Blogging and Privacy

We live in an age of oversharing, of what many consider TMI (Too Much Information), of social media websites that make it easy for millions to bestow upon the world the most mundane aspects of their lives as though the rest of us care what they had for dinner last night.

So widespread is the belief that the world is waiting with bated breath for any given person's (usually misspelled) thoughts on watching paint dry that the president is hardly the only one who can be labeled narcissist.

(You can be forgiven at this point if you're thinking now that I fall into the same category, and move on to some other webpage.)

Today's post was prompted a few days ago when a TGB reader and friend named Ann emailed to ask about how my chemotherapy is going, that I hadn't written lately about any cancer developments. She was quick to note too, however, that she believes

“...I speak for many who understand and respect your need to keep the private, private.”

As chance would have it, I had just finished writing Monday's post with an update on the chemo treatments that had taken me awhile to get around to because there was nothing useful to say: it's going well. Next?

But it did get me thinking about privacy and the choices I make about what and how much personal information to reveal on this blog.

It was easy to decide to write about my diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Such a thing is so shocking to hear, so hard to believe at first, accompanied for awhile by a near certainty someone has made a mistake that there was no room in my brain for anything else.

In that regard. I hardly had a choice. If I hadn't made it public, Time Goes By would have disappeared because I could think of nothing except cancer.

On the other hand, writing about growing old is what I do, it orders my days, and when the initial impact wore off I remembered that cancer is more common in old age than any other time of life. It is one of the "diseases of age", as they say, one of the topics of this blog – or should be - so perhaps my diagnosis and I get to be the guinea pig.

There was more. As I explained to Ann, my silence about the cancer was

”...not about privacy. I don't believe in it. Privacy, that is, although I do believe it is up to each individual to choose how much to say. I long ago learned that if it has happened to me, if I have done it or it has been done to me - so it has been with millions of others.

“And that, for me, pretty well removes any sense of privacy and more, perhaps requires that we DO talk about things many people don't want to mention.

“That thought came to me eight or ten years ago when I wrote about urinary incontinence for the first time. I wrote the blog post and let it sit in the computer for several days because it seemed there was some propriety involved. We just don't discuss such things.

“But it's a common affliction of old age so finally one day, I took a deep breath and hit the publish button. It was hours before I had the nerve to check comments and nearly fell off my chair when I did - dozens and dozens of people talking about their difficulties and/or solutions, pleased that someone had given them permission to talk about it openly.

"So nowadays, I consider privacy only if the subject involves another person whose story or information I have no right to share without permission.”

That doesn't mean my life is an open book. In general, whatever personal information I reveal relates to some aspect of ageing although I've allowed myself to stretch that definition here and there.

The thing about blogs, at least for a former journalist like me, is that they are a hybrid. It is important when I report on Medicare, Social Security, health issues, age-related politics and so on, that it be straightforward, factual and trustworthy.

But TGB is also a personal blog that hardly has a raison d'etre without my opinion of whatever is being discussed which often requires some degree of personal disclosure.

Over the years, finding the balance has been a challenge. In the earliest years, there was hardly anything about me. Nowadays, as in regard to the cancer, my personal experience is sometimes the example from which to expand and explore.

It's not always easy to decide what is or is not going too far with that – I definitely am not writing an autobiography or memoir. The goal here, while still coloring mostly within the lines, is to try to figure out what it's really like to get old.


Contest Winners and Cancer Update

SOCIAL SILVER SURFERS EBOOK WINNERS

EBook_SocialSilverSurfers2016-web150On Friday, I wrote about a new eBook reporting on a survey about how elders use the internet. One of the authors, Erin Read who is a friend of mine, offered to give away three copies to TGB readers.

Now, with the aid of a random number generator, we have the online names of the three winners:

Janet
Gloria MacKay
Cynthia Friedlob

Congratulations all. I have forwarded your email addresses to Erin who will contact you to arrange delivery of the eBooks.

Erin tells me that part of her company's mission is to support those who work to enhance the quality of elders' lives so she will also send a free copy of the eBook to Anita Franzione who teaches a public health and aging class and to Judith Levkoe of Seniors Across Canada both of whom entered the giveaway.

Those email addresses have also been sent to Erin who will be in contact with you soon.

That was fun and it generated a lot of conversation too. I'll see if I can find another good book to do this with soon.

CHEMOTHERAPY UPDATE
My friend Jan Adams, who blogs at Where is the Way Forward, has been walking the Camino de Santiago while visiting Spain this summer. She took the time to email this photo of a purple awareness ribbon at the Ministry of Health building in Madrid.

Purple ribbonMadridJan680

”I have been unable to confirm that this display of the purple ribbon on the Ministry of Health was really about pancreatic cancer,” she writes, “but as soon as I saw it, I wanted to capture it for you.”

And I'm thrilled to have it even if we don't know if it is meant to be for pancreatic cancer. That's because there seem to be more diseases than colors to go around and you can see the long list of them that use a purple awareness ribbon here.

Jan's photo gives me an excuse to update you, dear readers, who have emailed or left comments asking how I'm doing. I haven't written much about my cancer treatment lately because there is so little to say – which is, of course, good news.

I began chemotherapy infusions on Wednesday 13 September, repeated on each of the two subsequent Wednesdays. Also on those days and every other day of the week, I take two tablets in the morning and again in the evening of an oral chemo drug. This is my week off from infusion treatment, then I start another round of once a week for three weeks while continuing the daily oral chemo.

Did I mention how gruesome a few of the potential side effects can be? How about the dangers of infection due to a drop in the number of my red and white blood cells and platelets from the chemo? And other possible signs and symptoms that can even require an emergency room visit?

Many of you who have commented here about your cancer treatments are way ahead of me in knowing all about this stuff. Me? I'm still new at it, still learning.

But as I enter the third calendar week today of my six-month chemo treatment, I am – knock wood, cross fingers, light candles, etc. - side effect free. Whoo-eee! In fact, I have been feeling so good in general that sometimes I wonder how that can coexist with such a virulent cancer.

The hard part is how busy the chemo team keeps me even when I'm at home. I have pills timed 30 minutes before meals, with meals, 30 minutes after meals, some in the morning, some in the evening and one to take before every meal or snack I eat for the rest of my life along with two or three others I will need daily for as long as I live.

Here is a photo of what is, apparently, a permanent new feature of my kitchen:

MedicationTray

Also, there is lotion for my hands and feet throughout the day, mouth rinses, exercises to keep up my strength and those six meals a day. I haven't been able to do six, but I can usually manage four and sometimes five.

Don't even ask about the food restrictions. I'm experimenting carefully and have been able to add a few “new” foods but mostly, for the time being, meals are boring and repetitive.

But guess what? I'll take it. I'll take it all (with some whining) because compared to what others in my condition go through, I'm getting off easy.

GRATITUDE
Given how dangerous and aggressive this cancer is, I know how lucky I am, and my gratitude grows by the day. Here is partial a list of why:

Only ten percent of people diagnosed pancreatic cancer are eligible for the Whipple surgery which is pretty much the only thing that can help. I am one of those few.

Although it seemed to take forever, I healed relatively easily from the surgery and have been back to full physicial capacity for well more than a month.

My chemo treatment takes only an hour once a week. Some at the clinic sit there with an infusion going for eight or ten hours and/or do it several times a week.

So far side effects from the chemicals have passed me by.

I am old enough for Medicare which pays for all but a small amount of this expensive treatment.

I happen to live where there is a world-class cancer institute with renowned physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals highly experienced in my kind of cancer.

And I have you, dear readers of this blog, who send greetings of good cheer and hugs and light candles and wish me well every day.

What makes me even more grateful in that regard is I'm not even all that likeable. Among other failings, I am short-tempered, cynical, cantankerous, impatient, judgmental and more.

Thank you all so very much for being on this journey with me.


ELDER MUSIC: Believe It Or Not

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.

* * *

There is a song by DON COVAY called Believe It Or Not.

Don Covay

Don played rhythm and blues, rock & roll, funk and various other genres of music. Some say that Mick Jagger pretty much pinched his singing and performing style, and the Stones recorded his songs early on in their career.

Believe It Or Not is from the fifties and Don name-checks so many songs I thought I'd use it as the basis for a column. I've haven't included all those he mentioned, there are too many, so it's just the ones I like. They are pretty much in the order he references them.

♫ Don Covay - Believe It Or Not


The first that caught my ear was Peggy Sue, and that, of course, was written and recorded by BUDDY HOLLY.

Buddy Holly

Buddy and Little Richard were my two favorites from that time; they kept me sane. Their songs are included in today's song, so I can indulge myself.

♫ Buddy Holly - Peggy Sue


LITTLE RICHARD is very well represented.

Little Richard

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, suggested that I only have one song from each artist, but when Richard is in the mix, I'm going to have them all. You have been warned, starting off with possibly his most famous song, Tutti Frutti.

♫ Little Richard - Tutti Frutti


Without stopping for breath, Don managed to mention another song by LITTLE RICHARD.

Little Richard

In this case it's Good Golly Miss Molly.

♫ Little Richard - Good Golly Miss Molly


The prolific song writing and producing team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote the next song for THE COASTERS.

The Coasters

The Coasters didn't really take themselves too seriously, although they certainly recorded some fine rhythm and blues and rock and roll songs. Their songs could go either way. The one Don mentioned is Yakety Yak.

♫ The Coasters - Yakety Yak


Way back at the school I attended their predominant color for sports and such was purple. Naturally, when this next song became popular, the other schools started singing it, trying to get a rise out of us. We took it on board, and sang it back to them as a token of pride.

If you were listening closely to the initial song you know that I'm talking about The Purple People Eater. This was performed by SHEB WOOLEY.

Sheb Wooley

Those well versed in TV and movies will know that he was also an actor and played Pete Nolan in Rawhide and Frank Miller (one of the baddies) in High Noon. There were many other roles as well but they are just the ones that tickled my fancy. Here's that song.

♫ Sheb Wooley - The Purple People Eater


I said there's going to be several from LITTLE RICHARD, but you can blame Don for that. I hope you're as big a fan as I am (or you at least like him somewhat).

Little Richard

His next song is Long Tall Sally. Way back I had to wait for the Beatles' version to determine what he was actually singing. It's easier these days with the web.

♫ Little Richard - Long Tall Sally


Okay, that's all for Richard. Now we take the musical quality down somewhat. Well, considerably, really. Ross Bagdasarian was a musician who played many instruments and wrote songs that became huge hits for other people. He created a musical persona called DAVID SEVILLE.

David Seville

He was responsible for all those Alvin and the Chipmunks songs, films, TV programs and what not. He also recorded the Witch Doctor.

♫ David Seville - Witch Doctor


Michael Jackson had a really awful version of Rockin' Robin that became a big hit. Fortunately, the original by BOBBY DAY was a lot better.

Bobby Day

The song was written by Leon René, also known as Jimmie Thomas (I think his real name is superior). If you're unfamiliar with the original, here it is.

♫ Bobby Day - Rockin Robin


Like Byron, LARRY WILLIAMS was mad, bad and dangerous to know.

Larry Williams

He wrote and performed some of the earliest and best of the rock and roll songs. However, he later seriously dabbled in drugs (dealing and otherwise) and violence and died of a gunshot to the head in mysterious, and still unsolved, circumstances. One of those early songs is Dizzy Miss Lizzy, covered by many over the years.

♫ Larry Williams - Dizzy Miss Lizzy


BOBBY DARIN wrote the last song, Splish Splash, as a bet from the disk jockey, Murray the K.

Bobby Darin

Bobby was up to the task and the song became his first hit. Most people think of Bobby as a singer in other genres, not rock & roll, but he performed pretty much every way possible.

♫ Bobby Darin - Splish Splash



INTERESTING STUFF – 30 September 2017

HENRY LOWENSTERN ON FALLING

A week ago, I posted an important story about falling prevention. That prompted TGB reader, Henry Lowenstern to email this follow-up ditty titled, Vanishing Vanity:

I constantly think about forestalling
my ever present fear of falling,
but, am as yet too vain
to use a walker or a cane
and may some day end up crawling.

WHAT A REAL LEADER LOOKS AND SOUNDS LIKE

For two years, Americans – nay, the world - has been subjected to the vulgar, offensive, misleading, incomprehensible utterances and fairly constant lies from President Trump.

He can hardly open his mouth without revealing his ignorance, stupidity and lack of interest in anything but his own aggrandizement. The “leader of the free world.” Yeah. Sure.

On Thursday, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, superintendant of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, in no uncertain terms, took on an incident of racial slurs at the institution in front of all 4,000 cadets. This is leadership. Take a look:

To reiterate General Silveria: “If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.”

EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS TO TIME GOES BY

Several messages arrived from readers this week notifying me that their email blog posts were not arriving as usual. This is because they are subscribed through Feedburner which hiccups every now and then, throwing people out of the system.

Google owns the email distribution system, Feedburner. They stopped servicing it five or so years ago and it has been deteriorating every since. So from time to time, it stops working for some people.

When it was announced that Google was abandoning Feedburner those several years go, I contracted with a paid email and rss distribution service, Feedblitz. (Yes, the two names are confusing.)

So, if you are still subscribed via Feedburner and want to ensure email delivery of Time Goes By, go to the top right of any page here, fill in your email address under the header “Subscribe” and your delivery problems will be solved.

TWO NAKED GUYS WITH TOWELS

I'm pretty sure I've posted this before – a few years ago – but I can't find it and anyway, it's really funny. Thank Darlene Costner.

AN AMAZING GARDEN GROWN FROM RESCUED PLANTS

This is gorgeous, a 30-year labor of love. Here's what the YouTube page tells us:

”In Bishopville, South Carolina, Pearl Fryar is a local gardening legend. When he first moved to the small town in the 1980s, he was almost unable to build his house because neighbors feared that as an African American, he wouldn’t keep up his yard.

“Determined to dispel that stereotype, Fryar went on to win 'Yard of the Month' from the local garden club. Since then, he’s created a world-renowned topiary garden with more than 300 plants, most of which were rescued from the compost pile of a local nursery.”

GINORMOUS DATA CABLE

This week a gigantic, new trans-Atlantic data cable between the U.S. and Spain was finished. I mean huge: it can transmit 160 terabits of data per second which means, according to USA Today:

”To put that in perspective, when you break it down into the gigabytes we're familiar with, 160 terabits equals 20,000 GB of data. So, let's say you're downloading movies that are 2 GB in size, you could download 10,000 movies in one second.”

Marea

The cable was funded by Microsoft and Facebook. You can read much more about this cable named Marea (Spanish for wave) at USA Today, MIT Technology Review and Engadget among other sources.

THE DUBIOUS FRIENDS OF DONALD TRUMP – PART 3, THE BILLION DOLLAR FRAUD

Zembla is a Dutch public television program. The show has been tracking Donald Trumps questionable financial connections to Russia and other sources. The third installment of the series was released on YouTube this week titled: The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump – Part 3, The Billion Dollar Fraud.

You can watch it right here or at YouTube.

The first two installments, both published last May, can also be seen at YouTube:

The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump: The Russians
The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump: King of Diamonds

Read more about these documentaries at Alternet.

WHY DOUGHNUT BOXES ARE PINK

It's not so at my favorite doughnut shop where I live now, but pink doughnut boxes are pervasive in a lot of other places like New York City and Portland, Maine, where I lived before.

Here's the story about why so many are pink.

WOODPECKER TEACHERS SQUIRREL A LESSON

No explanation needed; just watch.

* * *

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

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


A Portrait of Elders on the Internet and a Book Giveaway

Did you know that the number one reason people 65 and older use social networking websites is to connect with family? I suppose I could have guessed that but since I don't participate in social networks beyond publishing Time Goes By on Facebook (it is set up to happen automatically) in addition to this blog, I was mildly surprised.

The next two reasons for using social networks in this age group are to stay in touch with friends and the number three position is related to work and career although that has dropped from the number one between 2013 and 2016.

EBook_SocialSilverSurfers2016-web250

I know these things and a lot more due to a new eBook, Social Silver Surfers – Where to Find (and How to Win!) Mature Consumers Online written by my cyberfriend Erin Read and Kimberly Hulett, published this week by their employer, Creative Results.

The company specializes in branding and other useful and usable information for marketing professionals, home builders and developers, and C-suite executives concerned with figuring out ROI (return on investment) in the digital marketplace of old people.

It's not immediately apparent that it's the sort of website I would need or want to read for this blog but it is packed with good, solid information about what old people do online that has been invaluable to me over a lot of years providing of variety of insights about how we grow old on the internet.

I'm featuring some of the findings from their newest survey today because it's always interesting to find out what's going on with one's own tribe (and not, of course, because Erin and her co-writer/researcher have quoted both me and Crabby Old Lady in the book).

SOCIAL MEDIA WEBSITES ARE MUCH MORE POPULAR THAN BLOGS
Here's a chart of the most popular social networks. Certainly it was easy to guess number one, Facebook by more than half of even the second most popular:

ErinMostUsedSocialNetworks

Although email shows up at the bottom of that list as a social network, no one mentions blogs.

Per this latest survey, 38% of social silver surfers say they read or post blogs. And only 28% subscribe to blogs. As Erin and Kimberly explain in the eBook:

”Now, many of them may not realize when they’re reading a blog. Some blogs look just like news websites. Others are considered 'newsletters' or 'messages' by older adults because their subscriptions are delivered by email.

“For example, Erin suggested her mother sign up to receive Erin’s favorite blog. Time Goes By is a fantastically well-written, intelligent, thoughtful and, at times, emotional study of aging in America by journalist Ronni Bennett.

“With permission, Erin entered mom’s email address at timegoesby.net and subscribed her. It’s a rare day that Erin’s mom doesn’t start a conversation with 'You’ll never guess what Ronni said in her email today' or 'Ronni’s note to me this morning had the most amazing thing…'

“As if they’re having a personal, one-to-one email conversation, mom and Ronni. (Erin actually does have one-to-one conversations with Ronni and she tattled on her mom. Ronni’s response? 'Oh, I love that I’m writing just for her. Perfect.'

“Which is exactly why so many older adults believe this warm and intelligent writer is sending them personal emails.)”

(You didn't think I'd leave out that part, did you? What's the internet for if not to boast a bit now and then.)

The authors' conclusion about blogs and older people online:

The percentage of social, silver surfers saying they use blogs has increased 9% since 2010.

When mature consumers do subscribe to a blog, it has greater impact. They trust the content coming into their inboxes. They read it and feel personally touched.

OLDER ADULTS STILL LAG IN INTERNET USE
It makes sense that old adults have been slower to adopt the internet than younger ones but I was surprised at how few still don't use it:

ErinTechAdoption

Here is what Erin and Kimberly say about that:

“Household income, educational attainment and geography play a part – rural Americans are about 2x as likely as urban Americans to never use the internet. Per the US Census, the median age for a rural citizen is 51 years old, vs. 45 years for someone who dwells in an urban area.”

In addition, rural area access to the internet is more limited than for those who live in cities. They are often stuck with dialup because broadband has not reached them yet and so it can be too slow to see the usefulness or entertainment value.

DECIDING TO BUY THINGS DUE TO SOCIAL NETWORKS
A lot of social media users make purchasing decisions based on what they read on social networks. But take a look at this graph, organized by age group, at what happens as people grow older:

ErinPurchaseInfluenceGraphic

I wonder if that happens because many older people have less money in retirement than when they were working or if they have become more discerning in old age? I can't decide.

This post doesn't scratch the surface of the survey's findings about elders' online lives. There is plenty more to know and if you are not or were not a marketing professional, you can skip those conclusion sections of the book. It's still a great read – a snapshot of us in time.

You can find out more about the book at the Silver Surfers website.

BOOK GIVEAWAY
Social Silver Surfers – Where to Find (and How to Win!) Mature Consumers Online, Third Edition, is available to purchase now on Amazon for download to Kindle for $5.95, and will be available at iBooks next week. But Erin and I worked out a deal just for TGB readers. Three winners will receive a PDF copy of the book.

To enter the giveaway, just tell me in the comments below that, “Yes, I want to win one of the books.” Or, you could say, “Me, me, me.” or anything else that indicates your interest.

Winners (you can live in any country) are selected by a random number generator and I will have your email addresses via the comment form to arrange your PDF copy. The contest will remain open through the weekend until 12 midnight Pacific Time on 1 October 2017, and the three winners will be announced in Monday morning's regular post, 2 October 2017.

For non-winners (so sorry), I will supply the link to the Apple iBook version when it becomes available next week.

Congratulations to my friend Erin and to Kimberly for an intriguing and useful update on my age cohort's internet lives.


Adapting to the Changes of Old Age

Cicero

Being about midway into old age now, it seems to me that changes great and small come barreling down the pike lickety-split – that there are many more arriving at a much faster rate than at previous ages of life.

I can't prove that with facts and figures and numbers and charts but it feels about right and I've come to believe it is an important job of elderhood to learn to adapt as we are buffeted front and back, up and down, left and right and around again with each new, often unexpected development.

It's not easy. As you know, my life was upended three months ago with a cancer diagnosis. I'm still trying to find a way to make the large number of restrictions that control my days now as commonplace as, for example, brushing my teeth has always been.

It's frustrating that I'm not there yet. I have other things I'd rather do than try to remember if I took those pills after breakfast or treated my hands with that special lotion.

Although I've fought hard on this blog during its 14 years of existence against the generally accepted perception that there are no positives about growing old, it shouldn't be denied that loss is a part of it – more than most of us would like.

There are the ones to which we adapt with relative ease: eyesight and hearing can be successfully treated now; dental implants, if affordable, are almost miraculous; there are many ways to deal with graying hair and hair loss depending the degree of one's concern.

If you try to track down information on the internet about the changes that come with old age, the only things you will find are about health and debility. To the not yet old - the ones who make the rules and decide who is worthy - old people are defined entirely by failing health. Period.

(Keep that in mind as, in the next two months, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, will do his best to dramatically increase what old people pay for Medicare. Cuts to Social Security are being crafted too. Stay tuned for information here about these proposed changes soon.)

But there is much more to growing old than health and although there is crossover among them preliminarily, I have placed these changes into five general categories: Physical, Emotional, Social, Calamitous and Cultural. In old age, all of them take away something we have been accustomed to for a lifetime and, usually, enjoy.

The physical is obvious as our bodies wear out, we slow down and we collect a group of manageable but annoying conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, balance difficulties, even living with cancer, etc.

Emotional issues range from such things as my obstinance about accepting daily changes caused by cancer to sadness from losses as old friends die or move away, and recognition of our own approaching death – among others. These are no small change.

We lose a lot of social engagement when we retire or don't get out and about as easily as we once did or reduced income prevents us from past social pleasures such as theater and travel.

The calamitous, of course, has to do with dire health risks to oneself, a spouse or other people we love. Only a few days ago did I realize that if the chemotherapy is successful and I am pronounced cancer-free at the end of six months, I will still need to be tested every three months for the rest of my life.

Four times a year I will hold my breath waiting for test results to tell me something good or not good. I remember what that feels like from years ago when, a couple of times, I waited a week for answers from breast biopsies.

There are, of course, many other tests of our resilience in old age than these.

Oddly, given the last two paragraphs, it is the cultural category that most aggravates me. In the 20 years I've been studying ageing, the American attitude toward old age has not changed a whit: youth is perfection and old age is a personal failing worthy only of fear and pity.

It comes to each of us, the day when we step over a line in the sand that no one told us was there, the day when the world rejects us, ignores our knowledge and experience, maligns and scorns us.

And no, it doesn't cheer me that the people doing the maligning and scorning will join us soon enough. They have still robbed me of basic dignity - in their eyes if not my own.

Even so, I have found these years of growing old the most engaging, interesting and exciting time of my life. I may not get out and about as much as in youth and adulthood. I have lost interest in keeping up with the latest fads and fashion that I once had fun with. And at last, I have outgrown caring what anyone thinks of me.

But I am more passionate than ever about the two things that most engage me these days: our terrifying politics and what it's really like to get old.

It may not surprise some of you that I've been reading Cicero again, his Cato Maior de Senectute or On Old Age written in 44BC. There is much to learn from Cicero but two things come through strongly about my time of life:

To focus on what I have and can do rather than what I don’t have or can’t do

That age is no barrier to remaining engaged with life: intellectually, physically, socially

There are good reasons mankind has been reading this treatise for more than 2,000 years. Cicero advises us that wisdom is to accept the limitations of old age and look for opportunities to work around them:

”Nature has but a single path and you travel it only once,” writes Cicero. “Each stage of life has its own appropriate qualities - weakness in childhood, boldness in youth, seriousness in middle age, and maturity in old age. These are fruits that must be harvested in due season.”

By the way, Cicero is also the man who said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

[EDITORIAL NOTE: This has been rolling around in my mind for several days and easily could have been 20 pages longer. I've spared you that and feel confident that you will add and subtract from it as you see fit.]


A Matter of Life and Death Or...

The cruel Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace the ACA healthcare bill.

Yes, life and death. Because if this bill passes thousands of Americans will die. Let me walk you through it.

If passed, Graham-Cassidy will end up killing sick Americans because it does away with the Obamacare (ACA) requirement to cover pre-existing conditions.

Republicans, including Senators Graham and Cassidy and President Trump keep saying the bill covers pre-existing conditions. That is a lie.

The reasons are a bit complicated involving state exchanges and other esoteric effluvia in the bill but, as the Washington Post boiled it down for us [emphasis is mine],

”...the Cassidy-Graham proposal simply would allow states to waive the ACA’s prohibition against varying premiums based on an individual’s health status.

“Insurance companies would then be free to charge higher premiums to people with preexisting medical conditions.”

In addition, Graham-Cassidy removes premium subsidies and the Medicaid expansion which would leave many who bought health insurance for the first time under Obamacare unable to afford it under the new rules.

There is strong evidence that uninsured people, lots of them, die for want of coverage. As The Guardian recently explained:

”Various studies have looked at whether uninsured people have a higher risk of death. The most cited was published [pdf] by the American Journal of Public Health in 2009 and found that nearly 45,000 Americans die each year as a direct result of being uninsured.”

No one knows the actual cost of Graham-Cassidy - to insureds or the government - because the Congressional Budget Office has informed Congress that it does not have enough time to score the bill before the vote this week.

What we do have, from the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy project, is an analysis that seeks to approximate the Congressional Budget Office’s methods. As reported in Vox, Graham-Cassidy will cause

15 million fewer people to have insurance in 2018 and 2019, versus current law

21 million fewer be insured by 2026

32 million fewer Americans with coverage after 2026 if the funding provided in the Obamacare repeal bill [Graham-Cassidy] is not reauthorized by Congress

As I mentioned on Saturday's Interesting Stuff post, late night host Jimmy Kimmel waged a week-long war of words against Senator Bill Cassidy who, four months ago on Kimmel's show, said that he would not vote for a bill that did not include coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Then he went right back to Washington and co-authored this bill that does the opposite. Can you spell hypocrite?

Last Thursday a new survey from Public Policy Polling showed that only 24 percent of Americans approve of Graham-Cassidy. There is more detail about the poll at Vox.

Most of the news media and pundits are saying that the bill is hanging by a thread and has almost no chance of passing.

Three Republican senators have indicated they probably will not vote for the bill: Rand Paul, of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. On Friday, in a move that Vox called a “death blow,” to the bill, Senator John McCain of Arizona announced that he opposes Graham-Cassidy.

[UPDATE 5:45 AM PDT: Overnight, Republican senators altered Graham-Cassidy to throw more money via block grants to Alaska and Maine as a bribe to Senators Murkowski and Collins to vote for the bill. It will be interesting to see what they do.]

But are you going to count on that to quash the bill? Fifty-one votes are needed and we know at least one senator who went back on his public word.

Among the things I am grateful for even with my frightening diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is that I am old enough for Medicare. Without it, I would not have had anywhere near enough money to pay for my treatment and I would have had to just go home and die.

As will happen to too many people if Graham-Cassidy becomes law. Private insurance is not as comprehensive as Medicare but the Obamacare changes have gone a long way to help more people afford coverage. Graham-Cassity guts that.

They say that the Senate will vote on this bill on Wednesday. Unless Republicans withdraw it, they must vote by next weekend when Senate rules change and more than 51 votes are needed to pass a bill.

So please call your senators now to let them know where you stand. Even if you believe your senators will vote against it, call anyway. The number of calls matters.

Let's keep it simple – you don't need direct numbers to senators' offices. This number - 202.224.3121 - will get you to the Congressional switchboard. Just ask for your senator's office. Then, when you've left your message there, call back and ask for your other senator.

2122243121

Do it now.


ELDER MUSIC: JAM

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.

* * *

JAM

JAM was an occasional conglomeration of three musicians: KEVIN JOHNSON,

Kevin Johnson

DOUG ASHDOWN and

Doug Ashdown

MIKE MCCLELLAN.

Mike McClellan

These three are probably the finest singer/songwriters Australia has produced (if you discount Paul Kelly and Glenn Cardier, which I am only for the purpose of this exercise).

They all began their serious performing and recording careers from the sixties to the early seventies and have continued to the present day, although Doug is pretty much retired and doesn't perform often these days.

Mike and Kev, however, are better than ever: it's the decades of performances that hone the skills. The three of them got together for some gigs around about 2001, and were a great combination.

As I mentioned, JAM really was only an occasional thing, they were all mostly solo performers. I've seen them in both categories although in his early days Kev usually had a full band with him.

So, let's run though them in order of their collective name, starting with KEVIN JOHNSON.

Kevin Johnson

Kev's biggest hit, one that has set him up for life because many people have recorded this song and most have sold pretty well, was Rock & Roll I Gave You the Best Years of my Life. I've used that song in a couple of columns, so I'll go with another one from the same album.

This one is Bonnie Please Don't Go. This is about people leaving on ships rather than planes. Remember when people did that?

♫ Kevin Johnson - Bonnie Please Don't Go


DOUG ASHDOWN started as a rocker in Adelaide but became better known as part of the folkie scene in the sixties.

Doug Ashdown

He decided to become a professional songwriter and moved to Nashville with his co-writer and producer Jim Stewart. It was there they wrote Doug's most famous song, Leave Love Enough Alone, generally known as Winter in America, which he decided to record himself.

It was a considerable hit in his native country, to which he returned after the success of the song.

♫ Doug Ashdown - Winter In America


MIKE MCCLELLAN has been performing since the sixties and there's no sign of him slowing down.

Mike McClellan

He released his first album in the early seventies but his second "Ask Any Dancer" is the one that really established him. That one is a classic and contains so many great songs that he didn't need to release any more. Of course, he did.

From the album we have the story of Mike in song: Song and Danceman.

♫ Mike McClellan - Song and Danceman


KEVIN JOHNSON may be a Man Of The 20th Century, as his song posits.

Kevin Johnson

The sentiments are equally applicable to the current century. For most of the song he seems to be on a plane, that's something Australians take for granted, especially if they want to go somewhere else. People from other countries seem to grumble if it's suggested that they might want to come and visit us.

♫ Kevin Johnson - Man Of The 20th Century


I've seen all three performers many times and they mostly play solo with just an acoustic guitar. Late in the evening at some gigs DOUG ASHDOWN has been known to strap on a Fender Telecaster and play full tilt rock and roll.

Doug Ashdown

That's not what we have here. He usually performs the song Marianne without adornment. I prefer it that way, however, the only version I have is from his album from the seventies that has a band with added extras. They weren't needed.

♫ Doug Ashdown - Marianne


My favorite MIKE MCCLELLAN song, and that's really a hard call, would be Saturday Dance.

Mike McClellan

I originally had in this spot the version from his album mentioned above which had strings and heavenly choruses, the whole gamut. Just after I finished writing the column I bought a DVD of Mike playing at The Basement in Sydney with just an acoustic guitar.

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I watched it over lunch and we both spontaneously applauded when this song finished. There might have been some Kleenex involved as well as some wine.

I hope you like it as much as we did. Here is that version, rather than the one from the album.

♫ Mike McClellan - Saturday Dance


If you listen to the words of KEVIN JOHNSON's song Grab the Money and Run, it seems to me that it would make a great film. It would be far from the first one made from a song.

Kevin Johnson

As far as I know no one has done that but you can imagine it as you listen carefully.

♫ Kevin Johnson - Grab The Money And Run


There are two songs that DOUG ASHDOWN has to sing whenever he performs.

Doug Ashdown

The first is the one featured at the top, the second is Willie's Shades. This is a version from one of his concerts, with Kirk Lorange playing lead guitar.

♫ Doug Ashdown - Willie's Shades


MIKE MCCLELLAN is still performing and recording. Indeed he's recently released a fine new album called "No Intermission".

Mike McClellan

His song isn't from that one, I thought I'd let you know in case you want to search for these albums. The song is Lovers Never Wind up Friends from earlier in his career.

♫ Mike McClellan - Lovers Never Wind Up Friends


JAM didn't ever record together but a couple of their performances were captured at the Troubadour Weekend back in 2001. This is Kevin with the others singing harmony and Kirk Lorange playing lead guitar. The song is Night Rider.

♫ Kevin Johnson (with Mike Doug & Kirk) - Night Rider


But wait there's more. When I mentioned to my friend Ann I was writing about JAM she sent me this track. It was also recorded at The Basement and it had the A.M. and me a'hoppin' and a'boppin' to it and we thought it should be included as a bonus track. Taking the Long Road Home.

♫ JAM - Taking The Long Road Home



INTERESTING STUFF – 23 September 2017

SAFETY FEATURES FOR ELDERS IN NEW CARS

Writing in The New York Times, long-time health reporter Jane Brody tells us that contrary to popular belief, elders are generally safe drivers:

”When a crash occurs involving an older driver, it tends to garner media attention, whereas the same accident with a younger driver would not. 'That’s unfair to the general population of older adults, who are among the safest drivers on the road,' said Jacob Nelson, the director of traffic safety advocacy and research at AAA.'”

That doesn't mean old drivers can't use some helpful safety features and these days Brody, now arrived at elderhood, often writes about our issues. Like me, she sometimes takes her cues from what is happening in her life.

Recently, she bought a new car:

”...driving home from the Subaru dealer with the lane departure feature activated, I immediately saw one benefit: The car beeped me and displayed a visual image every time I got too close to either side of my lane when I wasn’t signaling a turn.

“Backing out of a parking lot, the dashboard backup camera assured me that I wasn’t about to hit another car or pedestrian, though I also used my eyes and mirrors as added insurance.

“...As someone with arthritic hands (among other body parts), I’m aided by power seats that can be preset two ways: one for my best driving position and the other to ease entry and exit from the car.

“Other useful features include power windows and mirrors, a thicker steering wheel that is easier to grip, keyless entry, an automatic tailgate closer and a push-button to start (and stop) the engine.”

I would like to remind us all that safety features of any kind originally meant with elders in mind are always, ALWAYS equally good for younger people.

JIMMY KIMMEL ON THE LATEST REPEAL OBAMACARE BILL

You've undoubtedly heard all the back-and-forth on the Republicans' latest attempt to repeal Obamacare - you know, the Graham-Cassidy bill that will strip coverage from millions of ordinary folks so that rich people can have the huge tax cut candidate Trump promised them during the election campaign..

The Graham-Cassidy bill which Republicans want Congress to vote on without debate or discussion just might repeal Obamacare this time.

Late night host Jimmy Kimmel this week revealed Cassidy's horrendous hypocrisy on the subject. The video is a little longer that I usually post but it is important:

As the week has gone by, more terrible details from Graham-Cassidy have been released - or leaked. Such as this:

Graham

Much more information, including a larger version of that graph, about Graham-Cassidy at Esquire. (Thank you John Starbuck.)

MORE JIMMY KIMMEL

I usually record the monologues of a couple of the late night hosts to watch the next day and it is recently becoming obvious that I have not paid enough attention to Jimmy Kimmel.

He's not always as serious as in the clip above. Sometimes he's pretty funny and in this one, Kimmel identified what he calls “The most uncomfortable display of affection between a husband and wife this year.” It is good to lighten our mood in the midst of Congress's ongoing determination to leave a vast swath of Americans with health coverage.

IT'S JUST A TV COMMERCIAL BUT WOW

It is an eye drops commercial from Germany. You would think, no big deal. Not a word is spoken but you won't miss the amazing point at the end of the 45 seconds. Really clever.

GIVING INJURED STRAYS A SECOND CHANCE

For many years when I lived in Greenwich Village, I regularly saw a man walking his dog who got around in a wheelchair to support his paralyzed back legs. Nicely done, I thought.

Then, a week or two ago I found this video about a man in a town on Taiwan, Pan Chieh, who makes similar wheelchairs for injured stray dogs. Take a look at his inspiring story.

AMAZING 15 THOUSAND DOMINO LINE

It's been awhile since I've posted a domino line. This is not the longest one I've ever seen but I like it anyway. And it has garnered more than 40 million views in one year on YouTube.

NEW DICTIONARY WORDS FOR 2018

Every year, the Merriam-Webster people announce the latest words they have found worthy to be included in their dictionaries. There are 250 new ones this year including:

bibimbap, a Korean dish of rice with cooked vegetables, usually meat, and often an egg, either raw or fried

sriracha, the pungent hot pepper sauce now appearing on even diner counters

Some words get additional meanings. Front is now also used informally to mean "to assume a fake or false personality to conceal one's true identity and character."

Terms like alt-right and dog whistle are from the world of politics. The latter began, of course, as something only for canines, but in political contexts it now refers to an expression or statement with a secondary meaning that only a particular group of people is intended to understand.

You can find out all 250 new words at the Merriam-Webster website. (Warning: a man starts talking as soon as you land there so you might want to turn off your audio.)

THE TRUMP SONATA

TGB friend, Chuck Nyren, who blogs at Advertising for Baby Boomers, sent this item that

”...makes use of Trump as 'raw material' and portrays him from an artistic perspective. The only considerations made by [composer and artis Avnere Hanani] were musical and aesthetic, with a touch of humor.

“Important to notice that no manipulation was made to Trump's speech. I did not touch the pitch or rhythm of his speech (just to make him suit the piano more easily), but rather left Trump's talk natural - "let Trump be Trump".

RARE WHITE GIRAFFE AND HER BABY IN KENYA

You may have seen this – it's been all over the feature news this week but these two exotic animals are so elegant looking that it's worth a repeat here.

They are two rare white giraffes — a mother and a baby — filmed in early August in Kenya after being spotted repeatedly since June in the Garissa County area.

They are white because of a genetic condition called leucism, which causes a loss of pigmentation. Leucism is different than albinism because multiple types of pigment are reduced rather than just melanin.

There is a detailed story about them at The New York Times.

* * *

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

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


Too Old to Fall

Are you age 65 or older and live at home? If so, in any given year, you have almost a one in three chance of falling. If you live in a care home, you have a 50 percent chance.

This is not to be taken lightly. Little kids fall all the time and bounce right up - their bones are still pliable. Old people's? Not so much and a broken bone, even a bad bruise, can lead to disability. Here are some statistics about elders and falls (emphasis is mine):

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall

Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults

Today, the first day of autumn, is the annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day and as we do here every year at this time, we remind ourselves to take stock of how to protect ourselves from this particular danger.

For elders who live independently, most falls happen at home.

Before I get rolling on this topic, here is a short video from the National Council on Aging about preventing falls. It's a little too cutesy for me, but it has the basic information you need to keep in mind to help you stay safe from falls:

For such a short piece, that video covers the preventable causes of falls quite well and the beginning of this new season is a good reminder to correct the problems in your home that might trip you up.

Two unexpected things changed after my Whipple procedure surgery in June: I lost my taste for sweet things (not that I don't eat them but they are no longer something I crave) and my balance, which had always been good, has become shakier.

For the first time, I now have a mat in the tub so not to slip while showering and I have taught myself, especially when I get up from a chair or bed, to hang on to something for a few moments until I feel steady on my feet.

You might like to take a mental inventory to see if such things may have changed for you.

Here is a list of websites about most of the hazards and preventions we should check for and correct once a year:

National Institute on Aging

AARP – Preventing Fall in the Elderly

Mayo Clinic

WebMD

National Institute on Aging

Few of these and other well-meaning instructions mention an important hazard we discussed in August – running children.

”Suddenly, two boys – maybe seven, eight or nine – ran full tilt down the hallway, brushing the old man's cane arm as they scooted by and then, making a course correction, nearly bumped into my wheelchair.

“I don't recall any previous time when I was frightened in just that way. I immediately pictured myself and the wheelchair tipped over on the floor of the hallway, my incision ripped open with blood pouring forth.”

This post drew a lot of comment and several of you mentioned the additional problem of adults looking at cell phones while walking and bumping into people. Here's my free advice about that:

If you use a cane, a walker or a quarterstaff, take it with you every time you leave the house. One reader commented in August that they also work well as defensive devices when out and about.

Another useful device is a medical alert system that will notify a response team if you have fallen and can't get up. (Yes, I agree, those TV commercials are awful.) There are many different systems to choose from and some may not be as reliable as anyone would want or need.

One place you can check is the reviews.com page about these devices. They say they have carefully checked and tested many systems and give reasons for their recommendations so you might want to consult them. Just so you know, their About page notes:

"If you buy our picks, we'll often make money on that purchase. That is how we can stay in business...We pledge that we'll never name a top pick that's not truly great even it'd mean a bigger payout for us."

As always, be careful where you shop online.

Most of us at this blog are too old to risk falling so let's all be safe out there, just as Sergeant Phil Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) used to say every week on Hill Street Blues.


A Question of Organ Recitals

Friends

A few days ago in a comment, a reader made an approving reference to a friend who refused to take part in groups of old people who indulge in “organ recitals” - that supposedly clever but disparaging phrase for discussion of medical problems.

(It is always applied to elders. Young people who talk about their health are never accused of being boring but we'll save discussion of that kind of ageism for another day.)

Certainly we have all known people who carry on at mind-numbing length or go through the details of their surgery at inappropriate moments – Thanksgiving dinner comes to mind. But there is another side to this issue.

A couple of weeks ago, on a post here in which Crabby Old Lady was writing about her cancer, reader Rina Rosselson who blogs at age, ageing and feature films, left this note in the comments:

”Thanks for your crabby post. At 82 I still have not heard what my friends had been going through when struck by a serious illness. There is such reluctance and fear to communicate and share these feelings. Your posts make it easier to talk about these changes.”

Rina is right. As much as some organ recitals can be excessive, plenty of other people go too far in their silence about serious medical issues. It helped me a lot, eased my mind to a degree, especially when I was first diagnosed, that people I know – in “real life” and on this blog – passed on what they had experienced during cancer treatment.

Conversation

Even if it would not closely match my experience, it helped me understand how difficult or easy my treatment might be and, most important, that those people had got through it - a real question when facing so much that is frightening and new.

Here is another thing that happened – to me, anyway – after the surgery and during recovery from it; even as I desperately wanted to not become a “professional patient” and wanted to hang on to my pre-diagnosis life, cancer is insidious in at least one additional way beyond the physical attack on the body:

Over time, and not all that long a period, it creeps into every cell of your brain. Trying to read a newspaper or a book? The mind strays to cancer. Watching a movie on TV? Next thing you know you're wondering if the chemo will actually work, and you've lost the thread of the film story.

Even washing dishes or making the bed, you suddenly worry that you forgot to take your pre-meal pill at lunch.

But perhaps the worst? Those ubiquitous commercials for various cancer treatment centers scattered in cities around the U.S. that always imply that they can cure cancer.

They enrage me. As much as I suspect a generally positive attitude is helpful in treating cancer, I resent being lied to as though I'm incompetent. And although, if you listen carefully to every word, they don't promise a cure, few of us pay that kind of close attention and it sounds like that's what they are saying.

Either way, there you go down the cancer rabbit hole again.

One thing I've noticed is that too often when I've told people about my diagnosis, they don't know what to say – they are stunned - understandable - and I think part of that is our general reluctance to discuss such things at all.

So I'm with Rina. I think discussing details of our serious diseases and conditions (appropriately, for sure) is a big help in reducing fear in everyone involved – friends and family as well as patients. Talking about these dramatic changes, when they hit us, with loved ones goes a long way to finding a way to live with them.

I am reminded of the large number of doctors and nurses I have been dealing with through these months. They answer every question with the truth, even the hard truths, with compassion, understanding and a good deal of humor. The rest of us should be doing that too.

Friends Having Lunch


What Medigap Changes Mean For Elders

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Today's post is a bit wonkier than I usually publish but it is important for U.S. readers who will become eligible for Medicare in the next two years, and for current beneficiaries too. It shouldn't be hard to follow.]

Since my pancreatic cancer diagnosis three months ago, I have blessed President Lyndon B. Johnson every day for his part in creating Medicare. With the price tag for my surgery and ongoing care already into high six figures, without Medicare I would be doomed – as many old people were before Medicare.

Now, there are some changes coming to Medicare that will make it more expensive for elders while also reducing coverage. This involves changes that Congress passed in 2015 to the supplementary (or “Medigap”) coverage.

(We are talking about traditional Medicare today, not Medicare Advantage plans.)

Medicap policies pay most of the 20 percent or so of doctor and hospital costs that Parts A and B of Medicare do not cover. The choices of Medigap insurance plans are labeled by letters: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, N. As the Chicago Tribune explained the coming changes recently,

”In 2020, people who are on Medicare and don't already have what's known as Plan F or Plan C Medigap insurance won't be able to buy it because the federal government will close those plans to new participants.

“That means that when people go onto Medicare at 65, or if they switch Medicare-related insurance during the next couple of years, they are going to have to be diligent about scrutinizing insurance possibilities before some of those doors start to close.”

Plans C and F are, according to The Trib, the most popular Medigap choices for good reason. Plan F, which I chose when I signed up for Medicare in 2006,

”...is the most comprehensive. It doesn't cover dental, vision, or medicine [no Medigap plans do], but if retirees pay their monthly premiums they shouldn't have to pay anything else for doctors, tests or hospitals. Even medical care overseas is partially covered.

“In other words, at a time in life when medical issues can pop up suddenly and cost a fortune, Plan F is predictable. Plan C is popular for the same reason, although it isn't as comprehensive as Plan F.”

When Congress enacted this coming change, the goal was to save money on Medicare. So as of 2020, the Part B deductible will no longer be covered by existing Medicap policies and Plans C and F will no longer be available to new enrollees.

People currently on Plan C or F, like me, will still

”...be able to shop your coverage. If another insurance company offers it at a better price down the road, you can apply to change to that insurance company’s Plan F policy...” reports Forbes.

“However, over time we can probably expect Plan F premiums to slowly rise, since the total number of people enrolled will be shrinking annually.”

Meanwhile, it is not clear that this change will reduce Medicare costs. As Reuters reported when the legislation was passed in 2015,

”Numerous studies show that exposure to higher out-of-pocket costs results in people using fewer services, [Tricia Neuman, senior vice president and director of the Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation] says.

“If seniors forego care because of the deductible, Medicare would achieve some savings. 'The hope is people will be more sensitive to costs and go without unnecessary care,' she says.

“'But if instead, some forego medical care that they need, they may require expensive care down the road, potentially raising costs for Medicare over time.'”

There is more detailed information at all the links I've provided above.

FIRST LOOK AT NEW MEDICARE CARDS
You can be forgiven if, thanks to the Experian Equifax data breach affecting 143 million Americans, you think this is too little too late. Also, the theft is so large, just assume you are affected.

Next year, all Medicare beneficiaries will receive new Medicare cards with a new kind of numbering system – no more Social Security numbers. Last week, Medicare released a first look at the new card:

Medicare_Cards_Identity_Theft680

There are all kinds of things to know about this change you can find at cms.gov.

And if you haven't done anything to secure your stolen data from being used nefariously, here is a good instruction piece from The New York Times. It will cost you $20 or $30 to set up credit freezes and fraud alerts. And here is a later report from The Times answering reader questions about the data breach.


ELDER MUSIC: 1925

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.

* * *

No introductory notes for 1925 as it was 20 years before I was born so I don't remember anything from that year.

FRANK CRUMIT was the first person to play the ukulele in a musical on Broadway.

Frank Crumit

Frank was originally going to be a doctor but switched to electrical engineering. That career didn't last long as he discovered music along the way. He thought of going into opera but that didn't work out. Somewhere he discovered the uke.

Here is probably the best known song about the instrument, Ukulele Lady.

♫ Frank Crumit - Ukulele Lady


From the ridiculous to the sublime, the great BESSIE SMITH.

Bessie Smith

Oh my goodness, this is superb: Careless Love Blues, a song that's been performed by countless people but none better than this.

♫ Bessie Smith - Careless Love Blues


There have been many really good versions of the Rodgers and Hart song Manhattan. This isn't one of them. It's by BEN SELVIN & THE KNICKERBOCKERS.

Ben Selvin

I can't think of anything positive to say about Ben's version except that it came from 1925.

♫ Ben Selvin & the Knickerbockers - Manhattan 1925


ETHEL WATERS was the first person, but far from the last, to record the song Dinah.

Ethel Waters

Apparently Ethel had a horrible childhood (she said she didn't have one really), and was married at 13 to an abusive husband. She got out of that and joined a vaudeville troupe.

After a bit she was performing with Bessie Smith who insisted that Ethel must not sing blues (we wouldn't want to upstage her), so she sang mostly pop songs and the like.

Eventually she found herself in New York and was a leading light in the Harlem Renaissance at the time. There's a lot more to her story, but we'll have to wait for another day.

♫ Ethel Waters - Dinah


THE HAPPINESS BOYS was a radio program in the early twenties that featured Billy Jones & Ernest Hare.

The Happiness Boys

They also recorded under that name which is why they are present today. Billy and Ernie were both trained opera singers and they would occasionally sing opera in a burlesque manner on their program. Their group name is from the fact that they were sponsored by the chain of Happiness Candy stores.

The song they sing today is still quite well known, it's Don't Bring Lulu.

♫ The Happiness Boys (Billy Jones & Ernest Hare) - Don't Bring Lulu


MARIAN ANDERSON recorded Nobody Knows the Trouble I Seen in this week's year.

Marian Anderson

However, for once I'm going against my policy of only using songs that were recorded, or released, in the particular year. I have that version but it's really scratchy.

This was another Marian made some time later and she is such an important musician, and person if it comes to that, that I feel you should hear how the song really should sound.

Marian Anderson - Nobody Knows the Trouble I See


JOHN MCCORMACK died the day I was born and obviously his singing talent passed on to me.

John McCormack

People who know me are now rolling around the floor laughing about that (including me, I hasten to add). John was an Irish tenor who later became an Australian tenor. He was a noted opera singer, but many of his recordings were of popular music, including this one, When You and I Were Seventeen.

John McCormack - When You and I Were Seventeen


VERNON DALHART was born Marion Try Slaughter. No wonder he changed his name.

Vernon Dalhart

Vernon received voice training at the Dallas Conservatory of Music and later he saw an advertisement for singers to record so he decided to check it out. He was auditioned by Thomas Edison himself and got a gig recording light classical pieces and dance band music.

The Prisoner's Song doesn't really fit into either category, so I guess he recorded other stuff as well.

Vernon Dalhart - The Prisoner's Song


We have two hugely important musicians this year, three maybe. The next one is PAUL ROBESON.

Paul Robeson

Paul was one of the most significant people of the 20th century and you don't need me to tell you about him. The only thing I'll say is that he was the first person to sing at the Sydney Opera House. That was when it was still a building site – he sang to the workers.

Today he sings the old spiritual, Steal Away.

Paul Robeson - Steal Away


MARION HARRIS was billed throughout her career as a jazz and blues singer.

Marion Harris

Perhaps things have changed over the years but she doesn't sound to me like either of those. She seems to be more a straight pop singer. Nothing wrong with that, it's just that when we've had Bessie and Ethel, she rather pales.

Anyway, she does a decent job of I'll See You In My Dreams.

♫ Marion Harris - I'll See You In My Dreams



INTERESTING STUFF – 16 September 2017

PETER TIBBLES' BIRTHDAY

Today is the birthday of TimeGoesBy's inimitable Sunday musicologist. I'm not sure which one exactly but it's in the area of early 70s. His musical knowledge is phenominally wide and deep, and he's funny too.

Let's start the celebration singing along with a short version of the standard birthday song sung, in this case, by The Beatles, supposedly before they were well known.

Peter and I have known one another now for at least nine years; he and his assistant musicologist, Norma, have visited me twice. In between internet chitchat about his columns, Peter is wont to send me funny or messed up news stories from his local, Australian press.

This is his most recent from the Sydney Morning Herald. It's a serious story about a sex offender but someone screwed up the image beside it big time:

PeterCowSexOffenderStory

I have a fondness for fireworks on birthdays so here, Peter, is a video of one of the most creative and beautiful ones I've ever seen:

But no birthday is right without the obligatory cake and I found one that Peter will defintely approve of:

Birthdaycake

So wish Peter a HAPPY BIRTHDAY and don't forget to visit his music column on Sundays.

PARTHENON OF BANNED BOOKS

In Kassel, Germany, at the very site where Nazis once burned over 2,000 books by Jewish and Marxist writers, one artist has built a colossal tribute to free speech.

“The 'Parthenon of Books', YouTube tells us, is a giant temporary replica of the famous Greek temple in Athens. The installation is covered by more than 100,000 books that have been banned at various stages throughout history.

“Created by Argentine artist Marta Minujín, the exhibit is meant to spark debate over censorship in literature. Once the exhibition is over, these books will be handed out to allow the banned to enter literary circulation once more.

As far as I am concerned, there is no book that should ever be banned. Even the hateful and incorrigible should be retained to impart an understanding of evil and as warnings.

SPYING ON WILDLIFE WITH ANIMAL ROBOTS

As YouTube explains:

”Filmmaker John Downer has spent much of his life capturing footage of wildlife, but it wasn’t until he and his team created robotic animals with built-in spy cameras that he was able to record rare footage of animal behavior in the wild, essentially from the perspective of the animal.”

The robots are so realistic that at first I thought it wasn't nice to fool animals this way but then I changed my mind. Take a look:

UNALASKA BELL RINGERS

Remember when I posted a video about eagles in a tiny town in Alaska called Unalaska a few weeks ago? Apparently, for such a small place, a lot of things of interest go on there.

Here is a video about Unalaska's bell ringers:

TRUE NEW YORKER

It has been 11 years since I left New York City and as I tell anyone who is willing to listen to me, I miss it every day. This week, I ran across a website called Women that held a little quiz titled, “Can You Finish These 16 NYC Phrases West Coasters Just Don't Get?”

Of course, I took the challenge and here's my result:

TrueNewYorker

I'm pleased to know I haven't lost my New York chops. You can try the quiz here.

CAT CAFE ON A MOVING TRAIN IN JAPAN

It has been more than a decade since Japan's first cat cafe opened and they are so popular, many countries have adopted the idea. Just recently, one stationary cafe in Japan expanded to include a cat cafe on a train:

You can read more about this cat train at Atlas Obscura.

THE NEW YORKER COVER IF CLINTON HAD WON

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been all over television this week talking up her just-published book about the 2016 election campaign titled, What Happened. Here is the cover the The New Yorker had ready if she had won the presidency.

NYorkerisClintonhadwon

EXTENT OF OREGON'S EAGLE CREEK FIRE

With all the horrendous hurricane damage thse past two weeks, there has hardly been any reporting on the many large and terrifying wild fires throughout the western United States.

One of them in Oregon, named the Eagel Creek Fire, has taken out much more area than I'd realized from local new reports. As of Thursday, it had been confirmed that the fire was started by kids setting off fireworks. Here's what the YouTube page says:

”This Google Earth flyover integrates infrared scanning data to highlight the Columbia Gorge landmarks threatened by the Eagle Creek fire including the Bull Run watershed, the source of the Portland area's drinking water.

“Areas shaded in orange are inside the fire perimeter; red spots indicate intense wildfire heat. The approximate ignition point has been confirmed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group and eyewitnesses.”

The fire is still raging.

TRIBUTE TO RESCUE DOGS

Last Monday was the 16th anniversary of 9/11 when terrorists (successfully) drove airplanes into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania killing everyone aboard all three planes.

Here is a tribute to the rescue dogs that helped recover the injured and dead at the Twin Towers.

All working dogs, but especially rescue dogs, awe me with their selflessness and eagerness to help humans.

* * *

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

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


And Chemo Begins

Chemotherapybags

On Wednesday, my first chemotherapy session took place and I was happy to have a friend do the driving and stay with me because I was more apprehensive than I had been going into surgery three months ago.

Part of the reason, I think, as I told you recently, is that I read the stacks of material the chemo staff gave me (a whole binder of information, and enormous Powerpoint deck and a variety of other printed matter) three times while making and organizing notes to myself because there is so much to remember.

[NOTE: Before I go any further, I must remind readers that what I am telling you is my experience and mine alone. If you are facing chemotherapy, your experience will be different for more reasons than I can count. So take this as only a general overview that might or might not be useful to you.]

THE FIRST CHEMO SESSION
In a pleasant room with lots of windows, I was settled into a lounge chair. My first visitor was the RN who numbed the port that was surgically placed in my upper chest about three weeks ago, then drew blood for immediate testing.

Twenty minutes later, he returned with the chemo infusion bags and set me up. I'm lucky, mine takes only about an hour. And what an hour! I had expected to spend the time chatting with Joseph. But nooooo. I have a lot of team members.

After the RN, the nurse practitioner, who will oversee my chemo treatment during the six-month duration, came by. We had a chat about my treatment and then, because he had studied medicine at NYU in New York, we talked about our neighborhood there. He misses it too.

Almost as soon as he left, the social worker showed up. She's concerned about my emotional and mental wellbeing and I did my best to reassure her. But I'm glad she's there just in case.

Then there was the nutritionist whom I already know. We talk a lot because I dislike my extremely limited diet so much I'm always pressing her to allow more and different foods.

My next visitor was the pharmacist who went over my current drugs with me and added three more so I am making a new chart for myself or I'll never keep up.

By then the infusion was finished and I was free to leave.

REACTION TO FIRST CHEMO SESSION
Apprehension had been growing over several days leading up to the first chemo and by the time Joseph arrived to pick me up, I was in a terrible state. But then he showed me the teeshirt he was wearing and I started feeling better right away:

CancerTeeshirt

And guess what? He had one for me too.

I can't wear it for chemo treatments because it prevents the nurse from getting to my infusion port, but I wore it when I picked up the new medications and the pharmacist commented. He liked it.

By the time my first chemo was finished, I was in a great mood. It helped to have a friend with me and the attention from all MY team members whom I will see each week is as terrific as my surgical team was in the most important way: they make me feel safe.

Every one of them is knowledgeable, concerned, helpful, caring, warm and patient with me. I will get through this to a large extent because of them.

HOW MY LIFE IS DIFFERENT NOW
As it turns out, the chemo infusion is easy compared to what I must do every day for these next six months - most of it is meant, as much as possible, to help reduce the incidence of the nearly two dozen possible side effects:

Rinse mouth with baking soda/salt solution four times a day to try to forestall mouth and tongue sores

Rub a special lotion on feet and hands four times a time to try to forestall hand-and-foot syndrome

Use only luke warm water for baths, showers, hand-washing dishes (winter is coming, folks; this is hard to face)

Wash hands constantly (luke warm water) including each time after touching the cat

Use gloves to clean litter box

Wash fruits and vegetables extra carefully

Stay away from people with colds, coughs and fevers

There's more but you've got the idea. It's not that any of it is hard to do; it's that it's so time consuming along with the need to be constantly checking the clock and keeping track of the schedule. One thing or another is due to be done about every two hours.

But there is no choice for me. All the anxiety and apprehension before the first infusion was directly related to the side effects I had been reading about and I'll go to almost any length to do what I can to avoid them.

So far, there have been no signs of side effects but chemo effect is cumulative so I doubt I'll get through this scott free.

Eventually there will be side effects. But nobody can say which ones, how severe or if they will happen at all. If I'm lucky and I've been diligent with the prevention measures, maybe it will be light.

The best news is that with all the wonderful OHSU people and Joseph being with me, I won't dread my visits to the chemo unit again. Good thing, since this goes on almost every week until March 2018.


Finding New Friends in Old Age

EDITORIAL REMINDER: One of the reasons Time Goes By is such a friendly place to have a conversation is that from day one, no commenter has been allowed to personally attack me or anyone who posts a comment.

Disagree about ideas? Fine. Assail others? Never.

On Monday's post, one reader attacked my research abilities and my thinking skills. That person's comment has been removed and he or she is now permanently banned from commenting here. No recourse.

That's how it's done at TGB. Fortunately, it doesn't happen often.

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Senior-loneliness

A quick search around this blog reveals that about once a year we discuss loneliness among elders including all the terrible statistics related to people who feel lonely.

For example, Medical News Today recently reported that

”Two new meta-analyses from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, UT, reveal that loneliness and social isolation may increase the risk of premature death by up to 50 percent.”

We could discuss that again (and probably will in the future), but last week a new reader, Albert Williams, left a comment on a 2014 post about friends in old age that interests me:

”Whew! I'm glad I found this site,” wrote Williams. “I was beginning to think that I was the only person with such problems, and that, perhaps, there was something wrong with me.

“However, after a bit of introspection, I realize that this is not completely true. (Completely? Try old, ugly, curmudgeonly, short-tempered, cynical, and a few more applicable adjectives...)

“Time has, indeed, taken its toll. I am now an old man. Most of my life-long friends are gone. I've never had any kids; I've outlived two wives; and almost all of my family on both sides have already died.

“I find it very easy to make new acquaintances, but these seem to never develop into the deep, trusting, abiding friendships I had when I was young. Loneliness, apparently, has become a permanent part of my remaining days, and my best friends nowadays are my dogs and my computer.”

That is a familiar thought for me. Most of my “deep, trusting, abiding friendships” of many years have died or live far away and the people I enjoy spending time with where I live now haven't crossed to that special status yet although two or three are heading in that direction.

It's close enough to true to say that all websites aimed at elders repeat the same, facile solutions on this subject: join a senior center, make use of online groups, figure out local transportation options if you don't drive anymore.

But none of that gets to the more ephemeral problem that Albert Williams is talking about and they don't discuss the reasons this happens to so many old people.

Here are a couple of my disjointed thoughts about how this happens:

Disability, health conditions and just plain being more tired than when we were young keep many of us at home. I know that it has been years since I have booked social engagements two days in a row and I sometimes need more days in between.

We no longer have careers and children in common as a starting place for new friendships. In fact, the only thing we can be certain of sharing in old age is our health which, as a reader noted recently, many are reluctant to talk about and too many others are guilty of oversharing.

Social media – texting, Facebook, etc. - have taken a toll on friendly telephone conversations. Remember when the phone would ring at random times and a friend was on the other end seeking to make a dinner appointment or just chat for awhile?

Few people I know do that much anymore. We make appointments – actual appointments – via text or email to chat on the phone. I appreciate that with my far-away old friends but I miss the serendipity of telephone visits with people nearby even as I have become accustomed to making these appointments.

No one can decide to make someone a friend. The thing about friends who fit like an old shoe is that it takes time - and the effort to keep in touch between in-person visits.

Always, a new friendship has surprised me even back in the days when it seemed easier than now. After some period of time, usually several months, I think, I realized one day, “Hmmm. When did Tom, Dick or Mary become a friend? I didn't see it coming but here it is and I am glad for it.”

It happened while we were going to movies together, sharing stories about ourselves, recommending books to one another and becoming comfortable enough together that we came to relax together in ways we can't until we have come to trust.

Those opportunities seem to diminish as we grow older. Albert Williams is not alone and the problem of elder loneliness, according to researchers, is increasing. I'm pretty sure some of you have plenty to say about this.

(There is a new-ish category of friends, online friends we have never met in person or only once or twice that I believe are important to our well-being and expand our lives in important, lovely ways. But that conversation is for another day.)


You and Me and Flu Season

EDITORIAL NOTE: Several readers suggested I replace the far right photo in the banner with a screen grab from the video interview I posted on Saturday. I thought that was a pretty good idea, so I did it. See above.

* * *

Flu vaccine

God knows my memory could be off but I'm guessing I began getting an annual flu shot sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Before then, a week home in bed with the flu was a winter ritual.

Only once in the 30 to 40 years I've taken the vaccine, did I forget to do it – but I will never forget the flu I suffered that year, and I do mean suffered.

It happened about 15 years ago, so let's say I was age 60 or so and I was in bed for two full weeks with all the awful symptoms – fever, muscle aches, headache, chills, sweating, fuzzyheadedness, etc. and it took a month after that before I was at full capacity again.

During those two weeks, I had little sense of time passing, just horrible discomfort and then, finally, the pain and fog lifted. I was well and functional again. But it has puzzled me ever since that in the kitchen that day I found two empty gallon jugs of water.

I had never bought water. There is no need in New York City which regularly wins awards for the best tap water in the United States. Yet there they were, those two empty jugs.

Had I gone to the corner bodega to buy them? If so, why? I didn't remember then, I don't remember now and I don't recall anyone visiting me who might have brought them although there is nothing to say those things didn't happen. It's not a big deal; just one of the small mysteries of life but forever attached to the word “flu” for me.

So here we are at the beginning of the 2017/18 flu season and even though people 65 and older are at high risk for the flu itself and at greater risk for preventable complications than younger adults, nearly one-third of those between the ages of 65 and 74 skipped the flu shot last year.

A couple of other worthwhile statistics: 90 percent of flu-related deaths occur in people 65 and older as do 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations.

Almost all elders should get a flu shot each year and there is a special, high dose vaccine for old people called Fluad. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),

”The 'high dose vaccine' is designed specifically for people 65 and older and contains 4 times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot. It is associated with a stronger immune response following vaccination (higher antibody production).

“Results from a clinical trial of more than 30,000 participants showed that adults 65 years and older who received the high dose vaccine had 24% fewer influenza infections as compared to those who received the standard dose flu vaccine.”

The vaccine is a good health investment and in fact, for most us requires no monetary investment. For those with original Medicare, Part B covers the shot with no copay - that is, free. If you have Medicare Advantage, check with your insurer.

If you have an allergy to eggs, you should consult with your physician about the flu vaccine and here's something new I learned recently: if you are receiving chemotherapy, you should talk with your physician before getting the shot. With approval from my doctor, I got mine, Fluad, two weeks ago, about three weeks before my chemo begins.

In my old age, a bad cold feels too much like the flu so I don't want to even imagine what a flu would feel like to me nowadays.

Oh, and here is one more reason to get the flu shot. It is estimated that people 65 and older who skip the flu immunization increase U.S. health care costs by $4.8 billion a year.

So you can contribute to Medicare's solvency too when you get a flu shot.

Here is the CDC's extensive website section on the flu.


ELDER MUSIC: Classical Gas Part 7

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.

* * *

I thought this series, named initially by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, to highlight lesser known composers who are seldom heard on radio or in concert, would end after two or three, but that's not the case. There are always interesting composers around that aren't very well known.

Giacomo Puccini is one of the most famous classical composers; he created a bunch of the best loved (and best) operas ever, so he doesn't belong in this column. I just mentioned him because his dad was a bit of a composer as well.

Dad was MICHELE PUCCINI.

Michele Puccini

The only thing I have of Mich's work is a Concertone for flute, clarinet, horn and keyed trumpet so I'll use that (well, that's pretty obvious).

The first two movements of this sound awfully like the overture to an opera. Maybe that's where young Gia got his inspiration. Instead, I'm using the third movement of that work. Actually, parts of this one also sounds a bit like opera music too.

♫ Michele Puccini - Concertone for flute clarinet horn and keyed trumpet (3)


Speaking of Puccinis, here's another one. This time it's DOMENICO PUCCINI.

Domenico Puccini

Dom was Mich's dad and his music is more in the mold of late classical – Haydn and early Beethoven – than the later operatic style of son and grandson. He was pretty much a contemporary of Beethoven's, although Ludwig outlived him by a bit over a decade.

Dom's contribution is the second movement of the Piano Concerto in B-flat major.

♫ Domenico Puccini - Piano Concerto in B-flat major (2)


Continuing the theme (which is a rather grand term for what is really a loose association), the next two composers were both princesses of Russia. I suppose if you were one of those you needed something to pass the time, particularly if you have the talent for it.

They both wrote singing things and we have the same singer in each case and the same instrumentalists as well. Not too surprising as they came from the same record.

Starting with NATALIA IVANOVA DE KOURAKINE (or Kourakin or Kourakina, take your pick). She hung around from 1755 to 1831, and apparently didn't stand still long enough to have her photo taken or picture painted.

Nat started out as Natalia Golovina and she married Prince Aleksei Borisovich Kurakin (when she was 16, but I guess that was the thing back then). He was a bigwig in the administration of Tsar Paul the first (until he fell out with him).

Nat was very well educated, spoke several languages, played the harp and guitar and sang. She also composed music, usually vocal with those two instruments accompanying.

Today we have Je Vais Donc Quitter pour Jamais. The soprano is ANNE HARLEY, guitarist OLEG TIMOFEYEV and violinist ETIENNE ABELIN.

Anne Harley & Oleg Timofeyev & Etienne Abelin

♫ Natalia Kourakine - Je Vais Donc Quitter pour Jamais


VARVARA DOLGOROUKY was also a Russian princess of some sort and lived from 1769 to 1849. That's about the sum total of information I've been able to find. Also, no picture of her either.

Her music is called Thémire Fuit and it has the same performers as the previous one.

Varvara Dolgorouky - Thémire Fuit


You'd think there was a connection between the next two, after all, they both have the same surname, both were born in Germany about roughly the same time, but that's it I'm afraid. No relation that I can find, but I'm including them both anyway.

The first is GEORG SCHNEIDER, born the same year as Beethoven.

Georg Schneider

Georg's main instrument was the horn, but he was proficient on others, particularly the violin, as well. He started out as court composer for Prince Frederick Henry Louis of Prussia, but when Napoleon invaded, he (Georg), fortuitously, was in Vienna where he decided to stay.

In spite of being contemporaneous with Beethoven, his music is much closer to the earlier composers Haydn and Mozart. That's fine by me. This is the first movement of his Flute Quartet in G minor, Op. 69 No. 3.

♫ Georg Schneider - Flute Quartet in G minor Op. 69 No. 3 (1)


The other is FRIEDRICH SCHNEIDER.

Friedrich Schneider

Boy, old Fred looks like a rock musician from the sixties. He was an organist and a pianist, and he played piano at the premier performance of Beethoven's fifth piano concerto (the Emperor).

He wrote music for the piano, operas, masses, cantatas and symphonies (amongst a lot of other things). From his Symphony No 17 in C minor, this is the second movement.

♫ Friedrich Schneider - Symphony No 17 (2)


You'd imagine that poor old ANTON FERDINAND TITZ would have been teased mercilessly when he was at school, he certainly would have been if he lived in Australia or America.

Ferdinand Titz

However, we're above that sort of thing. So, old Titzie (sorry, I mean Anton) was from Nuremburg and he started out as a painter. He switched to music and became the organist at the local church. He also played the violin and viola d'amore.

For the last 40 years of his life he lived in St Petersburg where he was in the employ of Catherine II. A lot of his music has been lost and little of the remaining has been recorded. This is one of those, the fourth movement of the String Quartet in C minor, Op. 1 No. 4.

Ferdinand Titz - String Quartet in C minor Op. 1 No. 4 (4)


Now we have an interesting pair of instruments, the horn and cello. The person who put those together is FRÉDÉRIC DUVERNOY.

Frederic Duvernoy

Fred hit his peak around the time of the French revolution, probably not an auspicious time to do that. However, he survived and was in the orchestra that Napoleon had for his delectation along with his brother (that's Fred's brother) who played the clarinet.

He wrote quite a bit of music, mostly concertos and chamber works, but others as well. Here is the third movement of his Sonata No. 1 for Horn & Cello

Frederic Duvernoy - Sonata No. 1 for Horn & Cello (3)


You can tell by all the consonants in her name that MARIA SZYMANOWSKA was Polish.

Maria Szymanowska

Rather surprisingly for the time (late 18th, early 19th century), she made her living as a concert pianist and toured extensively throughout Europe. She eventually retired to St Petersburg where she spent the rest of her life composing music, performing and giving piano lessons.

Her compositions were mostly for the piano, and often quite short. Here is an example, Waltz No 1 in E-flat major.

Maria Szymanowska - Waltz No 1 in E-flat major


ANTONIO XIMÉNEZ was born into a family of musicians in Spain. Sorry, we don't know what he looks like. He toured extensively playing violin for an opera company, but they got into trouble because they were considered too frivolous.

Antonio wasn't affected by this and he was invited by King Carlos III to play for him. He remained there for the rest of his life, playing and composing. One such composition is his Guitar Trio No. 1 in D major, the first movement.

♫ Antonio Ximénez - Guitar Trio No. 1 in D major (1)



INTERESTING STUFF – 9 September 2017

ALEX BENNETT INTERVIEWS WIFE No. 2: ME

From 1965 to 1971, I was married to Alex Bennett, a radio talk show host who now does an interview program on the internet and on Wednesday, he interviewed me.

This is a screen grab from the interview; I'm posting it because I don't like most photographs of me and I do like this one.

Ronni with Alex2017_09_06_680

Below is the full interview, about 30 minutes. We recorded it with Skype and had trouble with the audio/video sync so my voice lags a bit; I hope it doesn't bother you too much. Plus, I know the length at the bottom of the video reads 1:56:36, but the video stops at 32.25 where my interview ends.

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

SHRINKING THE WORLD 87 TIMES SMALLER

Something called Gulliver's Gate are creating miniatures of the world's most famous sites. Here is a short video about them from The New York Times 360 series. (Hold down your left mouse button and scroll around to view the images from other angles.)

You can see much more about the miniatures of Gulliver's Gate at the website.

ANARCHIST ANIMALS

As the Bored Panda site tell us, these are “bad-ass animals that won't follow your stupid rules” and it's really funny how they fool us humans. Two examples:

Bird Repellent

This second one needs a bit of explanation: Someone tried to fool a squid by putting it in front of a background that its camouflage can't possibly handle. No problem, said the squid, and just made itself transparent. So there!

Squid transparent

More at Bored Panda.

HOW FOOD AFFECTS OUR BRAINS

You probably know most of the information in this video about what we should eat but I was interested in how each kind of nutrient affects our brains and, therefore, our bodies.

JEAN ROBERTSON ON HAVING A SOUTHERN ACCENT

Now be honest: all you northerners, like me, think that southern accents sound kind of funny and signal that the person speaking might be none too bright. We're wrong, of course, but it happens.

Here, then. is comedian Jean Robertson on how her southern accent went over in Lansing, Michigan:

FOR OLD PEOPLE ONLY

TGB's Sunday TGB musicologist, Peter Tibbles, sent this Nonsequiter cartoon:

Nonsequiter Cartoon

ECO-FRIENDLY HOBBIT HOMES IN WALES

As the YouTube page explains:

In Pembrokeshire, Wales, the cutest, handmade houses have been popping up around the county. These wee homes, made of natural, locally sourced materials and scavenged bits from the surrounding countryside, embody low-impact living.

“What exactly does that mean? It means that the inhabitants who built these houses, like Simon and Jasmine Dale, grow and cultivate the vast majority of what they consume.

“The two have been living in their very own hobbit-sized house since 2003. And now, they're helping others build similar homes in the Lamma community—the country's first eco-village.

HOW WILL HISTORY JUDGE PRESIDENT TRUMP?

Six historians each take a whack at answering that question in the current issue of Vanity Fair.

It's a long read but worth your time plus the caricatures by Barry Blitt, Edward Sorel, Ross MacDonald, Darrow, Andre Carrilho and Steve Brodner are delightful. Here's one of them, by Carrilho:

Carrilho Trump

You'll find the full story at Vanity Fair.

MAGIC WHEELCHAIRS

Ryan and Lana Weimer celebrate Halloween all year round: The couple from Keizer, Oregon, runs a nonprofit called Magic Wheelchair which the two founded in early 2015 to build elaborate—and free—costumes for kids in wheelchairs.

503613-Magic Wheelchair

Magic Wheelchair—which is funded by individual and corporate donors—relies on teams of local volunteers around the country who work together to build costumes for children in their communities. To be considered for a costume, families fill out an online application, which provides the nonprofit with a kid's biography and a description of their desired ensemble.

Here is a video about the organization:

You can read more at Mental Floss and visit the Magic Wheelchair website.

* * *

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

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


Some Advantages of Being Old

Advantagetobeing102

Crabby Old Lady and I have spent a lot of time here in the past couple of months writing about one of the big downsides of old age, serious medical problems. Let's do something different today.

Here is a list of some of the advantages to growing old. I forgot to note where this came from so apologies to whomever I've cribbed it from.

Oh, and if you think some of these are ageist, don't. It's okay among ourselves as you'll see when you realize you're nodding in recognition at each one.

You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

It's okay to talk to yourself.

You can't remember when you last laid on the floor to watch television.

You can nap whenever you feel like it.

You can reread old books because you've forgotten the ending anyway (similarly for TV shows and movies).

Your eyes won't get much worse.

Your secrets are safe because your friends' memories are no better than your own.

Almost all the difficult, major decisions in life are behind you.

You can stop trying to keep up with technology.

You could call that list a bunch of silliness, but admit, you've had these thoughts yourself.

The list came to mind recently when I read a story at Lifehack titled 6 Benefits of Getting Older You Probably Never Expected.

You can tell from the headline that it is written for people who are much younger than you and I and in fact, there is nothing in the article that I didn't already know.

But it is good thing nonetheless because it is important that young people and American culture at large be repeatedly reminded that life doesn't end at age 40 or 50 and often gets better as the years pile up.

Noting that no one escapes growing old and that young people's fears of old age are not necessarily invalid, they probably have not considered the advantages. Here are writer Devon Dings' six benefits:

1. We Have Much Clearer Priorities
As we grow older, we are able to differentiate our needs from our wants while focusing on the matters and goals in our lives that are relevant.

2. We Don’t Care As Much What Others Think
It is when we realize that others’ judgment isn’t fatal that we will finally be able to start taking the chances and risks that we’ve held back from.

3. It’s Easier to Manage Our Emotions
We realize how little the opinions of others really affect us, and are able to transform the anger and sadness that we receive into motivational thoughts.

4. Headaches Are Fewer and Further Between
At the start of the study [in 1994] all patients claimed to suffer from one to six migraines a month. When Dr. Dahlof followed up with the patients in 2006, at least 30% of them had not experienced a migraine within the last two years.

PERSONAL NOTE: I never suffered migraines but I had a headache several times a week for most of my adulthood. They diminished as I got older and disappeared entirely 10-15 years ago.)

5. We Have Higher Sense of Self-Worth
At this point in time we have proven over and over that we can do it, and that there isn’t a better way to learn than by failing.... We base our choices [now] on what we can do, or are interested in achieving.

6. We Can Learn From Our Children and Grandchildren
Our children and grandchildren, who have grown up in this new world, will have the capability to assist us and fill in any information gaps. We will have taught these individuals the necessities of living, and the skills required to survive, now they will assist us to do the same.

You can read Dings' full explanations for each one at Lifehack and I am wondering what you would add to his list. Let us know below in the comments.