docket.

“'But nobody should be fooled—that's just code for attacks on Medicaid, on Medicare, on Social Security, on anti-hunger programs.'”

Again, as California Representative Barbara Lee tweeted on Friday,

BarbaraLeeTweet

President Donald Trump wants this bill on his desk before Christmas. All the “in-the-know” people are saying it will sail through Congress and into law without a hitch.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't complain, shouldn't tell our senators and representatives to vote with the American people and not against them.

Do it. Find their contact information here. Polls show that only about 25 percent of Americans want this bill, so make a nuisance of yourself with your Congress people, and do it today.