143 posts categorized "Blogging"

Mostly Anecdotal: Stories – Book and Contest


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lovely, huh?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Second Annual Time Goes By Donation Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All this works in the United States and internationally.

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

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

* * *

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


TGB Blog Community Housekeeping

Blog4

There is so much to distract us this December - well, me anyway. The holidays (even though I don't do much beyond Hannukah candles), too many rescheduled appointments due to weather recently and most of all the frightful events in Washington, D.C.

I mean Kanye West? Carly Fiorina? Rick Perry? Even Bill Gates has been seduced by *. God help us.

As behind in daily life as I am or feel (I don't know which), there is one issue that you, dear readers, can help with. In recent weeks, there has been a sizeable uptick in the number of TGB readers with dozens of new email subscribers, Facebook followers, LinkedIn connections, etc.

Certainly this is a good problem to have but it means that newcomers don't necessarily know some of the guidelines that old-timers are familiar with. So as I do once every year or so, here is a reminder of the rules of the road at Time Goes By.

Mostly, these involve the Comments section. I've worked hard over the 12-plus years of this blog to make it not just interesting but a safe place for old people and others interested in ageing to hang out.

With the help of people who take part in the conversation, the comment section is often a more compelling read than my posts and has become - without much help from me - a comfortable community where, metaphorically, we can sit around over a cup of tea and have good chat. Here are the customs and practices that help keep it that way:

• No ALL CAPS. On the internet and in email, writing in all caps is considered shouting. It is also difficult to read. So watch your capslock key except when you need to emphasize a word or short phrase.

• No long blocks of text. Leave a line space between short paragraphs. All that takes is hitting the "enter" key twice at the end of the last sentence in a paragraph. No one bothers to read long blocks of uninterrupted text. You put an effort into what you write so make it readable.

Remember – hit the "enter" key twice to make an empty space between paragraphs.

• No links. I spend a great deal of time removing links to retailers, advertisers, even web pornographers and general trolls who write comments they think sound real (they don't) and then link to their store or x-rated material.

I do not have time to check each and every link in the comments and, frankly, legitimate links are often broken anyway, leading nowhere or to 404 error pages.

So, no links. I no longer bother to check them, I just delete them along with the reference to them in the comment.

• No off-topic comments. When comments unrelated to the post's topic appear, it interrupts the conversation. One of the things that makes TGB comments so exceptional is that people respond to one another and it is not uncommon for some to return during the day and follow up again on other people's comments.

In doing this, you all help make the comments at this blog a richer, more compelling conversation than at many other blogs. I know that I learn from you who give me a lot of interesting ideas to think about.

• No personal attacks. If you disagree with what I have written or what a previous commenter has written, by all means let us know.

Explain why you disagree but keep your comment within the bounds of the ideas and thoughts and not a personal attack. You get no second chance at this. If it happens, you are permanently banned from commenting.

• No religious, ethnic, racist, gender, LGBTQ, etc. slurs. Ever. No second chances and no recourse.

• Your comment signature. A name and email address are required information on the comment form. You may use any name you want; it does not need to be your real name. But the email address must be real. It is used for confirmation purposes only and is never published.

The third information box on the comment form is labeled “Web Site URL.” You may insert the URL of your blog if you have one or your Facebook page or Pinterest, etc. Your name (whatever you use) will then become a link to that URL.

However, only personal blogs and pages are allowed. If you have a retail or commercial or product/service promotional website, you may not use that URL. There is already too much online advertising and TGB does not accept any form of advertising.

• How to comment. A lot of the email I get is from people who don't know how to comment. Invariably they read this blog via email and maybe Facebook. You cannot comment directly from those platforms. You must go to the blog post in your browser. To do that, just click the title of the story and it will open in your browser.

Scroll to the bottom of the story and click the word "Comments." The story will reopen with a form at the bottom of the comments that have already been posted. Write your comment, fill in the form as described above and click "Post." It will be published at the bottom of the comments.

• Contacting me. Above the banner at the top of every page here is a “Contact” link. It opens a form to send me a private email that is not published. Mostly, readers use it to send me suggestions for Saturday's Interesting Stuff post or other blog-related information.

For a long time I have tried to respond to every message and have mostly done that. But now, there are so many that I can no longer make that a goal and still have a life.

What will not change is that I read every email from you, dear readers, and when I use the information – in Interesting Stuff or a blog post – I do my best to give proper credit. Undoubtedly, I've screwed that up now and then but I don't think it's happened often.

So, there you are. These are the practices I follow at TGB. They - and you following the guidelines - have kept this blog vital and viable for more than a dozen years. I look forward not just to producing it – and I do enjoy that – but to finding out what you have to say about it every day.

I am so lucky to have discovered this project for my old age. Even better I had no idea when I began that it would give me the opportunity to meet and come to know so many interesting people. You make my day. Every day.

Blog1


2016 Top Ten Time Goes By Blog Posts

Not many people can resist lists and this time of year there are dozens, maybe hundreds: best books of 2016, best movies, best TV shows, top ten albums, top ten apps, best new gadgets, etc. Even top ten top ten lists.

A few are based on actual statistics of something but most are someone's subjective idea of what was best over the previous 12 months or so – which doesn't take away from the fun of reading the lists.

On the many “Best Books” lists, I confess that I always compare which new ones I've read to the reporter's choices and sneer at selections that I believe don't live up to my (obviously) discerning tastes.

This year I wondered why I've never done a Time Goes By Top Ten list – never in all these 12 or 13 years. I'm changing that today.

There are dozens of reasons that my “best of” list might be different from each individual reader's best of list so instead, I have made it a popularity list in two forms:

  1. The Top Ten TGB Posts by number of comments
  2. The Top Ten TGB Posts by page views

Comments are a poor indication; there are many reasons people do and do not comment but as you will see, some reasons for a lot of comments are understandable.

Page views are slightly more indicative of popularity although there is no way to know how many people landed on the page and left right away, uninterested in the title.

Also, I've not included Facebook comments, likes, etc. I hardly ever visit my Facebook page; it is primarily a secondary distribution channel for people who don't want an email newsletter or RSS feed or don't want to visit TGB in a browser. The several hundred Twitter followers aren't included either.

So, take a look at these lists, see what you think and at the end, let us all know what you enjoyed here during 2016 whether on the lists or not.

Most Popular TGB Posts by Number of Comments
(In reverse order)

10. Happy Birthday Millie Garfield
I've known Millie for at least 10 years and it was her 91st birthday in August. All of you were sensational attendees at the online party.

9. Old People Talk About the 2016 Presidential Campaign
All the other Republican candidates had withdrawn from the primary race by early May and Donald Trump had just been name the presumptive nominee of the GOP so we had a go at discussing our thoughts and feelings about that. (The Maddow video has been withdrawn since this was published and is now unavailable.)

8. How's Retirement Going For You?
This was an an excellent and instructive conversation about how we came to be retired, what we've been doing since then and how we are getting by. It was a good one.

7. Am I Exhausted from the Campaign Because I'm Old?
It was only February, the day of Iowa Caucuses and I was already tired of the presidential campaign mostly, I think, because * sucks all the oxygen out of the room even through the televion screen. A lot of you agreed.

6. Have You Been Dropping More Things As You Get Older?
Wow. I found out fast that I'm not alone with this phenomenon.

5. One Elder's Notes on the New World Order
This was six days after the election and a large number of us, after nearly a week to think about what a * presidency might be like, had a lot to say.

4. The World is Utterly Changed Now
My first sentence on the day after the election was: “I am stunned, shocked, devastated, horrified and frightened. Nothing good will come of this but beyond that I am speechless.” I didn't have much more to say and with less than a handful of exceptions, neither did you, dear readers, among a huge number of comments. We were in shock.

3. I Will Be in Mourning For Awhile
Three days following the election, we were still mostly paralyzed but had a great deal to say.

2. Lighten Your Life Before You Kick the Bucket - Book and Contest and

1. What We Gain as We Grow Older - Book and Contest
These two, in the number 1 and number 2 positions were book giveaways. I guess I know now how to get you all to speak up. But it's not all that fascinating – mostly what you needed to say was something like, “count me in.”

The second list, as I mentioned, is slightly more indicative of actual interest in given blog posts.

It relies on page views – how many readers actually opened the page in their browser but doesn't include people who read the email, Facebook post or RSS feed without visiting the website – even so, these produced thousands of page views which is heartening for this old blogger.

Most Popular TGB Posts by Page Views
Again, the list is in reverse order.

10. Once Again for the Last Time
A conversation in March about the things we did when we were younger than we don't do anymore.

9. The Theme of an Old Woman's Life
My personal lament last January for the placethat is my spiritual home but where I cannot afford to live anymore.

8. Music Festival Age Discrimination
This was a slap-in-the-face piece of ageism in June. A giant two-weekend concert of our generations' top rock groups – The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, The Who, Bob Dylan, etc. Clearly a concert for old folks and then this notation: ”No chairs or blankets will be allowed in the show."

7. Interesting Stuff – 26 March 2016 and

6. Interesting Stuff – 2 April 2016
Two Saturday Interesting Stuff posts made this list – the first in March, the second in April. The collection of items did not seem better or brighter to me than most Saturdays but they sure drew a lot of page views.

5. “About” Taking a Day Off
I was particularly busy during the first week of May and gave you brief post of a couple of video commercials I liked. I guess you did too. (The second has been pulled from rotation now and can't be viewed.)

4. I'll Be in Mourning for Awhile
In this case, there is a corellation between the number of comments and page views. This was published in November, three days following the election.

3. How Time Flies – Or Not Sometimes
In May, a discussion that comes up regularly about how time appears to slow down as we grow old and what can speed it up. The third most viewed story of the year.

2. The Day After the First Presidential Debate
The was the second most viewed post of 2016, in September. Do you think, perhaps, that we were beginning to feel like it was not impossible for * to be elected?

1. A Century-Old Quilt – Like New
Well, this is a surprise. It was a easy post to write about the quilt my grandmother had made by hand a hundred years ago or so. Nevertheless, thousands of readers made it the number one most viewed post of the year.

I don't know what that means and if anyone is looking for a TGB quilting website – um, the answer is no.

But, it might be interesting for you to leave a comment about what you enjoy reading here, what interests you less or what you would like to see that doesn't show up.


A Podcast in Which I am Interviewed – Part 1

That is, interviewed for my “wisdom and wit” according to the podcaster. She's very kind but if you believe that...

My vacation continues - made easy as items keep turning up for which others have done the heavy lifting leaving me to just point you toward them.

About a month ago, I received an email asking if I would agree to a Skype interview for a podcast that features only people age 65 and older. Of course, pretty much anyone would be flattered at being asked to talk about herself for an hour, and I agreed.

Now, Part 1 of our conversation is available to listen to but first, here is what Amber Singleton sent when I asked for a short biography so you would know something about her when I posted the interview:

”Amber is a 36-year-old writer and podcaster (who moonlights as a flight attendant). She's based in Chicago, and when she's not flying, she's exploring topics like fear and wisdom through her podcasts at the Rock Your Genius network.

“One of those podcasts is Del Mar Social Club, which started from a simple idea, that the older generation (the 65 and older crowd) has a lot of wisdom and wit to share, which makes for good conversation (and insight, if you're listening).

Amber and I spoke for more than an hour and I had a terrific time. She is smart, articulate, funny and I felt like I had made a new friend.

She has divided our conversation into two parts. You can listen to Part 1 here and she has gone the extra mile by also providing a transcript here.

Part 2 of Amber's interview with me will be available in about a week. I'll let you know.

Meanwhile, you will find previous interviews Amber has done with other elders at the Del Mar Social Club website. Her other podcast, Chicken Shit Conquers the Planet, is at her Rock Your Genius website.


Some TimeGoesBy Blog Housekeeping

Today's is not wildly inspiring post but it is about what we do here – you and me together – and some changes.

They come about as a result of your generosity during the first ever TimeGoesBy donation campaign last month for which I am deeply grateful.

The biggest change so far is the upgrade of the TGB email version thousands of subscribers receive. The advertising that previously muddied it up is gone now and as of Wednesday, the html version of the mailing actually looks like the web page:

RGBemailMailingTop

A big thank you to Heather at my email delivery service, Feedblitz, for undertaking that improvement for me. It hadn't occurred to me when I upgraded to the paid version that I could recreate the look and feel of the website so it's a nice surprise to me and I hope for you too.

ATTENTION EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS
There is another improvement for email subscribers but first, some background about it.

Almost every day for as long as this blog has been going, I receive about half a dozen (and often more) emails with comments about the day's blog post which are obviously meant to be shared with all readers.

Although I don't always have time, I try to answer most of them to explain:

  1. When you hit “reply,” only I receive your comment via return email

  2. To comment so that others can read what you have taken time to write:

  3. Click the story title. It will then open in your browser

  4. Scroll to the bottom of the story and click the word “Comments”

  5. The page will reload with a form at the bottom for your comment

  6. Fill in your name (any name you want) and email address (required and it must be real but will not posted)

  7. Write your comment and click “Post”

Believe it or not, your not-so-bright blogger here never, over a decade, saved that list so she could copy it into an email reply. I type it out every damned time and I cannot tell you how tedious and time-consuming that is.

More important, however, is that many of these email-only comments are good, informative, fascinating or funny and worth the light of day.

So now, at the bottom of the new and improved email newsletter is a link that says, “Comment at Time Goes By.”

EmailLinktoComment

All you need to do is click those words – Comment at Time Goes By - and the story will open in your browser already positioned at the bottom of the list of comments left by other readers, ready for your pithy contribution. Please use this.

COMMENT RULES
Because TimeGoesBy has such a high level of smart, thoughtful readers, there are few if any of the troll problems that have caused many commercial news websites to close their comment sections in recent years.

There are, however, two reminders worth making: All off-topic comments and all comments with outbound links are deleted.

For a long time I allowed links within comments to other websites if they were related to the day's topic. But in recent years there are so many fake comments that exist only to link to commercial and retail websites that I just delete any comment with a link. It's too time consuming to check them all.

However, you are allowed to link to a personal blog in your comment signature. There is a space in the form to fill in the URL of your blog which automatically turns your name into a link when the comment is published.

One last comment item: It goes without saying, I hope, to not use all caps in your comments and to leave an empty line space between paragraphs. It's hard enough to read on a screen, let's all make it as easy as possible for everyone.

TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
A few hundred readers subscribe to TGB via Twitter. The link takes them to this page you are now reading.

And some others subscribe via Facebook where there is a short excerpt from the day's blog post and a link to the blog page. A few people leave comments at Facebook (and on very rare occasions at Twitter) which are, of course, never seen by the majority of people who read TGB at the website.

Mostly, I use Twitter and Facebook as secondary distribution channels for people who spend their time on those services - which I generally don't.

I have gone to great lengths over many years to consolidate all my subscriptions, RSS feeds, Google Alerts, etc. in one place - my email/calendar program - so I don't often check those two social media sites.

I have so many subscriptions that they are about all the electronic input I can handle without losing my mind having to check Facebook and Twitter in addition to my email feed.

This may change soon, if only slightly. The wonderful Erin Read who is director of strategic planning at Creating Results and also a friend, spent more than an hour on Go To Meeting with me a couple of weeks ago.

She showed me how I can expand the usefulness of those two social networks for readers of Time Goes By without taking too much more time from my life than I can tolerate.

She also made it easy to understand for someone who has assiduously refused to learn anything about Facebook and Twitter beyond the automatic distribution.

So don't hold your breath but it shouldn't be too long before there are a few social media changes related to Time Goes By. And thank you again, Erin, for the generosity of your time and amazing expertise.

If you have been tolerant enough to read this far through today's housekeeping post, you deserve a reward – or at least a giggle. So for your patience, here is a bit of internet animal silliness: Cats stealing dogs' beds.


Thank You, Time Goes By Readers

When the donation drive began last week, I would have dismissed the idea – if it had occurred to me - that I would be writing about it today. I thought I would email a personal thank you note acknowledging each contribution and get on with publishing Time Goes By.

But you, dear readers, changed that. So many have donated that it would take me weeks to write everyone individually so I have resorted to this public appreciation.

Let me start with this: I know that people all over the internet hold various kinds of fund raisers for many different reasons so no one is unfamiliar with it. Nevertheless, I am dismayed, confounded and abashed (lovely, old-fashioned word that is perfect in this instance) at the generosity of Time Goes By readers.

Some contributors are people I consider friends, others I recognize from comments and email over the years but mostly, amazingly, the majority of donations are from people whose names I have never seen before. I didn't count but I estimate that last group at 75 or 80 percent.

So to those whose names are new to me, hello. I am pleased to “meet” you finally.

Also, it is a load of fun to see how far flung TGB readers are. Again, I didn't count, but I'm pretty sure you cover most if not all 50 U.S. states and quite a few other countries – Australia, Canada, Germany, India, France, Israel and England among them.

A lot of you left the nicest notes with your contributions. They are private so I should not quote them here but there is one from Arnold Sivakoff I hope he will not object to my sharing because it is spot on:

”The donation is worth the upgrade to ad-free email.”

No kidding! Me too. I subscribe to my own email feed to be sure it is delivered properly and on time each day. For many months (years?), it has been a mess of ugly advertising scattered all over the page making it painful to try to read.

No more. The online version of Time Goes By has always been ad-free and as of last Wednesday, thanks to your contributions, the email version is also without advertising. That makes me so happy.

Another note I'm going to take a chance with publishing is from Mary Gerritsen because – well, how could it not make me happy:

”You have helped me in my journey to old age innumerable times,” she wrote.

The feeling is mutual. If not for all of you, I would just be blowing smoke here, writing for myself. Your thoughts and suggestions and jokes and presence and support help educate me too in this late-life journey we all must make. I am grateful for each of you every day.

And now, because of your generosity, I can breathe so much easier when the TGB bills come due during the year. Thank you all.


First Annual Time Goes By Donation Week

I was still working full time when I began developing the idea for Time Goes By. Then, when I unexpectedly withdrew from the workforce in 2004, I simply transferred the energies I had devoted to my (mostly fascinating) jobs over nearly half a century to exploring out loud on this blog, what it's really like to get old.

What I did not know at the start was that TGB would become so much more satisfying than those jobs. Even after all these years, it remains a labor of love that while I wasn't looking, also turned me into an advocate for elders.

Surprising to a woman who had been a paripatetic generalist all her life, this ongoing interest in all things ageing is as enjoyable today as when TGB was new.

That includes not just the work I turn out but the thoughtful, knowledgable and often funny contributions from the community of readers who post their observations in the comments and send suggestions for future posts or Saturday's Interesting Stuff.

All that said, here comes the pitch.

From its debut, Time Goes By has been a free and ad-free zone on the internet. As it will always remain. But now I am asking that if you find value in what is turned out here, you might consider donating to the upkeep of Time Goes By.

It takes at least as many hours per week as a full-time job for me to produce Times Goes By and the costs keep increasing.

The immediate impetus for this new “feature” is that the daily email delivery of the blog has become so cluttered with messy and intrusive advertising that it is nearly impossible to read. That is the free version from the third-party service.

To deliver an ad-free email to the thousands of subscribers costs hundreds of dollars and that is, of course, in addition to the other costs required to maintain TGB.

So today I am instituting an annual donation drive that will take place for one week somewhere near Valentine's Day each year.

The campaign consists of this introductory blog post with a link to the Paypal donation page along with a MUCH shorter version of this invitation at the top of the blog page through next Sunday.

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

If you do choose to donate, no amount is too small. Whatever is reasonable and comfortable for you is good.

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

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

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

All this works in the Unites States and internationally.

Let me reiterate. Except for email subscribers who will begin receiving an ad-free version of Time Goes By as soon as donations reach the price of purchasing it, nothing will change.

Here is the Paypal link which you will also find near the top of the right sidebar.

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

And to not depart from the blog's purpose completely today, here is a lovely little clip from a recent Bruce Springsteen concert proving that no one is ever too old to rock out.

“A woman down in the pit area has a sign asking Bruce to dance with her 88 year old mother, and Bruce happily obliges her.”

Thank you for that clip, Tom Delmore, and thank you all for your interest in Time Goes By.


Two Irrational Beliefs About Old People

Every day alarms are raised about the the burdens old people place on society. The growing “silver tsunami” will make life awful for everyone else we are told.

From government to employment to media and more, the conventional wisdom is that "the elderly" are all in poor health, dependent on others and if that's not so yet for any given individual, it soon will be.

Sick old people will swamp the economy, they say. We can't afford Social Security so we must privatize it. There won't be enough caregivers to go around. The sick old people will suck up all the money with nothing left for anyone else. So they shouldn't retire.

There are many important things to know about those generalities. Today - a couple of them.

ELDER HEALTH
It is true that more old people have health problems than younger people but that does not translate into disability or helplessness nearly as much or as often as many, even most, believe.

One respected study of tens of thousands of participants age 51 and older published in 2013 found that “For a surprisingly large segment of the older population, chronological age is not a relevant marker for understanding, measuring, or experiencing healthy aging.” More specifically,

”The researchers found that among individuals ages 85 and older, 28 percent had excellent or very good self-reported health and 56 percent reported no health-based limitations in work or housework.”

Further, even among the oldest age group, “nearly one-third have not been diagnosed with any of these five major chronic diseases:”

“The proportion of the population with no clinical diagnosis of any of the five major chronic diseases ranges from 75% of the 51–54-year-old population to 32% of the 85+ group.”

Those statistics do not mean that two-thirds of the 85+ group are incapacitated. Most are living on their own managing their diseases. Many other do well with, for example, a cleaning person once a week or Meals on Wheels deliveries or visits from a home health aide or a neighbor, friend or relative who helps.

If you pay too much attention to what is written and said about old people, it's easy to believe that all of them are incapable of caring for themselves. But you would be wrong.

ELDER EMPLOYMENT
It is true that people are living much longer than our parents' and grandparents' generations, that we are healthier than the general population believes we are, and that many elders want or need to work longer than traditional retirement age of 65 or 66.

But not many are allowed to. It's called ageism and it's illegal. But employers have all kinds of excuses the law allows them to get away with to fire or not hire people 50 and older.

Alongside the belief that all old people are disabled, is the growing one that elders should be required to work longer than age 65. Yes, I know that's a contradiction, but there it is in the media every day if you pay attention.

I've been reading these opposing points of views for at least a decade and here's what I think about that: No one gets to demand that people work past Social Security retirement age unless they remove the barriers that exist to keep old workers unemployed. Job seekers who are 50 and older must be allowed to find work as easily as they did when they were 25, 35, and 45.

And not just as Walmart greeters. People who insist old people work must allow them to have the kinds of jobs they are good at, that they are experienced in, that inspire them and allow them to be productive. Just as they have all their lives. Just as young people are allowed to expect.

Of course, this applies also to the any elder who wants or needs to work past traditional retirement age (although we also cannot penalize elders who are not capable of working any longer either but that's for another day).

I understand that the United States – and the world – is experiencing a confusing period when traditional jobs are disappearing, the “gig economy” is obviously not working and no one has an answer.

But as people and governments muddle through, people cannot be treated differently in the workplace based solely on age.

And you cannot, in the same breath, insist old people are all disabled, a drag on the economy and then require them to work past retirement age. That is irrational and gets us nowhere.


Surprise!

Welcome to the Time Goes By redesign. What do you think? It's certainly brighter and shinier around here.

There are bound to be glitches to fix and design decisions I'll rework over the next days and weeks, but this general look-and-feel will remain.

Time Goes By hasn't changed since it shyly dipped its toes in the blog waters in 2004. Because I'm lazy and it's a lot of work to redesign a site, this day might never have arrived. But then the Google blackmail showed up.

The company that still has more than 80 percent of search engine traffic announced that (their definition of) non-mobile friendly websites would henceforth be penalized in search results; that is, as of 21 April 2015, non-mobile-friendly websites would be ranked lower in search results than those that have been redesigned to Google's standards.

The bottom line from Google - make your website look the way WE want it to look, or else. Which is why most websites look alike these days.

Well, I'm too old to fight back on this one so here we are.

Various items have been moved around or, in some cases, discarded. Let me give you a tour.

The main site navigation is at the top of every page above the banner. The Archive is now by category only; nearly 12 years of date archives are not very useful to anyone.

Contact now opens your email program rather than a form if you want to send me a message.

About leads to a page with links to various information about this website. It's messy-looking right now; I'll improve it in time.

As you can see, there is only one sidebar now, on the right. The same Subscribe buttons are at the top and, as before, the Search form is at the bottom. In between, there are changes to several features. What remain are links to:

  • Best Books on Ageing
  • Elderblog List
  • Geezer Flicks
  • A Mother's Last Best Lesson

We all know that the Elderblog List and Geezer Flicks are painfully out of date. I'll get to both of those one of these days soon. I hope. The Photo Biography is now linked from the About section.

May they rest in peace, four features have been permanently removed. Elder Video was not one of my better ideas so it has been ditched. The Where Elders Blog feature has been discontinued. And Reverse Mortgages is no longer available because the federal government has made several rule changes resulting in some information in the series being incorrect. Maybe I'll fix it in time.

Finally, for a variety of reasons, it has been impossible to keep up In Memoriam so instead of that section, we will hold memorial services here as they become necessary. Not often, I hope.

Of course, The Elder Storytelling Place must also be “upgraded” to Google's specifications. I'm going to take a breather and then go to work on that.


TGB Reader Appreciation Day

A few days ago, one of the smartest, most interesting political websites, Naked Capitalism, made this announcement:

”We regret to inform readers that we will be shutting down comment on most posts...” wrote Yves Smith.

“The purpose of Naked Capitalism above all is to foster critical thinking. For the overwhelming majority of this site’s history, we have been fortunate to have an articulate and engaged readership...

“That is no longer the case. The comments section has now become negative value added, to the point that Lambert and I are devoting disproportionate time to the moderation queue.”

I'll miss those comments, some of the smartest there are online. As Yves noted in her post, they are far from the only website to shut down comments. The Week in late 2014:

”Too often, the comments sections of news sites are hijacked by a small group of pseudonymous commenters who replace smart, thoughtful dialogue with vitriolic personal insults and rote exchanges of partisan acrimony,” wrote Ben Frumin when he announced the closing of comments at the website.

In November 2014, CNN reported on the closing of comments of many sites including these:

”Reuters, Popular Science and the Chicago Sun-Times have recently nixed comments.

“Fairly or not, comment forums have gained a reputation as a haven for Internet trolls. Several of the sites that have banned comments noted the lack of civility in their decisions.”

Some websites that shuttered their comment sections moved them to Twitter and Facebook explaining that trolls and vitriol notwithstanding, the modern internet requires that conversation now take place on social media.

But not all go along with that. Last Sunday, Mediaite announced their new(ish) comment guidelines:

”Feel like being taken seriously? Don’t make up words that end in '-tards' or come up with creative ways to type out your favorite racial or homophobic slur.

“The use of sexually explicit or harmful language (threats) including the use of misspelled or punctuated words to insinuate, represent any of the above (also known as 'masked swearing') will get you banned with or without warning.

“Not only do these sorts of things lower the level of quality discussion in the comment section, they also turn off would-be commenters and readers from adding their own thoughts and insights.”

All too true. I bring all this up today because like Yves Smith and others, I have been scrambling most days in recent weeks to delete an increased number of comments that are gratuitously mean, make personal attacks on me or commenters, or have nothing useful to say - they just link to a commercial website thinking, I suppose, that gets them free advertising.

That's the bad news. The good news is that 95 percent of these comments are not from regular readers whose names I recognize. They are, apparently, fly-bys who get their personal kicks being ad hominem nasty on websites they do not otherwise participate in.

What I have always done with those commenters is ban them forever without notice, explanation or a second chance which is what I will continue to do and hope for now, as has happened in the past, that the recent uptick in rude comments will die down.

This blog has one of the best comment sections you will read anywhere. As readers regularly note, the comments are at least as good as my posts and provide a great deal of accumulated wisdom. This happens because readers bring experience, interest, humor, concern and thoughtfulness to the issues we talk about.

The people who regularly comment here make this blog what I want it to be: consequential. Individual posts are not always important although they are sometimes utilitarian. And readers won't be interested in every essay I write.

What I hope is that it is cumulative, that there is a benefit over the long term and to the degree that is so right now, it is greatly due to the attention commenters give to adding value. And as Mediaite noted in their guidelines, the only thing you really need to remember about commenting rules is “Don't be a jerk.”

So give yourselves a hand and thank you all. When so many good websites of different sorts are shuttering their comments, this one gets better and for now, I'll go with the hope that most trolls aren't interested in ageing and old people.

[As to the idea mentioned above that comments are moving to social media: not this blog. I distribute Time Goes By there for the convenience of social media mavens, but I never read Facebook and Twitter. I spend more time than I should staring at screens without them.]


Some Changes at Time Goes By

You may recall one of the quotations I selected from the Doris Lessing section in Esther Harriott's excellent book, Aging and Writers:

“It takes me longer to do things,” said Lessing. “Not physical things...but where it shows is the energy for writing...not ideas. I've always got too many ideas. It's the organizing of the ideas and getting down to it that takes longer. And also, energy runs out more quickly than it used to.”

So close is that to my own experience in recent times that I have said something similar fairly frequently – to myself and others. It's just what happens as we grow older.

BACKGROUND
For me, another part of slowing down, as I have written in the past, is that I am afflicted with a fairly rare condition called ASPD or Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder. I find it almost impossible to stay awake past 8PM, sometimes I can make it to 9PM and whatever time I go to sleep, I'm wake by 3AM or 4AM. On a good morning, I can snooze until 5AM but not often.

It is not much of a problem except when I have house guests or, for example, when there is a dinner at other people's normal hours. I can manage late evenings for a day or two, then the condition asserts its sleep demand.

An accompanying difficulty, unrelated to ASPD, is that all my energy, both physical and mental, is depleted by 2PM. That makes sense if you think it through:

In my working days when I rose at 7:30AM to be at the office by 9AM, I was tired by 5PM or 6PM – ten hours after I had awakened. There is the same interval between the time I awaken now and when I get stupid at about 2PM.

That means I am always rushed, on a treadmill to get the normal chores and errands required by daily life done along with the optional pleasures and still keep up this blog at the level of quality I require for myself.

After 2PM I've run out of steam for all of that, turn slothful and I'm no good for anything except reading, watching a movie, playing with cat, keeping up with friends or just pottering around.

Too often in recent months, my posts – stories, essays, whatever we call these things – have been more haphazard and less well thought through than they should be. Too often, I choose the easy road of rumination and chatter than take the time for the research or additional reading needed for more informed writing.

TIME GOES BY CHANGE
So now that you've got all those reasons and excuses, I am here today to tell you that I am set to experiment with a new publishing schedule. Beginning next Monday, here is how the week will look at TGB:

Mon: New post
Tue: DAY OFF
Wed: New Post
Thu: DAY OFF
Fri: New post
Sat: Interesting Stuff
Sun: Elder Music from Peter Tibbles

As many of you already do now, there is no reason, if you find the M-W-F post interesting enough, not to continue commenting and chatting back and forth with one another on the off days. Or not.

Remember, there is nothing you need to do. If you subscribe, via email or rss, the only difference you will see is that nothing arrives in your inbox or news reader on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

THE ELDER STORYTELLING PLACE
There is a secondary issue to resolve. If there is no post on Tuesday and Thursday, there is nothing on which to link to that day's story at The Elder Storytelling Place (ESP) so I am going to eliminate that feature altogether – the link, not the stories.

If you read ESP via email or rss feed or you have a bookmark you follow to read it, you don't need to do anything. If, however, you read that blog by clicking on the link at the bottom of TGB posts, you will need to rely on something else.

You can subscribe via email or rss by filling in the form at the top right of any page at The Elder Storytelling Place, or make a bookmark wherever you keep those things on your computer.

THE FUTURE
As I said, this is an experiment. I've set a general time period of spring and summer. If the spirit moves me, I might write something for a Tuesday or a Thursday now and then but it should not be expected as in the past – by you or me – for these next few months.

Sometime around September, we take a day together here to see how we feel about it. I'll let you know how it has worked for me and you will able to add your thoughts.

In addition to accommodating my age-related slowing down, this might also give me an opportunity to upgrade TGB in ways I've been remiss – some backend fixes, updating the movies and other lists and perhaps a minor redesign, but no promises yet on those.

Time Goes By, as an extension of my apparently undying interest in all things ageing, is my passion, my raison d'etre in old age, my reason to get up each day.

I am endlessly curious about what it is like to grow old and I use the thoughts, ideas and events in my own journey through this strange territory to guide my investigations and writing. (And that little piece of information is just to be sure you understand that I'm not going anywhere – only adjusting the schedule.)


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: It Was a Sunny Day Today


Blogging is Dead, Long Live My Blog

Every year or two, the internet announces that blogging is dead. Most recently this happened when long-time political blogger Andrew Sullivan announced in late January that he was hanging up his keyboard:

“...although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career,” he wrote at The Dish, “I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job.”

There immediately followed, to mix metaphors, an orgy of blog burials. Here are a couple of them:

”The sudden halt represents both the end of a blogging era – and perhaps its most famous blogger, watching a new, blog-less era pass him by,” wrote Michelle Dean at The Guardian.

Jason Kottke was a year early with his obiturary at Nieman Lab in December 2013:

”All media on the web and in mobile apps has blog DNA in it and will continue to for a long while. Over the past 16 years, the blog format has evolved, had social grafted onto it, and mutated into Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and those new species have now taken over.”

Judd Legum on Twitter seemed to believe there is no difference between a blog post and a 140-character tweet as he joined the blogs-are-dead bandwagon in January:

”The kind of blogging that @sullydish [Andrew Sullivan] did is not dead. It's basically what we are all doing now on Twitter.”

Ms. Dean again, in The Guardian, confirmed that social media has made a dent in blogging but did not mistake those media for blogs:

”Blogging dropped off dramatically with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their many cousins."

Young folks, those under 30, these people tell us, don't start blogs anymore. They do only social media and that means, apparently, that anything else is, or should be dead.

Ezra Klein at Vox, however, takes exception to the death of blogs meme but explains that the cultural moment on the internet – which includes both blogging as big business and the abundance of social media – is not, for now, conducive to old-style blogging, which is what I do. As he explains:

”Links from other bloggers — the original currency of the blogosphere, and the one that drove its collaborative, conversational nature — just don't deliver the numbers that Facebook does.

“But blogging is a conversation, and conversations don't go viral...Blogging encourages interjections into conversations, and it thrives off of familiarity. Social media encourages content that can travel all on its own.

Klein is more polite than I am: social media value fast and dirty without context or strong connection among participants. Blogs require thought, development, and a connection between blogger and reader.

So old-fashioned or not, TimeGoesBy will remain a long-form blog and oddly enough, given the death sentence from many, readership here has grown by about 15 percent during the past year.

This is what I do, this blog. It has been my job these past ten years to chronicle my observations and what I learn about ageing in America at this time in history. I'm not done with that yet and I am not the only blogger who believes in doing this, whatever the online noise machine says.

I agree with something Onur Kabadayi said about all this blog death stuff in The Guardian a few months ago:

”Blogs haven't disappeared – they have simply morphed into a mature part of the publishing ecosystem.

“The loss of casual bloggers has shaken things out, with more committed and skilled writers sticking it out. Far from killing the blog dream, this has increased the quality of the blogosphere as a whole.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Bettijane Eisenpreis: Is My Number Up?


New Clues for the Internet and You

In 1999, four middle-ish-aged guys who were stars in the development of the still-emergent internet wrote a book about how the internet, an amazing global “conversation” platform whereby individuals could share information at blinding speeds that gave them, us – we the people - a kind of power never before available was being misunderstood and misused mostly to sell stuff.

Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, Rick Levine and Dave Weinberger were pissed off enough to write book. It was/is 95 theses called The Cluetrain Manifesto and it exploded on the scene in controversy.

I recall everybody in the internet world I knew online and off, talking about it. “Cluetrain” was a big topic at the websites where I worked – coworkers arguing, debating, agreeing and disagreeing. There was a lot of lively conversation for a long time.

These four guys were warning us that corporations were turning the internet into a one humongous shopping mall that could throttle the freedom it was bringing to the masses.

Of course, I hoped that wouldn't happen and now that I'm thinking about it again, I'm rather pleased that this blog, which doesn't sell anything except ideas about growing old, may be a pretty good example of the best of what the web can be.

Anyway. Back to the story.

Were these men, in a country as capitalist as the U.S. being idealistic? You bet. To give you a feel for it, here is a handful of those original 95 theses:

Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships.

Human communities are based on discourse—on human speech about human concerns.

We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.

It struck me then as it still does that if you remove the business references, all 95 theses are pretty good lessons for humans to live by.

So here we are 16 years later and two of the original authors, Doc Searls and David Weinberger, now both in their seventh decade of life, have looked around the internet and again, they are not pleased.

In addition to the corporations, they tell us, there are new dangers that can take away our web.

”It has been sixteen years since our previous communication,” they write.

“In that time the People of the Internet — you and me and all our friends of friends of friends, unto the last Kevin Bacon — have made the Internet an awesome place, filled with wonders and portents...

“Now two more hordes threaten all that we have built for one another.

“The Marauders understand the Internet all too well. They view it as theirs to plunder, extracting our data and money from it, thinking that we are the fools.

“But most dangerous of all is the third horde: Us.”

Searls and Weinberger go on to remind us that mass media is the least of the Web's powers and we should not lean back and consume only the junk food of entertainment while the Marauders steal our valuables:

”An organ-by-organ body snatch of the Internet is already well underway,” they warn. ”Make no mistake: with a stroke of a pen, a covert handshake, or by allowing memes to drown out the cries of the afflicted we can lose the Internet we love.

“We come to you from the years of the Web's beginning. We have grown old together on the Internet. Time is short.”

All that is from the introduction to an update of The Cluetrain Manifesto titled New Clues wherein Searls and Weinberger give us 121 New Clues.

Here are clues 28 through 32:

28. The Web is an impossibly large, semi-persistent realm of items discoverable in their dense inter-connections.

29. That sounds familiar. Oh, yeah, that's what the world is.

30. Unlike the real world, every thing and every connection on the Web was created by some one of us expressing an interest and an assumption about how those small pieces go together.

31. Every link by a person with something to say is an act of generosity and selflessness, bidding our readers leave our page to see how the world looks to someone else.

32. The Web remakes the world in our collective, emergent image.

In the ten years I worked at websites I was, in addition to my "regular" job, the privacy officer, although no one took my concerns seriously. Hardly anyone cared about privacy then (pre-2005) and not enough do now. Here, from New Clues, is the entire section on “Privacy in an age of spies” – the Marauders of which the men spoke in the introduction above:

84. Ok, government, you win. You've got our data. Now, what can we do to make sure you use it against Them and not against Us? In fact, can you tell the difference?

85. If we want our government to back off, the deal has to be that if — when — the next attack comes, we can't complain that they should have surveilled us harder.

86. A trade isn't fair trade if we don't know what we're giving up. Do you hear that, Security for Privacy trade-off?

87. With a probability approaching absolute certainty, we are going to be sorry we didn't do more to keep data out of the hands of our governments and corporate overlords.

I have written so much longer than I usually do because what Doc Searls and David Weinberger have created with New Clues call to action is critical to our future.

I cannot imagine life without the internet.

I cannot imagine being old without the internet.

I cannot imagine being without the friends I would never have known without the internet.

It would be so much harder to learn anything, to learn anything at all, without the internet as it is supposed to be, as it should be, as Searls and Weinberger are reminding us it can be.

Please go read all of New Clues for yourself. You will be enlightened and, I hope, inspired to post it or send it around widely. It is an open source document you are free to share and re-use without permission.

Here are the links you need:
New Clues

New Clues as a Listicle

New Clues About Page and Open Source Information

The Cluetrain Manifesto (1999)

Doc Searls' Blog

David Weinberger's Blog


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: Material Things


Thank You and Favorite Websites Follow Up

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Due to a glitch at the company that hosts my blogs, yesterday's Elder Music post was not published until several hours after its usual early morning time and as far as I can determine, the email and rss feeds to subscribers were not sent out.

That post, about music of the year 1968, is a pivotal year in the youth of many who read TGB so if you missed it, you might want to take a look today.


Good morning, TGB readers. I feel like I just woke up from a coma. Well, not today, but I did kind of feel that way on Saturday.

First, thank you all – so many of you – for your kind good wishes for a speedy recovery following my surprise dental surgery last Thursday. Carol S. Rowland made me laugh when, after explaining that like me she is no longer good with surprises, signed herself, Once known as “calm Carol.”

And Faith probably didn't know when she wrote it but her comment pretty well says it for me too.

”Dental repair and car repair and computer glitches are the worst.”

With the amount of anesthesia in my jaw, the extraction wasn't painful. It took only about 30 minutes to get the tooth out, insert the bone graft and sew me up. But even though it happened in the morning, I was so exhausted when I got home I went directly to bed.

Over the years, I have needed to remind myself (and bore friends) that even minor surgery requires extra rest. Here's why: although it's nice and neat and clean when surgeons cut us open, our bodies don't know the difference between that kind of assault and a mugger who would stab us with a rusty ice pick.

So either way, it's no time to be a hero and try to carry on - moreso in our age group because as we grow older, our bodies are not as efficient as when we were younger and we need more time to recover whether from, for example, overdoing exercise or travel or dental surgery.

Thursday I had no choice; I couldn't have stayed awake if I'd tried and so it remained throughout Friday too. I woke now and then and tried to read or watch television but kept falling back asleep.

By Saturday I was feeling better and by Sunday I was back to normal. Well, except for losing four pounds.

But that's a good thing. After maintaining my 40-pound weight loss last year, I had gained seven or eight pounds from overindulgence during the past three months so this is a good kickstart to re-losing them – not that I recommend tooth extraction as a diet aid.

On Wednesday last week I asked readers to share one of their favorite websites and what a good bunch of links you left – well, not everyone was successful with making proper links but that's okay.

There are politics, music, science, house renovation, literary, health and whole lot more.

I found several that will take some more of my time now but my favorite of the day is from Pamela (LadyLuz) – a U.S. physician who calls his blog, Dr. Grumpy in the House. As he explains himself:

”Welcome to my whining! This blog is entirely for entertainment purposes. All posts about patients may be fictional, or be my experience, or were submitted by a reader, or any combination of the above. Factual statements may or may not be accurate.”

Crabby Old Lady likes his attitude and wishes Dr. Grumpy were her physician.

Let me know if you enjoyed the favorite websites experiment. If enough of you do, we'll try again one day and I'll make linking easier for you. You'll find all the favorites in the comments here.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: How Many Houses Should a Rich Man Own


Your Favorite Website

In yesterday's TGB story, several people posted links to websites that were only tangentially related to that post. I don't catch them all, but I generally police links left in comments with a heavy hand and I do it for two good reasons.

FIRST: Self preservation. Going way back to the 1980s and my earliest days online, more than one great forum I participated in was ruined and then killed by off-topic entries. And I'm not even talking about trolls. Just people with good intentions but who so cluttered the landscape with digressive information and links, the thread became impossible to follow.

Gradually, those of us trying to track the topic gave up and those excellent forums (I still miss them) dissolved. I cannot let that happen to TGB; I like you all too much.

One of the comments I deleted yesterday gave me the idea for today's post. Hilary wrote:

”Hope it's not too off-topic, but did you know you can read daily entries from the Diaries of Samuel Pepys (www.pepysdiary.com). Today's entry is for 12 Jan 1661/1662. I read him every day, together with your blog Ronni!”

Well, you guessed right, Hilary – it is too off-topic although I like knowing about me and Pepys together on your morning schedule.

Even so, that didn't keep me from deleting the comment. Yes, my post (Dear Diary) and Pepys (famous diaries) seem to be related topics but from my 1980s experience, I knew the link was permission for everyone else to leave links to all kinds of other places (like bunny rabbits, one link always breeds more) and before long, there would be no discernible thread left.

That brings me to today.

Pretty much by definition, everyone who hangs out here is a web maven. That we have Time Goes By in common means that we probably share other online interests but we undoubtedly diverge from one another too - widely, I would guess.

So today, everyone who wants to gets to leave a link to one of their favorite websites for the rest of us to know about.

You may share only one and it can be about anything at all. It can be related to aging or not, practical or silly, funny or serious, obvious or obscure, highbrow, lowbrow, fiction, news, research, politics, educational, arts, crafts, music, movies, TV, books, web video only. Even cute kitties.

Just please, no commercial or retail sites (certainly not your own; no advertising allowed) – unless it is the best bargain in the known universe.

Give us a sentence or two about why you like it and the link. And THAT – link – brings me to my second reason (see paragraphs one and two above) I delete unrelated links in comments.

SECOND: No naked links. Take another look at Hilary's link to Pepys diaries. It's naked – just a scratchy ol' web address hanging out in the open when it should be a live link.

Besides being ugly and useless, it clutters up the place - like leaving your towel crumpled on the bathroom floor. So today, I am going to show you how to properly dress a link so that it looks nice and functions properly. Don't get nervous – this is easy. Here goes:

The website I am sharing today is Credit Karma. You may have seen television commercials telling you it provides free credit scores, credit reports and a monitoring service and that is exactly what it is: free and useful.

I've been signed up almost since it began in 2008. I get one monthly email with a link to the latest reports (or I can stop by any time) and as far as I can tell, they haven't sold my email address.

That's my contribution; now the lesson. Notice how the words, Credit Karma, are themselves the link to that website. Here is how I did it:

The website I am sharing today is <a href=”http://www.creditkarma.com/”>Credit Karma</a> You may...

When you use that HTML code around the name of a website, including the web address), it becomes a live link when viewed in a browser.

You can use the same code, even copy it right from my example to insert into your comment. Just substitute the name of the website in place of Credit Karma and, of course, replace the URL (http:// etc.) too.

You can copy the website URL you need from the address bar in your browser when you are at that site. Make sure you are on the home page or the page you want us to see when we land there.

Watch carefully the carets, equal sign, quotation marks and that there are no extra spaces within the code.

That's it. It keeps the comments tidy and makes it easier for others to read.

Now it's your turn to share one favorite website with the rest of us. I know it may be hard to stick to just one but let's go with that anyway. If we like how this turns out, we can do it every couple of months or so.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Doing Doggerels


Thank You for Being Such Good Blog Commenters

An increasing number of websites – Reuters, Popular Science, the Chicago Sun-Times among them - have turned off their online comments sections. According to a story at World News Publishing Focus, one reason is

”The arduous task of moderating the hundreds of uncivil comments that plague comment threads are making news sites reconsider their value.”

The New York Times reported that one Atlantic magazine columnist agrees:

“'Unless a comment stream is actively moderated, it inevitably is ruined by bullies, hotheads and trolls,' James Fallows wrote...”

Others like Re/Code cite the importance of social media as the reason for shutting down their comments sections:

“...as social media has continued its robust growth, the bulk of discussion of our stories is increasingly taking place there, making onsite comments less and less used and less and less useful.”

I realize that the websites I've mentioned have much more traffic than this one but I am regularly surprised by other blogs, some with far less traffic than mine, that have no comment section.

The way I see it, without comments TimeGoesBy and any blog, is nothing more than a lonely, personal soapbox.

It can be argued that comments are what distinguish blogs from every other kind of online writing. Comments invite conversation, an exchange of knowledge and, as we sometimes mention here, community – a sense of belonging to something together and a reason to return.

Closing down comments in favor of social media makes no sense to me and Sarah Gooding, writing at WPTavern, explains my own reasons well:

”Allowing social media to be the primary outposts for conversation on your content may bring some decent interaction for a short time, but posts sent via these channels soon disappear under the heavy stream of cat pictures, location checkins, Candy Crush invitations and every form of distraction.

“Furthermore, a conversation happening in many different places becomes severely fragmented, diluted, and difficult to track. The quality of the conversation starts to plummet.

Exactly, Sarah. Time Goes By and it's companion blog, The Elder Storytelling Place, are both automatically distributed via Twitter and Facebook each day as a convenience to people who use those two programs.

I don't, and it surprises me now and then to get emails from Facebook telling me someone has commented there. Like Sarah, I am not inclined to chase reactions all over social media so those comments are lost – as least to the “home” TGB community.

As to the first argument against comments above, there has never been much problem at TimeGoesBy with trolls and bullies. One reason is that long before I became a blogger, I learned the hard way in what was at first a gloriously engrossing online forum that if you don't crush those interlopers immediately, they will destroy the site.

So since the beginning, I have closely monitored TGB comments, deleting offensive ones as soon I see them: defamatory and bigoted comments, hateful language, personal attacks aimed at me or other commenters are the most obvious. Those are deleted and the writer is permanently banned without notice or recourse.

Not much of that happens here and I don't think I've banished more than half a dozen, maybe eight or 10 people, in the ten years TGB has been here.

It surprised me when advertising first appeared in comments. Most often it has been an author trying to sell his/her book. I get quite incensed about that. What makes anyone think they get free advertising on another person's real estate? And since I have a soft spot for all writers, the chutzpah is a huge disappointment.

Haven't seen any of those for awhile – and good riddance.

The biggest comment bother here is benign enough: people who have never heard of paragraphs. No one reads long, unbroken chunks of text and when I sometimes force myself to go through them, I'm sorry that hardly any others will see what are often compelling thoughts and ideas. (If that's you, it would be good to take heed.)

There is a lot of controversial argument surrounding comments and although I don't like being thwarted at no-comment sites, I surely understand why the big guys, newspapers and magazines, TV shows, etc. don't have the resources to moderate comments.

But I wish they did.

Here, however, we have a large group of readers who keep the comments lively, interesting, informative and funny, and so few comments cross the line that if trolls weren't a common online problem there would be no reason to mention it at this blog.

Besides how much I learn from you, some comments become the basis of posts I write. I quote the writer when I can but often it is just the thought or idea I recall and can't place when or where it appeared. (If that's you, I apologize but I doubt it will change.)

So thank you, every one of you, who comment. I wouldn't care much at all about doing this every day without you. Sarah Gooding again:

”...with comments open on your website, you have the opportunity for the brightest minds to respond to each other in one public location, not limited to x number of characters or the commenter’s social connections.

“If your blog is your home on the web, then everything important that you have to say should be said in your posts and in their comments. Social networks come and go but your blog is forever.”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Wendl Kornfelt: The Picasso on the Bookshelf


Me and My Elderblog

Ever since Facebook launched in 2004, and even moreso following Twitter's online birth two years later, people who think they are in the know have been predicting the death of blogging – translation: long-form writing.

The prognosticators often include the news and magazine media. The future of written communication, they have been telling us, is in 140 characters or thereabouts.

If that turns out to be true, I'm glad I'm old and will die before long. Outside of “Fire, run,” “Dinner's ready” and “I love you,” there isn't much I care about that can be said in one sentence.

In the past couple of years, apparently in backlash, some young entrepreneurs have founded websites specifically to promote longform reporting and other kinds of writing. Vox is one, also Longreads, The Verge and Matter among them.

They and others are fine antidotes to an internet world overflowing with Buzzfeed-style listicles.

A week so ago, Curbed founder Lockhart Steele wrote a (longform) piece at The Verge rethinking the future of blogging which he had forsaken a few years ago:

”I loved those days: writing post after post after post, day after day, forces a different mindset as a writer,” he said. “You loosen up; you get conversational.”

No kidding. I know all about that as do many of you who regularly comment here and those who keep your own blogs.

So strong is the pull of that “old-fashioned” style of daily writing for Steele, whose successful Curbed website was sold to Vox Media not long ago, that he announced the resurrection of his old blog:

”Thinking about all this has stoked my desire to get back in the game myself. So, today, I'm raising my personal blog, lockhartsteele.com, from the dead.

“Over there, on a daily basis, I'll be blogging about Vox Media editorial, as well as things that have nothing to do with our company, such as restaurants and — indulge me here — the Red Sox.

“Part of my goal is to offer a clearer window into what's going on in the Vox Media world; the other, simply, is to regain the practice of daily blogging.”

Lockhart Steele is much younger than I am and still in the career game so to a degree, blogging is a sideline but he's convinced me of his love for the form and its day-to-day nature. That is a large part of how blogging became my raison d'etre.

It didn't start out that way but in the decade I've been publishing timegoesby.com, it gives me reason to get out of bed each day, has fueled my interest in new-ish elder issues such as the Village movement I am now part of, provides the space to hold forth on the main mission here, aging in general, and more.

Steele and I have a lot of in common. As blog topics, he has Vox, I have aging. We each indulge some of our other interests – his Red Sox, my politics. We both like the daily practice of writing in the peculiarly bloggy manner that he correctly identifies as conversational.

Not to mention the actual conversation, the back and forth among readers. There is no such thing on Twitter or Facebook where there is no space – read: length – for actual thought or, with so many unrelated interruptions, any reasonably cogent exchange of thought among the people who post comments.

So I was happy to see Lockhart Steele's disquisition on blogging. I'm sticking with it whether longform writing succeeds elsewhere or not.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Bettijane Eisenpreis: Witnesses to History


Rewind the Week – 6 June 2014

Compared to many blogs, TGB has a consistently compelling comment section. In addition, I needed to carve out time away from the the computer so I've invented Rewind the Week, a weekly (or so) compendium of some of the provocative, informative and stand-out responses to posts from the previous week.

For the time being, this is an experiment and we'll see how it goes. If you enjoy it or don't or have suggestions for it, let me know and I will place it in consideration.


There was a range of meaty topics this week. My exhortation for us all to make exercise a regular habit got us a spectrum of responses. Here are a handful of them.

Lauren of perPETuity is just getting started and I think she's smart to make a small commitment to begin with:

”Lest you think I'm a self-righteous braggart, I only started this daily devotion [to exercise] two weeks ago when I realized I was sitting more than I cared to and getting depressed about it. I only committed for a month and will take stock of whether there have been any benefits. Anyone care to place a bet?”

I couldn't get through my three-day-a-week gym workout without being plugged into my MP3 player and victoria explained how much that can help:

”Four years ago I began collecting songs that I loved and ones that I can move and dance to and ended up with 16 hours of my greatest hits.

“I try to walk 45 minutes a day - inside, outside, all around the house. What ever works for me that day. With my greatest hits music on an MP3 player--sometimes I walk more than I need because I just want to hear the next song.”

It's a mite late for most of us at this blog to take up serious exercise in our youth, but any younger people reading here, pay attention to Nancy Wick:

“I am 66, still weigh the same as I did when I was 26, have low blood pressure and am not on any prescription medications. I credit much of my good health to my consistent exercise program and am so grateful.”

And then there is janinsanfran of Can It Happen Here? Although I've come to appreciate the mild high I have at the end of an exercise session, I wish I could feel as naturally good about exercise as she does.

“I'm incredibly lucky when it comes to exercise: I like it, it feels like me.”

If the number of comments is an indication, Crabby Old Lady's story about the supposed pending demise of email was widely popular. Here are a few responses:

SusanG of Hillsorough NJ Journal:
“I am always baffled when elders comment that they have to Twitter (or whatever)to their grandchildren or they would lose contact as the grandchildren don't do email. So if grandma 'didn't do Twitter' the grandchildren would just cut off communication?

“This suggests that the grandchildren have no interest at all in staying in contact with their grandparents and that the effort is only being put forth by the grandparents. How sad.”

In that regard, Ruth-Ellen B. Joeres tells us:

”I have succumbed to texting, aside from hating yet another noun being turned into a verb. It is the only way that I can rapidly catch the attention of my daughter and two granddaughters. But what I write consists always of CHECK YOUR EMAIL. Otherwise, they don't. Ever.”

Meg name-checked Ruth-Ellen and added a good laugh on this issue:

”I'm with Ruth-Ellen who uses texting to tell people to 'open your email, dammit'...I think we elders need to insist on email 'letters' from our children and grandchildren. This works quite well for my 21 year old grandson, who always sends me a nice, long newsy email right after I send him a $200 check.”

I had such a good time re-reading the wide variety of comments on this topic, you might enjoy it too.

Lots of thoughtful response to the phenomenon of time's fleeting passage in old age but the entire purpose (purpose: see yesterday's post) of this Friday Rewind is to give me more time. So check it out if you missed the commentary – I'm off to catch up on some other work.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary Mack: Mr. Green's Dandelions


Rewind the Week – 30 May 2014

Yesterday I gave you an update on the development of Three Rivers Village. Working on that project is taking more of my time now and the need is growing.

With that, I have been struggling to figure out how to better apportion my time – for the Village, to keep up this blog and also get my bottom out of this desk chair now and then.

Today's post is an experiment in that direction.

As you can see above, it is titled Rewind the Week. What I intend to do is scour comments from the previous six or seven days and re-publish some that I think are compelling, provocative, informative, stand out in some other manner or seem to be worth more conversation by us.

Of course, the writers quoted will be credited. It's important to know who's saying what.

Some weeks, there might be only one strong idea. Other weeks there may be several. Some serious, others not so much. I don't know yet; I'm making this up as I go along.

If I can do this well, I hope to inspire and encourage further thought and new ideas among us while giving me a way to publish something new that doesn't take much research, brain power and, particularly, time on my part.

As I said, it is an experiment and even if we all like it, it may not appear every week. Or maybe it will. For now, let's see how it goes.


There was a lot of strong, angry, even enraged response from you to the Not One More post about the shootings last week in Isla Vista. For that reason and the fact that the media has already lost interest, it is worth our further attention.

Not a few readers are discouraged, tired of writing Washington about serious issues that are never addressed:

“I also contacted them shortly after the Sandy Hook shootings and you see what good that did,” wrote Nancy Leitz. “But, I will keep trying and will not get discouraged until they GET RID OF GUNS!”
“I will add my cards to this effort,” said Cathy Johnson, “though I am not particularly optimistic about the effects.”

Darlene feels similarly:

“Although I am discouraged, I think we have no recourse but to fight back with our limited weapons. So proclaim 'NOT ONE MORE' to one and all.”

Those three women and the rest of us who are dispirited by lack of leadership in Congress are, of course, correct that it appears no one listens to the citizenry. Most particularly, no one with the power to change gun policy pays attention.

Here is graphic of The Columbine Effect from the knowyourmeme website that perfectly depicts the life cycle of the gun debate (larger, more readable image at the website):

ColumbineEffect370

Too true, too true.

This comment from Priscilla was echoed by several others whose Congressional representatives appear to follow her senator's lead in their disinterest in guns and crime:

“As a Florida resident, possible 2016 presidential contender Marco Rubio is my U.S. Senator. Unlike my other representatives including the White House, neither 'gun control,' 'firearms' nor 'crime' are among the listed topics on his online email form. The closest was 'social issues' or perhaps 'other.' Telling.”

And, I had no idea there are a bunch of revolutionaries reading this blog. I'm with you but how to rally the country?

“The oligarchy is owned by the NRA and will make all kinds of statements for the press, but will do nothing to change the status quo,” wrote classof65. “We need a revolution. Soon.”

Annie picked up classof65's song and added her voice:

“I read our comments, and have to agree that we have been writing and making our feelings known to no avail. And it's disheartening. Then, I see Classof65 again about the revolution.

You know, Class is right,” continued Annie. “I don't mean and would hope not violent and bloody, but what really important reforms have been accomplished without people going to the streets to demonstrate, sit in, protest and generally make a very big noise? Votes for women? Civil Rights of all kinds? Vietnam?

“It took a long time in each case and the courage and determination of many to get out in public saying things similar to 'Not One More.'"

Writing from Canada, Vera has a different take on the need for gun control:

“Actually it's naive to think that banning guns will solve your problems. Up here in Canada we just had 5 college students stabbed to death by another crazy student. We had a guy on a Greyhound bus get decapitated by a schizophrenic guy, another 50+ woman stabbed and killed the toddler next door, she says.

“The root cause of many of these crimes is actually untreated mental illness not guns and that's what needs fixing.”

I don't disagree about mental health issues but I don't believe that is a reason not to change our nearly unrestricted laws on guns that in one go can kill so many more (and do in the U.S.) than a knife.

All right. Now it's up to you. Have your say and don't forget that on the internet there is no space restriction.

Just, please, break up comments longer than half a dozen lines into paragraphs with a space between them. I don't read long chunks of unbroken text nor do most people.

And if you are so inclined, let us know what you think of this experiment in Rewind the Week.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Chlele Gummer: Rufus and the Games