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INTERESTING STUFF – 31 March 2018

REST IN PEACE, RAMONA MOORMAN

About 10 years ago, I posted several stories from readers who were of the “oldest old” generation. One of them was Ramona Moorman who, when her husband died, took over publishing a local weekly paper, the Marcellus News, in Marcellus, Michigan.

On Thursday, TGB reader Beth left a comment on that post to tell us that Ms. Moorman had died on 24 March:

”We knew her from that little town in Southwest Michigan,” wrote Beth. “She was the cornerstone of our community and the mortar that held it together. She not only edited, owned and operated the Marcellus News, she WAS the Marcellus News, and so much more. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her.”

You can read Ramona Moorman's Oldest Old story here.

DISTRIBUTION OF NEW MEDICARE CARDS BEGINS

Starting on Monday and continuing for a year after that, new Medicare identification cards will be mailed to every beneficiary.

The card will be mailed to you automatically. You don't need to do anything. But if your snailmail address is out of date, you can correct it at Medicare.gov. The most important reason for the change to to protect your Social Security number from fraud and/or identity theft.

Here is a little video with all the information you need:

MILLION-DOLLAR MINIATURE RAILROAD

I have always liked miniatures. As a kid, my dollhouse was a big favorite. Later in life my mother built dollhouses – electrified ones – from scratch and even built a lot of the furniture. She surprised me one birthday many years ago with a dollhouse that perfectly replicated my New York City apartment.

I have zero interest in living in a tiny house, but watching online videos about them has become almost an addiction. I have no explanation for my interest in miniatures – it just is.

So of course, I couldn't resist this video for you:

SNOOPY ON LIFE AND DEATH

In response to a TGB blog post last week, reader Nana Royer sent this single panel of Charlie Brown and Snoopy philosophizing. Perfectly.

Snoopylives

WILLIE NELSON AND KRIS KRISTOFFERSON REMEMBER JOHNNY CASH

”Johnny Cash: Forever Words” is a collaborative album, to be released in April, consisting of 16 songs created from Johnny Cash's unknown poetry, lyrics, and letters set to music by an astounding array of contemporary artists.

Rolling Stone explains:

”Opening the album is a moving performance from Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, both of whom collaborated with Cash throughout their careers.

“Led by Nelson's acoustic guitar and Kristofferson's narration, the song features an instrumental version of Cash's 1958 single I Still Miss Someone, which is repurposed as the backdrop for the final poem the Man in Black ever wrote.”

Here is that opening track:

You can read more about the album and its artists at Rolling Stone.

THE MOST CROWDED ISLAND ON EARTH

Two hours off the coast of Colombia is a small island home to over 1,200 people. As the entirety of Santa Cruz del Islote only spans the length of two soccer fields, residents live in close quarters, the YouTube page tells us.

“Despite the circumstances, the community makes the most of their limited surface area, packing in a school, two shops and one restaurant. Only 150 years ago, the island was uninhabited; today, generations of families are proud to call Santa Cruz del Islote home.”

You can read more about the island at The Guardian with a lot of photos showing more of the island than the video does.

TINY, PERFECT HANDMADE STAIRCASES

From the Atlas Obscura page:

”Since the Middle Ages, France’s 'compagnons' have lived idiosyncratic existences, steeped in mystery, ritual, and a devotion to their trades...

“The name 'compagnon' translates to 'companion,' relating to the brotherhood between members and the shared identity of a movement that, today, encompasses around 12,000 permanent, active members...

“Professions usually fall into one of five “groups,” depending on their principal material: stone; wood; metal; leather and textiles; and food...

Historically, woodworkers have often chosen to produce a tiny, intricate staircase as their 'masterwork.' Over 30 years, the art dealer and collector Eugene V. Thaw, who died at 90 in January 2018, amassed an incredible collection of these staircase models, dating from between the 18th and 20th centuries. Measuring only a few inches in height, they are self-supporting, graceful, and impossibly delicate.”

Here are three of them:

Stair4

Stair2

Stair3

There are more tiny staircases and more fascinating information about the compagnons and their work at Atlas Obscura. The BBC has an equally interesting story about the compagnons' modern-day work.

THE MAN OF A THOUSAND VOICES

As the man behind over 250 of your favorite characters, Phil LaMarr is one of the most prolific voice actors in the biz, says the YouTube page.

But beyond his vocal prowess, LaMarr has left his mark on all your favorite movies and TV shows, from an appearance in Pulp Fiction, to a featured regular role on MADtv. Here's a video about him.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN ANCIENT ATHENIAN

Here's a good, little explanation of how democracy worked in ancient Athens – From TEDEd.

CAT WATCHING GOLDFISH

There is nothing I need to say about this – just laugh.

Funny-Cat-Watching-Gold-Fish-HD-Wallpaper

* * *

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 Home Monitors for Elders

These days, you can install indoor and outdoor cameras on your home to catch a burglar. You can reset your heating, air conditioning and turn on the lights as you're driving home so the house is comfortable when you get there.

If you've got the right digital kitchen equipment, you can remotely turn on the grill, oven or slow cooker with an app for your iPhone or Android so dinner is ready when you arrive.

Of course, there are dozens if not hundreds of wearable trackers to count your steps, measure your heart rate, fat, BMI, muscle mass and even pregnancy.

Just about every day a bunch of new gadgets come on the market and those above are only a handful of the most obvious in the new-ish category of “smart home” living.

The closest Crabby Old Lady has gotten to it in both personal interest and use is the Alexa – she owns three and you probably would not be wasting your money if you bet that sometime soon she will throw at least one of them against a wall.

They regularly misunderstand words, behave as if they are deaf unless Crabby shouts, don't have an answer for commonplace questions and – a new one Crabby hasn't been able to fix yet – play random music when she hasn't asked. If that grill controller is as iffy as Alexa, Crabby hopes it comes with an automatic fire extinguisher.

Her skepticism notwithstanding...

The biggest demographic market for smart devices may be elders. There are the ubiquitous home alert necklaces that can and do save lives – just ask TGB reader Darlene Costner. And Crabby has come to believe that electronic pill monitors could be useful especially for those, like her, who need a chart to track when a dose is due.

For Crabby, however, it gets trickier when talk turns to sensors that monitor an elder's activity and send the information to distant caregivers or family members.

Marketed as a way to help elders live independently at home for as long as possible, hardly anyone has spent much effort yet to find out how the spied-upon old people feel about inanimate objects acting as nannies and tattling to their human controllers.

When you look into these gadgets, one of the first things notice is that elders themselves are left out of the conversation as though they are already too senile to evaluate the service themselves which, obviously, begs the question about why, in that case, anyone would leave them home alone - sensors or no sensors.

Here are a couple of examples of how marketing language is typically aimed toward the children or caregivers and not elders themselves:

'Looking after an elderly relative who lives alone can be a huge source of worry. But what if your smartphone could automatically alert you if your mother has stayed in bed all morning or suffered a fall?

“If a senior does not get up in the morning and turn on the coffee machine as usual, the system detects the lack of activity and the person's carer is warned by text message.”

Oh yeah? What if Crabby just wants to sleep in this morning? Are you really going to wake her for breaking YOUR rule about her morning routine so you can congratulate yourself about your caregiving chops?

There's more. A newly-developed sensor uses radio waves to map where people are in a room. Another company is working on a sensor that warns when a senior is at risk of falling by detecting sudden changes in their walking speed or gait.

Does that second one make any sense at all? Maybe she's just dancing a little jig because it's a beautiful day. And if she's about to fall, Crabby doubts anyone will get there in time to save her from it. Plus, does anyone think the police or EMTs have time to show up at someone's home on a maybe?

Are these helpful things or intrusions, do you think? Lifesavers or invasions of privacy? And why don't sellers target elders themselves about this stuff? Here is one point of view in a short, humorous film about an 70-year-old widow, Thomas, whose adult children have loaded his home with smart gadgets to organize his day.

The film, Uninvited Guests, was developed about three years ago by an organization called Superflux. It stars actor James Leahy:

(Thank Chuck Nyren, proprietor of the blog Advertising to Baby Boomers, for sending this video which prompted today's post. You can find his thoughts on wearable tech gadgets here and you can read more about the film and its genesis at the Superflux website.)

Do any of you, dear readers, live with such monitors and reminders? If not, would you consider it – for yourselves or, perhaps, for you own ageing parents? Here is what Superflux says about the issues raised in their film:

”The brightly coloured 'smart objects' in the film are...symbolic ‘ghosts of the future’, where with time, their physical presence fades into the fabric of our environment, and all that is left is their invisible halo constantly monitoring, logging, tracking and processing ambient feedback.

“Ultimately it is our intention that this, at times comedic story, plays on and gives form to some of the growing tensions between human and machine agency. And in doing so, provoke questions about how we want to live and grow old in an increasingly technologically mediated word.”

Crabby Old Lady sees value in some of these new electronic helpers and in particular, she is looking forward to virtual doctor visits via her computer one day.

But she is skeptical about the privacy issues and about the control of elders' daily lives and schedules by people – loved ones or otherwise - who believe they know better. Like it or not, however, it is only going to become more widespread and commonplace.

What do you think?



A Newly Uncertain Life

Any of you who have been hanging out here, even irregularly, over the past nine months knows that last June I was given one damned, big deal, scary medical diagnosis: pancreatic cancer.

So few people can even be treated for it that survival is almost a fantasy. From time to time over my life, I had wondered what it feels like to be handed a death sentence - particularly so when my parents, several years apart, were each given such news.

When my turn arrived, I still didn't know how it feels. Unreal? Like a mistake had been made? Why don't I feel sick? In the ensuing days, there were undercurrents of fear but mostly, my imagination failed me.

Is it, do you suppose, that we are incapable of imagining our own deaths? Or more to the point, imagining not being here in this world any longer? I have no idea about that.

In the months since then, my body has healed from the extensive surgery, I've gotten through the followup chemotherapy and in an announcement as momentous as the original diagnosis, a month ago, the doctors told me I am cancer free. “Go and live your life,” my surgeon said.

And so I have. Happily. But it is not the life I had before.

There is a shadow now that follows me around. I sense it right behind me, leaning up against me. It is not painful, it doesn't get in my way of moving around and doing what I want and it's not there all the time. Just often enough to be a reminder that I am no longer the healthy woman I was once lucky enough to be.

What I have come to see is that the shadow is a tentativeness, an uncertainty. And it didn't help when the oncologist said the other day that she is adding a “tumor marker” to the list of blood tests I regularly undergo.

Don't get me wrong. The shadow, reinforced now with my knowledge of the tumor marker, is not debilitating and I am certainly not sad or distressed or gloomy. But it does have an effect almost daily. I don't mean to make more of this than is there but it is a regular reminder than the cancer might recur - in my pancreas again or somewhere else.

Or it might not. But I don't seem to be able to ignore the possibility and I sure would like to. Isn't there an old saying about not buying trouble?

All of you were so wonderfully supportive during my surgical recovery and following treatment.

As so many of you mentioned about others' comments here, it helped me a lot to know what you have gone through and how you have handled your own serious health issues. Now I wonder if you can help again.

Do you understand what I'm trying to explain about the shadow? Have you experienced it? Did you want to set it aside as much as I do and enjoy the time you have been granted free of care and concern?

If so, how did you make peace with that shadow of uncertainty?



Maybe Being a Loner is Good for Your Health

Over the past couple of years, there has been a growing number of academic reports and news features about the dangers – to adults of all ages but especially elders – of loneliness. The problem is repeatedly called an “epidemic.”

Loneliness can cut seven-and-a-half years off your life, they say. It has the same risk to life as diabetes or obesity, say others. Social connections are necessary, they tell us, for cognitive function and a well-regulated immune system.

Last time we discussed loneliness here, in early February, comments revealed that TGB readers almost universally make the important distinction between being lonely and spending time alone, understanding that they are not the same thing.

Nevertheless, this is rarely addressed in the media coverage of the so-called “loneliness epidemic.” Pretty much all fail to acknowledge that alone time is as important to well-being as social time, and the amount of solitude that a given person needs or desires varies widely among us.

Finally, last month, a well-done story at BBC.com took on a discussion of the benefits associated with reclusiveness:

”One key benefit is improved creativity. Gregory Feist, who focuses on the psychology of creativity at California’s San Jose State University, has defined creativity as thinking or activity with two key elements: originality and usefulness...

“Feist’s research on both artists and scientists shows that one of the most prominent features of creative folks is their lesser interest in socialising.”

Susan Cain, founder of Quiet Revolution, a company that promotes quiet and introvert-friendly workplaces tells us that

”...humans are such porous, social beings that when we surround ourselves with others, we automatically take in their opinions and aesthetics. To truly chart our own path or vision, we have to be willing to sequester ourselves, at least for some period of time.”

And unlike those dire predictions of early death to people who are lonely, another study finds that both our mental and physical health may partially depend on spending time without the distractions of having other people around:

”Daydreaming in the absence of such distractions activates the brain’s default-mode network. Among other functions, this network helps to consolidate memory and understand others’ emotions.

“Giving free rein to a wandering mind not only helps with focus in the long term but strengthens your sense of both yourself and others.”

“Strengthens your sense of yourself...”

More than many people I have known, I have always needed extended periods of unstructured time alone. One of the results of my solitude is that I know intimately how my body functions. I am acutely aware of when something is not right and I generally know when it needs attention or can be ignored.

I am convinced that the accumulation of that bodily knowledge over many decades is what gave me the impetus to badger my physician about my too many symptoms that, although mostly minor individually, added up to something more serious.

It took the medical people four months or so to find the pancreatic cancer, but I might not have pushed them as hard if I didn't have such a thorough knowledge of how my body works and I wouldn't have that knowledge without my quiet time.

So maybe, without my solitude, the cancer would not have been found in time for the surgery to be possible. I can't prove that but I pretty much believe it.

Still, I doubt Feist was thinking of cancer diagnoses when he said,

”'...there’s a real danger with people who are never alone.' It’s hard to be introspective, self-aware, and fully relaxed unless you have occasional solitude.”

The BBC.com story, written by Christine Ro, is a good antidote to the media scare-mongering that passes for settled social science on the subject of loneliness.

Of course, there are lonely people who may need help combating it but that should not be confused with the human need for quiet too, and that there is no "right" amount of solitude. Balance and an allowance for individuality is what is called for.



ELDER MUSIC: Nina Simone

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.

* * *

Nina Simone

NINA SIMONE was born Eunice Waymon and was a prodigy on the piano. She aspired to be a concert pianist and, with the help of supporters in her hometown, she enrolled at Juilliard.

She applied for a full scholarship to the well-regarded Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and, in spite of an extremely positive audition she was refused. This was almost certainly due to racial discrimination.

To make ends meet she changed her name and became a jazz pianist and singer. Over the years she’s also performed blues, folk, rock, gospel and pop music. There are few around who were her equal in any of those genres. Nina also became a leading figure in the civil rights movement. To the music…

The jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley wrote Work Song, it’s probably his best known composition. Many have recorded it, including Nina, whose version is one of the best.

♫ Work Song


Nina Simone

Here is a nice gentle song to lull you into a false sense of serenity - you’ll be expecting the rest of the songs to be like this. You’ll be wrong. The song, Memphis in June, was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Paul Webster.

♫ Memphis In June


The Bee Gees wrote To Love Somebody with the hope that Otis Redding would record it. When he heard it, Otis was really enthusiastic and said he'd tackle it the next time he was recording. Alas, he was killed in a plane crash before he got around to it so we'll never know the result.

Nina makes it more up-tempo than the original, or the way I imagine that Otis would have performed it.

♫ To love somebody


Nina Simone

Nina has recorded quite a few of Bob Dylan's songs and each has been a fine version. This is no exception. Bob recorded it several times, the second one was a live version that was vicious and snarling that took no prisoners, recorded during his initial electric tour in 1966.

Nina's is a total contrast to that one – it's a rather gentle version: Just Like Tom Thumb Blues.

♫ Just like Tom Thumb Blues


Nina Simone

A contrast to the previous song is perhaps Nina's most famous song. Here she is at her angriest, justifiably so. This is one of the great anthems of the civil rights era. It may be appropriate once again. Mississippi Goddam.

♫ Mississippi Goddam


Mood Indigo was written by Duke Ellington and Barney Bicard for a radio broadcast. It was hugely popular. So much so, he had Irving Mills put words to it and it became an instant (and enduring) jazz standard.

♫ Mood Indigo


Nina wrote the song Four Women to highlight what society had done to African American women through the years. Quite a few people misinterpreted the song and it was banned here and there. It wasn’t the first song of Nina’s to suffer the same treatment. This is a tough song, but well worth a listen.

♫ Four Women


Nina Simone

Continuing with the angry theme, Pirate Jenny was written by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht for "The Threepenny Opera". Judy Collins recorded a fine, if rather pretty, version of the song. Nina's version is much tougher. It’s from one of her concert albums.

♫ Pirate Jenny


Nina Simone

Oh boy, this next song is a cheery one. Not. Okay, there haven't been many of those today. It was written by Gilbert O'Sullivan and Nina naturally put her stamp on to it. She changed the gender of her parent, as well as most other aspects of the song, but it seems right. Alone Again Naturally.

♫ Alone Again Naturally


Nina Simone

The Other Woman was written by Ray Parker Jr, and was first recorded by him. I’m unfamiliar with Ray’s version but hearing what Nina does with the song it seems to me that only a woman should sing it. I could be wrong, of course. I’ll end gently with the song.

♫ The Other Woman



INTERESTING STUFF – 24 March 2018

NEW CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET PRESERVES FUNDING FOR IMPORTANT ELDER PROGRAMS

Remember three weeks ago when I told you about the cuts to elder programs that President Trump, in his budget, wanted to cut? Things like cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, to the Social Security administration budget and replacing about a quarter of SNAP funding with what became the much derided box of food delivered to SNAP beneficiaries by the Department of Agriculture.

As I noted then, any president's budget has little or no chance of passing Congress - it is a formality - and late Thursday night, saner minds in Congress passed their own budget which preserves important programs for elders and even slightly improves a couple of them.

Here is how Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) explained on Friday morning:

"[Social Security Administration] gets an increase of $480 million over the previous fiscal year, including $100 million for reducing the backlog in Social Security Disability Insurance hearings – which some 10,000 Americans died waiting for in 2017.

"The funding bump – which the National Committee has long advocated – should also alleviate some of the excessively long wait times for customer service on SSA’s toll-free phone line and in-person at SSA field offices.

"The Omnibus bill also includes $59 million more for Older Americans Act Senior Nutrition programs and an increase of $250 million for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), while the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) receives a modest increase in funding.

"The spending plan also gives a $414 million boost to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for Alzheimer’s and dementia research.

"We applaud Congress for maintaining spending for senior programs that President Trump proposed to eliminate in his FY 2018 budget, including the Senior Community Service Employment Program, the Community Development Block Grant, and the Community Services Block Grant, which helps to pay for Meals on Wheels."

This is a small amount of good news in what is generally a terrible budget. I have zero proof of this but just maybe all our telephone calls, email, snail mail letters, etc. to our Congressional representatives helped get these important elder programs into the mix. Even if that's not true, let's be grateful and celebrate a little for a day or two. Elders need these programs and need them properly funded.

STEPHEN COLBERT PUMPS IRON WITH NOTORIOUS RBG

This week, Late Show host, Stephen Colbert went to the gym with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. What I makes me feel terrific about a healthy future is that all the exercises she does in the video are ones I've done for years.

There is a nice story at Mental Floss about 15 Things You Should Know About Justice Ginsburg.

HOW TO DELETE YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT

With the revelations this week about Cambridge Analytica's use of personal information from millions of Facebook pages to nudge the U.S. presidential election toward the winner they wanted, many users are trying to delete their Facebook accounts.

Here's a hint: you can't. Take a look.

There is additional information at The New York Times. If you want more, maybe different, information about how to extract yourself from Facebook, just google “delete facebook” without the quotation marks. You get nearly four million returns.

FOR WORD MAVENS

Mental Floss gives us some wonderful, old-fashioned synonyms for “happy.” Here is a sampling:

Chirky: for cheerful

Gaudeamus: From the Latin for “let us rejoice,” this oldie refers to a merry jamboree

Delira and Excira: A term the Irish use to mean “delirious and excited”

Gladsome: This classic is from the 14th century

Read the rest of the 15 here.

JOHN OLIVER WRITES A BOOK TO TROLL MIKE PENCE

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has a pet bunny rabbit named Marlon Bundo. This month, he published a book about Marlon Bundo. Then John Oliver came along and published his own book about Marlon Bundo that immediately shot to number on Amazon's best seller list.

And that's all I'm going to tell you. Just watch Oliver explain it on his HBO program, Last Week Tongiht from last Sunday. It's wonderful as only Oliver can be.

By Tuesday, Oliver's bunny book was number 1 on Amazon, such an instant hit that all copies were sold out. More are being printed and I've bought mine. Here are the bunny book covers side by side.

Bunnybooks

A NEW SONG FOR THE MARCH FOR OUR LIVES

Today in Washington, D.C. and other places around the U.S., young people are taking to the streets for gun control in the March for Our Lives. Maybe some of you are participating.

Two Broadway musical superpowers recently teamed up to release a song for the march. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Dear Evan Hansen's Ben Platt unveiled the video for Found Tonight, a mash-up of songs from their respective shows.

Here's the official video from Atlantic Records featuring Miranda and Hansen.

OH MY, THE FUTURE OF COMPUTING IS HERE - ALMOST

And it is the world's smallest computer. Wait until you read this:

”IBM kicked off its Think 2018 conference today with a bombshell announcement: It has made the world’s smallest computer...,” reports Digital Trends.

“The computer itself is smaller than a single grain of salt, coming in at 1 millimeter by 1 millimeter and reportedly has about the same computing power as a 1990s era CPU.”

TinyComputerSalt

CNET explains further:

”...despite its size and cost (each will be less than 10 cents to make)[it] can 'monitor, analyze, communicate and even act on data.' Each computer can hold as many as one million transistors, while network communication is handled by LEDs and a solar cell provides power.”

Okay, I won't pretend to understand all this; I just think it's cool. But it be awhile until we see how it will be used in real life. CNET reports that according to IBM, “...clients could have samples in the next 18 months and within the next five years they'll reach the marketplace.”

LAST MALE SOUTHERN WHITE RHINO IN THE WORLD DIES

This makes me cry. Rhinoceroses have been on earth a whole lot longer than humans have been - 50 million years.

Take a good look. Sudan was the last of his kind. Oh, there is a daughter and granddaughter but there is the obvious problem with that. And all other species of rhinos are endangered too.

You can read more at BBC News.

DOONESBURY NAILED TRUMP 41 YEARS AGO

TGB reader Joan McMullen sent this Doonesbury panel from 41 years ago in which Gary Trudeau nails Trump.

Doonesbury_mao

URBAN FALCONRY AND THE POOPMASTER 6000

Downtown Portland, Oregon, had a crow problem. Thousands and thousands of crows were befouling the streets, sidewalks and parks.

“They left us a lot of droppings on the sidewalk to clean up, so much so that it just became impossible to keep up with it,” said Jeri Jenkins of Portland Mall Management...

“'And then I had a friend say to me, “Have you thought about falconry?’” she recalled...

“'There were a lot of unknowns going into this. One of the most obvious was how well the hawks would operate at night. We also weren’t certain how well the crows would respond to hawks,'" says [Kort] Clayton, a biologist who turned falconry into a business.

Although the OPB website provides what what they say is an embed code for the video story, I can't make it work – undoubtedly my failing. But you can view it at the OPB website. It's a terrific story, worth the effort to make the click and you'll find out what the Poopmaster 6000 is.

* * *

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.


Urinary Incontinence is No Joke

Incontinencecartoon

There is an amazing number of icky things our bodies can do to us and they seem to increase as we get older.

In general, we don't talk about this stuff but since my pancreatic cancer diagnosis and Whipple procedure nine months ago, any embarrassment I felt about discussing pee and poop is gone.

It was the post-surgery nurses and doctors who taught me all about that acceptance and, in time, ease with the topic. On the first morning I was lucid following the surgery, a nurse popped into my room and with a big smile on her face asked, “Have you pooped yet today?”

A little later, another asked, “Have you farted yet?” And another minced no words at all: “Have you shit this morning?”

Healthcare professionals talk about pee and poop the way you and I discuss the weather. Over my 11 days on that post-op floor, I got used to their most frequent talking point and a good thing that is because since then they have never stopped.

As one nurse answered my question about all the poop and pee talk, when someone has had abdominal surgery, it is important afterward for them to know how well – or not – food is being processed as it moves through the patient's body.

So they don't just ask “if” but also want to know size, shape, color, density, etc. And these queries have continued long after my recovery from the surgery so that, like those nurses and doctors in the hospital and clinic, I'm as comfortable with it now as they are.

But that wasn't always so.

I first wrote about urinary incontinence in these pages back in 2009 because it had been plaguing me and I know that if it's my problem, so it is for many other people.

When I'd finished, it seemed to be a useful blog post but I couldn't bring myself to hit the “publish” button. It just wasn't something I was comfortable talking about in public and thought that was probably true for you too.

It took three days for me to work up the nerve to post the story and surprise, surprise – the response was quite large with a lot of readers recounting their leaky pipe problems, many of them with a great deal of humor. You can read that post here where you will also find some useful links to good information about dealing with urinary incontinence.

My own leaky pipe problem disappeared when I lost more than 40 pounds five or six years ago but that is not always a cure and now I have the problem all over again.

Since the surgery, I no longer have any warning when I need to pee. The urge comes on suddenly and it means NOW (as I had to learn the hard way). No waiting until I finish typing this sentence or being polite to wait until you finish telling me a story. If I don't go immediately, there will be a puddle.

A few days ago, I ran across a useful story at AARP with “10 things you didn't know about urinary incontinence”:

”For something so shrouded in secrecy, urinary incontinence affects a staggering number of people — a quarter to a third of men and women in the U.S., according to the Maryland-based Urology Care Foundation,” reports AARP.

“That’s not a third of seniors or a third of pregnant women. A third of all people, regardless of age or sex.”

Here are a few samples of the information compiled in the AARP piece. Go to the website for the full explanation of these and the other six items.

One Cause? Blame Winter
“Cold weather affects the bladder muscle by making it contract harder and sooner than it ordinarily would, even if the bladder is not full...”

Reducing Liquid Intake Won't Help
“Cutting down on your water can result in dehydration, constipation and even kidney stones — urine flushes out the bacteria in there — which will only worsen the symptoms.”

Botox for Incontinence is a Real Thing
“Botox has become an increasingly popular fix for incontinence — and if you’re like us, that news probably made you wince and ask, 'Wait, they want to put a needle where?'”

(Ronni here: Botox for this also has some serious side effects so if you are interested, do your research. Here is a start.)

Peeing in the Shower Might Help
“It sounds nuts (and more than a little disgusting), but there are health benefits to using a shower as your personal toilet, at least for women with incontinence.”

If medical fixes are not for you or behavior adjustments don't work, there are the growing numbers and types of incontinence products which I'll write about soon.

Meanwhile, feel free to discuss this in the comments below or anywhere else. After all, actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Kate Winslet have done so on television as has writer Stephen King, among others. Even I've learned to be at ease with it.



Are You Having Trouble Commenting or Receiving TGB Via Email?

We are here to fix those problems today but first:

EDITORIAL NOTE: Unless you have one or the other or both of this difficulties with using Time Goes By, this post will you put you straight to sleep so I've included a bonus at the end: The latest edition of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded yesterday.

For readers who want or need this housekeeping post, there is still the bonus for you too when you get to the bottom of the page.

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HAS TGB STOPPED ARRIVING IN YOUR INBOX?

If you receive Time Goes By via email from FeedBLITZ or via Facebook, Twitter or just visit the website in your browser), you can skip this part. This is for people who subscribe to TGB via FeedBURNER.

As one techie explained to me a while back, some years ago Google, which owns FeedBURNER, stopped supporting FeedBURNER. Since then, Google has not updated the service, not added or improved features and most important, has not fixed bugs nor replied to support requests.

So sometimes the service works for some people or it doesn't or it eventually breaks and Time Goes By does not arrive or the reader gets an announcement with the FeedBLITZ logo that FeedBURNER has run into a problem.

This means it is time to switch to the FeedBLITZ subscription.

Some back-end adjustments to the feed have now been made that may help, but to be certain of receiving the feeds (which go out in the mornings, Pacific time, each day except Tuesdays and Thursdays), you can resubscribe as follows:

HOW TO RECEIVE TIME GOES BY VIA RELIABLE FEEDBLITZ EMAIL

  1. In the upper right corner of every Time Goes By page is a subscription form.

  2. There are choices for Facebook and for Twitter if you prefer to read the blog on one of those platforms, although I rarely check in at either of them so hardly every see comments.

  3. If, instead, you want to receive blog posts automatically in your inbox, just enter your email address in the form and click the word, Subscribe. FeedBLITZ will send you a confirmation email, follow those instructions and then you are signed up. Nothing more to do. It is that simple.

ARE YOU HAVING TROUBLE LEAVING A COMMENT?
Some readers report difficulties with commenting. This issue is mostly exclusive to people who subscribe via email so let me explain.

The problem always involves the user clicking the word Reply in their email program. That has nothing to do with commenting. It works exactly like any email you answer – it goes to the sender which, in this case, is FeedBLITZ which supplies a copy to my email address.

(Obviously it follows that when you click Reply and write a reponse, no TGB readers can read it – only I receive it just like any other email.)

COMMENTS MAY BE MADE ONLY AT THE WEBSITE, not via email. Here is how to do that:

  1. Click the headline at the top of the day's story in your email. It will open in your browser. Alternately, you can scroll to the bottom of the story in your email program and click the link supplied there to go to the story in your browser.

  2. To comment, scroll to the bottom of the story in your browser and click on the word Comments in the footer.

  3. The story reopens in a page with a form for your comment. (If there are comments left before you got there, you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the list of comments to find the entry box.) Type your comment in the box.

  4. Enter your name or any alias, nickname, etc. you want to use. Enter a functional email address – it is for security purposes only and is not published. If you have a blog (that is not a commercial or retail website), enter the URL and your name will become a link to your site, if you wish. Or you can leave that entry box empty.

  5. You can Preview your comment by clicking that button and/or click Post. The page will refresh and your comment will appear at the bottom of the list of comments.

Remember: DO NOT CLICK REPLY IN YOUR EMAIL TO LEAVE A COMMENT. You must go to the website to have your say.

FYI, I switched the TGB email feed from FeedBURNER to FeedBLITZ a few years ago when Google announced it would no longer support FeedBURNER.

FeedBLITZ is a paid service for which I put out big bucks every year. In fact, they just charged my credit card for 2018.

So please, if necessary, make the switch to FeedBLITZ. It will save me hours answering your emails individually and also, I don't like wasting my money (actually, your money if you participated in the donation drive in February).

FeedBLITZ is good service. In all my years with them, there has not been a glitch and they have always answered my support questions within an hour. They are well worth the expense so please take advantage of it.

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Here is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show.



How U.S. Life Has Changed in the Past 50 Years

While reading a mini-book review, I ran across the phrase, “...foray into the dark side of the city over half a century ago” that got me thinking about the changes I have lived through in my nearly 77 years.

Some random images I recall from my childhood:

My mother using a wringer washing machine and hanging the wet laundry on lines outdoors or, when it was rainy, in the garage.

Milk delivered to our front door several mornings a week. In winter sometimes, the milk froze before we brought it in and a sort of milk cone stuck up above the opening of the glass bottle.

Occasionally, a quarantine announcement was attached to the front door of a home in my neighborhood. There were not yet vaccines for some contagious childhood diseases.

When margarine was first introduced, it was packaged in a flexible plastic bag. The margarine was white and there was an orange button that you broke with your finger and then mashed the whole bag around until the margarine became a uniform yellow color.

That's just a tiny number of examples of how we commonly lived differently in the late 1940s.

Then, remember getting the polio vaccine on a sugar cube in the 1950s? The majority of Americans, adults and children, received the vaccine all on the same day with a followup date or two a couple of weeks later.

When I was very young, right after World War II ended, my mother was the only woman in the neighborhood who worked outside the home. She was not well accepted for this. By the time I graduated from high school in 1958, large and growing numbers of women were entering the workforce (including me).

Until the 1970s, married women could not have credit cards in their own names and in general, we still used cash for most purchases. Today, I am the dinosaur who still pays cash for groceries and other day-to-day purchases and I'm still surprised when I see someone put at little as $3, or even $1 sometimes, on a credit or debit card.

Computers and the internet – I'm not sure we can any longer separate one from the other and the definition of computer has gone from big square boxes sitting under our desks to a hand-held “phone” that can do 10, 20, probably 50 or 100 times more than those first home computers.

It is my contention that we all know a lot more (however trivial those things may be sometimes) nowadays than when we were young because of the internet. Before then, we had to go to the library to find out any small fact or figure. What was the population of the U.S., or the world, when George Washington was president?

Maybe, back then, we never found out because it was often a lot of time and effort to get to the library. Nowadays, a few seconds with Dr. Google at home (or even on the go with our smartphones) and we have the answer.

Strides forward in medicine have been amazing in my lifetime. The two advances that I believe are modern medical miracles are cataract surgery and dental implants. Both are close to 100 percent successful and effective – how great is that.

We all know that obesity has become a large health problem in the U.S. and world. According to the State of Obesity Report,

"From 1990 to 2016, the average percentage of obese adults increased from 11.1% (for the 44 states and DC for which 1990 data are available) to 29.8%. As of 2016, nearly 38% of the US population was obese, with 8% falling into the extreme obesity category.

In regard to life expectancy, there is good news and and (maybe) not so good news. Average life expectancy in 1965 was approximately age 70 to 74 for women, 67 for men. By 2015, it had increased to 79 to 82 for women and 76 for men.

There has been a steady climb in life expectancy in the U.S. since the early 20th century. In the past year or two, however, it has leveled off. It is still growing, but more slowly than in the past. Make of that what you will.

Here's a little video I found about five ways the world has changed in the past 100 years (produced in 2013):

As you certainly have figured out, the little list in this post barely scratches the surface of changes we have witnessed. It has been my experience, too, that I become accustomed to new inventions and ways of doing things so quickly, I sometimes forget how dramatic many of the changes have been.

I'm not as interested in the big-picture developments today as the ones that affect our personal lives, at home and work, day in and day out. What can you add to the list of changes we have witnessed in our lifetimes?



ELDER MUSIC: Drinking Songs 3

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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DSCN0713

It's time to pull the cork on another bottle of wine, or if you're in Australia, time to unscrew the Stelvin cap. It comes as no surprise to me how many drinking songs there are - indeed, how many good ones.

As you can see from the title there have been two other columns previously and I'm far from exhausting this treasure trove of music. On with the motley.

FLANDERS AND SWANN were Michael Flanders and Donald Swann.

Flanders & Swann

Michael was an actor, singer and raconteur of the first order; Donald was a composer, pianist and songwriter and they formed a musical comedy team who where huge in the fifties and sixties. They were erudite, funny and entertaining. No one these days can match what they did. From one of their live albums we have Madeira M'Dear.

♫ Flanders & Swann - Madeira M'Dear


Within Australia, COLD CHISEL was far and away the most popular rock band ever. Internationally, AC-DC were a lot more successful.

Cold Chisel

It's the Chisels who have a song for us today called Cheap Wine, which was a successful single in Oz, from possibly their most successful album, "East".

♫ Cold Chisel - Cheap Wine


MATRACA BERG is best known, if she's known at all outside the world of music obsessives like me, as a songwriter.

Matraca Berg

However, she has several albums under her belt and what a fine singer she is. The song on the topic today is You and Tequila. Fellow obsessives, and others who are interested in good music, can find several terrific live versions on YouTube.

♫ Matraca Berg - You and Tequila


THE CHAMPS were an instrumental band who were big in the fifties.

The Champs

I'm sure that most of you will know their biggest hit, Tequila. Indeed I know that every one who has heard this tune can sing the lyrics.

♫ Champs - Tequila


There are quite a few versions of this next song. The one that I like best is by JERRY LEE LEWIS.

Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee laments that What's Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out Of Me).

♫ Jerry Lee Lewis - What's Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out Of Me)


It's good to see that someone is advocating for moderation, at least to an extent. That person is JENNIFER SALISBURY with some help from JAMES MUSTAFA.

Jennifer Salisbury

Jen and James lead a big band, well, biggish: it's a seven piece. They call Melbourne home, and that's very sensible of them. They perform My Middle Name Is Moderation.

♫ Jennifer Salisbury - My Middle Name Is Moderation


It's probably no surprise that WILLIE NELSON is present today.

Willie Nelson

Willie, of course, has written songs about every topic under the sun and sung even more of those. He sings about Yesterday’s Wine. Some might object to that but I've found if it's really fine wine, it can be better the next day. I hope that's so for Willie.

♫ Willie Nelson - Yesterday's Wine


TRACY NELSON is not related to Willie, but they have performed together. Not today though.

Tracy Nelson

Tracy is a terrific blues singer and she can also hold her own performing country music as well. Today she's in blues mode when she asks What Good Can Drinking Do. Well, I can answer that but I won't.

♫ Tracy Nelson - What Good Can Drinking Do


It wouldn't be a true drinking column without GARY STEWART making an appearance.

Gary Stewart

Indeed I once thought of a whole column devoted to his drinking songs, but Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, said that that was just a bit too much Gazza. Especially one devoted to a single topic.

He was difficult to categorize which I think is a good thing: he was too rock & roll for country, too country for rock & roll, too honky tonk for both. He was the master of the lyin', cheatin', drinkin' song as will be demonstrated in She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Doubles).

♫ Gary Stewart - She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Doubles)


Even this topic can have a moment of couth, and we'll end with it. LUDWIG BEETHOVEN was known to enjoy a drop. He also wrote music about that.

Beethoven

Ludwig set dozens, scores of songs from all over the British Isles to music. This is one from Ireland and I'm not going to make a joke of that considering the topic today.

The song he set to music is called Put Round the Bright Wine. The singer is DANIEL SCHREIBER.

Daniel Schreiber

♫ Beethoven - Put round the bright wine



INTERESTING STUFF – 17 March 2018

A VERY SHORT HISTORY OF ST. PATRICK'S DAY

Are you wearing green today? How is it, do you think, that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day?

This video doesn't answer all the questions anyone might have about this holiday, but there were a couple of things I didn't know.

FIRST WOMAN ON CANADIAN MONEY

Civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond this week became the first woman to be featured on Canadian currency. This is how Desmond's sister reacted to the honor for her late sibling. (Thank you Jim Stone.)

More about Viola Desmond here.

HELEN MIRREN BEFORE AND AFTER

My friend Chuck Nyren (May I call you my friend, Chuck?) posted a terrific blog story last week about his love for actor Helen Mirren:

”I hate it when I love someone everybody else loves. I feel like I’m just a boring, average, celebrity-obsessed dunderhead. But I do love Helen Mirren.

“Not just lately. I remember her in the 1970s (Oh, Lucky Man!), before long she hid out (from me) doing theatre in England, then popped up again in the 1990s. She was great in The Madness of King George.

“Since then Helen’s made a few flicks and TV shows. What she did a few days ago knocked me out.

What she did was allow herself to be photographed sans makeup for the Oscar show with a followup photo after the artists finished their work on her face and hair. And then, AND THEN, she published the photos to Instagram. I would expect nothing less from her because she is as much a favorite of mine, for all the many good reasons, as for Chuck. Here are the before and after:

MirrenFinal

You can read Chuck's entire post at Advertising For Baby Boomers.

SHKRELI'S JAILED BUT 5000% PRICE HIKE IS STILL IN EFFECT

Remember that little creep Martin Shkreli who bought the rights to the drug Daraprim and then increased the price by 5000 percent?

This past week he was sentenced to seven years in prison – but for a different lawbreaking, not Daraprim:

”Martin 'Pharma Bro' Shkreli was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison and a $75,000 fine after he was found guilty of defrauding his investors last year,” reports Huffpost.

“Shkreli, however, is best known for an affront to the American public: hiking up the price of the lifesaving drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent in September 2015.”

But guess what. Even with all the terrible publicity and condemnations, the drug still costs $750 per pill:

”HuffPost contacted a representative Vyera Pharmaceuticals, Turing Pharmaceuticals’ new name. A company representative confirmed that Daraprim still costs $750 out of pocket, with a reduced price for patients who meet certain federal poverty guidelines.”

What makes it even worse is that there is no alternative for Daraprim. You can read more here.

A NIGHTCLUB DEEJAY BRINGS HIS SKILLS TO A BUDDHIST TEMPLE

”Gyosen Asakura’s temple is not your average place of worship,” the Youtube page tells us. “Using his training as a professional DJ, Asakura combines Buddhist scripture with techno beats to create a unique experience. His innovative services have attracted a new generation of people with hundreds flocking to witness the DJ Monk bring his temple to life.”

Take a look:

LONDON BEEFEATERS' SECRET PUB

For hundreds of years there has been a secret pub hidden inside the Tower of London. It is private, just for the Beefeaters and their guests. Here's a short video:

Read more about the pub at Atlas Obscura.

VENEZUELAN EAGLE PROTECTOR

Watching harpy eagles being destroyed in the wilds of Venezuela, Alexander Blanco Márquez decided to take matters into his own hands.Now, he’s going to extremes to protect these eagles, often putting his own life on the line.

A FEEL GOODER

That's what Jim Stone said in his email sending me this and I agree:

AN AMAZING MOMENT WITH WILD GORILLAS

Damian Aspinall and his wife, Victoria, made a special trip to a gorilla sanctuary in Gabon. The Gorillas had met Damian before but they had never met his wife. This is the moment where the gorillas decide if Victoria is welcome or not.

Thank you, Darlene Costner, for this.

* * *

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.



Stephen Hawking 1942 – 2018

Even though I generally can't understand anything about physics, gravity, black holes and all the other challenging subjects physicist Stephen Hawking studied, I've always read everything I came across about him and somehow, even though he had lived with Lou Gehrig's Disease all his adult life, it never occurred to me that he could die.

So I was shocked earlier this week to see the headline that he had died in his home in Cambridge, England, at age 76. Hawking was our generation's Einstein, the loveable genius who had miraculously survived beyond age 24 that doctors had given him, and who made physics sexy.

Leonard Mlodinow, writing in The New York Times following Hawking's death put the same idea more clearly than I did:

”In popular culture Stephen was another kind of miracle: a floating brain, a disembodied intellect that fit snugly into the stereotype of the genius scientist.”

He was/still is one of my top favorite celebrities.

I read his first book, A Brief History of Time when it was published in 1988, and a few years later, The Universe in a Nutshell, believing – at least while I was reading them – that I actually understood. Yeah. Right.

The Guardian published a few of the many accolades from people who knew, loved or admired Hawking:

“'Stephen was far from being the archetypal unworldy or nerdish scientist. His personality remained amazingly unwarped by his frustrations,' said Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, who praised Hawking’s half century of work as an 'inspiring crescendo of achievement.' He added: 'Few, if any, of Einstein’s successors have done more to deepen our insights into gravity, space and time.'”
”Hawking’s children said: 'We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. “'He once said: “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.” We will miss him for ever.'”
”The Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield lamented on Twitter that 'Genius is so fine and rare', while Theresa May noted Hawking’s 'courage, humour and determination to get the most from life was an inspiration.' The US rock band Foo Fighters was more succinct, calling Hawking a 'fucking legend.'”

In 2014, John Oliver interviewed Hawking for his HBO program, Last Week Tonight. The encounter was priceless then, moreso now:

Actor Eddie Redmayne played Hawking in the film, The Theory of Everything. If you haven't seen it, you should track it down. Redmayne won the best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Hawking.

Here are just a very few of the many accolades and tributes and memories of Hawking from around the web:

Interview about the existence of heaven

Hawking on climate change

Why Hawking was not afraid of death

A brief bio from the University of Cambridge, where he worked

A short overview of his career

And here is a video of 10 memorable quotations from Professor Hawking. The Youtube page is correct: “Some are funny, others are thought-provoking, but all are incredibly wise.”

The world lost one of the greatest men of our generation this week. I feel blessed to have “known” him, even at a great distance.



The Future of Social Security Under Trump

(EDITORIAL NOTE Oops, how did this happen. It's long and wonky again but it's important.)

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Did you know that due to President Donald Trump's dereliction in appointing federal agency heads, the Social Security Administration is now without even an “acting commissioner” due to regulation limits in regard the length of time someone can hold that title?

As the Washington Post reports, Trump has nominated no one for 216 of 640 positions that require Senate confirmation:


“President Barack Obama nominated Carolyn W. Colvin, but she was not confirmed by the Senate. Nancy A. Berryhill held the acting commissioner title from January 2017, when Trump was inaugurated, until Wednesday, the day after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled that her service violated the law because she had held that title beyond the permitted time.”

As the Post further reports:

“'If an acting officer is serving after the relevant time periods have run, any attempt by that officer to perform a function or duty of an advice and consent office will have “no force or effect,”' Valerie C. Brannon, a legislative attorney with the Congressional Research Service, said Wednesday...”

THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL SECURITY TO ALL AMERICANS
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has an excellent page enumerating the many ways Social Security is crucial not just to elders but to almost all Americans. Here are three of them:

”Without Social Security benefits, about 40 percent of Americans aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line, all else being equal. With Social Security benefits, 9 percent do. The program lifts 15.1 million elderly Americans out of poverty.
”About 6 million children under age 18 lived in families that received income from Social Security in 2015.

That number included 3.1 million children who received their own benefits as dependents of retired, disabled, or deceased workers, as well as others who lived with parents or relatives who received Social Security benefits. Social Security lifted 1.1 million children out of poverty in 2015.
”Social Security...benefits are not means-tested. Indeed, universal participation and the absence of means-testing make Social Security very efficient to administer. Administrative costs amount to only 0.7 percent of annual benefits, far below the percentages for private retirement annuities.”

SOCIAL SECURITY FACES DEMOGRAPHIC ISSUES
Just this week, the Census Bureau released its population projections for the years 2020 to 2060. Here is some of the salient information that will affect Social Security:

”Beginning in 2030, all baby boomers will be older than 65. This will expand the size of the older population so that one in every five Americans is projected to be retirement age.

“By 2035, we project that older adults will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history.

“Beyond 2030, the U.S. population is projected to grow slowly, to age considerably, and to become more racially and ethnically diverse.”

"In other words, the longer Congress waits to act, the more likely it is your Social Security benefit is being reduced.”

Due to those demographic figures, as Motley Fool recently pointed out (and has been known for many years without action by the federal government), the current Social Security payout schedule is unsustainable beyond 2034:

”...Social Security is expected to begin paying out more in benefits than it's generating in revenue by 2022. Just 12 years later, in 2034, the estimated $3 trillion in asset reserves held by the program at its peak in 2022 will be completely gone...

“The [Social Security] trustees [2017] report estimates that it could result in an across-the-board cut in benefits of up to 23% just to keep the program solvent through 2091. That's a reduction in benefits for current and future retirees.

"In other words, the longer Congress waits to act, the more likely it is your Social Security benefit is being reduced.”

IDEAS TO ENSURE THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL SECURITY
In 1983, during the Reagan administration when lawmakers realized Social Security needed an adjustment to sustain itself, SSA taxes were raised and full retirement age was gradually increased over 40 years from 65 to 67.

Even though it has been well known for at least a decade that Social Security now needs another adjustment, our elected officials have abdicated their responsibilities in this regard.

It is not hard to figure out how to “fix” Social Security. Experts have been telling us what is needed for many years. Among the useful possibilities:

Lift the payroll cap, currently at $128,400 of taxable earnings. All income levels should pay the same percentage rate on all their income.

Gradually increase the payroll tax. You might not think so, but Americans are amazingly open to this idea. As CNBC reported a few months ago:

”According to a survey by the National Academy of Social Insurance, 77% of Americans feel that it is critical to preserve Social Security benefits for future generations, even if it means raising taxes.

“Among respondents, 81% agreed that they don't mind paying taxes into Social Security 'because it provides security and stability to millions.' This includes majorities of every age group, income level, and political affiliation.

Those are only two ideas - two of the reasonable ones anyway - but the only proposals from Congress over the past few years are various underhanded cuts meant to destroy what is the country's most popular federal program.

WHAT TO DO TO MOVE FORWARD
It is unlikely that Congress will do anything this year about Social Security (or a whole lot of other important issues that require attention). Their session schedule is one of the shortest in history and they are thinking only about the midterm election.

During the 2017 presidential campaign, Trump promised that he would not follow Republican orthodoxy to pursue cuts to Social Security. Now, nearly 14 months into his administration, we know how reliable those promises are so it may be that Congress's inattention is a good thing until after the November election.

It would be an excellent idea, during the rest of 2018, for the Social Security Administration to develop a policy and strategy to fix the shortfall so to have it ready to go in Congress in 2019.

But that's hard to do when the president of the United States neglects his sworn duties and refuses to appoint a commissioner to lead the effort.



Do Dreams Change in Old Age?

PERSONAL NOTE: Apparently it is interview season at TimeGoesBy. There are the ongoing Skype chats with my former husband, Alex; the recent print interview with Debbie Reslock at Next Avenue; and today, an audio interview with Jana Panarites of Agewyz. Scroll to the bottom of this post for our interview.

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It has been many years since I last remembered a dream. Sometimes there are fragments when I wake but they float away before I can grab hold of them.

That's probably just as well because in a lifetime, the single pleasant dream I recall is flying around my bedroom having a marvelous time swooping and dipping, rising again and seeing the room from a whole new angle. It was a load of fun and that happened in about 1960 when I was 19 or 20.

All the other dreams I remember are anxiety- or fear-ridden, like the one that began when I was about six years old. A huge bear was chasing me. I ran into a room, slammed the door shut believing I had avoided him but turned around to see that the bear was still there.

I ran out of the room, found an elevator, punched a button and when I turned around again, there was the bear. And so on.

That dream, which repeated now and then for several years, finally stopped but I have never forgotten it or the fear it induced. Apparently being chased by a bear is a common dream and at least one dream interpreter says this:

”To dream that a bear is chasing you and you are running away in fear, this means you are avoiding a big issue in your life, and it is time to deal with it.”

I don't have any truck with dream interpretation to begin with an it feels like a stretch to apply an adult psychological concept to a first-grader.

This and a few other dreams impressive enough to not forget came to mind while reading an Aeon essay about how dreams change throughout our lifetimes. I hoped part of it would be a good discussion of how elders' dreams are similar or different from younger people's but there was only this:

”Older adults tend to dream more about creative works, legacies and enduring concerns, while the dreams of dying people are filled with numbers of supernatural agents, other-worldly settings and images of reunions with a loved one who has died.”

Nevertheless, the rest of the piece, written by Patrick McNamara, an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine and a professor at Northcentral University, dropped some fascinating information on me:

”...amputees very often dream themselves intact,” he writes. “They might not experience the loss of their limb in dreams even years after the amputation, and even if the physical handicap was congenital.

“Similarly, dreams of the congenitally deaf-mute or those of the congenitally paraplegic cannot be distinguished from those of non-handicapped subjects. It is as if the dream has access to the whole dreamer who is a different person from the individual anchored in waking consciousness.

“Dream reports from deaf-mute individuals involve them talking and hearing normally. Patients with varying degrees of paraplegia report themselves flying, running, walking and swimming. The dream is accessing somebody different from the waking individual who is having the dream.”

And on a historical note, this:

”Dreams differ...dramatically across historical epochs. The dreams of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and indeed the dreams of most peoples of the ancient world, were viewed as direct portals into the spirit world and the realm of the ancestors and gods.

“Ancient peoples (and traditional peoples even today) often experienced dreams as the place to conduct a transaction with a spirit being who could significantly help or hinder you in your daily affairs.”

I probably could have used a good spirit guide for this dream that, even after 25 years or so, I remember in detail:

I was a contestant on a television game show. The host and I were on one side of a stage facing the live audience and cameras. A wall divided the stage in half and on the other side of it stood two men, I was told, with hand guns poised and if I got the next question wrong, they would come around the wall and shoot me.

It was a yes-or-no question and although I don't remember what it was, I do recall pondering that I had a 50/50 chance of dying in the next minute or so and no way to change the odds.

The only chance I had, I told myself, was that this was a dream. It didn't feel like a dream, I didn't believe it was a dream, but I had nothing to lose if I tried to awaken myself.

And I did, breathing heavily, scared to death – so to speak – and I sat in bed that night with the light on for a good, long time.

Professor McNamara concludes in part:

”The huge variety of dream states suggests that dreaming is just as important as waking life for biologic fitness, and very likely has multiple generative mechanisms and functions. For example, dreaming about scary threats likely helps us to avoid those threats during the daytime...”

You can be sure I will never appear on a TV game show.

There may not be much in McNamara's story about dreams in old age but there is a lot more information about the purposes of dreams which you can read here. Plus, there are several more pieces on the topic of dreams at his website.

Have your dreams changed as you have grown older?

* * *

A couple of weeks ago, I spent about an hour on the phone with Jana Panarites. She is the founder of Agewyz Media Group, created in 2014 to raise awareness in the media about the plight of caregivers in the US and to promote healthy aging across the generations.

The Agewyz Podcast, Agewyz Media’s main property, explains Jana, is an online radio program distributed weekly on multiple platforms including iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play Music, in addition to the nationally syndicated Speak Up Talk Radio Network.

I had a fine ol' time with Jana that day. Here is the interview or, you can listen to it on her website which, in any case, is worth a visit.



ELDER MUSIC: Classical - Various 3

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

* * *

Here are some classical compositions selected seemingly at random, but more that they caught my fancy when I was writing this column (well, actually, collected along the way in anticipation of the column).

Scholars have unearthed many gems from the Baroque era in recent times and JAN ZELENKA is one such.

Jan Zelenka

He was a contemporary of J.S. Bach, and old J.S. held him in high esteem and invited him to stay at his home and play music together. Jan's style is very daring with inventive harmony and complex counterpoint. He really was a towering figure of his time, only recently being restored to his pedestal.

This is the second movement of the Trio Sonata for oboe, violin, bassoon & continuo No. 3 in B flat major, ZWV 181/3. This will get your toes a'tapping.

♫ Zelenka - Sonata No.3 in B-flat Major (2)


In complete contrast to Jan's tune, here is a lullaby by AMY BEACH.

Amy Beach

Amy was probably the first successful female composer, born in 1865. She was also a highly acclaimed concert pianist and wrote works for the instrument as well as symphonies, choral works and chamber music.

Her husband, 24 years her senior, disapproved of all this music nonsense and restricted her somewhat. She blossomed as a composer and performer after he died. Her lullaby is called Berceuse, Op. 40, No 2, and it's scored for piano and cello.

♫ Amy Beach - Berceuse Op. 40 #2


If you mention LUDWIG BEETHOVEN in connection with an instrument, most people would say piano.

Beethoven

That's not surprising as he wrote the best piano music in history. However, in his first paying gig playing music, he played both violin and viola. Contemporary reports tell us that he remained a superb violinist all his life.

It's that instrument that we ostensibly feature today: the first movement of his Violin Sonata No 3 in E flat major Op. 12.

Getting back to my initial statement, to my ears, this sounds like a piano sonata or some other piano piece with a bit of violin thrown in for good measure. That's not to denigrate it – the piano part is superb.

♫ Beethoven - Violin Sonata in E flat major Op. 12 No. 3 (1)


FREDERICK THE GREAT, or Frederick II of Prussia was a military leader of some renown, but he was also considered quite an enlightened ruler for his time (middle eighteenth century).

Frederick II

He had a real passion for music and collected the best composers and performers of the time to play with him. It seems that he was a skilled flute player and he also wrote music that was really quite good. Of course, who was going to tell him that it wasn't?

On the basis of his compositions, which are elegant, sophisticated and demonstrate considerable imagination, we have to assume he played as well as he wrote. Here is the first movement of his Flute Concerto in C major.

♫ Friedrich II - Flute Concerto in C major (1)


Whenever anyone mentions ERIK SATIE, the thing that first springs to mind is Gymnopedies, and the next is probably Gnossiennes.

Erik Satie

There's more to Erik but like the previously mentioned works, it's pretty much all to do with the piano. What we have today is called Je Te Veux, which has also been turned into a vocal piece as well, but here's the original played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and it'll have you waltzing around the kitchen.

♫ Satie - Je Te Veux


JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH wrote round about 220 cantatas.

JS Bach

These are some of the finest music in history and I like to listen to one every week or two, maybe more if I'm in the mood. The one for this week is called J'ai mis Mon Coeur et Mon Esprit, BWV 92, the first movement.

♫ Bach JS - Cantata BWV 92 mis Mon Coeur et Mon Esprit (1)


JUAN CRISÓSTOMO ARRIAGA was a child prodigy. Well, he had to be as, unfortunately for us, and even more unfortunately for him, he died at age 19 (probably from tuberculosis).

Juan Crisostomo Arriaga1

He was often called the Spanish Mozart. In his short life he managed to write an opera, a symphony, several string quartets, a number of works for the church, a nonet and quite a few other things. Here we have the first movement of his String Quartet No 2 A Major.

♫ Arriaga - String Quartet No 2 A Major (1)


Speaking of WOLFGANG MOZART, here is another violin sonata, with some similarities to Beethoven's.

Mozart

It's the last one he wrote and the one respect in which it resembles Ludwig's is that the piano is dominant and the violin plays a lesser role. Indeed, Wolfie suggested that it be called a sonata for piano with violin. Anyway, its official title is Violin Sonata No. 36, F Major K. 547. This is the first movement.

♫ Mozart - Violin Sonata No. 36 F Major K. 547 (1)


CARL MARIA VON WEBER apparently was a brilliant pianist and his compositions for the instrument had a profound effect of Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn.

Carl Maria von Weber

His compositions for wind instruments, particularly the clarinet and French horn, were equally influential. He is loved by bassoon players as he wrote for that instrument too, something few others have done.

However, it's the clarinet we're interested in today, and in particular the third movement of his Clarinet Concerto No 1 in F minor, J 114 Op 73.

♫ Weber - Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor Op 73 J1140 (3)



INTERESTING STUFF – 10 March 2018

THE BABY WHISPERER

According to the YouTube page:

”Over the last 12 years, David Deutchman has held and soothed over 1,200 babies at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital. He’s a 'baby buddy,' a person who spends time comforting babies who are delivered prematurely or who may require special medical attention.

“Nicknamed 'the baby whisperer' by nurses, David’s nurturing support has become a godsend for parents while they are away at work or caring for children at home.”

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME TONIGHT

Don't forget to “spring forward” tonight by changing your clocks by one hour as daylight saving time begins.

Daylight-saving-time

Most of us loathe this ritual each March and November – I certainly do - and the state of Florida is trying to do something about that:

”Lawmakers in Florida are tired of the whole fall back and spring forward rigamarole. So they've approved a bill to keep Daylight Saving Time going throughout the year in their state,” reports CNN.

“It took the state Senate less than a minute Tuesday to pass the "Sunshine Protection Act." There were only two dissenters. (The House passed it 103-11 on February 14.)

“The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott -- but it's far from a done deal after that, Even if the governor approves, a change like this will literally take an act of Congress.”

But it's a step in the right direction. Maybe more states will join in to convince Congress it is time to let go of this irritating semi-annual ritual. You can read more about Florida's move here.

HOW PEOPLE WOKE UP BEFORE ALARM CLOCKS

The Mental Floss website, ever eager to pass on obscure information, historical and contemporary, gives us seven ways people woke up at the hour they wanted before there were alarm clocks. Here are two of them:

The Knocker-Up
“The Knocker-Up (also referred to as a Knocker-Upper) gained prominence during the Industrial Revolution, using a long stick with wire or a knob affixed to the end to rouse customers at a desired time. Clients would agree verbally in advance, or simply post a preferred time on doors or windows.

“For a few pence a week, clients could rest assured knowing their Knocker Upper would not leave until he (Knocker Ups were almost always men) was certain a person was awake. Larger factories and mills often employed their own Knocker Ups to ensure laborers made it to work on time.”

Bladder Control
“Early man drank tons and tons of water if he needed to wake up before the sun. Why? Well, if you're over the age of 30 or so, you probably know what getting up in the middle of the night to urinate is all about. The custom of 'over-drinking' before bed was even utilized by Native Americans well into the 20th century.”

You can read about five more early wake-up systems at Mental Floss.

JOHN OLIVER ON THE NRA

On his HBO program, Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver explores the weird world of NRA-TV (National Rifle Association). As always, he has most of the best political jokes of the week and it is definitely worth the investment of your time.

If you're interested in checking out NRA-TV for yourself, you will find it here.

MATTEL'S 17 NEW BARBIE DOLLS

In honor of International Women's Day this past week, toymaker Mattel released three new “inspiring” Barbie dolls along with 14 Shero dolls. Here's a video report from a local TV news program in Columbus, Ohio:

You can see each of the 17 new Barbies side-by-side with photos of their real-life counterparts at Bored Panda.

20 DESIGNERS

TGB reader and friend, Darlene Costner, sent this video of 20 designs for modern homes, mostly space savers that are quite cleverly thought out. They may not all be to your taste, but be sure to stick around for the last one: so silly.

SOME GOOD NEWS: NET NEUTRALITY GOES TO COURT

As reported in these pages a couple of weeks ago, Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai, filed a ruling to take effect on 23 April that will reverse the net neutrality provisions put in place to protect consumers by the Obama administration.

Go to the link above to get the full story on why net neutrality is so important to consumers and to the the country.

Several states had threatened to sue and now a judicial review panel announced that challenges to the rollback will be heard by a San Francisco appeals court. Reuters reports:

”The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict litigation said it randomly selected the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court...to hear the consolidated challenges. The FCC declined to comment on the decision.

“A dozen challenges have been filed by 22 state attorneys general, public interest groups, internet companies, a California county and the state’s Public Utilities Commission seeking to block the Trump administration’s repeal of landmark rules designed to ensure a free and open internet from taking effect.

“The suits were filed in both the Ninth Circuit and District of Columbia appeals court. Of the Ninth Circuit court’s 24 active judges, 18 were appointed by Democratic presidents and six by Republican President George W. Bush. There are six current vacancies and President Donald Trump has nominated two candidates.”

You can read more here about this important challenge to one of the many Trump administration efforts to curtail public access to information.

SOME BAD NEWS: TRUMP TO REINSTATE IMPORTATION OF WILD ANIMAL TROPHIES

On Tuesday, Trump revoked another Obama administration ruling disallowing import of wild animal trophies from Africa. Here is an NBC News report about the change:

You can read more details here.

MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE CAT VIDEO

Most Saturdays I end this Interesting Stuff column with a cat or, at least, an animal video. There is no dearth of such material on the internet so that I am never at a loss for something new to show you.

Sometimes, however, a repeat is more than worth it. This video of a cat watching a horror movie was the number one viral video of the year in 2016, so I am certainly not alone in laughing out loud no matter how many times I see it.

* * *

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

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


Living and Dying: A Love Story

At the bottom of this page is the latest edition of The Alex and Ronni Show – a conversation between me and my former husband, Alex Bennett, that we recorded on Tuesday.

Early in the recording, Alex (who lives in New York City) asked about Oregon's Death With Dignity Act – that is, physician-assisted suicide – and as serendipity sometimes has it, later that day as I was looking around the web, a documentary about an Oregon married couple's choice to die together in this way turned up.

Living and Dying: A Love Story is powerful and poignant, sad and uplifting and by the end, you know this couple, Charlie and Francie Emerick, made the right choice for them.

The couple's daughter, Sher Safran and her husband, Rob, asked permission to record her parents' final days and hours, and also gained their approval to share the video publicly.

Both Charlie and Francie had been diagnosed with less than six months to live and they are thought to be the only couple to take the drugs together. Kaiser Health News (KNH) reports,

”The pair, early members of the 1980s-era Hemlock Society, had supported the choice for years, and, when their illnesses worsened, they were grateful to have the option for themselves, family members said.

“'This had always been their intention,'” said [another] daughter Jerilyn Marler, 66, who was the couple’s primary caretaker in recent years. 'If there was a way they could manage their own deaths, they would do it.'”

And so they did, taking the state-prescribed medication together on 20 April 2017. Kaiser Health News again:

Francie, 88, went first, within 15 minutes, a testament to the state of her badly weakened heart. Charlie, 87, a respected ear, nose and throat physician, died an hour later, ending a long struggle that included prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease diagnosed in 2012.

“'They had no regrets, no unfinished business,' said Sher Safran, 62, one of the pair’s three grown daughters. 'It felt like their time, and it meant so much to know they were together.'”

But that is only the bare bones of the story. Sher and Rob, using mostly cell phone video, have produced a remarkable record not only of her parents' long (66 years) and loving marriage, but of the procedure involved with using the Death With Dignity Law in Oregon that so many of us are curious about.

Here is a trailer from the Safrans' 45-minute documentary, Living and Dying: A Love Story.

You can see a short, 20-minute version of the documentary at the Safran's website, Share Wisdom Network, where the longer, full version is also available to view online. (Scroll down to get to them.)

It is astonishingly brave to make this choice of controlling one's death – choosing time and day and making preparations. I've always said that I want to die in my sleep although I'm told most people say this and that it doesn't happen often.

Physician-assisted suicide is, to me, a good alternative when you know there is no chance of recovery and that your life will become considerably more difficult and/or painful toward the end. I would hope, in that circumstance, I would make the decision Charlie and Francie Emerick did.

Here are a couple of links that may interest you:

Wikipedia overview of U.S. states that allow assisted suicide.
Oregon Health Authority's section on the Death With Dignity Act with answers to your questions.

* * *

The Alex and Ronni Show
Recorded Tuesday 6 April 2018.

If you would like to see Alex's entire two-hour show with other guests after me, you can do that at Facebook or Gabnet on Facebook or on YouTube or Vimeo.



Crabby Old Lady Watches the Academy Awards

Did you watch the Academy Award show last Sunday? Crabby Old Lady did. There wasn't much else on the tube then and it's the sort of program Crabby can watch here and there that doesn't much disturb the reading she's doing in between.

If you didn't watch, don't go getting all snobby about it. The Oscars are an American tradition – admittedly fading, probably with Crabby's generation – but still kind of fun to see the pretty ladies all dressed up in ways almost no one does anymore.

And having produced a lot of TV shows in her past, Crabby likes watching the production values on a program that's more lavish and complex, especially live, than most of what's on television.

This is an eye candy type of show. It doesn't take any special attention or thought – just let it wash over you. Or not.

It was heartening to Crabby from the start to see the diversity and inclusion of the landscape: Muslims, immigrants, a better mix of skin colors than usual and (drum roll) women, lots of women. Crabby thinks that might be something we can thank Harvey Weinstein for.

And then Sandra Bullock showed up as a presenter. Until that moment, it hadn't occurred to Crabby to think anything one way or another about old people's participation.

Bullock is 53 years old. She looked wonderful – gorgeous, in fact. So why did she think she had to say this?

“Wow, it’s bright,” she said. “It’s really bright. Guys, the set looks amazing, everything looks really great. The lighting is really well lit, but can we just dim it just a little bit so I can go back to my 40s? A little lower, 39, keep going, 38, 38, 38, no, 35, now that's the sweet spot!"

Did she think that was funny? It wasn't to Crabby Old Lady. It could have been if we lived in a different world, if old people were generally treated with the same respect as Ms. Bullock is at mid-age. But instead of inclusion, Bullock chose the opposite.

This disparagement of elders didn't stop with Bullock. In fact, it had started at the top of the show.

Host Jimmy Kimmel's digs at 88-year-old, best supporting actor nominee, Christopher Plummer, began with this gem directed at Plummer sitting in the first row: “How does Lin Manuel-Miranda compare to the real Alexander Hamilton?”

And Kimmel (age 50) didn't let up on age jokes directed at Plummer throughout the rest of the broadcast.

Crabby sat up at attention yet again when Jane Fonda (age 80) and Helen Mirren (age 72) took to the stage together. Mirren opened with, “Jane and I are very, very honored to have been asked to present together on Oscar’s 90th birthday.”

Okay, that's nice enough for an awards show but then Fonda responded, “Yeah, especially when we found out he’s older than we are. Right?”

No, Fonda, you're wrong. Crabby Old Lady thinks she looked lovely at the Oscars but ruined it the moment she opened her mouth.

Having spent several hours in the company of Hollywood actors on Sunday evening, Crabby could rant on about how plastic surgery plays a big part in perpetuating ageist behavior toward old people, but she will hold on to that thought for another day.

Even with all the age “jokes,” there were some magnificent bright spots involving old show biz folks. Start with Rita Moreno, age 86, who showed up wearing the same dress she wore – wait for it – 56 years ago, in 1962, when she won the Oscar for her role in West Side Story. Here's a little video of Moreno in that dress from the red carpet:

(That's Rita Moreno's daughter standing next to her.)

Ninety-three-year-old Eva Marie Saint was stunning in all ways as she presented an award - and she didn't make any ugly age jokes.

Agnes Varda, 89, was among nominees for best documentary feature, and James Ivory, also 89, became the oldest Oscar winner of all time for best adapted screenplay, Call Me By Your Name.

So Crabby response was mixed. She was pleasantly surprised at the diversity in general and specifically at the number of old people featured at the 90th Oscars. But she was terribly disappointed at the entrenched ageist beliefs that even some old people themselves won't let go of.

And don't go thinking this is a small thing. That it happens throughout the country in media and in everyday life thousands of times a day is what makes it so awful, these small insults aimed at old people - their looks, their behavior, their supposed slow-wittedness.

Every incidence of it perpetuates the indignities and makes it safe for others to join in. Crabby no longer believes this will change in her lifetime.



Small Pleasures

As many TGB readers noted on the posts I wrote about my cancer, small pleasures are closely related to the idea of living in the moment.

We usually develop an appreciation of such commonplaces throughout our lives but are so busy in our midyears that we hardly recognize their importance.

Nevertheless, they accumulate over time. Here are a few that never fail to please me.

Hot showers. Twice in my life, men I was dating thought it was a sexy idea to shower together. Hmmmph. They both suffered from the same malady: to me, what they called hot felt like jumping into a flowing river in January.

But alone, ahhhh - the hot, hot water pouring over my head and shoulders and down my body from above, perhaps just a tad too hot so that it becomes almost a meditation. It is sublime and best of all, I get to do it every day.

A great perk of being retired is snuggling in bed on a cold, winter morning. Even though in retirement there is nowhere I need to be, I still feel a little giddy, like I'm getting away with something, and the bed (why is this?) is never more comfortable than just before rising.

Cat watching. As much time as they spend sleeping (some say 17 hours a day), cats are busy little creatures when they are awake.

There is a lot of “laundry” to do keeping their fur groomed and if you pay attention you will see that they pause now and then to stare into space – as though the licking maybe makes them high.

Cats are especially fascinating when they don't know you're watching but even then, it's hard to catch them doing anything that isn't as graceful as a ballerina. Which is, of course, what make it so funny when they miscalculate a jump.

It's even funnier when they know you've caught them being ungainly and they try to pretend they planned it that way.

Full moon. For reasons I don't know, it seem more beautiful in winter than summer; I never tire of seeing a full moon etched against the dark sky on a cold, clear night – like someone hung it up there just for me.

What a pleasure it is to have a book you can't put down and strain to keep your eyes open while reading in bed at night, eager to find out what's next. Even better is looking forward to getting back to such a book later after you did fall asleep while reading.

Ice cream. Need I say more?

New-fallen snow early in the morning. I will quote myself on this one as I wrote it 12 years ago:

”Is there anything better than waking in winter to the special hush a new snowfall brings to the big city? It is different from silence. Listen carefully and you will find that the sound of the quiet can be heard, especially at dawn.

“It is irresistible then to bundle up in layers, pull on a fur hat and go out into the street just as the sky is turning from black to sapphire blue - and be the first on my block to make footprints, and even an angel, in the snow.”

That worked in New York City and I miss it now. We don't get enough snow in northwest Oregon to be able to hear the silence, and certainly not to make a snow angel.

The first crocuses. What you can take pleasure in in Oregon, however, are the first crocuses that surprise me every year when they peek their purple or white heads up when you think it's still too early for them to bloom. They always makes me smile.

Here is a little video dissertation I found on the importance of small pleasures.

When small pleasures really pay off, I think, is in our late years when natural decline or illness can prevent our grander pleasures, especially physical ones.

What are your favorite small pleasures?



ELDER MUSIC: Doctor, Doctor Give Me the News

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.

* * *

Ronni was the inspiration for this column. I hope she doesn't mind. (Ronni here: Of course, I don't mind.)

I'll start with the song that provided the column's name. The song isn't actually called that, it's part of the lyrics, but I'm sure that if asked, most people who know the song would refer to it that way. It's by ROBERT PALMER.

Robert Palmer

The official title is Bad Case of Loving You, but you can call it anything you want. I know I do.

♫ Robert Palmer - Bad Case Of Loving You


The two best albums THE BEATLES recorded were "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver". From the latter one we have Doctor Robert.

Beatles

I always think of them as part 1 and 2 of the same album because I didn't buy them when they came out. It was later when I got them on CD at the same time, thus my conflating them that way. Here is that song.

♫ The Beatles - Doctor Robert


It seems only fair that we follow that one with the ROLLING STONES. Something from their best album "Beggars Banquet".

Rolling Stones

It's far from the best song on the album but it fits this column’s requirement. The song is Dear Doctor.

♫ Rolling Stones - Dear Doctor


Unlike everyone else today, RAY CHARLES doesn’t need any medical advice.

Ray Charles

Ray says that I Don't Need No Doctor. Well, I suppose he doesn’t anymore.

♫ Ray Charles - I Don't Need No Doctor


From very early in his career, indeed from his first album, JACKSON BROWNE gives us Doctor My Eyes.

Jackson Browne

This made the pointy end of the hit parade (something that seldom happened for Jackson) and besides that, it was covered by quite a few other artists, so it turned into a nice little earner for him.

♫ Jackson Browne - Doctor My Eyes


I thought of Doctor Jazz before I even started searching for songs. I remember back in the fifties’ and sixties’ trad jazz revival it was almost de rigueur to include it in every concert. I knew I had quite a few versions. When I spotted JELLY ROLL MORTON, I decided it had to be the one.

Jelly Roll Morton

His was the earliest version I have. It was written by King Oliver in 1926 and Jelly recorded it the same year. As far as I can tell this was the first recording of the tune.

♫ Jelly Roll Morton - Doctor Jazz


JOHN D. LOUDERMILK was mostly a songwriter, he wrote many hits for others in the fifties and sixties.

John D Loudermilk

He also liked to record some of his own songs, several of which did really well on the charts. One of those, in our category today, is Callin' Doctor Casey. Those who watched TV in the early sixties will know of whom he sings.

♫ John D. Loudermilk - Callin' Doctor Casey


I’m quite a fan of MILLIE JACKSON, so I was surprised to find I have only included her in a column once before. So, here she is again.

Millie Jackson

This is far from her best, but even ordinary Millie is well worth a listen. She’s calling for a Love Doctor.

♫ Millie Jackson - Love Doctor


Rather surprisingly, I was unfamiliar with the GUY CLARK song I selected. I thought I knew them all, but there it was on one of his albums ("Old Friends").

Guy Clark

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist didn't know it either but when I played it we both agreed that it should be included. Well, we pretty much think that anything Guy did was okay with us. The song is Doctor Good Doctor.

♫ Guy Clark - Doctor Good Doctor


Rather than, as with everyone else, going to the doc, MUDDY WATERS has decided that he’s one himself.

Muddy Waters

I don’t know if I’d want him to operate on me, but if he played and sang for me I’d be all for it. Here he is telling us that I'm Your Doctor.

♫ Muddy Waters - I'm Your Doctor


...and last and certainly least we have DAVID SEVILLE.

David Seville

This was the recording name of Ross Bagdasarian who was a noted songwriter. He was also responsible for the Alvin and the Chipmunks songs, films, TV programs and what not. Let's hope that Ronni doesn't visit the Witch Doctor.

♫ David Seville - Witch Doctor