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Elder Guardianship

Two months after it was fixed, my computer crashed again on Wednesday and this time I'm just going to replace it. That will take a little while.

The backup laptop I'm working on hasn't gotten any better since last time. It is slow, cranky and painful to use so until I am up and running with a new one, posting will be sketchy.

Peter's music column is already set for Sunday, so that will be here and a new reader story will post next Tuesday.

I can't promise an Interesting Stuff tomorrow or a Monday post. But maybe. Meanwhile, I can tolerate being on this machine only in short bursts without pulling my hair out so I'm just letting you know.

For today, I had intended to write a piece on elder guardianship but I can't get to my notes in the broken computer so let's do it this way:

  1. It was last October that I first meant to report on this important subject based on a frightening story published that month in The New Yorker. Due to some personal health issues, I didn't get back to it until now.

  2. In June this year, John Oliver, host of the HBO program Last Week Tonight, made elder guardianship the main story of his show one Sunday based largely on the same New Yorker material I had.

So I'll just run the Oliver video without the additional information I had tracked down and intended to include until it got lost inside the broken computer.

Oliver's piece is as excellent (in John's inimitable way) as the New Yorker story. It's important for all elders to know this can happen and to be sure all your late-life, end-of-life papers are in order.

Here is Oliver. If you have access to The New Yorker online, their story is here and includes a lot more detail and useful information than Oliver could fit into his video - although you get to see and hear the people discussed in the magazine piece.

There. I'm done – this is all I can stand to do on this laptop right now.




Elders: Taking Stock of Our Lives

If you live long enough, it's inevitable: you will, in one form or another, do some stock-taking of your life. A sizing up. An account balancing. Or a simple, “how'm I doing?”

There is no particular time or year of life when it comes along. In fact, I think for some it is an ongoing monitor that pops up now and then all through adulthood. But in later years, it becomes more urgent.

Even moreso, as I learned recently from personal experience, when a life-threatening or “just” a serious illness interrupts the steady flow of days. Then a reckoning feels important.

For me and a few others I've spoken with about this, it usually begins with a narrative of one's life.

I never had big plans for mine – actually, I never had any plan. I have a strong memory of a certain day in my mid-teens realizing it was highly unlikely I would grow up to cure cancer. Teens do that sort of grandiose thinking but even then I knew I didn't have the wherewithall for saving mankind.

When college decisions were at hand, I had no earthly idea what I wanted to study and not a single thought about what I wanted to do with my life.

You'll recall that in those days, late 1950s, girls were expected to get married and have babies which a goodly number of my classmates did within a week or two of graduation.

I knew that wasn't for me so I went to work at a typing job. And then another. And another.

It never came to mind to note that I didn't have a real career. No one told us girls back then that a formal, planned career might be an option.

Everyone understood that we could be office workers and waitresses or, if we went to college, teachers and nurses. Women doctors and lawyers hardly existed in those days so most of us didn't think in those terms.

After seven years of pounding keyboards, I married and became the producer of my husband's radio talk show. The 1960s, of course, were an exhilirating time of social upheaval and I booked musicians, political radicals, dissenters, women's movement and civil rights activists, politicians and more as we reported on and chronicled the zeitgeist of the times.

It became the number one talk show in New York City radio and then I moved on to produce television shows for 25 years. In an unexpected instance of great, good luck, I got in on the earliest days of the commercial internet as managing editor of the first CBS News website.

I wouldn't trade my “career” for anything. I met kings and queens and movie stars and heads of state. I worked with the best and the brightest in pretty much all areas of life – music, medicine, politics, art, entertainment, literature, science, fashion, theater and movies and more.

It was my job to learn something of what those people knew and help them make sense of it for television and, later, the internet. They, experts in their fields, were the college education I'd skipped and it has lasted all my life.

When I was forced into retirement 14 years ago, I had already begun this blog so all that changed, aside from loss of a paycheck, were more frequent posts and a shorter commute - from the bedroom to my home office.

Well, work was not quite all that changed. The biggest, most difficult outcome was the necessity to leave my home of 40 years, New York City, when – in the shock of a lifetime – I found no one hires 63-year-olds, particularly in technology. I had no idea then that ageism existed much at all until it happened to me, and certainly not that it was so widespread even among people younger than I.

Now I know and it hasn't gotten any better since then.

You'll note that I didn't mention another marriage or children. That's because there weren't any and unlike most of my life, they were deliberate decisions. Regrets? None about not having a child or two but there is a wonderful and brilliant man I probably should have married...

Certainly I've made varieties of poor decisions along the way, and you don't get to know the things I've said and done of which I'm deeply ashamed.

On the other hand, apparently my mom and dad instilled in me a decent sense of right and wrong, good and evil. In the particular political era of our time, I am regularly shocked out of my senses at the enormity of the lies, misdeeds, avarice, iniquities and crimes committed by almost every high-level elected official and appointee in our federal government.

I am grateful to know I'm am not capable of what they do, although I am fairly sure I can't take credit for it – it's just is.

Sometimes I think the way I made my living, mostly related to entertainment with some politics thrown in, was too frivolous – that I would be happier with myself at this age if I had chosen something of more benefit to the world and other people.

During this past year that I spent in close proximity to a lot of medical, health and hospital workers, I see they are put together differently from me. Their care, concern and patience is genuine, manifest every day with their unending kindness to cranky, tired, frightened, sick people who are often in pain and on their worst behavior.

I know me and I know I could never match the standard set by these amazing people who turn their entire working lives over to helping others. So it's just as well I did something else with my life.

Not that I actually made a choice. A few years after I had conceded to myself that I had no idea what I wanted from life, sometime in my twenties, I made a decision to just follow my nose and see where it would take me through the coming years. It didn't work out too badly.

Recently, I ran across a quotation from the musician Elton John that sums up my 77 years and continues to apply:

“If you let things happen, that is a magical life.”

“Let things happen” is, for me, just a nicer way of saying that I never bothered to choose how I wanted to live. I think that's a failing – a fairly big one - but not something I can fix now and anyway, my life has been close enough to magical to be okay.

Have you done any taking stock?




A TGB Reader Story: Hope On Top of the World

By Gloria MacKay

I still hope: for sunny days; for my other pearl earring to be in the drawer; for my doctor to say see you next year; for my hair to perk up. I know how to hope, but never with the abandon I would have allowed myself if I had not grown up with that woman looking down on my head.

Hope hung in the living room over the couch for so many years she made her mark on the wall, framed with burnished wood finished to look like metal she was an eerie sight: a woman draped in sepia, olive drab and slate gray, head in her hands and legs sprawled over a big, equally sepia ball. I would glance up every time I walked into the room.

I watched when my mother lifted Hope off the hook and set her on the floor, leaving a clean rectangle on the wall as exposed as a patch of skin after you rip off the band aid. I crouched on the carpet as she turned the picture over and pointed to a sticker embossed with fancy gold letters. Hope On Top of the World she read as she turned to me. “This is what Hope looks like.”

I jumped up and ran to my room, my mother’s voice following me. “Don’t be silly, She’s not real. She’s just a picture.”

I was the age when Santa Claus lived within me in the comfortable limbo between real and make believe but I could not be this accommodating with Hope even when she lay face down on the carpet with her sticker showing. Credentials or not, I kept one foot in my room and peeked out the door until I saw her back on the wall where she belonged.

My second encounter with hope happened on one of my early birthdays when I was called upon to blow out my birthday candles all by myself with no help. I felt a circle of tense faces coming down on me as I took a big breath and let go.

I don’t remember how many candles were on the cake but I blew them all out and everyone clapped. “Don’t tell what you wished for or it won’t come true,” someone hollered. Right then all my hope went up with the smoke. I had been so eager to do a good job I had forgotten to wish.

I still don’t like people staring at me. I don’t like it when I sit in the corner of my doctor’s office, for instance, engrossed in a magazine and the nurse blurts out my name so loudly I jump.

All eyes are looking at me as I gather my belongings, straighten the magazines, stand up, sweater dragging, purse unzipped, and head for the open door. I get so rattled that I forget to hope for the best.

Wishing on a star was my next experience with hope. My mother and I would chant “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might get the wish I wish tonight.”

She reminded me, every time, to look sharply because it had to be made on the very first star. I must have wished as many times as stars have twinkles but I can’t remember for sure if any of my wishes came true.

In time I replaced this childhood chant with a more sophisticated song. It begins “When you wish upon a star” and ends, “your dreams come true.” In between it gives us permission to wish on all stars, any stars, any time, any place.

I don't have to strain my eyes in the twilight searching for the very first flicker - any old star will do. And I don’t have to blow hard and not tell to make my birthday wishes come true. And even if I forget to whisper the wish to myself, it is in my head and that just might be enough.

These days when I find one of those touristy little wells sitting in a patch of grass collecting money and wishes I am always surprised at the carpet of coins at the bottom.

If no one is watching I might drop in a coin and make a wish of my own, as though I were Hope on top of the world and the face in the ripples is someone I’ve never met.

Hope On Top Of The World

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: This feature, TGB Readers' Stories, appears every Tuesday. Anyone age 50 and older is welcome to submit a story. You can do that by clicking the “Contact” link at the top of every TGB page or at the Guidelines/Submissions page.

Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting a story. It will save me a lot of time.
]




Prescription Drug Advertising and Me

No, this isn't a rerun and yes, I wrote about it just six months ago: prescription drug advertising – aka “direct-to-consumer” advertising and no surprise: it hasn't changed since then.

But maybe I have.

Before I get to that, however, consider this: most of us know there are “seasons” for sales of different kinds of products. Holidays are obvious but home appliances get a big push at certain times of the year. Beds and bed linens at other times. Cell phones are big in February. Sneaker sales seem to be everywhere in April. And so on.

I could be wrong – I haven't done a comparative study - but I believe I may have identified summer as the time of year pharmaceutical companies heavily promote their newest drugs.

Have you noticed recently? There are a bunch of commercials about drugs I had never heard of before: Orencia, Verzenio, Neulasta, Toujeo and more.

They sound a lot like the ones we're already accustomed to e.g., Eliquis, Humira, Xarelto, Lyrica, etc. which continue to be aired among these newbies. They are ubiquitous – I once counted seven prescription drug commercials in a one-hour TV show, and three or four is common.

Because people 65 and older are just about the last age group in the U.S. that watches TV and are also the age group that uses the majority of prescription drugs, it's old folks the marketers target and in addition to the billions of dollars big pharma pulls in for their drugs, it is a lucrative source of income for television networks, channels and owners.

”Drug companies spent more than $6 billion [in 2017] on direct-to-consumer ads, according to the consulting firm Kantar Media,” reported the Los Angeles Times in April. “Over 770,000 such ads were aired in 2016, the most recent year for which stats are available. That's up a whopping 65% from 2012.”

Milton Packer is a U.S. physician well known for his clinical research into heart failure.

”Studies report that consumers often place unwarranted trust in these TV prescription drug ads,” Packer wrote at Medpagetoday in May.

“Practitioners report being bombarded by patient requests, and many feel pressured to prescribe drugs that have been requested by patients, even if they believe it is inappropriate to do so. And the conversation often wastes the limited time the physician has allotted to the patient visit.

“Think the situation is bad now?” Packer continues. “A year ago, pharmaceutical companies were seeking FDA permission to use direct-to-consumer advertising to promote off-label use of drugs for nonapproved indications.”

That's not much different from a movie star advising people to not vaccinate their children, is it. Sure, let's tell people they can use a powerful controlled substance for anything they want.

I'm shocked that anyone could or would actually think that up. And it gets worse. This from The New York Times last December about prescription drug commercials in general:

”'The ads, which once focused on treatments for chronic but generally nonfatal conditions, have turned to more serious ailments in the last few years,' said Thomas Lom, a consultant and former senior executive at several health care ad agencies.

“'In the old days, it was allergies and acid reflux and whatnot,' he said. 'Now, it’s cardiology issues. It’s cancer.'”

Did you know that every nation in the whole wide world disallows direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising except two? New Zealand is one. Can you guess the other? (The U.S., of course. But you knew that.)

A 2016 Harvard poll [pdf] asked Americans if prescription drugs should be advertised on television:

57% adults said they support removing prescription drug advertisements from television

39% said they opposed this change

The researchers report that there were no significant differences in opinion on this question by political party affiliation, income or gender.

Not that anyone in power, let alone the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) which sets the rules for pharmaceutical advertising, will do anything.

Okay. Believe it or not, all the above is background for what I really came here to say today.

It's not just the adverts themselves that disturb me. It is that, as one citation above notes, there are so many of them for the most debilitating and life-threatening diseases that exist (and the ads are always so damned cheerful about it.)

As most of you know, in June 2017, I underwent a 12-hour surgical procedure for pancreatic cancer. That and chemotherapy have been successful and in January the surgeon said there was no evidence of cancer, which my oncologist confirmed in February.

But that doesn't mean I can go back to the life I had before. I am forever stuck now in a “before and after” personal world, and I haven't found a way to ignore the event that divides the two sides of my life.

Although I'm still working out how my belief system has been challenged and I recognize that some of my outlook and attitudes may not be quite as solidly held as they once were, mostly I don't want to hear the word cancer anymore and certainly not the phrase “pancreatic cancer.”

I am not in denial. And I know that statistically, I am more likely to have a new cancer one day than someone with no previous cancer.

But I don't see a reason to think about that unless or until it happens. Unlike the majority of pancreatic cancer patients, I somehow made it through the first year after diagnosis and then some. A miracle, some say.

Living requires forward motion and I dislike the darkness, however fleeting, that shadows me for awhile following each drug commercial. I will never be as health carefree as in my “before” life but television free of drug commercials about dire diseases sure would help a lot.

(I'm not looking for advice today – just ruminating on something I've noticed that some others may recognize. Nor is it about 'don't watch tv' especially when we are living through a golden age of scripted programming - there is a lot of great stuff on TV these days. I'm only reporting something that may or may not be useful to discuss.)




ELDER MUSIC: Roy

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.

* * *

Roy Orbison

ROY ORBISON was unique, and I use that word advisably. He had a voice like no other in popular music with a huge range that probably would have fitted easily into opera if that's what he wanted to do.

He wrote songs that didn't fit into the normal pop music structure; these were free flowing, story songs, operatic to some extent. Until Bob Dylan, no one broke the mold like he did.

Roy Orbison

Roy didn't start out like the way I described. His first recordings were at Sun Records with Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and others. He tried to fit into rockabilly but it really didn't work.

However, anything he recorded is worth a listen. The most famous song from that the time is Ooby Dooby.

♫ Roy Orbison - Ooby Dooby


Roy Orbison

After leaving Sun, he flourished into the performer we know now. The first song that impacted on my brain was Only the Lonely. Way back, when it came out, the first time I heard this song I was gobsmacked. Even now, I get the same reaction. The song came out of the blue, there was nothing like it before in my popular music listening history. Here it is.

♫ Roy Orbison - Only The Lonely


Not too long after that song, ROY came out with an even better song. That one is Crying. Instead of Roy's original version, I've decided to use a later one he performed with K.D. LANG.

Roy Orbison & kd lang

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist thinks this is better than the original. She may very well think that, I wouldn't dare disagree.

♫ Roy Orbison & k.d. lang - Crying


Something else ROY performed with others is Indian Summer. In this case it's BARRY GIBB and LARRY GATLIN.

Roy Orbison & Barry Gibb & Larry Gatlin

Barry is the oldest of the brothers who made up the Bee Gees, and alas, the only one still with us. Larry also performed with his brothers as Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers as well as being a solo performer. Here are the three of them performing the song.

♫ Roy Orbison - Indian Summer


There are few performers who could sing any of Roy's songs that you'd really want to listen to in preference to the original. One cover version that held up really well was by LINDA RONSTADT – neither the A.M. nor I am surprised at that. This was a big hit for her (and Roy too), Blue Bayou.

Linda Ronstadt

♫ Linda Ronstadt - Blue Bayou


The Crowd is a song that sounds like a lot of others of Roy's. Indeed, the A.M. scoffed at my choice, but I remember it fondly from my final year at school – there might have been a girlfriend involved. Actually, an ex-girlfriend would be closer to the mark by the time the song was released.

♫ Roy Orbison - The Crowd


Roy Orbison

Another song that the A.M. didn't think deserved its place is Leah. However, this is my column so it's included. It's not like most of his other songs.

♫ Roy Orbison - Leah


Traveling Wilburys

THE TRAVELING WILBURYS were a garage band – literally, they got together in one of their members' garage. The story is that Tom Petty, one of the group, skipped all the way home to tell his wife that Roy Orbison was going to be in his band. Roy Orbison!

He neglected to tell her that those also-rans Bob Dylan and George Harrison were also present. Jeff Lynne as well. They all enjoyed each others' music and had a ball playing together, such that they decided to record an album.

Alas, Roy died soon after, before he could participate in the second record. From that first album we have End of the Line, with all members singing parts of the song.

♫ Traveling Wilburys - End of the Line


We know that EMMYLOU HARRIS has recorded with many people over the years, and of course, ROY is in the mix.

Roy Orbison & Emmylou Harris

With those two you know it’s going to be a good song, and it is. That Loving You Feeling Again.

♫ Roy Orbison & Emmylou Harris - That Loving You Feeling Again


Roy Orbison

The A.M. and I were watching a vid of one of Roy's concerts and this next song came up. I had my mouth open to say that this was far and away the best song Roy ever recorded when the A.M. beat me to it saying exactly the same thing.

Anyone who is familiar with Roy's oeuvre knows that the song is Running Scared. This could almost be considered to be a mini-opera, or at least, an homage to Ravel's Bolero.

♫ Roy Orbison - Running Scared




INTERESTING STUFF – 25 August 2018

NABISCO FREES ANIMAL CRACKERS FROM CAGES

After more than a century, the company that owns Nabisco freed the animals on its Animal Crackers boxes.

”Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco, has redesigned the packaging of its Barnum's Animals crackers after relenting to pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,” reports The Associated Press.

“PETA, which has been protesting the use of animals in circuses for more than 30 years, wrote a letter to Mondelez in the spring of 2016 calling for a redesign.

Here are the before and after. The new boxes on now on shelves in the U.S.

Anim alCrackersBefore

AnimalsCrackersAfter

HE CAN PRONOUNCE THE ENTIRE DICTIONARY

Jacques Bailly is the official pronouncer of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the U.S. He started his wordsmith career as the 1980 spelling bee champion. Take a look:

There is more at Laughing Squid.

CROWS AS TRASH COLLECTORS

And you thought robots would take all the jobs. In France, it may be the crows: This from The New York Times:

”...the wily crow is getting a makeover. Puy du Fou, a historical theme park in the Loire region about four hours from Paris, has trained six crows to pick up cigarette butts and bits of trash and dump them in a box.

Here's how it goes:

This isn't the first time crows have been trained to do this, just the most recent. Damned clever, they are.

BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT

Isn't magic fun? This one is more than that, it is spectacular. Thank Darlene Costner for sending it.

The magician's name is Marc Spelmann and he was given the first Golden Buzzer of 2018. (I have no idea what that means; I'm just telling you what I read.)

”TRUTH ISN'T TRUTH”

- said Rudy Giuliani on Meet the Press last Sunday.

On Monday, Axios listed more of the infamous Orwellian phrases from the Trump administration:

“Alternative Facts” - Kellyanne Conway on Meet the Press, January 22, 2017

“Fake News” - President Trump every day

“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening" - Trump at the VFW National Convention, July 25, 2018

Axios also listed a few from the Party in George Orwell's 1984.

"War is peace”
“Freedom is slavery”
“Ignorance is strength"

There's no daylight I can see between the Trump folks and Orwell's Party.

CARVING A BIRDCAGE ON THE TIP OF A PENCIL

Artist Salavat Fidai uses a jumbo pencil with a diameter of 5mm to do this. I could be convinced that the video is a lot like watching paint dry except for the exquisite payoff of the result.

JOHN OLIVER ON TRADE

On HBO's program, Last Week Tonight last Sunday, host John Oliver took on some of the intricacies of trade. Sound boring to you? No way.

Oliver makes what generally is complicated understandable, compelling and even – as he so capably can do – funny. Oh, while you watch this, keep in mind that on Thursday, Trump imposed another $16 billion in new tariffs on China which immediately retaliated in kind.

FREE NYU MEDICAL SCHOOL TUITION

How about some really good news.

Ten days ago, New York University School of Medicine announced it will cover tuition of all its students regardless of merit or need. The move resulted from NYU's concern that students saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt are choosing high-paid specialties rather than family practice, pediatrics, geriatrics and research.

”N.Y.U.’s plan...may spur other top medical schools to follow suit. In a statement, N.Y.U. said that it would be the only top-ranked medical school in the nation to offer full-tuition scholarships to all students.

“The plan, effective immediately, covers all current and future students. Annual tuition is roughly $55,000. There are 93 first-year students, and another 350 students who have up to three years left before obtaining their degrees...

“The plan does not cover room and board or fees, which together are an additional $27,000, on average.”

What great news – for students and for patients. Read more at The New York Times.

RESCUE BEAVER BUILDING DAMS IN HIS HOUSE

What happens when you take in an orphaned beaver...

* * *

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.




Our Poor Bedraggled USA

WTF just happened this week?

(NOTE: Sorry for the length but all this happened - and much more I haven't mentioned - in only four days.)

It's been a month since I announced here that I believe our national emergency is important enough that now and then we should trade in our single topic of age on this blog for our current political debacle. If any week ever called for it, this one does.

Whatever else we do in life, it is a requirement of citizenship that we pay attention to what our elected officials and their appointees are doing for (or against) our people, our country and our Constitution.

Although it has not been a pretty week, it has surpassed previous ones only in drama, not outrage. The president now stands accused of real crimes, not that the rational among us have doubted that all along.

But now it's official, on the record, hanging out there in the breeze waiting for those elected officials to damn well do something.

Is there anyone else, like me, who believes that the Republicans, who are in control of Congress, will pretend it didn't happen?

I'll circle back to the week's dramatic turns in a moment but first, here are a few other things that happened in Trumpland this week:

A new climate proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), admits within the proposal itself that the relaxed regulations will kill 1,400 people per year from power plants burning more coal.

"'We're canceling Obama's illegal anti-coal destroying regulations, the so-called Clean Power Plan,' [Trump] said during a rally in Charleston, West Virginia” reports CNBC.

“'Just today we announced our new Affordable Clean Energy proposal that will help our coal-fired power plants and save consumers — you, me, everybody — billions and billions of dollars.'"

The EPA likes to keep busy. As a bee, perhaps? The agency this week quietly delayed its final determination on bee-killing pesticides called neonicotinoids even after the European Union and now Canada have banned them.

In case you haven't kept up with the growing worldwide problem of bee decline, here is a little video about what will happen to all of us if they die off much further. (The video no less factual for have been produced in 2015. It just means you can skip the ad in the final 20 percent of the video.)

You can read more here and here.

In the “what could possibly go wrong” department, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVoss (she who registers at least one of her many yachts in a Caribbean nation to save a few bucks) announced she is considering allowing states to use federal school funds to arm teachers with guns.

Such a move, reports The New York Times appears to be unprecedented,

”...reversing a longstanding position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weapons. And it would also undermine efforts by Congress to restrict the use of federal funding on guns.

“As recently as March, Congress passed a school safety bill that allocated $50 million a year to local school districts, but expressly prohibited the use of the money for firearms.

“But the department is eyeing a program in federal education law, the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, that makes no mention of prohibiting weapons purchases.”

This change is not imminent but it is not unlikely to become reality given the massive number of other rollbacks of protective measures have been made during this administration. And how long after that will the first kid be killed, I wonder?

That's just some of the so-called boring news. What's got everyone banging on is the legal news. As you undoubtedly know by now, on Tuesday, former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight counts of tax evasion and bank fraud by a jury in Virginia.

Not 90 minutes later, President Trump's attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen confessed in court, under oath, that the president directed him to pay

”...hush money to two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, to buy their silence in the run-up to the 2016 election...” according to New York magazine, “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.”

Since then, there has been a wall-to-wall news flurry of speculation about Trump's involvement in criminal activity, while resurrecting talk of impeachment that had been tamped down for the past few months.

Trump has praised Manafort for “refusing to break” - meaning he has not plead guilty to anything (some say Trump signaling that he will pardon Manifort), while trashing Cohen for “flipping”, an act the president told Fox and Friends on Thursday should be illegal.

Here is Trump's take on impeachment from the same Fox interview. (If the video does not play for you, here is the Twitter page.)

The president's response brings to mind his earlier boast that he is so powerful, he can pardon himself. For the record, he cannot. According to Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution,

”...[the president] shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”

Meanwhile, the Republicans, who have total control of Congress, have nothing to say. They just want to cram through the confirmation of their Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and ignore their Constitutional duties.

Here's my question: what about the children? According to the U.S. Department of Justice and the ACLU, a month after the deadline to reunite immigrant families, 565 children (!) remain in government custody. Is anyone doing anything about the kids?

Now it's your turn. Have at it.




Is This the Beginning of Dementia? Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

Most old people I know ask themselves that headline question from time to time. It usually follows such instances as these:

In the middle of a sentence, you forget the name of the movie or book or author you're talking about.

Sometimes it's the name of an everyday item you forget. Not long ago, I perfectly well knew I wanted the word, “scissors,” but it wouldn't come to mind. I resorted to “that thing you cut paper with.”

Now and then I forget what I did yesterday. It happens often enough that I've begun joking that as far as I can tell nowadays, I go to bed on Sunday night and wake up Saturday morning.

These common incidents of forgetfulness are unlikely to be signs of serious disease. According to the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA),

”Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don't remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems, like Alzheimer's disease.”

Here's a handy chart from the NIA on the differences between normal forgetfulness and Alzheimer's disease:

ForgetfulnessVAlzheimers

According to the NIA, there are both biological and psychological causes of non-dementia and non-Alzheimer's forgetfulness:

Tumors, blood clots, or infections in the brain
Some thyroid, kidney, or liver disorders
Drinking too much alcohol
Head injury, such as a concussion from a fall or accident
Medication side effects
Not eating enough healthy foods, or too few vitamins and minerals

”Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can make a person more forgetful and can be mistaken for dementia. For instance, someone who has recently retired or who is coping with the death of a spouse, relative, or friend may feel sad, lonely, worried, or bored. Trying to deal with these life changes leaves some people feeling confused or forgetful.

“The confusion and forgetfulness caused by emotions usually are temporary and go away when the feelings fade.

The Mayo Clinic website has an easy-to-use report about dementia-or-not-dementia on a page titled, Memory Loss: When to Seek Help. Here is an encouraging list of possible causes of memory loss that are reversible:

Medications
Minor head trauma or injury
Emotional disorders. Stress, anxiety or depression
Alcoholism. Chronic alcoholism can seriously impair mental abilities
Vitamin B-12 deficiency
Hypothyroidism
Brain diseases. A tumor or infection in the brain

Not to mention plain-old old age which, if not reversible, does not disrupt one's life much. The Mayo Clinic discusses a condition known as mild cognitive impairment thusly:

”This involves a notable decline in at least one area of thinking skills, such as memory, that's greater than the changes of aging and less than those of dementia. Having mild cognitive impairment doesn't prevent you from performing everyday tasks and being socially engaged.

“Researchers and physicians are still learning about mild cognitive impairment. For many people, the condition eventually progresses to dementia due to Alzheimer's disease or another disorder causing dementia.

“Other people's memory loss doesn't progress much, and they don't develop the spectrum of symptoms associated with dementia.

As the Mayo piece notes, professionals “are still learning” not only about cognitive impairment but how the brain works in general so what is thought to be true today may not be tomorrow.

And what else I found out in researching this post is that just about everyone from health and medical reporters to doctors and researchers have a bias. They interpret the same information on a scale that runs from “don't worry about, it's normal” to “oh my god, see your doctor immediately.”

Okay, I'm overstating for effect, but as far as I can find it works that way a lot of the time.

That notwithstanding, personally I am relying on the conclusion of the bevy of physicians from five disciplines (!) who worked together on the solution to my internal bleed problem last spring.

When all of them showed up together in my hospital room late one afternoon, each trailed by two or three of his or her medical students, I asked for a clarification of a point because, I told them (and it's true), I get really stupid every day after about 3PM.

Each immediately replied with some version of “Oh, please, Ronni, you're sharp as a tack, you've got nothing to worry about.” I have decided to believe that until something untoward happens.

I've carefully monitored my mind for decades. I know the kinds of mistakes I make regularly and I know the ones – mostly memory – that have increased as the years pile up. Knowing these things helps keep them at bay or allows me to compensate for them to a degree I couldn't do otherwise.

For example, I can't recall even a list of just three items I want at the grocery store so I never rely on memory. I always make a list and these days I can do it on my phone via Alexa, adding items between shopping trips as they occur to me or I notice I'm out of olive oil.

I must have been in my 20s when I started making daily to-do lists at the end of the day. I never shut my computer without having made my tomorrow list.

Obligations to others such as in-person appointments but also via internet or telephone are always in red pen. I use yellow highlighter for things that have a close deadline or that I could but should not let go to another day. Most of the rest are reminders.

If there is something I absolutely must take with me when I leave the house, I put in front of the door where I will trip over it if I don't pick it up. I've learned that a sticky note on the door doesn't work, especially if it's been there for more than a day when it becomes just part of the woodwork.

A great help is that I have come to see my memory lapses as funny – at least when they are not annoying. I wrote this to give you a little information on the dementia/not dementia question but I also wonder how this stuff affects you and what you do about it.


* * *

Here is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded yesterday. If you would like to see Alex's entire two-hour show with other guests following our chat, you can do that at Facebook or Gabnet on Facebook or on YouTube.




A TGB READER STORY: The Fine Art of Dying

By wisewebwoman

Now it's Terry. Terry was knocked down in the middle of the night. Not by a car or anything like that. Knocked down by herself.

She ignored symptoms of all that was going wrong in her body, the pain in her abdomen. She'd chew Tylenol 3s like candy and we'd all given up on telling her to get to a doctor.

So she barely managed to call me on the phone at an ungodly hour screaming in pain and I followed the ambulance into the Health Sciences. Terry was one of those brilliant people who could work anywhere and did actuarial work from her home on the ocean.

Her clients were from all over the world. Funny thing, she hasn't met most of her clients; it was all done on the internet.

So like I was saying, Terry: there's never been anyone like her. She was riddled. First thing they did was take half her bowel away and give her a bag. Then they MRId her and Catscanned her and found more tumours. But Terry? She never let on to her clients she was in hospital. She carried on working with tubes and bags hanging off her. And saucy? You haven't seen the like.

She knew more than the doctors. And the funniest part? When a doctor or a nurse or a visiting specialist or students gathered around her bed she'd take notes in a thick journal she asked me to buy for her.

She'd write down all the numbers involving her condition: the date, the time, her sugars, her blood pressure, her white cell count, her urine output, her blood pressure, for Terry loved numbers.

And then, working backwards in the back of the journal, she'd make notes of the offhand remarks these medics tossed at each other so cruelly and casually, thinking she was asleep or distracted. Or deaf.

Did you see she had Botox on her forehead? And veneers on her teeth?

Oh, how the mighty have fallen, my mother knew her in school, an awful bitch, thought she was better than the rest of them.

Betty, if you give that one an inch she'll take a mile.

Complaining to the head nurse about her wet diaper! The like! Let her stew in it for another four hours!

Did you hear Lou-Ellen gave her an extra hard jab with the needles last night?

Leave her private room door open in spite of the stupid notice she's got pasted on it. Privacy she wants, ha. We’ll show Lady Muck who’s in charge!

I should sue their effin' asses, Terry said to me, elder abuse! And I go in to her just about every afternoon and she reads me all the latest pages from the back of her book in these funny voices.

And we'd laugh and laugh and laugh.

I don’t want my parents to know, she said one day out of the blue. The pressure is on to tell them but I can’t. They won’t be able to take it. Dad just turned 92 and Mom is 90 and it’s a long journey from Florida.

It’s your decision, Terry, I say softly.

You know something? She looks at me, her eyes steady. You’re the only one who supports me in this.

Another day she talked about the daughter she gave up for adoption when she was 18. Her parents never knew as she moved off island for several years.

I found her, she told me, You know me and hacking the internet, But she doesn’t want to see me.

She showed me photos on her iPhone. She was Terry’s double.

I told Terry I would take care of her, she would move in with me, I'd make sure she ate and walked and took as long as she wanted to recover.

But I knew.

She knew.

It came in the middle of the night; she was alone. I had seen her that afternoon and we had joked about designing a bejewelled colostomy bag for her. She would wear it with pride. Show it off. I would knit bag covers in psychedelic colours. We would start a cottage industry in fancy colostomy bags.

We laughed, but her laughs were weaker.

In her will, she left half her estate to the daughter who refused to see her. Her friends shared the rest.

But the real gift she left me was the smile I get every time I think of her.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: This feature, TGB Readers' Stories, appears every Tuesday. Anyone age 50 and older is welcome to submit a story. You can do that by clicking the “Contact” link at the top of every TGB page or at the Guidelines/Submissions page.

Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting a story. It will save me a lot of time.
]




Advice for Future Corpses

”We walk around with a blinkered, partial denial of death. Yes, we will die, but not now, not here. This dissonance is strong and strange – to absolutely know this will happen, and against all evidence to the contrary, to absolutely not know.”

The woman who wrote those words, Sallie Tisdale, is well-known as an award-winning author of nine books. She is also an essayist, a nurse, a teacher and a Buddhist practitioner with a decade of working in palliative care.

AdviceForFutureCorpsesCover_Her most recent book, Advice for Future Corpses and Those Who Love Them is subtitled, “A Practical Perspection on Death and Dying.” I prefer to call it a user manual for dying, and it's about damned time we had one.

You would think that a subject so big, so taboo in certain circles, so frightening and fraught would need a doorstop-sized book. But not in Tisdale's hands.

These 240 pages cover a remarkable amount of territory from a discussion of what a good death may or may not be, what to expect in the last months, weeks, days and hours of life, advice on caregiving during end of life and a lot of smart, information for every step along the way.

When asked, most of us say we want to die quietly at home in our sleep. Few of us do and Tisdale gives us another perspective to consider:

The fantasy of a quiet leave-taking in complete control is, for the most part, just that: A fantasy. Our ideals about the so-called good death are constricting. Death is not something at which we succeed or fail, something to achieve. Life and death are not possessions...

“We die in breathtaking solitude. The value of a death doesn't depend on what anyone else thinks about it. My death belongs only to me; its value is known only by me.”

Tisdale, who has accompanied many people during their dying, advises us on how to think about our own deaths:

”I want to meet death with curiosity and willingness. What do you want to do? Do you want to meet death with devotion, love, a sense of adventure, or do you want to rage against the failing light? Cultivate those qualities now. Master them...

“When I find myself in a new situation, when I'm scared, I try to feel curiosity even in the middle of fear...If I experience curiosity in the midst of fear often enough, it will be there when I need it most.”

And then, she pulls no punches about what to be prepared for at the end:

”As peaceful as the dying body can seem, would we be surprised to discover this is a time of great chaos? We are undone. Consciousness is no longer grounded in the body; perception and sensation are unraveling.

“The entire braid of the self is coming unwound in a rush. One's point of view must change dramatically. Being comfortable with surprise allows us to meet the unexpected, both in events and with ourselves.

“This curiosity will serve us well when there is nothing else to be done.”

There is a terrific chapter for visitors and caregivers on communication – what not to say to a dying loved one, but also what to say and how to say it. If he or she is hungry, for example:

”Do they want to eat something? If so, be clear. Vanilla or chocolate ice cream? is easier to answer than Is there anything you want to eat?

As to that dying at home stuff that rarely happens, Tisdale explains that good hospitals these days can sometimes be better than home and she knows this because, she says, “I've been the nurse in rooms like this – and I always knock before I enter.”

”While you're getting ready to kick the bucket and head for room temperature, we'll tell jokes if you like. When you're about to check into the Motel Deep 6, the coffeepot will be fresh and the muffins full of butter.

“All of this is possible, but a lot of it happens because you insist. Because you and I and all the rest of us insist that there be enough chairs for everyone, that the curtains will close tightly when you want to sleep, and the room will smell fresh and sweet.

“And you will be comfortable, because in the good hospital your pain medication comes on time and the nurse who brings it knows how to read dying, knows what's to be expected and what can be fixed and what can't.

“In the good hospital, strong hands will clean you up when you can't make to the toilet any longer and no one will make a face or say things that are better not said as you shuffle off the mortal coil.

“What a wonderful turn of phrase that is. When you're ready for your dirt nap and you've bought your one-way ticket, the nurses will take their time. They won't rush.

“They will come in quietly and wash you carefully and brush your hair and clean up and slip away again.”

Tisdale also takes readers through the necessary particulars of death and dying from the biology of it, end-of-life document samples, assisted death which is legal in six states, several European countries, Canada and Australia.

She also covers organ and tissue donation and the growing number of new kinds of burial. She does all this with honesty, humor, compassion and understanding.

It's a tough subject but she even touches on something I came to know – if only for the flash of a moment or two - during my treatment last year for pancreatic cancer:

”At some point, most of us shift from realizing that sooner or later some future self will die to realizing that this very self, me, precious and irreplaceable me, will die.

“It's a terrible thing to grasp and though this insight may last a mere second, it changes your life...”

Yet this passage gives me hope that with diligent working toward growth, I can attain acceptance of a conscious death when the time comes:

”To accept death is to accept that this body belongs to the world. This body is subject to all the forces in the world. This body can be broken. This body will run down. 'Golden lads and girls all must, / As chimney sweepers, come to dust.' (except, maybe me.)”

This is an important book and there is nothing else quite like it to compare but has not gotten nearly enough coverage.

The New York Times review is here. There is an interview with Sallie Tisdale including a fairly lengthy excerpt from the book at Tricycle magazine.




ELDER MUSIC: Joseph Haydn

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.

* * *

Haydn

One of the very first columns I wrote was on JOSEPH HAYDN. I was still a learner at that stage and it wasn’t very good so I thought it was time to revisit one of the most important composers in history.

Jo pretty much invented chamber music, particularly the piano trio and string quartet. He’s also called the father of the symphony, not because he invented it – it was around before him. it was a little bitty thing, not much thought of – but because he was the one who expanded it setting in train the raging monster that it is today.

Jo spent much of his career as a hired musician for the Esterházy family and in particular Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, who liked a bit of a tune. After Ester eventually died, Jo went out as a freelancer and made piles of money. During his lifetime he was the most famous composer in Europe.

Throughout, you’ll see mention of Hob numbers, they are references to a catalogue of Jo’s works by Anthony Van Hoboken.

As I mention towards the end of the column, Papa Jo (as Mozart, a good friend of his, liked to call him) wrote a hell of a lot of symphonies. When Beethoven wrote his Sixth, he was two-thirds of the way through his, but Jo was just getting started.

He thought it’d be fun to write some reflecting the time of day and three ensued: “Le matin” (morning), “Le midi” (midday) and “Le soir” (night). This is the first movement of Symphony No 6 in D major (“Le matin”), an appropriate way to start the day.

♫ Symphony No 6 D major Le Matin (1)


Haydn

Jo invented the string quartet so he’d have something to play in his spare time with a few friends. He wrote more than 80 of them and they were the model for every composer since who tackled them (which is just about all of them).

The one I’ve chosen is the Quartet No. 62 in C major, Op. 76, No. 3, often called “The Emperor”. That’s because the second movement, which I’m playing, is a set of variations on "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" ("God Save Emperor Francis"), an anthem he wrote for Emperor Francis II. The tune remains famous to this day.

♫ String Quartet in C Major Op.76 No.3 (2)


As far as I can tell, Parthia means a parting shot, but musically it also means air with variations. I guess air is appropriate as these are scored for a few woodwind instruments, plus occasionally a French horn (which sounds a bit woodwindy). It’s best just to listen.

The example is the first movement of Parthia in B flat major.

♫ Parthia in B flat major (1)


Haydn

Jo’s violin concertos are as good as any around except for the single one that Beethoven wrote. Theoretically, Jo wrote nine of these but five are considered to be possibly by someone else (including two by his brother Michael).

The one I’ve chosen is a genuine Jo, the Violin Concerto in A major, Hob.VIIa3, the third movement.

♫ Violin Concerto in A major Hob.VIIa3 (3)


Jo is mostly thought of these days as a writer of instrumental music, but he wrote a lot for the voice as well. Besides operas (which aren’t much performed these days), there were masses, cantatas and other religious music as well as a couple of oratorios.

The most famous of these is The Creation, Hob. XI 2. From that we have SARA MACLIVER performing “On Mighty Pens Uplifted Soars the Eagle Aloft”.

Sara Macliver

♫ The Creation Hob.XI 2 Part 2-Scene 1 - On Mighty Pens Uplifted Soars The Eagle Aloft


Cello players are always in debt to Papa Jo, as he wrote the two best cello concertos ever. There’s some evidence that he wrote more than these but alas, they have been lost. This is a real shame when you consider the two that have survived.

Here is a sampler, the first movement of the Cello Concerto in C major Hob VIIb-1.

♫ Cello Concerto in C major (1)


Haydn

Another vocal work is the Motet in A major “Parvulus filius”. There are two versions of this: one scored for a choir and the other for soloists. I prefer the one for soloists.

♫ Motet in A major 'Parvulus filius'


Although not as well known as Beethoven and Mozart for his piano compositions, naturally, he wrote for the instrument. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of them. I thought that the piano on its own would best illustrate his gift for writing for the instrument, and who better to show that than GLENN GOULD.

Anything that Glenn touches is worth a listen in my opinion.

Glenn Gould

He performs the second movement of the Piano Sonata No 42 in D, Hob XVI. Glenn makes it sound as if there are two pianists at work.

♫ Piano Sonata No 42 in D Hob XVI (2)


Ester was a demanding patron, he initially really liked the viola da gamba (a bit like a cello with more strings) and wanted compositions for that instrument.

Then he changed pretty much overnight to a love of the baryton.

Naturally, he demanded works for it but there were none around. Poor old Jo had to sit down and churn out music for it, and boy, did he ever: 126 trios, 25 duos, 3 concertos and 12 miscellaneous compositions all for this one obscure instrument.

I imagine that he has more compositions for the baryton than anyone else – probably everyone else. This is a baryton.

Baryton

This is what it sounds like, the second movement of the Baryton Trio No. 87 in A minor.

♫ Baryton Trio No. 87 in A minor (2)


Haydn

One of Jo’s sacred works is Cantilena pro adventu in G major, Hob XXIIId-2. This is an aria for Soprano, Alto, Organ and Strings. That’s about as much as I could find out, but it’s really gorgeous.

♫ Cantilena pro adventu in G major


Haydn

Jo wrote 104 symphonies officially and there are about half a dozen other works that probably should be called symphonies. Many of these have names, but Jo usually didn’t bestow them on the works, they were often called that later or without his knowledge at the time.

One he would have known about is number 96, “The Miracle”. It seems that at its premier, at the end of the piece the audience rushed towards the stage to show their appreciation. Just then a chandelier crashed to the floor where they had just been. Nobody was hurt, so it was deemed a miracle and the name stuck.

Another named symphony is number 45, “The Farewell”, and it will be an appropriate way to end the column. Ester liked a bit of a holiday and one time he packed his household, including all the musicians, and lit out to his country place.

However, wives and kids and whatnot weren’t invited. The stay was longer than expected and the musos got restless and asked Jo to say something. He decided instead on a different approach.

He wrote this symphony and when it was performed, during the final movement each musician stopped playing in turn, snuffed out the candle on his music stand, and left.

At the end there were just two violins left (played by Jo himself and the concertmaster). Ester got the message and they all returned the following day. Here is that final movement.

♫ Symphony No. 45 (4)




INTERESTING STUFF – 18 August 2018

THE FOREST MAN OF INDIA

Majuli, the largest river island in the world, may disappear in 20 years or so due to soil erosion. Nevertheless, since 1979, when Jadav Payeng, then 16, has made it his life’s mission to save Majuli by planting trees.

The forest is now larger than New York City's Central Park and home to Bengal tigers, rhinoceros and even a herd of more than 100 elephants that visits each year. The film won a passel of awards in 2014.

More information, photographs and maps at Bored Panda.

BIG PHARMA LOBBYING CONGRESS TO REVERSE PART D LEGISLATION

Remember on Wednesday when I mentioned that the Medicare Part D donut hole will close a year earlier than planned, in 2019? Now, wealthy pharmaceutical companies have been spending millions to lobby Congress to roll back that legislation.

As AARP explains:

”So far, no legislation has been introduced that would overturn the donut hole changes, but when lawmakers return to Washington next month, they will have to appropriate money to keep the government running, and big drug companies hope to get a reversal attached to that legislation.”

Here's a short video about what you and I can do.

Yes, I know many of you boycott AARP and the organization is partly responsible for the donut hole to begin with by supporting the Part D legislation with that provision - that only benefits pharmacutical companies - when it was working its way through Congress. But this time, they are on the right side of the issue.

NYPL LENDING ACCOUTREMENTS FOR JOB INTERVIEWS

Lending libraries are branching out. TGB reader doctafil who blogs at Jive Chalkin, sent this item about job seekers who don't own the right clothes for an interview:

”...in New York City, the public library is opening its closet to anyone who needs to borrow fancier accessories—like ties.

“The New York Public Library’s Grow Up work accessories collection, located at the Riverside Library on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, allows library card holders to borrow ties, briefcases, and handbags for three-week periods....

“There are already similar "tie-braries" in Queens, New York and in Philadelphia, but it appears that those don't also offer accessories like purses and briefcases.”

You can read more at Mental Floss.

JOHN OLIVER EXPLAINS ASTROTURFING

It seems that everywhere we turn these days, political, corporate and other advocates are using fake experts, fake crowds and more not-quite-honorable means to convince us of lies they want us to believe.

On the most recent episode of HBO's Last Week Tonight last Sunday, host John Oliver explained how astroturfing works. I found some of this truly shocking.

THINGS THAT ARE A LOT BIGGER THAN YOU THOUGHT

People who work at Bored Panda must have a wonderful time chasing down odd and interesting items for us. This one is a list of 20 things that are much bigger that you thought:

How Many Earths Could Fit in the Sun:

How many earths fit inside sun

Traffic light:

Trafficlight

Full-grown wombat:

Wombat

Geez - all this time I thought wombats were about the size of koalas. There are a lot more surprising big things at Bored Panda.

STARVING DOG RESCUED FROM DESERTED ISLAND

A man on a cruise spotted a dog stranded on a deserted island and knew he had to save her. Here is their story which has totted up more than two million views in under two weeks:

BROWN BEAR LIVE CAM

There are live cams all over the world that we can watch on the internet. One of the best sources with many choices is explore.org.

The Brooks Falls cameras in Alaska's Katmai National Park show us one of the best places on Earth to see bears fishing with their young:

”You'll see the most bear action on this cam in July and August, but keep an eye out for bald eagles and gulls flying overhead...and, if you're lucky, maybe even a wolf or moose!”

There are other bear cams and cams for a load of other animals at explore.org.

THE WEIRD NAMES FOR GROUPS OF ANIMALS

Most of us have heard that a bunch of crows are called a “murder of crows” and a “pride of lions” is common. But did you know any of these:

A prickle of porcupines
A scold of jaybirds
An army of frogs
A shiver of sharks
An audience of squid?

There is a big long list of 99 odd names for groups of animals at Mother Nature Network and you can find out the origin of the funny names at Quora.

SOME GIRLS ARE HARD TO IMPRESS

This has been around the internet for a long time but I haven't seen it in several years. It's a male cockatoo, apparently an Elvis Presley fan, doing a magnificent dance for the lady cockatoo beside him to the tune of Don't Be Cruel.

Darlene Costner sent along the video for us and this time I found myself thinking the lady cockatoo should be named Melania.

Watch closely at about :46 seconds in when she holds off the male with a foot, looking a whole lot like the first lady flicking off the president's hand when he tried to hold hers.

* * *

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.




Millie Garfield is 93 Years Old

HBMSingleFlower

Actually, Millie's birthday is tomorrow, Saturday, but we are celebrating her 93 years here at Time Goes By today – and what a celebration it is this year.

In early July, Millie was due at Massachusetts General Hospital for surgery but the night before check-in, her wonderful son Steve and his equally terrific wife Carol took her to dinner at Scampo, a fine restaurant in the Liberty Hotel in Boston.

MillieSteveatDinner

After dinner, Steve caught Millie on camera in her hotel room looking much more like a woman having what might have been a mini-vacation with her family instead of facing surgery.

MillieLibertyHotel

As Steve explained to me, Millie had a minimally-invasive procedure called a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR in medical parlance) which is done through tiny openings that leave all chest bones in place.

Millie got through that admirably and I was glad to hear her patented Millie Garfield laugh when we spoke on the telephone only two days later.

Recovery went well and on 13 July, Steve and Carol took Millie to rehab. Throughout the entire “adventure”, hospital and rehab, Steve took a lot a institutional food photos that look pretty good to me. Here's one of them:

Food

And here is a shot of Carol with Millie in rehab:

MillieCarol

Millie didn't linger in rehab and she was home in what seemed to me to be just a few days and she has been doing fine since then.

Steve has posted many more photos at Millie's Facebook page and you might want to check out her blog today too.

As I have mentioned in the past, Millie is my oldest internet friend and we have been phoning and emailing for at least 12, maybe 14 years, even visiting in person once or twice when I still lived on the east coast.

We've shared a lot of laughs together all these years, often about the things that go wrong as we get older. She likes to remind me that compared to her, I'm not really there yet; she's got 16 years on me and says I ain't seen nothin' yet. Oy, I can't wait.

Whatever is to be in the coming years, Millie's taught me the best way to cope, always, is with laughter.

Meanwhile, what's a birthday party without games and for the past couple of years, we have been celebrating Millie's by adding up all our ages in the comments. Here's how I explained it last year, updated for 2018:

"Take the number of Millie's years, 93. Add my years, 77, and we've got 170. Now, the next one of you, in the comments, should add your age to that, then the next of you add to that total and then the next and so on.

"Of course, because more than one person will comment at a time, the total will get all screwed up – but that's part of the fun at birthday parties, just being silly.

Happy Big Deal 93 years, Millie. I so treasure our friendship and I am privileged to know you.

CakeSparklers




Living in the Medicare Part D Donut Hole

Now and again I am reminded of how many TGB readers live in countries other than the United States so let me first supply a short definition of the evil donut hole.

Part D is a supplement to standard Medicare health coverage which itself does not provide prescription drug coverage. Part D is a voluntary purchase for which consumers pay an extra premium but the cost doesn't stop there.

Without going into arcane details, in general, when the consumer's total out-of-pocket payments for drugs reach $3,750 in a calendar year, the “donut hole” kicks in during which the consumer pays a higher percentage for the drugs until his/her out-of-pocket cost hits $5,000.

After that milestone, the insurer pays all but five percent of the drug costs until the accounting starts over again from scratch in January of the following year.

Until I was diagnosed with cancer last year, the only prescription drugs I had taken were antibiotics now and then, the price of which was paid for by my health insurance so I had no idea how expensive many drugs can be.

I sure do now, having entered the donut hole about two months ago and from which I will emerge, if my calculations hold up, fairly soon.

Quick story: At the beginning of my chemotherapy treatment last fall, I was handed my first month's supply of the oral drug along with a piece of paper with a figure of $5,000.

At first I felt the blood drain from my head and then I laughed. “You're kidding?” I said to the pharmacist. “I'll have to skip this treatment and hope for the best.”

As often happened during my year-long cancer ordeal, I got lucky. “Oh, I'm sorry,” the pharmacist said. “I didn't mean to scare you. That's the actual price the computer spit out but you don't pay anything.” (Long story, not worth the effort here today.)

The chemotherapy finished in January but the price of the four prescription drugs I take now are, if nothing like that oral chemo treatment, scary enough while I've been in the donut hole - they've busted my small budget all to hell.

That's the thing about money, it's relative. If you've got enough, all good. If not, you could die.

Here's the story I really came here to tell you today.

Three or four weeks ago, I was next in line at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and although I was behind the separator that gives customers privacy while talking with the pharmacist, I could clearly hear most of the conversation at the window.

The customer, older than I by a decade I guessed, did not have enough money to pay for her prescriptions. I overheard the phrase, “donut hole.”

There are some programs that can help certain low-income patients with payment but apparently none were available in this case and the two women – one a young-ish professional, the other knocking on frailty's door – were at an impasse, neither knowing what to do or say next.

Something came over me and without thinking it through, I marched up to the window, gave the pharmacist my credit card and said, “Use this.”

There were some “oh no, I couldn'ts” and “please don't mention its” between the older woman and me but we sorted it out and I was relieved to see – having realized by then what I might have gotten myself into - that at a couple of hundred dollars and change, it was nowhere near that oral chemo price.

This story is not to tell you how wonderful I am. There are plenty of people in the world who will tell you otherwise and they are not wrong. Not to mention the voice in my head that day yelling, “What are you doing, screwing up your budget that's already a mess from the price of your own drugs?”

But nowhere near as much a mess as that old woman's. Here's the real problem:

No one should go without health care of any kind – treatment or drugs – because they don't have enough money. No one.

Some small help for prescriptions drugs is due soon thanks to former President Obama's Affordable Care Act which included a provision, when it was enacted in 2010, to gradually close the donut hole by year 2020, now changed to 2019, although some healthcare experts suggest the insurance companies will increase premiums and/or deductibles when it happens.

That prediction is of a mindset with the many politicians who want to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security too. President Trump campaigned on a promise not to do that but if we didn't know before, we surely do now that you can't count on anything Trump says.

It would be a good thing for all Americans, as we make decisions about which candidates to vote for in the midterm election in November, to think about increasing moves toward universal healthcare or Medicare-for-all that are stirring in some enlightened political circles.

Would it be difficult to do? Yes. Would it take a long time to happen? Yes. Would it be expensive? Yes. Would our taxes go up? Yes. But the time has come, it is the right thing to do and we have a lot of examples to study and learn from: just about every western democracy already has such a system.

Excuse me now while I go worry about what will happen with that old woman next time she needs to fill her prescriptions and is still in the donut hole.




A TGB READER STORY: Ah, Look at All the Lonely People

By Ann Burack-Weiss

“Ah, Look at all the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?”


     - The Beatles, from “Eleanor Rigby”

I am seated on a bench overlooking the Hudson River on a clear autumn day. The air smells of salt. The clouds are a floating mass of foam.

I am savoring the scene when I am approached by a middle-aged man with a weird contraption strapped to his forehead; a large, white, rectangular cardboard box with a camera lens at the center. He asks if I would like to take a look.

The scene is the same but technically enhanced. The river and sky shimmer and keep changing color. The sounds are subsumed under a wave of strings playing New Age music. I hastily pass it back and say, “It looks like an LSD trip.”

He laughs more than my response warrants, adds that there are “no side effects” and goes on to show me the smartphone app from which it emanates.

Before walking away, he says that he used to be alone in the park. “Now people want to talk to me.”

* * *

My walk takes me past a vacant lot filled with trash, bounded on one side by a graffiti-covered building wall and three sides by chain link fencing. There is a small, wooden, weather-beaten sign tacked on the 2nd Avenue side – “there is no one like you.” And stuck at intervals into the rusted fence are decaying bunches of dried flowers.

* * *

I see many older women pushing small dogs in baby carriages (or perhaps there are carriages made for dogs?) The dogs and/or the carriages are often beribboned. On buses or park benches, the dogs are removed and cuddled, often spoken to. They are replaced gently with a smile.

* * *

I am reading my Kindle in a doctor’s waiting room and the old man seated next to me asks how it works. Before I can answer he volunteers that he has no time for it now. He is 84, a lawyer till working full time, a specialist in trusts and estates who has published four books. All in less than a minute!

* * *

Home alone, I replay the sights and sounds of my days. I wonder how many people the man with the box found to talk to.

What would inspire someone to plead his anonymous love in such a dismal space? Do the dogs sleep in their owners' beds? Sit at their tables? (Is it even correct to speak of “owners”?)

And could it be that what sounded like shameless bravado in the doctor’s office was a geriatric pickup line?

Scenes of such naked need used to scare me. It felt as if all the loneliness, all the fears of invisibility I held within burst out and found shape and voice in unknown others. As if all the stored up love in the world, all the longing for connection could not be contained.

Which is, I finally realized, as it should be. I am not a mere observer of these scenes, I am a participant. I am the strangers’ “other” as surely they are mine. I am there to accord attention to their lives and in so doing, extending the boundaries of my own.

* * *

"Eleanor Rigby picking up rice
in a church where a wedding has been
Father McKenzie writing a sermon
that no one will hear.
"

It was 1966. The Beatles wrote those lyrics when they were in their twenties, surrounded by adoring crowds. I was just a few years older, cocooned in a mesh of family and friends.

I played the album with that song on it many times. The opening words sounded to me – and continued to sound until I just saw them in print, “I look at all the lonely people.”

But no, it opens with a sigh, “Ah, all the lonely people.”

I love that Ah. And bless them – the two who have died, the two who remain and grow old along with me. So wise they were to recognize – in the midst of bountiful lives – the essential self within, the invisible links that bind us together, and the special reward of bearing witness.

* * * * * * * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: This feature, TGB Readers' Stories, appears every Tuesday. Anyone age 50 and older is welcome to submit a story. You can do that by clicking the “Contact” link at the top of every TGB page or at the Guidelines/Submissions page.

Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting a story. It will save me a lot of time.
]




A Rite of Elderpassage Again

This is not the northwest Oregon I grew up in. During the 10 days leading up to the weekend, temperatures have consistently been in the 90s Fahrenheit, even getting within a whisker's distance of 100 degrees once or twice.

It cooled way off on Saturday – god, it was lovely, and Sunday too. Then, the weather folks warned us, starting on Monday (today) temperatures will climb into the 90s again, the high 90s, maybe 100 for a couple of days while dipping into the high 80s for a day or so here and there.

It will go on this way, they say, until the last week of August. So unless the weather experts are bad at their jobs, which they rarely are, I am going to be miserable when I need to go outside until about next month.

I am telling you this so you understand why there is a sort-of TGB rerun today:

When I realized my neck of the woods is heading into a horrible heat wave of at least two weeks and knowing my personal temperature tolerance is between about 70F and 73F, I spent almost all of yesterday outdoors enjoying the glorious weather.

And not writing a Monday blog post.

Don't get me wrong. Even after 15 years, I still enjoy turning out TGB, but it was also fun yesterday to feel like I was playing hooky (for a very good reason) and getting away with it.

Later, while flailing around Sunday evening to find something to fill this space today that wouldn't tax my brain power much, I ran across a comment about an old post – a REALLY old post. From 2006.

Ten years later on yet a different old post in 2016, a reader named annie left in part this comment about it:

”I bookmarked that post, A Rite of Elderpassage, at TGB on 18 October 2006, and share it often. My experience was much like yours, it felt great, and I celebrated with a glass of wine too. I think it was the beginning of me loving my age and who I am each day.”

Isn't that a wonderful thing to read about TGB?

That link in the quotation goes to the original story annie is referencing. This link opens her full comment on the 2016 story page that is about what people have learned at this blog over the years.

Re-reading the two posts, all these 10 years later in one case, I realized I like them. A lot. I don't always feel that way about what I write. So I am giving you the links to go read, if you so desire, and maybe come back here to tell us – oh, I don't know - whatever you feel like about them. Or not.

And here's a reminder: Tomorrow will be the first posting in the new, weekly feature, TGB Readers' Stories, and I'll see you back here on Wednesday.




ELDER MUSIC: Last Dance

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.

* * *

Take your partners, here is the last dance. We all know that this is the one where you try to grab the gal that you want to walk home and maybe have a bit of a cuddle on the way. Well, that’s the way it was back at my school socials.

It wasn’t just from where I came from either, judging from our first song. When Ben E King was the lead singer for THE DRIFTERS, there was not a band on the planet that came close to matching them.

The Drifters

His stay with the group was brief, under a year, but while he was there they produced some of the finest records in history. One of those, and you all know this one as it relates to our category, was Save the Last Dance for Me.

♫ The Drifters - Save The Last Dance For Me


Georgia Gibbs made a career of covering songs originally recorded by ETTA JAMES.

Etta James

Naturally, I think that Etta did them better. One of those was Dance With Me Henry, a much grittier version than Georgia’s.

♫ Etta James - Dance With Me Henry


One of the many answers Bob Dylan gave over the years when asked how he saw himself was Song and Dance Man. He wasn’t alone; another who thought the same way was MIKE MCCLELLAN.

Mike McClellan

From the album from the seventies that established him as a force on the music scene, "Ask Any Dancer", very apt for the topic today, we have Song and Danceman.

♫ Mike McClellan - Song and Danceman


SONNY CLARK was a jazz pianist who was in demand for recording by just about everyone who played in the fifties and early sixties. He also made nearly a dozen of his own albums.

Sonny Clark

Unfortunately, he died far too young, at 31, of a heart attack, but drugs may have been involved. Today though, he is Dancing in the Dark.

♫ Sonny Clark - Dancing In The Dark


During the great folk music scare of the early sixties, before Bob, TOM PAXTON was the first to regularly write and perform his own songs.

Tom Paxton

These turned into instant classics that have stood the test of time and are still considered some of the finest songs around. The song today is from later in his career and it may last just as long, although maybe not. It’s called Dance in the Kitchen.

♫ Tom Paxton - Dance In The Kitchen


LARRY WILLIAMS was one of the first rock & rollers and he wrote and performed some of the classic songs from the period.

Larry Williams

However, you really wouldn’t have wanted to know him. He seriously dabbled in drugs (dealing and otherwise) and violence and he was shot dead in mysterious, and still unsolved, circumstances. One of his lesser known songs is High School Dance.

♫ Larry Williams - High School Dance


I’ve followed the career of ELIZA GILKYSON since I first heard her in Albuquerque back when she went by the name Lisa Gilkyson.

Eliza Gilkyson

Her albums have always been interesting and I was looking for a final song for these columns and when I heard this one it was an automatic choice. Even if I’d filled my quota, something else would have been bumped for it. She supplies the name of the column, Last Dance.

♫ Eliza Gilkyson - Last Dance


I’ve always preferred BENNY GOODMAN in his small group, but I guess this big band of his really got toes a’tapping.

Benny Goodman

The bands from that time were really all about getting people up dancing, and I imagine if you’re not up dancing, at least you’ll be jiggling around in your chair to this one. The tune is Let's Dance.

♫ Benny Goodman - Let's Dance


J.J. CALE was one of the most influential guitarists in the last 50 years. Everyone from Eric Clapton on down has acknowledged him.

J.J. Cale

He was also a songwriter of considerable facility and his laidback singing style was emulated by many. His song is Fancy Dancer.

♫ J.J. Cale - Fancy Dancer


I’ll end this series with the most appropriate song I could think of on the topic. It’s by HARRY CHAPIN.

Harry Chapin

Okay, we’ve danced the days and nights away and now we’re going down with the ship because we were too busy dancing to see the iceberg. Dance Band on the Titanic.

♫ Harry Chapin - Dance Band on the Titanic




INTERESTING STUFF – 11 August 2018

WHAT IS SNAPCHAT DYSMORPHIA?

The Washington Post headline explains it all:

”Patients are desperate to resemble their doctored selfies. Plastic surgeons alarmed by ‘Snapchat dysmorphia'”

In case you are as light on the meaning of “dysmorphia” as I was, here is Merrian-Webster's medical definition:

”...pathological preoccupation with an imagined or slight physical defect of one's body to the point of causing significant stress or behavioral impairment in several areas (as work and personal relationships).”

As The Independent reports:

”According to plastic surgeons and researchers, patients are no longer bringing in photos of celebrities, they are bringing in pictures of their selfies - edited to look like perfect versions of themselves.”

Here is WaPo's video about the phenomenon:

Further, from the Washington Post:

”According to the annual American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery survey, selfies continue to be a driving force behind why people wish to get plastic surgery done.

“In 2017, the survey found that 55 percent of surgeons reported seeing patients who requested surgery to look better in selfies — a 13 percent increase from the previous year’s results.”

It's mostly teens and young adults looking for this sort of change. Do you suppose they'll outgrow it?

ONE MAN – ENDING A FOOD DESERT

Food deserts – lack of affordable, healthy, fresh food within a reasonable distance of home – are increasing in number around the United States. In Conetoe, North Carolina, the Reverend Richard Joyner decided to change that in his community:

DAD SOLUTIONS TO KID PROBLEMS

There are a lot of websites that collect images from around the web on a given topic with, usually, funny results. Sometimes I can get lost in them for an hour, laughing my ass off.

Here are a couple of teaser images for you on this “dad solutions” topic. First: Biker Baby.

Biker baby

And this is Baby Butt Mousepad:

Babybuttmousepad

There are more dad solutions photos here.

NANNY THE CAT GOES ON VACATION

The YouTube page tells us:

”Everybody loves to travel and go on vacation. Cat Nanny is no exception. She traveled from the Rocky mountains in the North, all the way to the Pacific Ocean in the South.”

Take a look:

JOHN OLIVER ON PROSECUTORS

On last Sunday's episode of HDO's Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver took on prosecutors. It's a compelling report and a perfect one for a week when the Manafort trial has been going on.

ROLLING LEMON

This video has been sitting on my “potential” list for Interesting Stuff for several weeks. Even though nothing happens in the lemon's quarter-mile trip, it got a big enough response that the Washington Post wrote a whole story about it.

And I watched to very end. What about you?

THE DETECTIVE LIBRARIANS OF THE NYPL

Decades ago, long before the internet, I relied on the telephone librarians at the New York Public Library to answer questions for me.

Nowadays, even with the internet, they still do that and now there is a special group who track down the titles of books callers can't remember and for which, sometimes, they have only the vaguest description.

”To solve these little mysteries, Glazer recently assembled a team of sleuths from across the branches: Chatham Square, in Chinatown; the Jefferson Market, in Greenwich Village; the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, near the Flatiron Building; and the Mulberry Street branch, in Nolita.

“At lunchtime on a recent Wednesday, they were gathered in that computer lab in the library’s offices—across the street from the soaring, spectacular Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (the Main Branch)—to nibble on homemade lemon rosemary cookies and apple, carrot, zucchini bread while they clattered away on their keyboards.”

You can read more about them at Atlas Obscura.

Anyone can call phone the Library question line. (Back when I traveled a lot, I used it not only from various states, but countries from around the world.) They usually answer, often via email now, within 24 hours. The number is 917-ASK-NYPL (917-275-6975).

CHIPPING AWAY AT OBAMACARE WITH CHEAPO HEALTH COVERAGE

If you are not yet old enough (65) for Medicare, the Trump administration changes to Obamacare are going to make health coverage more difficult for you. Here's an explanation from PBS News Hour:

More details at Kaiser Health News.

RACOON DANCE

The more you watch the louder you laugh – that's what happened to me. This guy is having a terrific time and it's easy to enjoy with him. Thank Jim Stone for sending it.

At the YouTube page, it's titled, The Hillbilly Slide And One Mad Coon.

* * *

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.




It's Time to Abandon the Phrase, Anti-Ageing

REMINDER After such enthusiasm for the idea of a new storytelling feature here at TGB, I was surprised that hardly anyone responded after Wednesday's announcement that it is set up and ready for story submissions.

Maybe I buried the lead? Or, maybe there are a whole lot more readers here than writers. In case you missed the invitation on Wednesday, this is a reminder that story submissions are being accepted.

* * *

“Aging is not a disease any more than puberty or menopause are.”
       - S. Jay Olshansky, Professor of public health/gerontology, University of Illinois

It's hard to know that from the ubiquitous marketing and advertising messages for wrinkles and sags which, when not treating old age as a disease, strongly suggest it is a personal failing.

Ageist terms are common but the one that most drives me nuts, usually from purveyors of pseudo youth potions and procedures, is the ubiquitous “anti-ageing.” About a year ago, The New York Times addressed some of the cultural consequences of its wide use:

”...not displaying the signs of age on one’s face,” writes Amanda Hess, “is seen as a professional accomplishment, even a virtue.

“We elevate a select few celebrity ambassadors of 'good' aging — [Helen] Mirren, Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, Andie MacDowell — and turn them into not just avatars of covetable good looks, but fierce, audacious heroines who are celebrated for pulling off the near-impossible.”

As insulting as the the phrase “anti-ageing” is, it's a big seller for cosmetics industry who tack it onto every product they can. A search of Google for “anti-ageing” (British and my spelling) returns 45,800,000 items; a search for “anti-aging” gets 191,000,000 results.

Anti-ageing is big business. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, $16 billion was spent on cosmetic surgery in 2016 and, if business projections are accurate, sales of anti-aging products are expected to surpass $11 billion this year. Just yesterday, the cosmetics website Sephora listed 262 products labeled “anti-aging.”

Having felt for a long time that I've been on a lonely mission in my objection to the term, I was heartened a year ago to learn that in August 2017, Allure magazine announced it was dropping the use of "anti-ageing" from the magazine:

”'Whether we know it or not, we’re subtly reinforcing the message that ageing is a condition we need to battle' explained Michelle Lee in her editor’s letter. 'Changing the way we think about ageing starts with changing the way we talk about ageing'”...

“I hope we can all get to a point where we recognize that beauty is not something just for the young. Look at our cover star Helen Mirren, who’s embodied sexiness for nearly four decades in Hollywood without desperately trying to deny her age.”

Allure Mirren

At the time of the Allure's initiative, The Guardian reported:

”The rise in inclusivity and increased visibility of older models and celebrities within an industry that once shunned anyone over the age of 40 is a welcome change. Women including Helen Mirren (72) Allure magazine’s September [2017] issue cover star, Lauren Hutton (73) and Sylviane Degunst (59) all feature in campaigns, this year.”

Although more few more women of age are turning up in fashion features these days, I haven't noticed any reduction in the use of that demeaning phrase in cosmetic adverts. And not on the product labels themselves either. In a check at my local Rite-Aid this week, dozens of creams and other beauty products are plastered with the phrase “anti-aging”.

But the thing is, there is evidence from a large number of sources that the creams don't work. This one from the Mayo Clinic:

”Do they work? That often depends on the specific ingredients and how long you use them. Because these over-the-counter (nonprescription) wrinkle creams aren't classified as drugs, they're not required to undergo scientific research to prove their effectiveness.

“If you're looking for a face-lift in a bottle, you probably won't find it in over-the-counter wrinkle creams. The benefits of these products are usually only modest at best.”

The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPM) agrees with me about the odious phrase, anti-ageing. A month or two ago, the RSPH released a report on a new survey of ageist beliefs in the U.K. - how ageism harms people and what could and should be done about it. Among the report's conclusions:

"...the explicit presumption that ageing is something undesirable and to be battled at every turn is as nonsensical as it is dangerous. To be 'anti-ageing' makes no more sense that being 'anti-life.">

Here is the RSPH's video with a summary of the survey and the final recommendations:

The report, titled That Age Old Question and subtitled, How Attitudes to Ageing Affect Our Health and Wellbeing is well thought out, well written and filled with easy-to-understand detail.

The four major policy suggestions are excellent and doable: Let's repeat them in print where we can pay closer attention than in a video:

”Services such as nurseries, youth clubs and care homes to be brought under one roof

“Positive ageing to be addressed within schools

“Age to be recognized as a protected characteristic alongside others such as gender, race and religion

“An end to the use of the term “anti-ageing”in the cosmetics and beauty industry”

The researchers have a lot to say about the media's role in promulgating ageist attitudes, referencing key points from other research about the harm ageism in all its forms does, which TGB has reported on in the past:

“Previous research has shown that those with more negative attitudes to ageing live on average 7.5 years less than those with more positive attitudes to ageing...

“There is now a growing body of research evidencing the real-life consequences that negative attitudes to ageing have on individual health outcomes such as memory loss, physical function, and ability to recover from illness.”

If you're interested, the report is well worth your time. You will find That Age Old Question study online here [pdf]. The website of the Royal Society for Public Health is here.




TGB's New Storytelling Feature and The Alex and Ronni Show

Your response last Wednesday was overwhelmingly positive. More than 100 yes responses to reinstating a regular feature of stories told by Time Goes By readers.

Here is how it will work:

I've taken several commenters' suggestion to start light – one story a week. That will be on Tuesdays and in time, maybe expand to two days a week by adding Thursday which is currently dark.

My biggest concern, based on the huge response last week, is that there will be so many stories we'll never get them all published at the rate of one or even two a week.

For now, let's see how that goes and if the story pile gets too high, perhaps I will open and close the submission window as needed depending on the number in the queue.

NEW LINKS
There is a new link in the right sidebar under “Features” - Story Submissions/Guidelines. That will take you to the Rules of the Road page and where you will always find a link to an email form to submit a story.

You may also submit stories via the “Contact” link at the top of each blog page. Just PLEASE read the guidelines before submitting.

There is also a new link in the “Categories” cloud in the right sidebar: Readers' Stories. That will take you to a page listing all published stories in reverse date order with links to them.

Author names and story titles are findable from the search box at the bottom of the right sidebar.

That does it, I think – all to be amended as needed, and you may now begin submitting stories. The first one will be posted next Tuesday.

* * *

Here is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded yesterday. If you would like to see Alex's entire two-hour show with other guests following our chat, you can do that at Facebook or Gabnet on Facebook or on YouTube.