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

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

Here is how it will work:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Live Alone? What's Your Help Plan?

EDITORIAL NOTE: Well, that was a landslide on Wednesday. Just about everyone voted yes for adding a storytelling component to Time Goes By and so it shall be.

Give me some time to sort out the logistics and get the back end arranged and then I will formally announce it. What a whole lot of enthusiasm you have for this. I'm looking forward to it..

* * *

Not too long ago, TimeGoesBy reader, PiedType, whose blog title is the same as her signature, suggested a story topic:

”How 'bout a post asking those who live alone how they plan to call for help if necessary?” she asked. “Smart watch, home assistant device like Alexa, pendant monitored by paid third party, cell phone or regular phone, regular calls or visits from someone, security cameras, etc. So many options, none of them perfect. I'm curious what others are doing.”

It's a good idea for us to discuss this but let me say up front that if Alexa is indicative of how well such types of assistant devices work in general, don't rely on them for help in an emergency. Too often, my Alexa answers a request with, “I'm sorry, I don't have that information.” Plus, I don't believe Alexa and its competitors are intended – at least, not yet – for such use and although most can be programmed to dial a landline or mobile phone, they cannot yet dial 911.

PiedType also mentions monitoring cameras, often called granny cams. That is a fraught topic all by itself. Too many articles and providers pay only lip service to privacy questions. One such report assures the adult child that

”...with the right technology, you can check on her every few minutes or see where she is moving or if she stops moving.”

Let's save granny cams for another day. PiedType's question is what are we who live alone each doing to call for help should it be necessary.

A review of the online literature about help services mostly turns up dire warnings about how risky it is for old people to live alone. They don't state that explicitly, they just list all the awful things that will happen: medication overdoses, depression, anxiety, malnutrition, falls, social isolation, forgetting to pay bills and more.

The suggested remedy is to move into assisted living or with family. (I don't want to get wound up on a side-topic today, but it infuriates me when the first assumption about old people is that we are dysfunctional or incompetent.)

ELECTRONIC ALERT DEVICES
Most commonly, people use medical alert systems, wearable devices that with one touch can call, via a base unit in the home, the dispatcher who then summons emergency services or a designated friend or family member.

Not so long ago, they worked only via landline but nowadays you can choose home-based service and/or cell-based with GPS technology for when you are away from home. There are more features for additional fees and an important one might be an automatic detector that can sense falls and call the service without you pressing the call button.

The companies that provide this service are many. The best overview I found is from Consumer Reports. In an article from April this year, they tested nine systems and report, including photographs, on available features, price, types of systems, languages, battery life and contact information.

It's trustworthy information but it is always important to do your own due diligence too, check thoroughly and talk with people who use the devices.

MY SAFETY SYSTEM
For the past few years I've had a daily email check-in system with a friend. We each email the other every morning and evening, and we have one another's personal contact names, telephone numbers, etc.

Our deadline is 10AM and if there is no email by then, we contact the designated persons. It's not a perfect system. Undoubtedly you already have worked out that if something happens at – oh, say 8PM, after the evening email is sent, and you can't reach the phone, you're stuck until 10AM the next morning when your buddy hasn't heard from you.

Nevertheless, it works for the two of us for now but I suppose it depends on one's physical capabilities and, importantly, one's tolerance for taking chances. In my case, I know I can't cover every contingency in an imperfect world and I'm going with this until I change my mind.

In addition, I am working at remembering to take my cellphone into the bedroom at night. I can't tell you why that is so difficult for me but it is.

So that's one safety aid – setting up a system with a friend.

A COUPLE OF OTHER THOUGHTS
Not all by any means, but some senior centers have a daily check-in system members can sign up for. It is often free and works a lot like my personal system – they call whomever you have designated if you don't check in by whatever deadline is mutually agreed upon.

I have heard of one Village (see Village to Village Network for more information on Villages in general) that provides such a service and others may also. There are more than 200 active Villages in the United States (others around the world).

According to the U.S. Census there were in 2015, about 48 million people age 65 and older in the 50 states. Of those, the Administration on Aging tells us, about one-third (15 million or so) live alone in the community but I think that certain elders who do not live alone – especially caregivers whose spouse or other family member is incapacitated - could use these ideas too.

Now it's your turn. Do you use any commercial or personal alert systems? Do you have other ideas to share with us? Let us know in the comments below.



ELDER MUSIC: I Won’t Dance

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

* * *

The dance is in full swing by now and everyone’s up on the floor, except me because I don’t dance. I used to, back at school at the school socials.

They still had the old fashioned dances than – waltz, foxtrot, Pride of Erin and so on. It was really an excuse for the boys to hold the girls tight. We loved it; I don’t know what the girls thought of that though. Anyway, take your partners…

A song from FRANK SINATRA usually closes the dance as everyone wants to snuggle with his/her sweetie.

Frank Sinatra

He’s opening the show today with Dancing on the Ceiling.

♫ Frank Sinatra - Dancing On The Ceiling


Land of 1000 Dances is mostly associated with Wilson Pickett as he had a big hit with the song. However, it was written by CHRIS KENNER and he was the first to record it.

Chris Kenner

Chris’s version is more New Orleans funk than the extravagant soul treatment of Wilson. It’s less often played so it’s good to hear the original. Any obsessives out there who want to count the number of dances Chris mentioned would come up with 16. Just thought I’d save you the trouble.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Barb Rogers in the comments below is correct: This audio does not played. I've spent an hour trying to fix it (it plays fine on my own player program but not online) and can't. I don't have the time to work on it further today. Sorry.]

♫ Chris Kenner - Land of 1000 Dances


AHMAD JAMAL, or Fred Jones to his mum and dad, is a hugely successful jazz pianist.

Ahmad Jamal

He’s recorded scores of albums over the years so it’s not too surprising that we have a dance tune in there somewhere. One I found is called Dolphin Dance.

♫ Ahmad Jamal - Dolphin Dance


As you know, FRED ASTAIRE didn’t dance at all. I’m sure you’ve seen him in many films not dancing.

Fred Astaire

At least, that’s what Fred sings about in I Won't Dance. As mentioned above, I share that with him.

♫ Fred Astaire - I Won't Dance


JACKSON BROWNE was initially in the first dance column, but in the interests of balance he was moved to this one.

Jackson Browne

His was one of the first songs I thought of before I even searched for songs. When I did, I found several really good covers of his song that I was tempted to include, but I went with the original. For a Dancer.

♫ Jackson Browne - For a Dancer


Katie Moss wrote the words and music to The Floral Dance in 1911 after a Flora Day celebration in Cornwall. PETER DAWSON recorded it not long after.

Peter Dawson

Pete was an Australian bass-baritone and also a bit of a composer himself. There’s a bit of noise on this one but remember it was recorded more than 100 years ago.

♫ Peter Dawson - The Floral Dance


The MODERN JAZZ QUARTET didn’t ever rock the joint.

Modern Jazz Quartet

They were restrained, and their musical style was closer to a classical quartet, not surprising given their musical training. Each member could improvise with the best of them though which probably accounted for their longevity as a group. Their tune is Sun Dance.

♫ Modern Jazz Quartet - Sun Dance


I first noticed RODNEY CROWELL when he was a member of EMMYLOU HARRIS’s Hot Band.

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell

I then noticed that he’d written a bunch of songs that she included on several of her albums. Later, when he went out as a solo performer, I was struck by how good he was, as well as the quality of his songs that kept emerging.

Later he and Emmy toured together and have recorded some albums as well. From one of those, “Old Yellow Moon” is the song Spanish Dancer.

♫ Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell - Spanish Dancer


ANDREA MOTIS is a Spanish jazz pianist and singer.

Andrea Motis

She’s from Barcelona and recorded her first album at age 15, for heaven’s sake. She’s made eight or nine since including Emotional Dance from which is taken the title track.

♫ Andrea Motis - Emotional Dance


THE BEATLES were a rather successful group in the sixties.

The Beatles

You might have heard of them. They made an entertaining film called A Hard Day's Night from which the song I'm Happy Just to Dance With You is taken.

♫ The Beatles - I'm Happy Just To Dance With You


More dancing next week.



INTERESTING STUFF – 4 August 2018

THE MAYOR OF A GHOST TOWN

The town in question is Ballarat in Death Valley, California which has been abandoned for 100 years. The man is Rock Novak and he is the only resident.

Here is his story produced by Michey Todiwala and Monika Delgado.

You can read more at The Atlantic.

MARCEL MARCEAU'S SILENT RESISTANCE TO THE NAZIS

I've never been a mime fan – the art has always felt a little creepy to me but everyone – at least of our generation – has heard of Marcel Marceu and this is an amazing story about him I'd never heard. From the YouTube page:

”...before he cemented his place in performance history, Marceau’s knack for performing made him a unique asset to French resistance against Nazi forces during World War II. As the story goes, Marceau helped a group of children escape Nazi-occupied France by using his skills of mimicry to safely lead them into Switzerland.”

Learn more in this video:

RBG INTENDS TO STAY ON SUPREME COURT

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - “Notorious RBG” - say she intends to stay on the Court for at least five more years.

After attending a performance of the play, The Originalist, about the late Justice Antonin Scalia, last Sunday, Ginsburg spoke to the press for a few minutes:

"'I'm now 85,' Ginsburg said on Sunday. 'My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years...

"'My dear spouse would say that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle - it is the pendulum,' Ginsburg said. 'And when it goes very far in one direction you can count on its swinging back.'”

You can read more at CNN.

THE PEACOCK CLOCK OF THE HERMITAGE

One of the great things about the internet that rarely gets mentioned is all the places and things we can see that we would probably never visit in our lifetimes. One for me is the Peacock Clock at the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

”The clock was brought to Russia in pieces. At Potiomkin's request the Russian mechanic Ivan Kulibin set it in working order.

“From 1797 to the present day the Peacock Clock has been one of the Hermitage's most famous exhibits. It is, moreover, the only large 18th-century automaton in the world to have come down to us unaltered and in a functioning condition.”

There is much more to read at the YouTube page, and thank Darlene Costner for sending this.

JOHN OLIVER ON WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT

It has been several weeks since host John Oliver has been at the desk of his weekly HBO program, Last Week Tonight. Last Sunday he was back and in his inimitable way, he examined workplace sexual harassment which has been such a prominent news story this year.

WARNING: CUTE OVERLOAD

A pet otter awakes. That's all you need to know.

TWO-THIRDS OF AMERICANS WANT ROE V. WADE TO STAND

Much is being made of Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh's position on Roe v. Wade – that he apparently would like to see the abortion decision overturned. According to a July Gallup poll, Americans do not agree:

”Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide should stand...That is up 11 percentage points from 53 percent in 2012...,” reports Politico.

“Twenty-eight percent of respondents in the Gallup poll say the ruling should be overturned, down 1 percentage point from 2012. Nine percent said they have no opinion.

“The results showed partisan differences: Eighty-one percent of Democrats are against overturning Roe v. Wade compared with 41 percent of Republicans.”

You can read more at Politico.

A LIFE CHANGING WAVE

According to the Los Angeles Times, Koa Smith caught a once-in-a-lifetime wave:

”Perched precariously on his surfboard, the 23-year-old from Hawaii rode a wave off the coast of Namibia, on the western shore of Africa, for 120 straight seconds.

“He stayed upright for nearly a mile as he traveled through an unheard-of eight barrels — the hollow formed by the curve of the wave as it breaks over the rider's head.

“Smith and videographer Chris Rogers filmed the entire ride using both a drone that hovered overhead, and a GoPro attached to a mouthpiece that Smith wore while he rode.”

Even I, who doesn't give a whit about surfing, was spellbound watching this. Here are both views – first person and then the drone:

THE SMALLEST WILD CATS ON EARTH

I had never heard of rusty spotted cats until now. Native to India and Sri Lanka and endangered, full-grown they are kitten-size – 2.2 to 3.5 pounds (1-1.6 kg) which is 200 times smaller than a lion, they tell us.

Here is a video from a BBC1 program that aired in January:

That was so cute, I wanted more and tracked down this Twitter video of another clip from the BBC1 program showing the little black-footed cat of Africa. It is only slightly larger (1 to 2.5 kg or 2.2 to 5.5 lbs) than the rusty spotted cat.

Read more about these two tiny wild cats here and here.

* * *

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.


Crabby Old Lady's Typing/Finger/Word Problem

In sending an email recently, Crabby Old Lady intended to write, "That works. Let's meet there at noon on Tuesday,” but when she scanned for typos before hitting "send", this is what she saw:

"Than works. Let's meat there at non on Tuesday."

Okay, that “non” is a simple typo, hitting the “o” key once instead of twice. But the other two, “than” and “meat”, are a different kind of error – mental rather than physical.

This is not a new phenomenon for Crabby Old Lady. It has been happening for several months, maybe even a year or more and it happens pretty much every time she types out something longer than six or eight words.

Crabby finally gave this issue some (semi-)serious thought when, a few days ago, she read a review of the last book from beloved American poet laureate, Donald Hall, who died in June at age 89.

As you might imagine, the new book, A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety (which is sitting on a table across the room from Crabby along with more than a dozen others she hasn't found time to read yet) is largely about the indignities of growing old.

The reviewer, Dwight Garner, quotes some short passages about certain age-related losses Hall reports on and although they don't plague Crabby yet at age 77, she can feel them or something similar nipping at her heels:

“You are old when the waiter doesn’t mention that you are holding the menu upside down...when you guess it’s Sunday because the mail doesn’t come. It might be Christmas...In your eighties you take two naps a day. Nearing ninety you don’t count the number of naps.”

But the excerpt that had Crabby Old Lady groaning aloud in recognition is this:

“Striving to pay the mortgage in the late 1970s and ’80s, some years I published four books,” he says. “Now it takes me a month to finish 700 words.”

Whatever may have slowed Hall's writing (Garner doesn't say), for Crabby, it is the typing/finger/word problem. Imagine if every other sentence in a story or email or letter you write contained one or two or three such errors.

That is what Crabby Old Lady is up against these days and it takes an inordinate amount of time to correct them.

With the hope of mitigating these errors, Crabby tried to analyze what is happening when she writes and discovered several types of word problems.

Sometimes the mistake is a rhyme as in substituting “to” for “who”, “case” for “face.” (All examples are real errors Crabby has made.)

Another common mistake is synonyms. Crabby perfectly well knows the difference among to, two and too but often types the wrong one.

Mixing up “than” and “that” happens almost every day. If you are a touch typist like Crabby, “N” and “T” are typed with different hands but they both do use the first finger. Is the brain signal going to the wrong hand?

Too often the mistake just comes out of nowhere. “Of” for “in”, “car” for “cabinet”, “screen” for “fork,” etc.

Who knows what that kind of mistake is about and the thing is, when Crabby is writing, she visualizes the words she is using. So if the word needed is “fork,” that image is in her mind while she types “screen.” How can that be?

Recently a crazy new one turned up, a weird spelling out of nowhere: “plase” for “place.

At last “plase” in Crabby's word error list, is the problem of omitting words - just plain skipping them so that the first half of this sentence might look like, “At last “plase” Crabby's word error list, is problem of omitting words – plain skipping them that...”

These are also the kinds of errors the eye might skip over when reading so Crabby doesn't always catch them all. Even reading stories twice, she can miss them – you may have noticed in some blog posts.

Spell check, of course, is mostly useless because it checks only for correct spelling, not usage and it certainly won't tag missing words.

So should Crabby Old Lady worry about these mistakes?

U.S. media makes sure with their daily servings of commercials and Alzheimer's reports that anyone over the age of 45 or 50 is terrified that every time they misplace their reading glasses, forget what time they are due at an appointment or lose their train of thought it is the beginning of dementia. Crabby refuses to take their bait.

She is not unaware that a large number of elders are diagnosed with dementia and she carries on a kind of relaxed monitoring system of her brain activity, enough so that she recently asked her physician about these mistakes.

Not to worry he says. And anyway, Crabby seems to be getting through daily life without any alarming cognitive issues. What she doesn't like, what she really resents every day is the extra time her typing/finger/word problems take up.

It doesn't happen when she writes with a pen in hand. How about you?



You Get to Vote on a New TGB Feature

For eight-and-a-half years, from 2007 to 2015, I published a companion blog to this one called The Elder Storytelling Place [ESP].

On each of five days a week, there was a new story written by a reader and in total during that time, about 300 individuals delighted, entertained and informed us with somewhere in the vicinity of 2200 stories.

They are still online and you can browse them here.

ESP came to an end when I realized I needed to cut back on the seven-day work-week I had maintained since Time Goes By [TGB] launched in 2004. A short time later, I also stopped publishing TGB on Tuesdays and Thursdays to give myself some breathing space.

Nancy Leitz, who died last week at age 89, was a star contributor to ESP and as I scrolled through some of her stories while preparing the announcement for last Saturday's post, it struck me that on a limited basis maybe we could resurrect this feature.

Perhaps, I thought, we could use those two empty days, Tuesdays and Thursdays, for a mini-version of The Elder Storytelling Place – two stories a week.

Here is part of what I wrote at that blog about what ESP was for:

”Everyone loves a good story. Long before there was written language, cavemen told stories by firelight, passing on the lore of their tribes to the next generations. When we elders were children, our parents read stories to us.

“At family gatherings, grandparents and aunts and uncles retold the incidents and events of our family histories. And today, we continue the tradition with our children and grandchildren.

“Among Carl Jung’s seven tasks of aging is to find meaning in one’s life and one way to help in this task is to pull together, piece by piece, one’s memories – great and small – into a coherent storyline.

“In doing so, there is a natural shift of our attention inward, says Jung, leading to the removal of regret and to reconciliation. In telling our stories we not only fulfill Jung’s task for ourselves, we pass on the wisdom we have gained to those who listen or read.”

And here are some of the guidelines we used then and I would use again:

Anyone who is age 50 or older may submit stories.

You do not need to keep a blog or any other kind of website to submit stories.

Stories may be original or may have been previously published in a magazine, other website or blog. To avoid this blog becoming a promotional tool for authors and publishers, stories may not be excerpts from published books.

Of course, all stories must be written by you.

Although Time Goes By is copyright by me, story contributors retain the copyright their their stories.

It seems to me that I should be able to prep two stories a week for publishing without burying myself in extra work. So if you are interested in bringing back ESP on this new, limited basis, let me know in the comments below (in the comments only; no email).

You can just type yes or no. Whichever gets the most votes will determine if I go ahead with this feature.

Because all that is a bit dry, for those of you read this far, here is an amusement for you from our friend Darlene Costner. It is called The Amazing Human Body and I have no idea if these facts are true. But just go with it and you'll be rewarded with a good laugh at the end):

It takes your food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach.

One human hair can support 6.6 pounds.

The average man's penis is two times the length of his thumb.

Human thighbones are stronger than concrete.

A woman's heart beats faster than a man's.

There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.

Women blink twice as often as men.

The average person's skin weighs twice as much as their brain.

Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are standing still.

If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste it.

Women will be finished reading this by now.

Men are still busy checking their thumbs.

Don't forget to vote yes or no in the comments below.



Affordable Help for Some Kinds of Hearing Loss

Remember last week when I wrote a blog post about how so much non-life-threatening health or medical stuff that can go wrong in old age is located above the neck?

Even so, in the United States, Medicare excludes coverage of almost everything above the neck.

We personally foot the bill for medical needs related to our eyes, ears and teeth except, in many cases, when they involve surgery. Correction for cataracts is one example as are cochlear implants.

But in general, we are on the hook for what is, usually, thousands of dollars and even tens of thousands of dollars as was the case with my teeth several years ago.

Another pricey, above-the-neck treatment is hearing aids. One-third of Americans age 65-75 have some degree of hearing loss. That goes up to nearly 50 percent in people older than 75.

In addition, only about 20 percent of people who could benefit use hearing aids. Some may reject them because of the social stigma attached but undoubtedly, for many, it is due to the price which can easily top $4,000 for both ears and experts estimate their life span is from only three to seven years.

Now, there is an affordable alternative ($10 to $500 or so) for some with certain kinds of hearing loss.

Last year, in a full-on, bipartisan voice vote in the Senate and 94-to-1 vote in the House, the U.S. Congress passed H.R. 2430: FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017. The president signed it into law on 18 August 2017.

The bill is an amalgam of several other stand-alone health care bills including the notable provision we are concerned with today. H.R. 2430, as govTrack reports, “Allows certain types of hearing aids to be sold over the counter.”

Leading up to the vote, there was strong opposition from organizations representing hearing aid professionals, and even gun rights groups which, according to GovTrack, “claimed the provision could allow the FDA to regulate sound amplification devices often used by hunters.” (Not true, says GovTrack.)

Let me be clear: whatever Govtrack says, the devices at issue are not hearing aids or, at least, are not called that. They are called Personal Sound Amplification Products, or PSAPs for short. They are what the name says, sound amplification devices that are one-size-fits-all, cannot be adjusted to individual hearing loss and should not be considered a replacement for hearing aids.

It saves me a lot of effort when I can piggyback on other people's work and in hunting around the web, I found that the most useful, basic information on PSAP devices came from Consumer Reports.

Earlier this year, they reported on a small study of PSAPs published the Journal of the American Medical Association in which:

”...researchers pitted five different PSAPs against a traditional hearing aid. They found that among 42 older adults with mild to moderate hearing loss, three of the five PSAPs performed nearly as well as the hearing aid.

“Some PSAPS may help with mild to moderate hearing challenges (such as difficulty hearing the TV or a conversation in a noisy bar), experts say, but won’t work for more severe hearing loss.”

As noted above, there are cheap PSAPs and more expensive ones. Consumer Reports breaks down what to expect from differently priced PSAPS they tested in their labs:

”The two cheaper models we tested, the Bell & Howell Silver Sonic XL, $20, and the MSA 30X, $30, offer basic functions, such as on/off switches and volume control.

“Pricier models, such as the SoundWorld Solutions CS50+, $350, allow you to customize settings to amplify sounds in the frequencies where you need the most help or stream music or take phone calls through your smartphone via Bluetooth.

“These pricier PSAPs might also have such features as a directional microphone, which can pick up sounds in front of you and not those behind or to the side of you. This makes it easier to hear conversations in a crowded restaurant or other noisy places.

In their report on PSAPs, Consumer Reports is careful to issue this warning:

"Additionally, our hearing expert says these low-end devices might overamplify loud noises, such as a fire engine wail, which could potentially damage hearing further.”

The magazine also says that PSAPs are generally simple and straightforward to use but as with Ikea, there is some work getting started:

”You have to learn how to insert and remove the device from the ear, adjust the settings to maximize its performance, change the battery, and clean and maintain it...

“Certain parts could also be small and hard to manipulate, and some higher-end PSAPs may require you to download an app for making adjustments.”

In the end, Consumer Reports suggests you consider what is most important to you in using a PSAP:

”If you simply want a little amplification while watching TV, for example, you may do well with a moderately priced device. But if you’re looking for help in a range of situations - dining out with friends, taking phone calls, listening to music - you might consider a pricier, full-featured version.

“For now, however, CR advises that you avoid very inexpensive models, such as those under $50.”

Unless one's hearing loss is complex enough to need an audiologist, I think this is a great idea. There was a time, not so long ago, when reading glasses required a prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist and were quite pricey. Now we can pick them up with the toothpaste and vitamins.

As several readers noted in last week's post, untreated hearing loss can be a serious health hazard. It can lead to social isolation, loneliness, reduced personal safety, impaired memory and more.

PSAPs are not an ideal solution (yet; they will undoubtedly get better over time) and they are not for every kind of hearing loss. But for many it can improve lives at an affordable price.

Be sure to do your homework before purchasing a PSAP and, perhaps, consult an audiologist, too.

Below are a few additional links for more information. Do keep in mind as you check into PSAPs that the professional hearing loss community quite understandably does not usually recommend them. I'm pretty sure the professional eyecare community wasn't too hot about drugstore readers either when they first appeared. But do consider the source when you read recommendations.

If you have used or are using a PSAP, please let us know in the comments how they are working for you.

Over-the_Counter Hearing Aids

Best PSAP Hearing Devices

Under new law, over-the-counter hearing aids could be cheaper and more widely used



ELDER MUSIC: Dancing the Night Away

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.

* * *

Okay, the dance is in full swing now so everyone get up on your feet and choose someone with whom to do some twirling.

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist's favorite Motown song by her favorite Motown group is MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS performing Dancing in the Street.

Marth a& the Vandellas

Nothing more needs to be said, except that others have recorded the song but none is as good as this one.

♫ Martha & The Vandellas - Dancing in the Street


As a complete contrast here is MICHAEL MARTIN MURPHEY, one of my faves in a different genre.

Michael Martin Murphey

Michael recorded a series of albums called "Cowboy Songs" which were, to state the bleeding obvious, songs about cowboys. On the first on these there was a song called Let the Cowboy Dance.

♫ Michael Martin Murphey - Let the Cowboy Dance


MADELEINE PEYROUX is high on the list of great interpreters of Leonard Cohen's songs.

Madeleine Peyroux

She isn't bad on Bob Dylan's either. However, it's Lennie's song today: Dance Me to the End of Love.

♫ Madeleine Peyroux - Dance Me to the End of Love


Before he became one of the first rock & rollers BILL HALEY was performing a mix of western swing and rhythm and blues.

Bill Haley

That, of course, is some of the parts that led to rock & roll. Bill doesn't get the kudos he deserves because Elvis came along not too long after and Bill didn't have Elvis's charisma, sex appeal and youth.

However, besides his big hits, Bill had a number of songs he recorded that in retrospect deserves a listen. One of those is Dance With a Dolly.

♫ Bill Haley - Dance With A Dolly (With A Hole In Her Stocking)


Speaking of charisma, CHET BAKER had it in spades.

Chet Baker

He was ridiculously handsome, played the trumpet as well as all but the very best and was one the finest jazz singers ever. He threw it all away with a lifetime of serious drug abuse. However, before all that happened he recorded some wonderful tunes, including Music to Dance By.

♫ Chet Baker - Music To Dance By


We continue with some of the very best in their various fields, starting with THE DRIFTERS.

The Drifters

For vocal groups in the fifties, there was none better, especially when Ben E King was singing lead vocal, as he did on Dance With Me.

♫ The Drifters - Dance With Me


Probably not as well known as other southern rock groups, but in my mind the best of the lot is the AMAZING RHYTHM ACES.

Amazing Rhythm Aces

They were not as bombastic as most and didn't indulge in hour-long jams. They played songs that were well crafted and as good as any around at the time. They were blessed with a good lead singer who was also their main song writer. Here they get a little indulgent with Dancing the Night Away.

♫ Amazing Rhythm Aces - Dancing the Night Away


Over the years the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band have had an ongoing project (and series of records) called "Will the Circle be Unbroken" where they collect the finest musicians together to record with them.

These are mostly country performers, but not exclusively. Naturally, EMMYLOU HARRIS would be high on the list of those they'd select.

Emmylou Harris

Emmy's song, backed by the Nittys, is Mary Danced with Soldiers.

♫ Emmylou Harris - Mary Danced with Soldiers


Another fave of the A.M. is AMOS MILBURN.

Amos Milburn

He was one of the finest rhythm & blues performers. This music was also a component in the development of rock & roll. He had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he recorded Square Dance Boogie.

♫ Amos Milburn - Square Dance Boogie


I'll finish today's dancing tune with a song from left field, which is apt as it's one by RANDY NEWMAN.

Randy Newman

This one isn't about people dancing as you will hear. It's Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear. It was originally a hit for Alan Price (once of The Animals) and many others, but Randy wrote it and that's good enough for me.

♫ Randy Newman - Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear

More dancing next week.



INTERESTING STUFF – 28 July 2018

REST IN PEACE, NANCY LEITZ

On Monday, the four children of Nancy Leitz sent out the sad notice that she had died

”...in her sleep early this morning. She not only did not suffer, she passed away quite peacefully. She was 89 years old, and keeping with her usual style, she did it her way. No huge battle, no lengthy hospital stay. She was awesome...”

Yes, she was awesome.

Readers who have been here since before 2014 may recall Nancy from the dozens of marvelous and funny family stories she contributed from 2007 to 2014 at TGB's then-companion website, The Elder Storytelling Place.

Almost all of them starred one or more of her four kids – Jerry, Chris, Steven and Carol – and/or her husband, Roy, and we readers came to feel that we had been there at those family events.

Once, via email, I told Nancy that I suspected she invented all those great punchlines to the stories after the fact and she admitted that was usually true.

When I related that little anecdote to Jerry Leitz a few days ago, he told me the rest of that story:

”As for making up punch lines, you could say that both parents and all four kids have a syndrome a close friend called SLE and no drug on TV could cure it.

“It was just known as the 'Standard Leitz Embellishment'! None of the basic facts have changed, but that punchline, oh yeah, that's fair game!”

I discontinued The Elder Storytelling Place in 2014 but it is still online, all the stories, and you can find Nancy's stories here.

Rest in peace, Nancy. You and your wonderful stories will not be forgotten.

TWIGGY THE WATERSKIING SQUIRREL RETIRES

Surely you know Twiggy, the waterskiing squirrel or her immitators. But Twiggy was the original – well, there were seven Twiggys over her 39 year career.

The latest Twiggy is 10 years old now and she gave her last performance a week ago. Here's her final appearance and a recap of her life.

You can read more about Twiggy here.

WHO WILL BE THE FIRST PERSON TO DIE BY A LEGAL 3D PRINTED GUN?

As of 1 August, that is next Wednesday, Americans will be able to make their own 3D-printed guns following instructions that will, on that date, become legal to download from the internet.

”The choices will include the AR-15, the gun of choice in American mass shootings,” reports USAToday. “All 3D-printed guns will be untraceable, and since you can make them yourself, no background check is required.

“A settlement earlier this year between the State Department and Texas-based [firearm developer] Defense Distributed will let the nonprofit release blueprints for guns online starting Aug. 1, a development hailed by the group as the death of gun control in the United States.”

You can read more here and here and here.

LOST IN THE FIFTIES – ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE

There are plenty of online videos with images of past decades but this is one of the best I've seen – this one about the Fifties in the United States that a lot of us at this blog lived through.

The song is Lost in the Fifties Tonight (In the Still of the Night) by Ronnie Milsap.

KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS

And sometimes they really surprise you with their savvy and understanding.

My friend Autumn, who is also my health care proxy, has a five-year-old daughter, Catherine. A week or so ago she sent me this story that took place while the two were driving to school listening to NPR on the radio.

In her email, Autumn titled it, Parenting Success.

CATHERINE: Mommy, what are they even talking about?

AUTUMN: Let’s say you and your friends are at school and there is a kid we know is a bully who comes to our school. The Bully starts picking on Max (one of The Littles whose name has been changed). What would happen?

CATHERINE: We would help Max.

AUTUMN: Remember, Max is too little to help you if the Bully picks on you.

CATHERINE: We still need to help Max. It is what’s right.

AUTUMN: Ok, now one of you goes and sides with the Bully. That is what they are talking about. You and your friends are NATO. Max is Montenegro. The Bully is Putin.

CATHERINE: And the one who is going to Putin’s side is, let me guess, Trump.

Boom. Parenting success.

CHICKEN WHO BEFRIENDED A PROFOUNDLY DISABLED MAN

Due to a childhood illness, 24-year-old Kyle Monahan is profoundly disabled. One of the joys of his life is a two-year-old chicken named Moto who lays an egg for him in his bed every day. See the video:

You can read more at oregonlive.com.

ATTENTION DOWNTON ABBEY FANS

It has been rumored since the PBS series ended and now it is official: there will be a Downton Abbey movie, says Vanity Fair magazine:

”Focus Features has announced that the show’s principal cast—including Dame Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, and Hugh Bonneville—has officially reunited, and shooting will begin this summer. The script was penned by show creator Julian Fellowes, who will also produce...”

No date has been set for release.

I watched the program haphazardly – it was such a richly soapy story in fancy dress that it was hard to resist. But after all six seasons, my favorite line is still the final line of the final episode spoken by the Dowager Countess played by Maggie Smith (which Vanity Fair quoted:

ISOBEL (WILTON): "What else could we drink to? We're going forward into the future, not back into the past."

DOWAGER COUNTESS: "If only we had the choice."

MaggieSmithDownton1

HOW TO THREAD A NEEDLE

No, that is not meant as a metaphor – at least not today.

Sometimes I wonder if we here at TGB are the last generation who will know how to sew. It's not a popular skill these days. Nevertheless, this video turned up somewhere to show me I've been threading needles all wrong.

I tested this method. It worked. Where has it been all my life.

TONY THE GARLIC GUY

Too bad for us that I'm late with this story and the Takoma Park Farmers Market in Maryland held its annual garlic festival last Sunday. The Washington Post reported it, in part, this way:

”The The [Market] will transform into a celebration of all things garlic on Sunday with talks from the Takoma Horticulture Club and a man simply billed as Tony 'the Garlic Guy' about the various types of garlic and how-to’s on growing your own.”

I just want to let you in on it: Tony the garlic guy is my old friend, Tony Sarmiento, who knows all kinds of things about garlic and sends me some ripe bulbs when they are ready each year.

You don't realize – well, I didn't - how unfresh that supermarket stuff is until you've used garlic straight from the garden.

IS THERE ANYTHING BETTER THAN BABY ANIMALS

According to the YouTube page:

”Hector the Nigerian Dwarf baby goat is just 2 days old. His Mama, Amelia Earhart, is a little protective of her only kid (most goats have 3-4 babies at once.)

“While he waits for cousins to be born in the stall next door, he has befriended the three barn kittens. Mom is not so sure about this plan. The kittens did inspire him to climb the wood shavings bale for the first time.”

Here are the newborn baby goat and the barn cats:

There are two live cameras at the website of the Sunflower Farm Creamery in Maine where this baby goat and the kittens live.

* * *

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.



The Joy of Surviving Pancreatic Cancer Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

[NOTE: On Tuesday, my former husband Alex Bennett and I, recorded a new episode of The Alex and Ronni Show. It is posted at the bottom of this story.

* * *

As I begin writing this on Thursday morning, everything is fine. It's a normal summer morning - the sun is shining (it will be a scorcher this afternoon), I've had breakfast, am working on another cup of coffee and looking forward to lunch with a friend.

Nothing remarkable is going on.

And that is the point.

There have been a lot of new subscribers to TGB in the past couple of weeks so here is a short recap to bring you up to date:

In June 2017, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, endured a 12-hour Whipple surgery from which it took most of a year to recover including three months of chemotherapy.

An internal bleed developed leading, over months, to many blood transfusions and, eventually, two (much less invasive) surgeries in April that were successful. There has been no bleeding since then but thanks to the chemo and the blood loss, I became severely anemic.

That led to five, weekly, liquid iron infusions that ended three weeks ago.

Okay. That is the bare bones history. It is the hardest thing I have ever been through in my 77 years, and although I went for the treatment, deep down I believed I would be dead by now.

Personal health reporter Jane Brody pointed out in The New York Times earlier this week that pancreatic cancer is rare, accounting for just three percent of all cancers, but is one of the deadliest:

”Although 55,440 cases, affecting 29,200 men and 26,240 women,” writes Brody, “are expected to be diagnosed this year in the United States, 44,330 people will die of it, often within months of diagnosis, making it the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in this country (after lung, colorectal and breast cancer).”

I ran those numbers. They mean that only 20 percent will survive beyond a few months.

Back in mid-January, after the chemotherapy ended, my Whipple surgeon told me that blood tests had revealed “no current evidence of cancer.” (They are always so meticulously careful with their wording, these cancer doctors.) “Go,” he said waving me toward the door, “and enjoy your life.”

God knows I tried but I didn't feel much like celebrating. Certainly I was relieved but it was tempered with the knowledge that blood tests are not conclusive.

Three weeks later, after reviewing other tests including a CT scan which is more definitive, my oncologist said to me, “There is no sign of the cancer at this time.” (They are always so meticulously careful with their wording, these cancer doctors.)

But I still wasn't ready to throw a party. Smiles on the faces of friends when I told them the scan results were hugely encouraging prompting my own smiles in return. But facts interfered with the joy I believed I should be feeling.

Undoubtedly that reticence was due at least in part to the fact that I knew – and know - pancreatic cancer is resistant to most therapies and it often recurs following surgery either in the pancreas again or another body part.

And even if I had been dancing in the street, there was still the anemia plaguing me which, weeks later, led to the iron infusions.

Thursday morning (today, as I write this), I woke to an email message linking to my online medical records where there were results of blood tests taken on Wednesday. There was also a note from my primary care physician:

”Your lab work looks great!” he wrote. “No signs of anemia and looks like your iron stores are all tanked up.”

And then, THEN – even though the anemia was due to blood loss and chemotherapy, not cancer – I finally felt free to celebrate. I thought my heart might burst as tears of joy spilled into my coffee.

It seems nuts to me that overcoming anemia makes more difference to my sense of good health than cancer-free test results earlier this year. I felt the gradual return to more normal energy levels during the five weeks of iron infusions but there had been poor test results for so long I don't think I trusted my own senses.

I haven't forgotten the high incidence of recurring cancer I face but now I can set that aside. That's what I have wanted more than anything – to feel like I did before all this happened.

And now I do. Yes, some bits and pieces are missing. I'm short a gall bladder, a duodenum, part of my stomach and half my pancreas. There are three or four pills I need to take several times a day for the rest of my life to make up for those losses.

But that is nothing compared to this marvelous feeling of well-being and most of all, ordinariness I have now.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – “Notorious RBG” – has been a hero of mine for a long time. What I did not know until sometime after my initial diagnosis is, as Jane Brody explains in The Times, Ginsburg

”...had part of her pancreas removed after a routine CT scan revealed a one-centimeter lesion. While that lesion was benign, a smaller tumor the surgeon found was malignant and had not yet spread beyond the pancreas.”

That happened in 2009, when she was – as I was last year – age 76. Justice Ginsburg gives this old woman hope she too can make it at least another nine years cancer-free and even resurrect her pre-cancer goal to live as long as her great aunt Edith, 89.

But it doesn't matter if I don't. The universe gave me this extra time that 80 percent of pancreatic cancer patients don't get. Most of all, right now, I want to wallow in the joy of my return to ordinary health.

* * *

Here is latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show.

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



A Time Goes By Manifesto for Our Political Era

We are living in precarious, uncertain and frightening times when new crimes, corruption and lies are revealed nearly every day and no one is held accountable.

It would not be wrong to call this a national emergency - a world (who of us could ever have imagined this in our lifetimes?) where a U.S. president gives himself permission to commit America to god-knows-what with a foreign adversary, does it in secret and never tells anyone – anyone at all – what those commitments are.

At the top of my list of concerns for the moment (it vacillates by the hour) are the baby cages and asylum-seeker jails which more rightly should be called concentration camps with all the shame of 20th century history that attaches to them.

In the greater scheme of things an argument might be made that in service to the longer term, a president who sides politically with our country's greatest enemy and is willing to turn over American citizens to that government for interrogation requires more attention than those kiddie camps.

But do we really want to try to rank what are all deeply evil horrors?

It has become apparent that no one in charge of anything has the power or the will to stop what increasingly looks like a headlong dive into a new American regime of authoritarianism which, of course in everyday usage, is just another word for fascism.

And it's not only the United States. Terrible things are happening almost daily to the ideals of liberty and democracy abroad.

In the latest event to send a chill down the spines of most people, a far-right politician in Austria last week put forth a plan to require Jews to register with the government in order to purchase kosher meat. Some have wondered if registration will soon apply to Muslims who purchase halal food too.

So I think that although for 15 years this blog has been dedicated 100 percent to an ongoing conversation about “what it's really like to get old,” something else too big and too serious to ignore also needs our attention.

It took a lot of pondering to make this decision until I realized that especially during a period when there is a sufficient threat to America's people, our Constitution and to the world order to which my country belongs, it is necessary.

It is necessary, I have come to believe, for this blog by, for and about elders, to make our voices heard even if only among ourselves, even if only to try to understand among ourselves what is happening and what or if we can do anything. Not an easy goal.

Most of all, I have come to believe this because if I continue in these pages to ignore our unprecedented political predicament, I then am complicit with the culture at large I regularly denounce for sidelining old people by ignoring them, dismissing them and removing them from the public stage.

So from time-to-time, I will take a day for us to address these urgent troubles. Certainly not every day and not even every week. But when it feels necessary.

Let's give it a try for awhile.

* * *

Today's Blog Post
At the risk of making this post too long for you to endure, here is the first entry in this experiment.

During the days and weeks I spent working out whether I would run with this idea, I pulled out my copy of a little book of essays published in 1954 that I read in about 1960: Portraits from Memory which I haven't dipped into in at least a decade, maybe two.

It was written by then-80-something Bertrand Russell, the Nobel Prize-winning philosopher, mathematician and peace activist.

Most of the essays are from the years surrounding his 80th birthday and as you might expect, there is a summing up quality to them. What surprises me is how much his thoughts on social and political issues from more than 60 years ago could almost have been written last week.

Perhaps there really is nothing new under the sun, and these short excerpts should give us some perspective on our current difficulties. In reading these, recall that in the mid-1950s, the outcome and meaning of World War II were still being debated.

It is worth keeping President Trump in mind while reading Russell's estimate of what makes a good life and a good community:

”A readiness to adapt oneself to the facts of the real world is often praised as a virtue, and in part it is. It is a bad thing to close one's eyes to fact or to fail to admit them because they are unwelcome.

“But it is also a bad thing to assume that whatever is in the ascendant must be right, that regard for fact demands subservience to evil. Even worse than conscious subservience to evil, is the self-deception which denies that it is evil.”

Keep President Trump in mind again as Russell tells us that the ideals he thought were primary when he was young should still prevail:

”I think I should put first, security against extreme disaster such as that threatened by modern war. I should put second, the abolition of extreme poverty throughout the world.

“Third, as a result of security and economic well being, a general growth of tolerance and kindly feeling. Fourth, the greatest possible opportunity for personal initiative in ways not harmful to the community.

“All these things are possible, and all would come about if men chose.”

Although Russell exhibits an overall optimism for the future (viewed from the mid-1950s), he also has doubts, certainly for the immediate future at that time, and again seems to describe our situation today:

”The last half of my life has been lived in one of those painful epochs of human history during which the world is getting worse, and past victories which had seemed to be definitive have turned out to be only temporary.”
I have had always a certain degree of optimism, although, as I have grown older, the optimism has grown more sober and the happy issue more distant.”
”In the modern world, if communities are unhappy, it is because they choose to be so. Or, to speak more precisely, because they have ignorance, habits, beliefs, and passions, which are dearer to them than happiness or even life...

“To preserve hope in our world makes calls upon our intelligence and our energy. In those who despair it is very frequently the energy that is lacking.”

Again, it is uncanny to me how Russell's words seem almost to be in response to today's daily headlines. A couple more:

”Diversity is essential in spite of the fact that it precludes universal acceptance of a single gospel. But to preach such a doctrine is difficult especially in arduous times. And perhaps it cannot be effective until some bitter lessons have been learned.”
”Communists, Fascists and Nazis have successively challenged all that I thought good, and in defeating them much of what their opponents have sought to preserve is being lost.

“Freedom has come to be thought weakness, and tolerance has been compelled to wear the garb of treachery. Old ideals are judged irrelevant, and no doctrine free from harshness commands respect.”

At the end of the essay titled, “Reflections on My Eightieth Birthday” (1952), Russell retains his hopeful belief that humankind will eventually attain a world of harmony and good:

”I have lived in pursuit of a vision, both personal and social. Personal: to care for what is noble, for what is beautiful, for what is gentle; to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times.

“Social: to see in imagination the society that is to be created, where individuals grow freely, and where hate and greed and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them.

“These things I believe, and the world, for all its horror, has left me unshaken.”

Now it's your turn.



Crabby Old Lady: It All Goes Wrong From the Neck Up

Has anyone else noticed that most of the non-life-threatening stuff that can go wrong in old age happens above the neck?

Yes, Crabby Old Lady realizes that terrible cancers, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia afflict the brain which is, obviously, above the neck.

But today she's talking about relatively benign ailments that nevertheless require daily attention, often extended daily attention involving time that increases as the years pile up.

Most old people are stuck with at least one of these or other such ailments, usually more than fewer, and the head harbors an outsized number of them.

EYES
It starts around age 40 when suddenly you can't read street signs or you start complaining that publishers of books and magazines and websites are using smaller and smaller fonts, impossible to see clearly.

Eyeglasses or contact lenses can make the necessary corrections but give it a few more years and the world starts to turn fuzzy, maybe a bit yellow or colors fade toward grayness.

That's cataracts, folks, but the surgery to fix them is one of medicine's modern miracles. It's fast, easy and returns vision to that of a newborn babe, or close enough. And it is successful more than 98 percent of the time.

A down side is that if your eyes are corrected for distance, you will waste way too much time hunting for your reading glasses which are never where you need them.

Even so, all good. Right? Not always. After a year or two, Crabby's vision became fuzzy, usually first thing in the morning and again during the afternoons and evenings.

Not a big deal, said the optometrist. It's just some minor dryness. Here, use these eye drops.

So just when Crabby was relieved to give up the daily hunt for her elusive readers (she chose monovision when she had cataract surgery), she's got to spend way too much time locating the damned eye drops.

EARS
One-third of Americans age 65-75 have some degree of hearing loss. That goes up to nearly 50 percent in people older than 75.

Only a quarter of those with treatable hearing loss (80%) use hearing aids. (Probably due to cost, which easily reaches $4,000 and is not covered by Medicare.)

Crabby Old Lady hears just fine. Actually, too well. She no longer goes to movie theaters because no matter where she sits in the auditorium, the audio is pumped up so loud, it makes her ears hurt.

At home, it's a different problem: in certain TV shows, the dialogue mushes together so she can't make out individual words.

An audiologist told Crabby that particularly since her hearing is otherwise normal, hearing aids would not help. Thanks a lot.

But recently, Crabby discovered that the difficulty is a combination of two technical issues: (1) audio is commonly recorded poorly combined with (2) the indifferent sound quality built into most television sets.

So she now has acquired “sound bar” made especially to correct that deficiency and produce crystal clear dialogue. As is too rare in life, the product actually does what they say it does.

That solves Crabby's TV audio difficulty but doesn't help people who use hearing aids with Crabby's overall issue: the time involved with all this maintenance – in the case of hearing aids: sound checks, cleaning, battery testing, etc.

TEETH
Or lack thereof. Many old people have lost all or some of their teeth and Crabby Old Lady is among them.

About three years ago, Crabby spent tens of thousands of dollars (stolen from her emergency fund) for an upper “overdenture” which involved first growing new bone over six months, then implants – another six months wait - and many fittings.

Like cataract surgery, Crabby considers it a modern medical miracle and is thankful that she could scrounge the money.

Unlike real teeth however, the overdenture takes more extensive maintenance, extra visits to the dentist for fixes, along with the several instruments and cleaning agents, including water flosser, for both denture and lower jaw twice a day to forestall losing the rest of her teeth.

Crabby hasn't timed it but she is pretty sure it takes longer to clean her mouth – and do it twice a day - than to wash her whole body in the shower.

HAIR – TOO LITTLE AND TOO MUCH
Crabby's hair was already thinning a lot before last year's treatment for pancreatic cancer but here is a little secret people who've been through cancer know: you don't give a damn about bald spots when cancer is at issue.

So Crabby quit wearing her signature hats - she just didn't care anymore.

A couple of months ago, she went through five weekly iron infusions to treat the anemia that chemotherapy had caused. After two or three of them, hair started falling out when she was shampooing.

No one told Crabby liquid iron or the anemia itself (there are arguments in the literature supporting both explanations) can cause hair loss. Now it's even more thin, doesn't appear to be recovering and Crabby is back to hats.

And now she is considering a wig which will mean even more time out of her life for in addition to hair cuts, there will be wig cleaning and maintenance to keep up with.

Then there is the hair problem on the other end of her head – her chin and above her upper lip that require daily removal.

Crabby suffered through creams and sticky strips, razors and other stray hair remedies for many years until, a few months ago, she succumbed to a TV advertisement for a cute, little, battery-operated shaver.

Guess what? It works! It really works. (Apparently Crabby Old Lady is lately having a lucky streak with what are usually dubious consumer products.)

Oh, one more hair issue. In the past couple of weeks Crabby has noticed a surplus of nose hair. So there's another chore for Crabby to deal with each day and that cute little shaver can't do the job. Crabby will need another tool.

A rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation adds up to about an hour a day – give or take - of above-the-neck maintenance time. One. Whole. Hour. Per. Day. Of mind-numbing boredom.

The head, on average, is just 7.5 percent of the body by weight. But by Crabby's accounting, it takes up about 75 or 80 percent of the total time and effort to keep one's self in working order, much longer than when she was younger.

That doesn't seem right. But apparently it's an old person thing.



ELDER MUSIC: Let's Face The Music And Dance

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

* * *

Quite a lot of music is written especially for dancing, and more reference dancing. I thought that might make an interesting column but when I started looking for music I was overwhelmed by choice.

So, rather than throw good songs away, I created four columns (and there were even more good songs, but I went with what I thought were the best). I’ve had to cull so much that I imagine some of you might mention some in the comments. Take your partners…

I’ll start with my favorite dance song by MIKE MCCLELLAN.

Mike McClellan

Mike is one of the finest singer/songwriters in Australia. Had he been born in America he’d be a superstar. To us in Oz he is. His song is Saturday Dance.

♫ Mike McClellan - Saturday Dance


BOBBY FREEMAN is generally considered San Francisco’s first rock star.

Bobby Freeman

He started out in a Doowop group while he was still at school and they actually made a record. He was in a couple more groups before he went solo and recorded the biggest hit of his career, Do You Wanna Dance? Many people have covered this one over the years, but his is still the best version.

♫ Bobby Freeman - Do You Wanna Dance


The Drifters were the only competition THE PLATTERS had as finest vocal group of the fifties.

The Platters

The Platters had many hits during the decade thanks to their fine lead singer Tony Williams. Their dancing song isn’t in the first rank of their songs but it’s one we have: I'm Just a Dancing Partner.

♫ The Platters - I'm Just A Dancing Partner


KEITH JARRETT recorded a couple of albums with the late great jazz bass player CHARLIE HADEN.

Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden

One of those was called “Last Dance”, an appropriate title for our column. From that album we have Dance of the Infidels, a tune written and made famous by Bud Powell.

♫ Keith Jarrett - Dance of the Infidels


Of the half dozen albums that could be considered as the best ever, Moondance is in the mix. It was recorded by VAN MORRISON.

Van Morrison

He’d have a couple of others in consideration as well (along with some by The Band). The title song is the one we have today.

♫ Van Morrison - Moondance


Way back at the beginning of his career, JIMMY BUFFETT gave us a really fine album called “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean”. Fans of Marty Robbins (of which I’m one) appreciated the joke.

Jimmy Buffett

The songs on that one were all terrific and ranged from serious to poignant to silly. That really is the basis of Jimmy’s career. The song we’re interested in is They Don't Dance Like Carmen No More.

♫ Jimmy Buffett - They Don't Dance Like Carmen No More


Of all the long-lived bands, the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND seems to fly under the radar.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

I don’t understand this as there is not a better band around that started in the sixties that is still producing great (and new) music. I may be biased (of course I am) but I’ve been a fan of their music from way back. From somewhere in the middle of their career is Dance Little Jean.

♫ Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Dance Little Jean


You probably all know about the DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET’s most famous album (and possibly the biggest selling jazz album in history). This is from their next album called “Time Further Out” which also sold pretty well.

Dave Brubeck

The tune from that one is called Unsquare Dance. I’m sure that that was a hip reference from the time it was released. To my ears Paul Desmond seems to be missing from the track, unless that was him clapping along.

♫ Dave Brubeck - Unsquare Dance


BILLY BLAND started out in a group called The Bees.

Billy Bland

He went out as a solo artist and one day while in the studio he heard another singer (Titus Turner) trying to record the song, Let The Little Girl Dance and he demonstrated (with the studio musicians along for the ride) how it should be done.

Fortunately, the tapes were rolling and his was the version that was released and became quite a decent sized hit.

♫ Billy Bland - Let The Little Girl Dance


I had half a dozen or more contenders for the next song. When you know what it is, I’m sure you’ll know quite a few of them. In the end I settled for ROSEMARY CLOONEY.

Rosemary Clooney

So, Nat, Susannah, Ella, Willie and Frank missed the cut (along with lesser contenders). The song is the column’s title: Let's Face the Music and Dance.

♫ Rosemary Clooney - Let's Face The Music And Dance

More dancing next week.



INTERESTING STUFF – 21 July 2018

THE BETTER WAY TO TRAIN YOUR BRAIN

As the Harvard Medical School website reported in March, as we age,

”...your cognitive skills will wane and thinking and memory will be more challenging, so you need to build up your reserve.”

What helps to maintain a healthy brain are new activities that force you to think and to learn, according to Harvard. Further,

”Research has shown that regular physical exercise is one way to improve cognitive functions like memory recall, problem solving, concentration, and attention to detail.

“However, it is not clear if the physical aspect alone boosts your brain or if a combination of other factors — like the mental challenge of the activity, the frequency you do it, and the desire to improve — also contribute.”

And those expensive brain games? Give them a pass. As Dr. John Swartzberg wrote at Live Science, he was was happy to hear “that 70 leading cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists issued a consensus statement expressing skepticism about brain training.”

”If you want to exercise your brain," says Swartzberg, study Spanish, take up Ikebana flower arranging, or learn a new game like chess or bridge. You may strengthen those neural connections in your brain, and you’ll almost certainly have fun.”

THE KIDS HAVE GOT IT COVERED FOR US

On the eve of Trump's trip to Europe, late night talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, asked random people in the street to name any country in the world on a map he supplied.

Just when you are ready to give up on Americans (or, perhaps, the educational system), a kid saves the day. Let's hope, for our future's sake, there are a lot of kids like him:

OREGON COAST GHOST FOREST

Neskowin is located along the northern coast of Oregon. When the tide is low enough, the “ghost forest of Neskowin” emerges from under the Pacific Ocean:

Ghostforest

”...this group of some 100 stumps and snags is all that’s left of a 2,000-year-old stand of Sitka spruce, once buried by an earthquake," explains The Oregonian.

“This past weekend, an extraordinarily low tide uncovered much more of the trees than is typically visible, a beautiful scene that attracted photographers, tourists and locals alike, all quietly exploring the remains of an ancient, cataclysmic destruction.”

A lot more photographs and more information are at The Oregonian.

DEATH METAL GRANDMA

Ninety-six-year-old Inge Ginsberg is a Holocaust survivor who, after the War, made her way to the United States where she became a lyricist, with her composer husband, for such well-known singers of the era as Nat King Cole, Doris Day and Dean Martin. But

As Ms. Ginsberg grew older, she kept writing lyrics and poetry, and realized she needed to find new ways to reach an audience. How was she going to gain attention in a society where older women are neglected, silenced and often cast off?”

She found a way, as documentary filmmaker Leah Galant, tells us, with death metal music “where you can shout your lyrics instead of singing them.” But let's let Ms. Ginsberg and Ms. Galant tell the story. (If the video does not play in a reasonable amount of time, try watching it here.)

Read more at The New York Times.

JOHN OLIVER – UNUSED GRAPHICS

John Oliver's HBO program, Last Week Tonight, was on hiatus last Sunday but Oliver, as he explains, left behind this short video for our entertainment.

Oliver is his usual funny, profane self showing some show graphics that never made it to air.

CARE OF ELDERS IN PUERTO RICO ONE YEAR LATER

Kaiser Health News reports that a large percentage of the 4600 Puerto Ricans who died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria were elders, many of whom died because of delayed medical care.

Now, there may be another disaster in the making:

”...projections show that one-third of Puerto Rico’s population will be 60 or older by 2020, even as the number of young people are increasingly fleeing to the mainland in search of employment, often leaving behind aging parents.

“'We have more [older adults] being left alone to almost fend for themselves, or being cared for by other seniors, instead of a younger family member,' said [Dr. Angel] Muñoz. In addition, Medicaid does not pay for long-term nursing home care in Puerto Rico.

Here is the PBS News report:

You can donate to relief efforts at Public Good or Google “donate to Puerto Rico relief” for more help options.

JANIS IAN'S TEA AND SYMPATHY

In a comment here last Wednesday, TGB reader Charlene Drewry mentioned Janis Ian's song from 1975 or so, Tea and Sympathy.

Ian was only a teenager when she wrote and recorded it but she has always been much older in her soul than her years. Surely she meant this for you and me at this time in our lives.

Here's the song, recently remastered. Lyrics are below the video:

I don't want to ride the milk train any more
I'll go to bed at nine, and waken with the dawn
And lunch at half past noon
Dinner prompt at five
The comfort of a few old friends long past their prime

Pass the tea & sympathy
For the good old days long gone
Let's drink a toast to those who most
Believe in what they've won
It's a long long time 'til morning
Plays wasted on the dawn
I'll not write another line,
For my true love is gone

And when the guests have done
I'll tidy up the room
I'll turn the covers down
And gazing at the moon
Will pray to go quite mad
And live in long ago
When you and I were one, so very long ago<

Pass the tea & sympathy
For the good old days long gone
Let's drink a toast to those who most
Believe in what they've won
It's a long long time 'til morning
Plays wasted on the dawn
I'll not write another line,
For my true love is gone

And when I have no dreams
To give you any more,
I'll light a blazing fire
And wait within the door,
And throw my life away
"I wonder why?" they all will say
And now I lay me down to sleep,
Forever and a day

Pass the tea & sympathy
For the good old days are dead
Let's drink a toast to those who best
Survived the life they've led
It's a long long time 'til morning,
So build your fires high
Now I lay me down to sleep,
Forever by your side

THE WASHINGTON D.C. CAT CENSUS

Good friend Tony Sarmiento sent this story about an upcoming Washington, D.C. cat census that will try to determine how many cats are in the city.

”By spending $1.5 million over three years, a consortium of scientists and animal welfare organizations thinks it can find out with an initiative known as the DC Cat Count, which launches Tuesday.

“The cat census, organized by the Humane Rescue Alliance, the Humane Society of the United States, PetSmart Charities and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, will help animal advocates understand how many felines are in the city and how to cope with cats that don’t have a home.”

Even with the project's two full-time staffers, 50 cameras and questionnaires sent to homes, anyone who knows anything at all about cats might suspect it is a fool's errand. But I wish them luck anyway.

The project has its own website and be sure to check out the photo at the top of the story at Washington Post - it will make cat lovers smile.

* * *

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.



A List for Aging Wisely

It's probably happened to you sometime over the years - a computer crash leaving you without the documents you rely on every day while trying get by on an old machine that normally sits gathering dust in a back closet.

You should have recycled the damned thing a long time ago but, like me, you're lazy and thank god for that now. You're glad it's there while your main computer is being repaired.

Even so, in addition to the lack of any reasonable speed, there are subtle differences in the spacing on the two keyboards so you spend half your time fixing whole lines, even paragraphs of typos.

You say a lot of impolite words and, if you are anything like me, you cut your online time way back – it's just too frustrating.

That is by way of explanation for today's post which I did not write. It turned up in my life this week and gave me an excuse to take a day or two off from TGB.

It is an old post at the website Big Geek Daddy, a place from which I get some of the videos I show you on Saturdays in Interesting Stuff. The title of the document is A List For Aging Wisely.

There is a book, Aging Wisely, published a couple of years ago and a lot of other material with that name. I have no idea if this list is from or related to any of it.

The list contains 21 items. I question or disagree with only five or six of them; the rest are mostly things we all know but need to be reminded of now and then.

So take a look. Click over to the website for more explanation of each item than I have quoted here. Then let us know what you think. Agree with some? Disagree with others? Have you got some of your own worth adding? Let us know in the comments.

* * *

  1. It’s time to use the money you have saved. Spend it and enjoy it.

  2. Stop worrying about the finances of your kids and grandchildren, and don’t feel bad about spending your money on yourself.

  3. Stay healthy without a lot of physical effort. Do moderate exercise, like going for walks every day, eat well and get plenty of sleep.

  4. Always buy the best and most beautiful items for your significant other. The reward of enjoying your money with your partner is priceless.

  5. Don’t stress over the little things in life. You’ve already overcome so much in your life. You have good memories and bad ones, but the important thing is the present.

  6. Regardless of your age, always keep love and romance alive. Love your partner, love life, love your family, love your neighbor, love your cat or dog.

  7. Be strong and proud, both inside and out.

  8. Don’t lose sight of fashion trends for your age but keep your own sense of style.

  9. ALWAYS stay up-to-date. Read newspapers, surf the Internet, and watch the news. Make sure you have an active email account.

  10. Respect the younger generation and their opinions. Hopefully, they will return the respect. They may not have the same ideals as you, but they are the future and will take the world in their direction. Give advice, not criticism, and try to remind them that yesterday’s wisdom still applies today.

  11. Never use the phrase: “In my day.” Your day is now. As long as you’re alive, you are part of this time.

  12. Some people embrace their golden years, while others become bitter and surly. Life is too short to waste your days on the latter.

  13. Do not surrender to the temptation of living with your children or grandchildren (if you have a financial choice, that is).

  14. Don’t abandon your hobbies. If you don’t have any, make some new ones.

  15. Accept invitations, even if you don’t feel like it. Try to go to baptisms, parties, graduations, birthdays, weddings, and conferences. Get out of the house and meet people.

  16. Be a conversationalist. Talk less and listen more. Some people go on and on about the past, not caring if their listeners are really interested. That’s a great way of reducing their desire to speak with you.

  17. Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older. Try not to dwell on it but accept them as a part of the cycle of life we’re all going through.

  18. If you’ve been offended by someone – forgive them. If you’ve offended someone – apologize. Don’t drag around resentment with you.

  19. If you have a strong belief, savor it. But don’t waste your time trying to convince others.

  20. Laugh. Laugh A LOT. Laugh at everything. Remember, you are one of the lucky ones. You managed to have a life, a long one.

  21. Take no notice of what others say about you and even less notice of what they might be thinking. They’ll do it anyway, and you should have pride in yourself and what you’ve achieved. Let them talk and don’t worry.

REMINDER: There is more explanation of each item at the website which you can check out here.



What Do Retired People Do All Day?

It's a favorite question from younger adults, about those who are retired from the workplace.

What do we old folks do with all that time once taken up with commuting and working? people wonder.

The cheeky answer, of course, is “Look for all those lost keys and eye glasses." But the question itself is disparaging assuming, as it does, that old people don't have the wit, curiosity and interests to fill the eight or 10 or more hours a day they once spent on the job.

When I wrote about this subject the first time, I was concerned that I had slacked off dramatically from the efficient morning and weekly routines I had maintained to keep body and soul together during my working years.

But now, nine years later, I don't care. Because I live alone, obviously no one else cares either but I find myself annoyed when I have an early appointment forcing me to rush through breakfast and the morning news.

I've come to fervently embrace the freedom of not being required to live on other people's schedules, and I particularly like long, lazy early mornings which I'll admit are mostly rote - coffee, email, news, politics, workout and breakfast - before settling down for the day's workload. But I change it up now and then - for the thrill that I can.

Mostly, however, that routine isn't much different from the half century I was someone's employee – well, if you don't count the short commute, just down the hall a few feet nowadays.

People whose work is central to their definition of themselves may have more trouble retiring than I had. I enjoyed the work I did all those years but I began this blog while I was still working and with an equal amount of enthusiasm, I just segued into Time Goes By as my full time job.

Surprise to me: I'm still doing it 15 years later.

Beyond that and aside from the joy of choosing when I do what, nothing much has changed. I study ageing and produce this blog. I have a small volunteer position that doesn't take much attention. I read a lot on a variety of subjects (so much to know, so little time).

I keep in touch with friends. I enjoy cooking. I follow news and politics closely and I keep up with the renaissance in children's books. I often think about taking a trip and then remember for the zillionth time that I long ago decided I won't do that again until someone makes airline travel less painful. Fat chance.

The internet is not much help in finding what retired people do with their time. There are not many stories that deal with the question and few have a dateline so there is no way to know when they were written (never trust information that is not dated).

A lot of others are sales pieces for retirement financial services disguised with a few facts about retirement activities that may or may not be reliable.

One claim that shows up on several sites about retirees' use of time is that old people sleep a lot more than younger ones – 10 or 11 hours a night, they say. That sounds suspicious to me and further checking shows it is – there's no telling where that data came from.

The few lists of how retired elders spend their time that include a dateine are mostly eight or 10 years old. During that time, the demands of baby boomers, who have been retiring at a rate of about 10,000 a day, have made active retirement more important than these lists show.

Here, based on unidentified 2015 data, is a list of the activities at which retirees said they spend most of their time - in order of average duration per day:

Sleep
Watching TV
Home maintenance
Part-time work
Preparing/eating meals
Shopping
Volunteering
Reading
Surfing the web
Relaxing
Exercising

Activity levels differ wildly for old people depending on health and although there is nothing wrong with that list, I don't see hobbies, passions, curiosity, sports, travel, studying, etc. - all the stuff we didn't have time for when we were working.

Years ago, I knew a man who was a world-class chef, well-read and widely traveled, knowledgeable about the world, engaged in politics and generally erudite.

He always said, in those days, that he was saving two things in particular for retirement when he would have more time to concentrate: learn pastry cooking (which is more science than art) and to understand the music of Richard Wagner.

I envied him back then for having those doable goals, and I still do. My list is way too long to be useful so my knowledge and understanding – aside from ageing - are miles wide and an inch deep.

Now it's your turn: How do you spend the extra time you have in retirement? What do you do all day?



Online Dating For Old Folks

IMPORTANT: On Sunday, my main computer crashed. Don't even ask how awful this is going to be for awhile. The low-end laptop I am working on until I am back to full capacity is slow and hard to use so answering email will be spotty if at all. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to post on the usual schedule but please understand if I don't always get it done.

* * *

A reader emailed asking if I would write about online dating for old people. Yikes. I'm completely ignorant of this corner of the internet and given that I profess to deal with all things elder on this blog, that needs some attention.

So, I checked around to see what is available in this regard for people who are older than 50 or 60 or 70 and beyond. With one exception I'll tell you about at the end, the pickings are dismal – even the big guys you've seen advertised on television.

There are two major reasons I could see:

First, none allow access to their website without registration so you cannot see the layout, ease (or not) of use, general sensibility, sample listings, what additional information they might have, or even how the website works without joining.

I am so insulted by this and so not in need of even more spam email that I did not register with any of them.

So I have no information about how the sites operate. (And don't tell me I could sign up with a new, free email account. That should be not necessary to see inside any reputable website.)

Second, all but a handful are free only for limited access and upgrades are pricey, ranging from about $30 a month to $70 a month, with discounts for paying a year in advance.

In fact, I can't even tell you what personal information safety precautions any given dating website uses because I didn't register with any of them. Apparently, however, I am not being paranoid to think about that: there is this warning from the Wikihow page about using online dating sites safely:

”Use paid online dating services. Free online dating services provide a greater opportunity for potentially dangerous individuals. They don't ever have to provide a credit card or other information that identifies them.

There are other smart ways to keep yourself safe from predators, scams, etc. on dating sites and the Stitch website has the best guide I have found.

I'll tell you more about Stitch but first, here is some information and links to more than a dozen of those elder dating websites I know so little about:

Senior People Meet and OurTime are owned by the same company so they are likely to share listings.

eHarmony Seniors and eHarmony Over Sixty may be the same site even though they have slightly different URLs. These are paid websites.

Elite Singles, a paid-membership-only website, claims that 80 percent of their members are college graduates and beyond.

OKCupid, Cupid–Over 70 and Love Again dating sites are owned by the same company and as mentioned above, may share listings.

There are a whole lot more dating sites for old people. Just to be thorough, here are links to a few more of them:

50Plus Club
Just Senior Singles
Silver Singles
SeniorMatch
Plenty of Fish (all ages including elders)
Zoosk (all ages including elders)

And now to Stitch. Before I type another word, you should be aware that I know one of the founders, Marcie Rogo, and I wrote about Stitch three years ago. You'll find that here (scroll down halfway) and there is another story about Marcie here before she launched Stitch.

You're just going to have to take my word for it that even if I didn't know Marcie, I would still believe this is the best dating website for elders. Well, as she explains, it's not quite a dating site, although it can be. As I wrote of Stitch in 2015:

”Companionship is the main idea, finding like-minded people with whom to enjoy mutual interests.

“Maybe you could also find a nice person for a relationship. That is not out of the question but Stitch is first a companionship, not dating, service.”

You can choose the type of relationship you are looking for at registration: friendship or friendship+romance or romance. Here is a FAQ that gives a good overview of Stitch and this is what they say about information safety and privacy:

”No other community does more for the safety of its members than Stitch. Before communicating on Stitch, all our members must perform an identity verification check, which prevents scammers and con-artists from abusing our site or contacting our members.

“This also ensures that all our members are ages 50 and up, keeping the Stitch community peer-to-peer and safe.”

Now. What I would like to hear about from you are your experiences with online dating while old. If you haven't tried it, are your interested? What questions do you have about dating now and about dating websites?



ELDER MUSIC: Classical - Various 5

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

* * *

Here are some more interesting things (well, they are to me, I hope they are to you as well) I’ve been listening to lately.

GIOVANNI VIOTTI’s life rather paralleled that of Mozart, although Gio lived considerably longer.

Giovanni Viotti

He was a master of the violin and many of his compositions are for that instrument. He spent much of his life in England, eventually becoming a citizen, although not before being expelled because it was thought he favored the revolutionaries in France. This was a beat-up put around by his rivals and it took the king’s son to intervene on his behalf to get him back.

Gio was a good friend, and champion, of Haydn. Here is the first movement of the String Quartet Op 5 No 1 in E Flat.

♫ Viotti - String Quartet Op 5 No 1 in E Flat (1)


FERDINAND RIES was a pupil of Beethoven.

Ferdinand Ries

Ries later became a good friend of his and was employed as his secretary. He started out as a cello player, but eventually wrote a bunch of stuff for piano.

There were also symphonies, operas, a lot of string quartets and numerous other works. One of those is his Grand Septet, Opus 25. The first movement. The piano is pretty dominant in this one.

Ries - Grand Septet (1)


FRANTIŠEK JIRÁNEK was born in Bohemia in what’s now the Czech Republic.

Frantisek Jiránek

He got a job playing music for various counts, one of whom sent him to Venice to improve his trade. There he was instructed by Antonio Vivaldi (talk about getting the best). He eventually returned and later went to what’s now Germany where he lived for the rest of his life.

He lived long enough to change his style to the classical that had taken over from the Baroque. From his earlier period, here is the third movement of the Concerto for Oboe, Strings and Basso continuo in B flat major, Jk 17.

♫ Jiránek - Concerto for Oboe Strings and Basso continuo in B flat major Jk 17 (3)


ANTON REICHA was another Czech composer and another friend of Beethoven.

Anton Reicha

He was also a teacher of some note and some of his pupils were Liszt, Berlioz and Franck. He’s not very well known as he didn’t want to have his compositions published. Of course, some of them have seen the light of day, including his Wind Quintet in G major, Op.88 No.3. This is the third movement.

♫ Reicha - Quintet in G major Op.88 No.3 (3)


CARLO ZUCCARI pretty much spanned the 18th century.

Carlo Zuccari

So, from Bach and Vivaldi at one end, through Mozart and Haydn and ending up with Beethoven. There’s no evidence that he met any of these.

In spite of his living through the entire Classical period, his music is pretty much set in the Baroque. This is evident in the third movement of his Violin Sonata No.1 in D major.

♫ Zuccari - Sonata No.1 in D major (3)


JOHN FIELD was an Irish composer who went to Europe to further his career.

John Field

Chopin heard a couple of his compositions, particularly his nocturnes, and was blown away. “I could do that”, he said to himself (or something like that), and musical history was changed forever.

Brahms, Schumann and Liszt also took note of what he was doing. One of the things he was doing is his Nocturne No.3 in A Flat Major, H.26.

♫ Field - Nocturne No.3 in A Flat Major H.26


ÉLISABETH JACQUET was born in Paris with a lot more names than that, as was the style at the time.

Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre

All the members of her family were musicians and/or instrument makers, so she pretty much had to go into the family biz. It was recognized very early that she was a child prodigy and she performed for all the bigwigs, including the biggest wig of them all Louis XIV (the sun king, and all that).

Alas, later when she became famous, most of her family died of various diseases, including her husband, son, mother, father and brother. She continued to write and perform music, mostly for keyboard instruments, but also others as well. That is well demonstrated in her Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Major, the second and third movements.

♫ Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre - Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Major (2 & 3)


JOHANN PISENDEL would have had a hard time at school if he’d attended one in Australia or America.

Johann Pisendel

Fortunately for him he was from Nuremburg and he spanned the period from the late Baroque into the early Classical. That’s reflected in his music which is difficult to categorise, a good thing from my point of view.

Make up your own mind about his Concerto in D for solo violin, two horns, two oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo, the third movement. My ears suggest it’s closer to Baroque than Classical.

♫ Pisendel - Concerto in D Vl solo 2 Cor 2 Ob Fag 2 Vl Va und Bc (3)


CLARA DENT is an oboe player who has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras.

Clara Dent

She was born in Berlin and learned her craft in Salzburg. Besides the usual repertoire for her instrument Clara arranges already famous works; she’s particularly fond of operas in this regard.

Here she grabs something of Giuseppe Verdi, Les Vêpres Siciliennes (the Sicilian Vespers), in particular “Mercè dilette amiche.”

♫ Verdi - Les vêpres siciliennes Mercè dilette amiche (Arr. for Oboe)



INTERESTING STUFF – 14 July 2018

PETRA – ONE OF THE GREAT MYSTERIES OF THE ANCIENT WORLD

The ancient city of Petra has fascinated me for decades and although I've been to Jordan, been to Israel nearby, I've never visited and doubt I will now.

But here is a new video of the interiors of some of the buildings I've never seen before. I don't know that I believe this video narrator's speculations but they are no worse than anyone else's and I like seeing the inside of the rooms.

BEST LEVI'S COMMERCIAL

At least that's what TGB reader and my friend Darlene Costner says and certainly she's not far off.

The latest Emmy Award nominations were published this week but television commercials are every much an art form (they have their own award, the Cleo). This is a fine example from 2011.

TRUMP WANTS A NEW AIR FORCE ONE PAINT JOB

In a Thursday morning scoop, here is what Axios imagines he wants it to look like:

Air Force 1

Axios reports that

”...Trump had one specification for the plane that could cause tension with the Air Force and surprise around the world...

“We’re told that Trump wants a color scheme that "looks more American" and isn’t a "Jackie Kennedy color." He doesn’t think the current blue (technically "luminous ultramarine") represents the USA. The president's preferred design is believed to include red, white and blue.

"'He can do it,' said a source familiar with the negotiations, when asked about whether Trump can make the change. But the change could cause friction with the Air Force. We're told some top officers like the current look, which they point out is 'known around the world.'"

By Friday, the internet had run with Trump's idea, posting their own ideas of a Trump Air Force One paint job. Here is one of the more polite ones:

HairForceOne

There are more of the web's paint job ideas at Huffpost. And you can read more at Axios.

SPIDERS CAN TRAVEL ACROSS OCEANS

Did you know that? I sure didn't. Here's our science lesson for the day from, in this video, The New York Times:

You can read more about spiders' travel at The New York Times and at PBS.org.

GLASS GEM CORN - WOW

Take a look at this – and yes, it's real corn:

Glass gem corn

As Atlas Obscura tells us:

”Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee farmer from Oklahoma, liked to experiment with ancestral corn varieties. After breeding several varieties together, the result was vibrantly-colored corn...

“The fresher the corn is, the shinier its kernels. But since it’s flint corn and not sweet corn, it’s not too tasty when it’s fresh. However, it can be made into cornmeal, and is just fine as popcorn.”

Available at your favorite online giant retailers.

DAD ADOPTS FOUR KIDS AT ONCE TO GIVE THEM THE LIFE HE NEVER HAD

After all the ongoing, horrible stories of how the U.S. government treats small children, we can use this story of love and selflessness. Take a look:

My friend Jim Stone sent this and your can read more here. You can donate to Comfort Cases here.

FOREIGN MILITARY RECRUITS BEING DEPORTED

Just when you think the U.S. federal government couldn't possibly behave worse in regard to immigrants, they prove you wrong. As the AP reports:

”Some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged...”

NPR follows up:

”The immigrants who were recently discharged had all signed up as part of the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI, program. It was established in 2009 to create an opportunity for the military to enlist people with specialized knowledge, including highly sought-after language and medical skills.”

Margaret Stock, in the AP video below, is an Alaska-based immigration attorney and a retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who helped create the immigrant recruitment program, said she's been inundated over the past several days by recruits who have been abruptly discharged:

Read more at the AP YouTube page and New York Times.

TIMES SQUARE MAGICIAN – GREAT CARD TRICK

From Darlene again. Enjoy:

CATS CRADLE

Bruce and Terry Jenkins take in dozens of older cats who have been abandoned due to death or sickness of a previous owner. As the YouTube page notes:

“'The cats come with different neuroses from where they were before…it’s very gratifying to see the transition from what they were when they came here to what they become,' says Bruce.

“'It’s like they bloom,' adds Terry. 'They get to be what they’re meant to be.'”

You can read more at The Atlantic and you can visit the Cat's Cradle website here.

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

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



Anorexia of Ageing: How Growing Old Affects Appetite

Some medical professionals call the loss of appetite in old people the “anorexia of ageing.”

Up until a year ago, if anyone had told me I would one day need to work at maintaining or gaining weight, I would have collapsed laughing. The opposite had always been my problem and I've always loved to eat - just about anything.

Then, even after recovering from the extensive Whipple surgery 13 months ago, I wasn't hungry much of the time.

As happened to with me, serious diseases and conditions can reduce appetite in elders but it is not uncommon for a remarkably long list of other reasons too. Here are some of both kinds:

Any acute illness such as:
Cardiac disease
COPD
Renal failure
Liver disease
Parkinson's disease
Cancer
Alzheimer's disease

Other difficulties such as:
Dental conditions or denture problems
Reduced saliva production
Swallowing problems
Constipation
Impaired senses of smell and taste
Medication side effects
Depression
Loneliness
Lack of energy to cook

And that's just a partial list from which, I suppose, it can be extrapolated that pretty much every old person has an appetite problem at one time or another.

The BBC website tell us that changes to appetite happen throughout our lives but become more common in old age:

“After the age of 50, we begin to suffer a gradual loss of muscle mass, at between 0.5-1% per year. This is called sarcopenia, and lessened physical activity, consuming too little protein, and menopause in women will accelerate the decline in muscle mass.”
At age 60 and beyond, the BBC continues, old age and lack of hunger can lead “to unintentional weight loss and greater frailty,” and frailty is nothing to fool around with. The opening paragraph of Wikipedia's entry about it is worth quoting if just for the literary reference that amuses me:

”Frailty is a condition associated with ageing, and it has been recognized for centuries. As described by Shakespeare in As You Like It, 'the sixth age shifts into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side, his youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide, for his shrunk shank…'

“The shrunk shank is a result of loss of muscle with aging. It is also a marker of a more widespread syndrome of frailty, with associated weakness, slowing, decreased energy, lower activity, and, when severe, unintended weight loss.”

Unintended weight loss is serious business that is difficult to reverse in elders. A good-sized 2017 study about appetite in elders discovered that

”...older adults with poor appetites ate much less protein and dietary fiber. They also ate fewer solid foods, protein-rich foods, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

“However, people with poor appetite did eat/drink more dairy foods, fats, oils, sweets, and sodas compared to older adults who reported having very good appetites...

“The team concluded that identifying the specific food preferences of older adults with poor appetites could be helpful for learning how to help improve their appetite and the quality of their diets.”

Directly following my surgery, I was told to eat six small meals a day. I was lucky to be able to get down four before anything more that day threatened to cause me to vomit. But the nurses were terrific in helping me figure out how to increase the high daily calorie count I needed to prevent more weight loss.

Little things, they said, like adding grated cheese to scrambled eggs, switching to whole milk for cereal, eating as much of my two favorite foods – ice cream and cheese – as I wanted, also peanut butter, lots of high protein foods including red meat.

They also recommended that old folks' staple, protein drinks. I won't mention brand names because I dislike all the supermarket brands – it's like trying to drink glue to get them down.

(I go out of my way to not mention product names here and I tell you this one for information purposes: I finally discovered a brand of protein drink that actually tastes good: Odwalla. They make other kinds of drinks so if more protein is your goal, be sure to use the bottles labeled “Protein.” on the front. Of course, everyone's tastes differ.)

For the first three or four months, I wasn't allowed most vegetables and no fresh fruit with small seeds. When I said I was concerned about my health with such a high fat, high protein diet, one nurse said, “Ronni, cancer will kill you long before this diet will,” so I stopped complaining and followed instructions.

As much as the point was to keep up my weight, it was also to accommodate the radical surgery that removed quite a few pieces of my digestive system – something that would not apply to the diet of those who haven't had this kind of surgery.

Nowadays, just over a year since the surgery, I eat a normal three meals a day, am back on lots of salads, fish and fruit but I've hung on to red meat once or twice a week and I drink Odwalla (average 300 calories per 15 ounce container) several times a week.

Plus, I weigh myself every morning and keep a chart. Mostly my weight is stable but if it drops more two pounds within a week, I up the calorie intake for awhile.

And now, after nearly a year off, I am back to my workout four times a week. I've lost a lot of muscle mass and doubt I'll get much of it back, but I can work at strengthning the muscles I've got.

The point is to fight back against loss of appetite – it will go a long way to keeping us healthy and active. WebMD has a good list of strategies to help overcome lack of hunger.

What's your experience with anexoria of ageing?