Bucket Lists and Telling Our Stories

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It was the 2007 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman that gave us the phrase – and title of the film - The Bucket List.

Since then, bucket lists are a common meme among most Americans - I don't know about other countries – and some people take them quite seriously.

If ever there is a time for a bucket list, it is when you are diagnosed with something as serious as pancreatic cancer.

In off moments since my diagnosis, I've been running the idea through my mind to see if there is something I want to do. An experience I've missed. A place I long to visit. A do-over maybe. Or something.

And nothing comes to mind.

The thing is, I've had a terrific life. Nothing spectacular, some disappointments, a bunch of terrific jobs that introduced me to ideas and people and places in the world I would never have done on my own. And taught me or led me to pretty much everything I know.

Most of my friends and acquaintances over the years have been smart, interesting, good people that I love spending time with even, these days, at a long distance. Too many I love died too young. I miss them but I hold them close in my heart still.

Further, in doing this blog, I've found how many people are unprepared for retirement and flounder around for a long time without a place to go every day, without a job or title by which to define themselves.

It was different and so much easier for me. In no way did I plan it; I just got lucky. I started this blog before the end of my career, segued with it to full time and now, after about 14 years, it is who I am and what I do: I write and produce a blog about what it is really like to get old.

And people actually read it. How good is that.

I would like to keep doing it for – oh, how about another 14 years or so. May the gods - and modern medicine - grant that wish.

MY BUCKET LIST
But just in case, isn't there something I can come up with for a bucket list? Well, yes - if it is about longings. Two items but only one is doable.

Bucket list items, by their nature, are one-time things so this doesn't fit exactly but I think about it all the time: I wish I could live in New York City again. Not just visit. Live there. It is where I belong. The ground that I love. It is my home.

That's the undoable one. Here's the other:

There is a small, unpretentious restaurant in the coastal town of Cannon Beach, Oregon. I don't know its name but I know how to get there and they make the best fried razor clams I've ever eaten. As plain as the restaurant is, their razor clams dish is a world-class.

It's been awhile since I've been to the coast (it's only a two-hour drive) and a good friend has already signed on to take us there for lunch as soon after the surgery as I can do that.

TELLING OUR STORIES
On Monday this week, I came to see that there is something else, not a bucket list item, that is the best thing ever to get me through this “trial” and, after the surgery, to carry me forward for as long or short as it will be.

Two neighbors, a couple, came by my apartment that day. They are heading the little “committee” that will take care of necessities (like the cat) while I'm in hospital.

We finished that business and then spent the next 20 minutes or so telling funny stories about the pets (they had just adopted a new cat to replace one who died a few months ago) and other animals we've known and loved. We laughed so hard and I am still smiling from that as I write today, Tuesday.

Later that day, I had a phone conversation with an old friend on the east coast, telling him about my new predicament. We got through that and then we talked politics (we're both addicted) and comedians we like and some movies and TV shows and we laughed a lot about all kinds of things.

About life. Not death.

That's what I want from everyone right now. I'm not even in the hospital yet or in recovery yet but what energizes me and makes me happy and makes me feel alive is being with people, telling our stories and laughing together.

What's on your bucket list?

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From Mystery Malady to Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreaticcancerawareness160leftAs I mentioned on Friday, TGB reader dkzody last week commented that she had believed pancreatic cancer is hard to diagnose and wondered what my “mystery malady” was.

Today, I'll tell you my experience with that mystery and my eventual diagnoses of pancreatic cancer. Keep in mind – no foolin' around – that my story applies only to me. I have no idea how this works out with other people.

MYSTERY MALADY SYMPTOMS
Last October, after some unaccounted-for symptoms prevailed over two or three weeks, I visited my then-physician who brushed me off after seven minutes saying it was probably a virus that would go away soon.

The symptoms were painful or irritating or alarming enough (to me if not the doctor) that it was obvious I needed a different physician. If you really care, you can read about my difficult search for a new primary care doctor here.

After my many failed attempts to find a doctor who would take me, a friend intervened at a major teaching and research hospital here and I got an appointment right away.

The mystery malady had begun in October 2016 and has continued until 31 May 2017 when, finally, the diagnosis was determined. As terrible as it is, there is a kind of relief in knowing the malady has a name.

In between those dates, there was a collection of 12 to 15 symptoms that came and went mostly independently of one another, usually several at a time in various combinations over the months. Here's a list that is as close to complete as I can make it:

  1. Random pains rotating through sides, stomach area, chest and back

  2. Sick headaches a couple of times a week

  3. Malaise

  4. Vertigo

  5. Weird dark spots on skin that come and go

  6. Weight gain early on

  7. Weight loss later (once, 11 pounds in two weeks)

  8. Extreme tiredness – stopped daily workouts

  9. Hard to sleep more than three or four hours

  10. Bright orange urine

  11. Unbearable itching on every inch of skin

  12. Abdominal pain following meals

  13. Deep, horribly aching pains in upper arms

  14. Worst leg cramps I've ever experienced

  15. Jaundice

Usually, there were “only” two or three or maybe four of these symptoms at a time. The orange urine was so bright you could have lit up the whole bathroom with it. That happened for a week or two in February, subsided and again for a few days just before the diagnosis.

The itching occurred concurrently with the orange urine, was terrible all day and ten times worse at night. No anti-itch creams like those for mosquito bites worked. The pain of scratching too hard, even if I drew blood, was preferable to the itching.

If it were not so awful, it would have been funny: at one point I twisted a paper towel to pull back and forth between my toes because I couldn't effectively scratch there.

The deep-yellow jaundice appeared a couple of days before the diagnosis.

As I said, I never had all these symptoms at once. It was a mix-and-match mystery malady over seven months. A few continue as I await surgery.

DIAGNOSIS
Through all this, I was seeing the doctor regularly. He tested for just about everything and it seemed, over the months, that they took a gallon of blood from me. All the tests came back in the normal range. All the various kinds of scans and a colonoscopy returned normal readings.

Then, on 31 May, I returned home from that latest appointment to a phone call from the doctor I had just left: Get to the hospital immediately, he said. A bed is waiting. I'll meet you there.

I forced him to tell me why. The words “pancreatic cancer” were said but that's not something that sinks in at first. It takes awhile. If I found out what had alerted him to the diagnosis, I don't recall now.

It's also hard to recall what they did to me in the hospital, but before long the itching and most of the pain were gone. Lots more tests were performed and the endoscopy during which a temporary stent was placed to redirect some effluviant(?) of the body.

If you try to find out online why it is so difficult to diagnose pancreatic cancer, you won't get far. Most pages – even from some of the highly respected health organizations – go straight from “it is difficult to diagnose” to “once it is diagnosed, treatment is...”

If I tried, I might find some better information but mostly I don't have time and I'm not all that interested right now. Maybe someday.

So, there you go, dkzody. That's the mystery malady and the diagnosis.

As I said before, they – healthcare people – are keeping me busy. There is another test or consult almost every workday. There is much to arrange for Ollie the cat while I'm gone, for what I need to take to the hospital, for care when I get home and to arrange the house for what I can and cannot do on my own when I return.

I've tried to keep up with email from all you wonderful readers but I know some have slipped through the cracks and I run out of steam with a need to lie down to rest or nap several times a day. I had no idea how much there is to do to prepare for surgery. I thought the hard work is afterwards.

Oh, one more thing: Throughout this odyssey, I used the phrase "mystery malady" as kind of joke to myself about all the disparate symptoms. It has turned out not to be much of a joke but it served me just fine until there was a real name.

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ELDER MUSIC: Jazzical Gas

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

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I can hear you from here going, "Huh? What does that mean?" A long time ago (in blog years, rather similar to dog years) I wrote a column highlighting lesser known classical composers and I asked Norma, the Assistant Musicologist what I should call it. She suggested "Classical Gas" ('coz that's the way her brain works).

Since then I've continued that series with that name in various permutations. I decided that I liked the idea and decided to do a series on lesser known jazz performers.

Independently, the A.M. and I came up with the same name for the column (we have a similar warped sense of humor). So, here are some jazz performers whose names you might not recognize, but play really well. Based on the experience of the classical columns there will probably be more of them.

DONALD EDWARDS leads his group from behind the drum kit.

Donald Edwards

He's been a much in demand drummer, but has only recently formed his own band. There are some fine players along for the ride, in particular Walter Smith III on tenor sax and Orrin Evans on piano.

They perform the Thelonious Monk tune Skippy. This has nothing to do with the televisual kangaroo as it was written years before that marsupial made his debut.

♫ Donald Edwards - Skippy


SARA GAZAREK is a young jazz singer who has recorded half a dozen or so albums, the last of which is a duet record with JOSH NELSON.

Sara Gazarek &Josh Nelson

That album's called "Dream in the Blue", and Josh plays the piano (and Sara sings, of course). From that they perform the classic Mood Indigo, written by Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard with words by Irving Mills.

♫ Sara Gazarek - Mood Indigo


BILL CHARLAP is yet another classically trained pianist who turned to playing jazz.

Bill Charlap Trio

He has musical heritage: his mother, Sandy Stewart, is a singer who regularly appeared on Perry Como's TV program (and she was also the first person to record the song My Coloring Book – before Barbra) and his father, Moose Charlap, was a Broadway composer.

Bill has played with many jazz musicians but most especially with Tony Bennett. The Bill Charlap Trio perform Not a Care in the World.

♫ Bill Charlap Trio - Not a Care in the World


Jazz singers and performers have a history of taking the current pop songs and putting their own spin on them. Today's performers do the same but instead of Gershwin and Porter, today it's Dylan and Cohen. A prime example of this is BARB JUNGR.

Barb Jungr

Barb has a fairly recent album where she performs songs by those two as well as David Bowie, Joni Mitchell and others. The song I like from that is called Shelter from the Storm, also the name of the album. This is one of Bob's.

♫ Barb Jungr - Shelter from the Storm


When he started out, JIM ROTONDI was hailed as the next big thing in trumpet playing.

Jim Rotondi

That's proved pretty much to be correct, although his name isn't really a household word. He's released a dozen or so of his own albums and scores of others on which he performed. For the last ten years or so he's been professor of music at a university in Austria.

From his most recent album is the title track, Dark Blue.

♫ Jim Rotondi - Dark Blue


CAMILLA GEORGE has recently recorded her first album with her quartet called "Isang" (that's the album's name, not the quartet's).

Camilla George

Camilla is resident in London but she was born and bred in Nigeria. She and her pianist Sarah Tandy work really well together and I can hear influences of Coltrane in her music. I'm looking forward to hearing more from her.

The Quartet's tune today is The Night Has a Thousand Eyes. This isn't the old Bobby Vee pop song.

♫ Camilla George Quartet - The Night Has a Thousand Eyes


KITTY WHITE was not just a jazz singer, she also sang gospel and pop music as well.

Kitty White

Outside the jazz world, she's probably best remembered for singing Crawfish with Elvis in the film "King Creole". However, today we're interested in what she did in the jazz vein.

One of the things she did was If You Were Mine, a song written by Johnny Mercer and Matty Malneck. Gerald Wiggins played piano on this track, and the sax player was Georgie Auld.

♫ Kitty White - If You Were Mine


MORT WEISS is a clarinet player mostly – he has played other instruments as well.

Mort Weiss

Mort started out playing Dixieland jazz but after hearing Charlie Parker he became a devotee of bebop. He's also played rhythm and blues and all sorts of music – whatever he can do to make a living, I imagine.

Here he takes the old pop song I Remember You and puts his own spin on it. Playing along with him is the Don Friedman Trio.

♫ Mort Weiss - I Remember You


A lot of good jazz these days is happening outside its traditional home country. Another example of this (there are several today) is CYRILLE AIMEE, who is from France.

Cyrille Aimee

Cyrille performs Each Day with the help of her one-time band mate Matt Simons. Adrien Moignard and Michael Valeneau play some really nice guitar on this track.

♫ Cyrille Aimee - Each Day


You might think that KYLE EASTWOOD's surname sounds familiar and you'd be correct.

Kyle Eastwood

Kyle is Clint's son, and Clint is a well-known lover of jazz and I guess he passed that along. Kyle is a bass player, both the double bass and the electric instrument, and these days heads his own group.

From his recent album "Timepieces" we have Prosecco Smile, featuring Quentin Collins playing trumpet.

♫ Kyle Eastwood - Prosecco Smile



INTERESTING STUFF – 10 June 2017

As you may imagine, since the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and preparation for the coming surgery, I have not had a lot of time to collect material for this weekly compilation of “stuff.”

But here is a shorter-than-usual list of items you might enjoy, as I have.

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YOUR LIFE IN JELLY BEANS

This video is four years old and has been seen by more than 7 million people. See how you have and are spending your days in these bits of candy.

I'm astonished at this guy's patience in creating the video. I would have gotten bored and given up after the first two time periods or so.

JOHN OLIVER ON THE PARIS AGREEMENT

I know, I know. This whole week has been taken up with the Comey hearing in Washington – and compelling it has been.

However, last Saturday on his HBO program, Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver took on President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris accords on climate change. It is Oliver at his best and worth your time.

THE REAL DEAL IN SOY SAUCE

I eat a lot of Japanese food and, of course, use soy sauce with it. As the Youtube page explains about this video:

”Japanese shoyu, or soy sauce, was traditionally brewed in vats over two years in a process that dates back to the 7th century. On the island of Shōdoshima, Yasuo Yamamoto ferments soy beans traditionally in bamboo barrels similar to the ones his family has built for the past 150 years.”

I sure do wish I could taste this soy sauce.

I Am Rooting for You, Ronni

When I was still publishing The Elder Storytelling Place, Henry Lowenstern was one of the most prolific contributors. He specialized in limericks, doggerel, light verse and such - often on current political events and always lovely and/or funny or both. He sent this yesterday titled as the headline for this item, and I love it:

I am betting my last denarius
that your about-to-be excised pancreas
will leave you with an even better hold
on what its like to be getting old
and I hope your recovery is instantaneous.

Thank you, Henry.

KITTY WATCHING HORROR MOVIE

In the comments on one of last week's posts, a TGB reader reminded us of journalist and political activist Norman Cousins who, back in the 1970s, devised his own recovery program that included laughing himself well from a serious, obscure disease.

He recounted his personal laugh treatment in a book, Anatomy of an Illness, later made into a movie starring Edward Asner.

Without taking a whit away from my own upcoming treatment that I completely believe in, I figure a lot of laughing (if the stitches allow) couldn't hurt and might help. Besides, it always feels good.

So I've been looking for stuff I've laughed at a lot in the past. I've posted this one here before but so what. On each re-viewing, I have laughed harder than the last time. I never get tired of it.

* * *

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

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


Some Reason for Hope

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Although I could argue the point, it is possible there is always reason for hope and I found that on Wednesday during my consult with the surgeon and his team.

Having decided that formality is a good posture to adopt while facing the news of one's mortality, I dressed up for the occasion. I have never been able to get comfortable with suburban (and even urban) Oregon casual anyway, so I wore a pair of my best pants, dressy shoes with a small high heel and a velvet shirt worn loose (my concession to casual) with a big, fancy sun hat. (It was a gorgeous spring day.)

I was apprehensive, frightened too, but equally eager to know my future and, maybe ghoulishly, how long I can expect it to be.

Tests in the hospital last week and more in followup examinations since then show that I have a malignant tumor in my pancreas. The surgeon has a handy, multi-colored rendering on the wall of the inside of the human body and he pointed out the pancreas, showed me where exactly within it my tumor is located, the nearby gall bladder, duodenum and other body parts I had hoped never to know about.

Then he said this: my pancreatic cancer is “potentially curable” and this: patients with a tumor similar to mine wholly contained within the pancreas and in my otherwise healthy physical condition have a 25-30 percent “cure rate.”

Now I wouldn't take those odds to Las Vegas but considering that only about five-to-seven percent of people in the whole universe of pancreatic cancer survive, I'll go with it.

And in case you were wondering (I was), what would happen if I reject the surgery and do nothing (the only real alternative in this case), “you'll be dead within a year,” he said.

The surgeon will perform a Whipple procedure (look it up) in which the diseased part of my pancreas will be removed along with my gall bladder and some other bits and pieces.

It's a long, complex surgery, he said, about eight hours. I'll spend a day afterward in the ICU and another seven to 10 days in hospital. If I'm strong enough by then, I can continue recovery at home instead of rehab. His goal, the surgeon told me, is to return me to a normal quality of life (See Wednesday's post).

As with all surgery, there are risks and there are, sometimes, post-operative complications to deal with. Even without those, recovery is difficult and will pretty much take up the rest of this year.

The surgery date is 20 June. I asked what I can do in these next two weeks to best prepare my body for what I think of as an assault. Exercise and good nutrition, the team said. Eat, eat, eat. Exercise, exercise, exercise.

Obviously, there are many more details but be honest, can you stand even this much?

My surgeon and his team are world-class - he is a well-known pancreas researcher and I am in excellent hands. And this kind of prognosis, small percentage as it is, gives me huge incentive to work hard at helping my body prepare and afterwards, to heal.

Now, two TGB items. First, your support is wonderful. I hadn't given any thought to how this announcement would be received so the outpouring was a surprise and shock – in the best sense of the word. You have no idea how much you all mean to me.

Second, on Wednesday, reader dkzody commented that she thought pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnosis and wondered what the “mystery malady” I mentioned was.

She is right about the difficulty and I'll tell you about my experience with that on Monday. But then I think that even though my current personal circumstance is uppermost in my mind every day, it's probably not in yours and we can get back to the real goal of this blog – what growing old is really like – for awhile.

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The Joy of the Ordinary


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Nobody tells you – well, nobody told me - how busy they keep you when you're sick. And these aren't things you can blow off.

Except for the weekend when I was fairly well wiped out from all the “work” I had done in the hospital the previous three days (and so it had seemed to be), I have had at least one medical appointment a day and there are more booked.

Okay, I lied. Monday there were no visits but there might as well have been: there were five telephone conversations with doctors and other medical professionals, some lengthy, and a lot of new information to absorb.

During the calls, I was a crazed note taker, scribbling as fast as I could. Most of this is new information about which I have no previous useful knowledge and therefore no past references to call on to make the information my own.

So after the calls I spent a lot of time rereading and organizing the notes to be sure they will make sense later.

All this does not account for phone tag and then the wait time on return calls – sometimes up to 30 minutes. I understand there are a lot of other patients whose conditions are at least as serious as mine and I don't begrudge that kind of wait. I just get tired from it.

And now, thanks to those health care people, I have checkups and followups, appointments, tests, etc. scheduled well into August. And they haven't even done anything to me yet. Whatever the outcome of treatment, this kind of busy-ness isn't going away soon.

Then there are the household chores. Enough kitty litter and cat food to last through a long hospital and, possibly, rehab stay so the helpers have what they need. A list of what to take to the hospital: The internet is fabulous for this kind of minutiae but it can't find the small travel hair brush I KNOW is here somewhere.

There are banking issues to arrange, usually in person, automatic bill pays to set up for my absence because god knows credit card companies and utilities don't care if you're sick when the payment is late.

Meanwhile, the electricity in half the kitchen outlets is suddenly dead – that's annoying - but no way to have the electrician here until I know my upcoming schedule. Plus, unrelatedly, my bedroom clock broke.

When I complained about some of that to a friend via email (hopefully with some self-mocking in my “voice”), it was a surprise to be told that I should lay those chores off on helpers, and that I am not doing “this” well.

Maybe so but I'm a beginner at "this" and here is the thing: I have just a few days before treatment begins, probably with surgery, and then my life changes to something completely new. It is a long surgery, a long hospital stay, a long rehab. And, I assume, chemo after that.

Maybe it will be successful. Wouldn't that be wonderful? But maybe it won't.

Either way, during these frightfully few days I have left before signing on to be a patient for god knows how long – maybe forever in terms of my personal life span – I am relishing the mundane errand.

While I can still do them - the chat with the bank manager, making the lists I need, buying a new clock and all the rest of the things I have been doing every day for my whole life and not appreciating until now - they feel important and comfortable and real and even almost miraculous in the current circumstance.

How wonderful it is to have just an ordinary day. How deeply I want more of them. And more after that. For as long as I can.

Today is a big day. After months of my “mystery malady”, what seems like a gallon of blood given for tests during that time, more different kinds of scans than I can recall, while some of you read this I am meeting with the surgeon and will learn about my immediate future and, maybe, beyond.

Thank you for all your kind wishes. I am enjoying them and appreciate every one of you so much.

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The Disease Begins to Come Into Focus

Wow. You are, each and every one of you, wonderful people. Regarding the number of comments and seeing the latest of them, I never noticed before that after 100 comments there is a "more comments" link. You can follow that to see the additional comments.

The weird thing with this not-so-good diagnosis is I feel a bit like that old joke about how Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed the play: except for the cancer, I'm quite healthy so what could be wrong.

I've wakened each morning since the diagnosis on Thursday with, as has always been, thoughts about what I will do that day. Then I recall the new world I live in. Oooph.

And no matter how long I have slept I am, first thing now, already exhausted. Okay, I had an endoscopy and even if it doesn't show on the outside, it is surgery. I get that. Plus, here's an interesting medical tidbit one of the doctors gave me:

Cancer, he says, is high energy. It uses up energy at a faster rate than a cancer-free body, and he admonished me to watch for unexpected weight loss. Ha. It's the first time in my life I've been urged to eat more. Ice cream here I come.

Some of you wrote to ask, similarly, what a husband-and-wife set of TGB readers wondered:

”Would you be willing to share your ongoing story to the TGB audience? Only to express your current (at the time) situation as well as the symptoms that lead you up to the doctor's appointment. This may help thousands of us be watchful and more careful with habits like smoking, diet, and exercise.”

Since, for the duration, little else will be on my mind, that could be a useful idea and I'll give it a shot. I promise I'll do better than just an organ recital and that shouldn't be too hard since already I can see that having a frightful disease is more about dealing with it intellectually and emotionally than the day-to-day treatment.

Well, it is for now – until I'm in pain and and sick from chemotherapy. That's a different problem I've decided not to think about until the time comes.

My father died of this disease, pancreatic cancer, so I harbor no illusions about how awful it is. But that was 35 years ago. Maybe doctors know more about it now. Or maybe not.

Thank you all for being there. I knew we had created a special community at TGB over the years. But I didn't know until now how extra special it is.

Thank you for all the email too. If I haven't answered, it's only that I can't keep up (a good thing) and still do what is needed to be ready for what is coming. Please understand.

A lot of you seem to think I'm a brave person. I've never thought about that one way or the other but I sure hope you're right.


ELDER MUSIC: 1936 Again

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

* * *

I started this particular column only so I could include this first song. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I were driving to Daylesford (north-west of Melbourne, famed for its restaurants) when we heard it on the radio.

"What is that?" we said, and "We have to include that in a column." And so it shall be. Fortunately, we got the name of the song but not the performer. I have since discovered that it is SOL K. BRIGHT & HIS HOLLYWAIIANS.

Sol Bright

That's Sol, third from the left. What a treat the song is, so for your delectation here is the Hawaiian Cowboy. I challenge you not to smile while listening.

♫ Sol K Bright - Hawaiian Cowboy


BILLIE HOLIDAY was in full swing around this time.

Billie Holiday

Naturally, I'll include Billie whenever I can. The song I've chosen was written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields and first performed by Fred Astaire serenading Ginger Rogers in the film "Swing Time". It is The Way You Look Tonight.

♫ Billie Holiday - The Way You Look Tonight


Here is another unlikely cowboy. This time it's BING CROSBY.

Bing Crosby

At first I couldn't imagine Bing as a cowboy but after some research I found that he played one in the film "Rhythm on the Range" from 1936 – our chosen year, in fact.

Indeed, it was from that film that we get Bing's song I'm An Old Cowhand. There were about a dozen songs in the film which wouldn't have left much time for ridin', ropin' and rootin'.

♫ Bing Crosby - I'm An Old Cowhand


I could have included FRED ASTAIRE earlier, but I already had him for this next song.

Fred Astaire

Like the Billie's song, it was written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, and was also from the same film. Fred sings A Fine Romance.

♫ Fred Astaire - A Fine Romance


LOUIS ARMSTRONG could have been included several times this year, but I restrained myself.

Louis Armstrong

I also restrained myself from saying that he was the most important musician of the twentieth century. Oops, too late. Here is Lyin' To Myself.

♫ Louis Armstrong - Lyin' To Myself


While we're on the subject of important musicians, probably the most influential blues musician of the first half of the century had several songs on the chart this year. I'm talking about ROBERT JOHNSON, of course.

Robert Johnson

He didn't get around to recording any more songs (after the 40 or so he produced in his first recording session) as he was murdered a few months later. He was one of the earliest members of the "27 Club". One of his most covered songs is Sweet Home Chicago. Here is the original.

♫ Robert Johnson - Sweet Home Chicago


FATS WALLER is another who can bring a smile to your face, even when he's being serious.

Fats Waller

Fats wrote hundreds of songs that are attributed to him, and apparently many more. Early on, he had to sell them to earn a little money and for which he wasn't credited with the authorship. Alas, he died young, 39, of pneumonia on a train between Los Angeles and New York. Fats' song from this year is All My Life.

♫ Fats Waller - All My Life


THE BOSWELL SISTERS were the main competition to the Andrews Sisters around this time.

Boswell Sisters

Fats Waller was probably the first person to record and popularize the song I'm Going To Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter, however, he didn't write it. That was Fred Ahlert and Joe Young. Hot on Fats' heels, the Boswells had a go at it. They included parts of the song that aren't heard these days.

♫ Boswell Sisters - I'm Going To Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter


I'm sure that TAMPA RED had nothing but pure thoughts when he recorded Let's Get Drunk and Truck.

Tampa Red

Red started life as Hudson Woodbridge but from early on he was known as Hudson Whittaker. He was another influential blues man and was a master of the bottleneck guitar style. That's not evident on this song; piano and kazoo seem to be the dominant instruments.

♫ Tampa Red - Let's get drunk and truck


HAL KEMP played saxophone and clarinet and was a band leader in the thirties.

Hal Kemp

Unfortunately, he was killed in a car accident in 1940. BOB ALLEN was one of several singers who performed with Hal.

Bob Allen

Here they are with A Star Fell Out Of Heaven.

♫ Hal Kemp (Bob Allen vocal) - A Star Fell Out Of Heaven



INTERESTING STUFF – 3 June 2017

UPDATE: 4PM PDT: I am overwhelmed with your love and good wishes. I so appreciate them and all of you. There is a rule, apparently, at Typepad that there can be no more than 100 comments which we have now surpassed. I have written to them and asked if they could forgo the rule for this blog post but will probably not have an answer yes or no for awhile. Meanwhile, know that I can read the additional comments offline. I'm so sorry - I apologize for this inconvenience.

* * *

Believe me, this is not what you were expecting today.

Not your normal Saturday Interesting Stuff column. And it is something I never imagined dealing with on TGB. But there you are – shit happens in life. No one ever promised you a rose garden. And all of that.

Yesterday afternoon, I returned home following three nights in hospital, a bunch of tests, an endoscopy procedure to set a stent and having met more new people – professional caregivers of many stripes - in that short time than I've ever met in a whole year before. Diagnosis: pancreatic cancer.

Oooph. That's a kick in the gut. I can't pretend otherwise.

So I wasn't home to write today's Interesting Stuff and Peter Tibbles, the author of the weekly Sunday music column agreed that it's best to “tell readers what's going on,” he said. “They're a smart bunch.” And so you are.

Next Wednesday I'll meet with the surgeon again. He's in his mid-50s, I'm guessing, and get this: his entire specialty his whole career has been the pancreas and only the pancreas. It makes me wonder if there are physicians who treat only one leg or the other, one arm at a time, etc. (That's a weak joke, folks.)

Surgery will follow soon after that meeting – a week or more in hospital and then rehab for a week or two, they say. Of course, details are subject to change but now you know why posting may be spotty for awhile.

Anyone who has sent an email, please forgive me for not answering. I arrived home from the hospital to more than 800 new messages and just hit delete – too tired to sort them.

This isn't going to be easy and I could probably benefit from a crash course in patience about now. Is that an oxymoron, do you think?


All My Blog Friends Live Close By Redux

EDITORIAL NOTE: Writing this note on Tuesday, I'm still under the weather, a condition that manifests itself (among other symptoms) with brain death. There isn't a chance that I could write anything coherent right now so I've pulled out this old post from early, early, early in this blog's existence, 2005.

I most appreciate your get well messages but I'm really interested in reading what you think about blog friendships. There was no Facebook 12 years ago so that might have changed the friendship dynamic. Many commercial websites now publish blogs, mostly for marketing but blogs nonetheless making the original personal nature of blogs a little fuzzier. And so on.

If you want to compare to 12 years ago, the original publication of this post is here with those comments.

* * *

Internetdog

Earlier this year, I published a lengthy post about the benefits of blogging for old people. Among those benefits are new friendships, something that becomes particularly important when, as we get older, families may live far away, retirement removes daily interaction with colleagues, spouses and friends die and for some, as the years pile up, getting out and about becomes more difficult and less frequent.

And so, there are fewer opportunities to enjoy old friendships or to make new ones. Isolation and loneliness can become problems and are known to negatively affect health and mental acuity.

But blogging opens up a world of intimate connections and even for those who are not alone – or old yet – blog friendships are rewarding. Why else are we here every day? Yes, much has been written of the ego gratification of seeing our thoughts in print and having people respond to them. That is not to be dismissed. But I think as we become accustomed to it, the personal connections we make over the months and years of blogging take on greater importance.

Next to nothing has been written about the nature of blog friendships. They often develop, I think, when a blogger, writing of deeply personal feelings and events, touches another who has lived a similar experience. And even without revealing innermost secrets, we come to know and be drawn to one another through reading of our shared interests.

Email is then taken up, and a friendship burgeons, blossoms and grows although in most cases, we never meet in person. Do these friendships, I wonder, have the strength and “stickiness” of in-person friendships? I haven’t been blogging long enough yet to be certain.

My friend Sali and I met in 1969 or 1970. She subsequently moved to Israel and our face-to-face visits have been few in the 35 years since then. In recent years, email has kept us in closer touch, but we write in bursts and sometimes months can go by with little more than quick “hi, just checking in” notes. But when we see one another, we always relish the fact that we pick up the conversation as though we had seen one another just last week – as though no physical absence of great length has intervened.

Sali and I have a long-term, in-person history. Is it different, do you think, when we don’t know what someone we’ve come to feel a closeness with looks like?

Many of us publish photos of ourselves from time to time and even a video now and again. But what we don’t know is a blog friend’s body language, facial expressions, way of expressing themselves in speech – and what they might say in conversation without the advantage we have on our blogs of thinking it over first, editing ourselves and putting our best feet forward.

What I am wondering is how this changes the nature of online friendship compared to in-person friendship. In my early years of reading blogs, before I started TGB, I was often astonished at how personally revealing many bloggers are. Much more so, I think, to unknown readers than most of us would be in the first few meetings with a new in-person friend.

This might be an advantage to getting to know another better; sometimes it is easier to be honest at a remove from one another. On the other hand, there is much to be discerned about people non-verbally – the look in their eyes, the kinds of clothes they prefer, whether they are the touchy-feely sort or not, etc.

“On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” How DO online and in-person friendships differ? I wish some people more thoughtful and articulate than I am would put their minds to the nature of blog friendship.


Memorial Day 2017 and a 92nd Birthday

PlacingFlags2680

That is one of the U.S. soldiers who spent a good deal of time last week placing a flag at each and every one of the more than 400,000 military graves at Arlington Cemetery.

Today, beginning at 2PM EDT, there will be the National Memorial Day Parade down Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. to honor those who died during their service to our country.

The other two big, national events - the National Memorial Day Concert and the Indianapolis 500 auto race - took place yesterday. I have no idea why this car race is always held on Memorial Day.

Other traditions on this holiday are small-town parades, picincs, backyard barbecues for family and friends along with fireworks in many cities and towns tonight.

And there is is one more celebration this Memorial Day weekend, a big one for us at here at Time Goes by: the 92nd birthday(!) of Darlene Costner today.

If you read the comments, you know her name, and you know she never pulls any punches. Darlene always says exactly what she means and I'm proud to call her a friend for at least a decade now.

So, everyone, please join me in wishing Darlene a fabulous and beautiful 92nd birthday.

BirthdayFlowers

EDITORIAL NOTE: I had plans for a more elaborate post today – you know, Darlene's big deal birthday, the holiday and maybe something about patriotism in the age of Trump.

But I've been under the weather for the past couple of days (nothing serious) and just ran out of steam so this will have to do. I'll see you back here soon.


ELDER MUSIC: The Two Tims

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's a column pretty much guaranteed to depress you. At first glance there may not seem to be much that the two artists today have in common except for the same first name. However, they both started out as folkies and both had a serious interest in jazz that showed in their work and both were extremely influential musicians.

Another unfortunate aspect that links them is their use of hard drugs, which was the cause of death of both of them. The first Tim wrote beautiful melodic songs and the second, well, less so on that score, but they were really interesting if you listen with an open mind.

The first Tim is TIM HARDIN.

Tim Hardin

I'm sure many readers know about this Tim and his songs. Those of you who don't know his name almost certainly will know several of his songs. They have been covered by many people over the years. I'll give you an initial for instance: If I Were a Carpenter.

♫ Tim Hardin - If I Were A Carpenter


I don't know if Tim wrote the next song as autobiographical. I suspect not as he mentioned that he was there "to steal her money". However, he mentioned that the lady's name was Susan Moore and Tim actually married Susan Morss.

Okay, not the same, but still...Lady Came From Baltimore.

♫ Tim Hardin - Lady Came From Baltimore


One of my all time favorite concert albums is "Tim Hardin 3" – Tim wasn't very creative in the naming of his records, his first two albums were called "1" and "2".

"3" was recorded at the Town Hall in New York with a crack jazz band backing him. From that session is Misty Roses.

♫ Tim Hardin - Misty Roses


Another song from that same live album. This one is called Lenny's Tune, and it's about Lenny Bruce. I don't want to psychoanalyze Tim, but the song really does reflect mostly on Lenny's drug problems.

♫ Tim Hardin - Lenny's Tune


Tim's final song would have been covered by even more people than the first one. It's really a very short song (as are most of his songs, but this one even more so). Maybe that's the reason people record it. Reason to Believe.

♫ Tim Hardin - Reason To Believe


Tim Hardin

Unlike the first Tim, the second one didn't really believe in brevity. There are few songwriters outside Dylan who wrote longer ones than he did.

I saw TIM BUCKLEY once, at Winterland in San Francisco in 1970, opening for the Mothers of Invention. Not to be out-weirded by that group, he spent most of his gig playing the bagpipes.

I thought that just a little bit strange, but maybe I was the only one in the audience who wasn't zonked out of his brain. It was an interesting evening.

Tim Buckley

After the first three or four albums, Tim seemed determine to alienate his fans. His experimental work got stranger and stranger and quite frankly wasn't very good.

However, before that he wrote and recorded some interesting songs which, like the other Tim, were covered by many others. One of those is Morning Glory, from the album "Goodbye and Hello" – his breakthrough album.

Well, as much of a breakthrough as Tim ever managed.

♫ Tim Buckley - Morning Glory


The consensus of those who like to speculate of these things is that his finest album is "Greetings From L.A." (I prefer the previously mentioned one). From that album comes the song, Make It Right.

♫ Tim Buckley - Make It Right


Going back to "Goodbye and Hello", here is I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain. Boy, does this one go on. And on and on. It's about Tim's relationship with his by then ex-wife and their son Jeff.

♫ Tim Buckley - I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain


For a complete change of pace, Tim channels his inner lounge singer. Well, as much of one as he was capable. Blue Melody is taken from the album "Blue Afternoon" most of which were songs Tim had meant to record on previous albums but hadn't got around to doing.

♫ Tim Buckley - Blue Melody


Finally, (you may hope) only one more song left. Another one from "Greetings From L.A." and another long song. Get on Top.

♫ Tim Buckley - Get on Top


Tim Buckley


INTERESTING STUFF – 27 May 2017

BEFORE WE GET STARTED TODAY

Yesterday, I posted instructions for John Oliver's direct link to the FCC comment page on the agency's net neutrality changes. In case you missed it, here it is again:

To get to the page, go to this URL, click on the word, “express” at the far right of the page. At the next page, you can fill in the form and let them know that you support net neutrality and Title 2.

Here is the procedure – Oliver has made it so much easier than the FCC does:

  1. Navigate in your browser to gofccyourself.com
  2. Click the word “express” on the right side of the page
  3. Fill in the form to support net neutrality and Title 2

It will take you only a few minutes to do this and if enough people do, we can save net neutrality – like last time, three years ago. (If you need a refresher about this issue, click here and scroll down about halfway.)

* * *

THIS IS THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT

This is my president at the NATO meeting in Brussels this week. That's Dusko Markovic, prime minister of Montenegro, he's shoving aside. Watch:

That wasn't Trump's only moment of boorishness in Brussels. I am so embarrassed these days to be an American.

TECH USE INCREASES AMONG ELDERS

Pew Research released its latest survey of technology use among Americans age 65 and older. Although elders' adoption of internet, broadband, tablets, smartphones, etc. is still slower than younger people, it is growing – at least among the youngest old:

ElderTechUse

It doesn't thrill me the way Pew uses such language as “especially limited” among the oldest cohort, particularly when referencing individual devices. Maybe some people aren't interested or don't believe they need a tablet, for example. I don't. And a “dumb phone” may meet the needs of some.

But that's a small quibble in a fairly extensive survey.

Unsurprisingly, many say they need help using technology. All the more reason to have the terrific young women we talked about this week who started GTGTech to help elders get the hang of it.

There is much more the Pew survey than I've covered. You can find it here.

WHY SMART PEOPLE HAVE FEWER FRIENDS

When we discuss loneliness versus being alone here, a large number of commenters – me too - insist they like their alone life. According to this video, that may be because we are among the smartest.

I'm not sure we should take any of this video seriously but it's fun and there is some interesting information.

LEARNING THE CHINESE LION DANCE

According to this video, lion dancing is a demanding a sport. It is also

”...an age-old Chinese tradition meant to ward off evil spirits and welcome good ones. The dance—with its giant, dual-dancer costumes and kung fu-based movements—dates back to the Tang Dynasty of the 7th century.

I enjoyed the lion dancers dozens of times in New York's Chinatown. Here's a video that shows how they are trained:

THE O WORD

Pretty much all media refuses to use the “O word” when referring to “old” people. There are more euphemisms than can be counted and I've written here about how it took me awhile, when I started this blog, to be comfortable attaching the word “old” to myself and to others. Now I barely notice.

Recently, reporter Mary Jacobs wrote an excellent piece (I would have said that even if she hadn't quoted me) titled Getting Old, Getting Loud: Be Proud of the “O” Word. A taste:

”Age may just be a number, but 90 is a really different number than 40, no matter how good you feel. And if it was 'just' a number, California legislators wouldn’t have felt compelled to pass a law last year requiring IMDb.com [the online movie database] to remove ages of actors and directors who don’t want the numbers published on the website.

“Supporters described the law as an effort to combat age discrimination, because actors, especially females, get passed over for roles as they get older. (A judge recently blocked the law.)

“But think about that for a minute. The way to stop age discrimination is to pass a law to enable older people to go underground? Old age is so embarrassing and shameful that we need to legally protect the right to hide it?”

Regular readers of TGB will instantly understand that Mary Jacobs is a woman after my own heart.

Before I link to Mary's website, I must show you the Dumbledore quotation from the Harry Potter books that she uses – it's my new favorite so you'll probably be seeing it here in the future more than once:

“Call him Voldemort, Harry,” he said. “Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”

Listen to Dumbledore, and read the rest of Mary's story at her website.

109-YEAR-OLD WORLD WAR II VETERAN

That's how old Richard Overton, America's oldest veteran, was when this video was shot. He turned 111 this month and returned home from the hospital just this week after a bout with pneumonia.

In this video shot two years ago in and around his home in Austin, Texas, he gives up some of his secrets to long life. Presented by National Geographic.

GLOBAL SEED VAULT FLOODED

As The Guardian explained last week, the Global Seed Vault, near the Arctic Circle, was flooded recently due to global warming:

“The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide 'failsafe' protection against 'the challenge of natural or man-made disasters.'”

None of the water gushing in reached the seeds. This time. Here is a short video of the vault:

You can read more at The Guardian and at The New York Times.

WEATHER SERVICE CUTS ARE SERIOUS

On a similar subject, the Trump administration wants to make further cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), of which the Weather Service is a part, even though the United States already lags behind European weather prediction models:

“'It’s gotten to the point that most meteorologists are just discounting the American models, especially for more than three days,' says Doug Kammerer, chief meteorologist at NBCUniversal’s WRC-TV in Washington, DC.,” reported in Wired magazine.

“Weather pros like Kammerer sometimes have to make a judgment call when the American and European models disagree. That’s no biggie when it comes to planning a backyard cookout or soccer game, but it has bigger implications when this year’s hurricane season starts on June 1.

“'When you are looking at a storm, a nor’easter or a hurricane coming up the coast, you need that lead time,' says Kammerer. 'The American models aren’t giving us the lead time we need to properly forecast storms.'”

This is serious stuff, folks. You can read more at Wired.

MITCH LANDRIEU'S AMAZING, MOVING, IMPORTANT SPEECH

A week ago, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered an address about his city's efforts to remove monuments that prominently celebrate the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy” and promote white supremacy.

I would weep to have a president who thinks and speaks like this. (Thank my friend Jim Stone for this video.)

A BUCKET OF WATER IN THE DESERT

A guy put a camera in the bottom of a bucket of water, stuck it in the desert and waited to see what would happen. The YouTube page explains further:

”I was pleasantly surprised during the edit to see that George made an appearance. I know him from all the other rabbits because of the tiny notch in his ear. A burro just happened to come by in time to be included...Note: The swimming bees were rescued.”

* * *

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

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


Cheating Death is an Ancient Dream

PROTEST FCC CHANGES TO NET NEUTRALITY
Finally, John Oliver's direct link to the FCC comment page on the agency's net neutrality changes is up and running again.

To get there, go to this URL, click on the word, “express” at the far right of the page. At the next page, you can fill in the form and let them know that you support net neutrality and Title 2.

Again, here is the procedure – Oliver has made it so much easier than the FCC does:

  1. Navigate in your browser to gofccyourself.com
  2. Click the word “express” on the right side of the page
  3. Fill in the form to support net neutrality and Title 2

It will take you only a few minutes to do this and if enough people do, we can save net neutrality – like last time, three years ago. (If you need a refresher about this issue, click here and scroll down about halfway.)

* * *

A month ago, I told you about the quest of a bunch of billionaire tech executives who are spending large chunks of their personal wealth on longevity research convinced they can conquer death in their lifetimes and live forever.

Founders of Facebook, eBay, Napster and Netscape among others, reported the Washington Post, are driven by a certainty that rebuilding, regenerating and reprogramming patients’ organs, limbs, cells and DNA will enable people to live longer and better.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison says, “Death has never made any sense to me.” Google has backed a project called Calico with the ambition of “curing death.”

As I mentioned in that March post, the creepiest research so far is what I couldn't help but label “the vampire project” in which scientists say that old mice show remarkable rejuvenation when transfused with the blood of young mice. And the research hasn't stopped with rodents.

At a private clinic called Ambrosia in Monterey, California, people can pay $8,000 to have blood plasma from teenagers and young adults pumped into their veins.

Many of us were taught in school that 16th century Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon made it his mission in Florida to find the fountain of youth. That's probably a myth but tales of such magical waters have been told since at least the 5th century BCE.

Fountainofyouth3

I was reminded of this ancient pursuit of mankind a few days ago in a newsletter I receive from H.R. Moody, editor of the Teaching Gerontology at the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

Moody linked to a wonderful story about the extreme ways humanity has tried to cheat death throughout history. Amazingly, blood transfers from young to old are far from being a new idea. Here is a sampling:

6TH CENTURY BCE
Those who want to live a longer life are advised to consume a mix of root powder, gold, honey and butter after a morning bath according to the Sushruta Samhita, an ancient Sanskrit medical text.

1ST CENTURY CE
Pliny the Elder reports of Romans with epilepsy rushing to drink blood of gladiators to cure their ailment and gain strength and vigor. (Pliny did not think this was a good idea.)

4TH CENTURY CE
The alchemist Ge Hong describes a medicine made from the brains of a certain kind of monkey that, mixed with herbs, would lengthen life up to 500 years.

1489
Philosopher Marsilio Ficini suggests the elderly drink the blood of young men to rejuvenate themselves. A few years later, Pope Innocent VIII tried it. He died shortly after.

1667
French doctor Jean-Baptiste Denis performs the first animal-human blood transfusion. The human patient recovered afterwards.

1920
Eugene Steinach experiments with a popular procedure that involves a partial vasectomy. Among his patients were W.B. Yeats and Sigmund Freud. The latter hoped it might slow his jaw cancer. It didn't.

1930
British newspapers report that a man named Giocondo Protti successfully rejuvenated the elderly by performing blood transfusions from young donors.

And if you believe that...

These are just a few of the various historical attempts to avoid the grim reaper that you'll find listed at the Time magazine story.

I wonder if the tech billionaires will eventually join the likes of Ge Hong, Marsilio Ficini, Jean-Baptiste Denis, etc. as amusing sidebars in misbegotten pipe dreams or become more famous for their longevity success than for their technology companies.

Science-cheat-death



Cruel Cuts in the Trump Budget

MulvaneyWithBudget

The main beneficiaries of President Donald Trump's 2018 budget proposal are the people who already have too much, the one percent. Here's how tax cuts go for them, as reported in Yahoo! News:

”According to calculations from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities [CBPP], each household in the top 1% would receive approximately $250,000 per year, and the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes would each receive at least $15 million per year, for a total of 'at least $6 billion annually.'

“As the CBPP points out, '$6 billion is more than the federal government spends on grants for major job training programs to assist people struggling in today’s economy,' and it is 'roughly the cost of providing 600,000 low-income families with housing vouchers.'”

Other winners in the budget proposal would be the military at a 10 percent increase and the border wall with $1.6 billion set aside to begin its construction.

After that, it is a reverse Robin Hood budget. All of the above is being paid for with deep cuts to programs for children, the poor, disabled, elders and important agencies of the federal government that benefit everyone.

So many programs and agencies are under the knife in the proposed budget that I'll concentrate on the ones that mostly affect old people by which I do not mean to slight the pain others would suffer. No one but the very rich would escape hardship if Congress passes this budget.

First, here is a chart from the White House showing some of the "winners and losers" in Trump's first budget. Most of the ones we'll discuss fall under the Department of Health and Human Services. (Don't faint at the percentage reduction of the Environmental Protection Agency.)

BudgetChartwinnersLosers

MEDICAID
$800 billion would be gone from the program that gives millions of elders access to long-term care. That amount is on top of the $839 billion that would already be cut under the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) that passed in the House earlier this month.

Few people recall that during the campaign, candidate Trump promised to not touch Social Security, Medicare and MEDICAID. (More on this below.)

MEALS ON WHEELS
Eliminates the Community Services Block Grant that helps pay for delivery of meals to low-income and house-bound elders.

LIHEAP
Eliminates the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that helps elders with winter heating costs. I lived in Maine for four years, one of the poorest and coldest states in the U.S. This program is crucial to keeping old people there warm (and maybe) alive in winter.

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSDI)
Administration spokespersons and too many journalists are saying that the budget keeps Trump's campaign promise not to touch Social Security.

HUL-LO. Social Security Disability Insurance IS part of Social Security.

Back in March when he was discussing a preview of the 2018 budget on Face the Nation on NBC-TV, White House Budget Director Mike Mulvaney had this to say:

”Do you really think that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don't think so.”

Well, I do and so do millions of SSDI beneficiaries and their families. Nevertheless, in keeping with Mulvaney's misbegotten snark, the new budget makes deep cuts to the program that covers people mostly 50 and older who can no longer work, until they are old enough for retirement Social Security.

SSDI benefits are typically modest. In March 2017, the average monthly benefit for a disabled worker was $1,171.52, barely $14,000 a year. If this cut is approved, it would be the first inroad to cutting Social Security retirement benefits in the future.

OTHER CUTS
The proposed budget also makes cuts to SNAP (food stamps), CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), student loan repayment aid, education and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would take a big hit too.

Experts, pundits and some others who are supposed to know such things are saying that this budget is dead on arrival in Congress and I certainly hope they are right.

But I keep thinking, these are the same people who told us Trump would lose the election and they are kin to Trump himself who said a hundred times during the campaign that he would not touch Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

It's time to make some telephone calls again. The offices of congresspeople and senators keep count and the number of calls they receive DOES matter. So contact your representatives even if you believe they would vote to reject this Draconian budget that would further enrich the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class.


A TGB Extra: John Oliver on Is This Real Life?

That's one of the four questions John Oliver asked Sunday night on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight.

Time Goes By does not usually publish on Tuesday but I'm posting this video today instead of next Saturday because there will be so much more to know by then that we need this to help us up keep up.

Last week was by any measure the worst presidential week yet in this administration and that's saying something. Scandal upon scandal, a new one every day and more than that on some days.

Oliver titled this 25-minute segment “Stupid Watergate.” He takes us through all the terribly worrying events of last week saying everything I've been wanting to say but he does it better than I can while also being funnier about it without minimizing the importance of a single point.


Old and Young Having Fun Together

Three or four years ago, I was invited to a “Brownie Day” at the Adult Community Center (ACC) – the name my town gives the senior center.

The nine-year-old members of a local Brownie troop (young Girl Scouts) each made a batch of brownies herself from a family recipe as refreshments for an afternoon of board games with members of the ACC, elders all.

At first, we were a little shy with one another; after exchanging names we were not sure what to talk about. But the ACC manager, who knows what she's doing, soon had us settled down at tables for the games.

By the end of the afternoon, thanks to the silly board games we played together with the sugar high from the brownies that had us all laughing and giggling together as if we were drunk, we actually shared some real conversation about our lives.

[You can find out more about that afternoon in this post from 2014.]

There is, in recent years, a lot of conversation around the need for more intergenerationality. That word is a mouthful and it sounds dull as hell. In most cases, it is.

Meetings are held, studies are done and with a few excellent exceptions, nothing happens beyond bureaucratic-sounding checklists of items that don't produce much substance. Like this one:

Get local foundations to support intergenerational projects
Lobby local government to make intergenerationalism a core value
Ask organizations that work with the young to collaborate with the old

You can't say anything is wrong with those ideas except that there is nothing specific to hang on to, nothing that says, “Hey, let's give this a try.”

What if people whose hearts and minds are moving in the right direction talked about, instead – oh, say

Young folks helping elders with technology
Young and old making music together
Playing games – silly ones and, for example, chess too
A hike and picnic with one another
Cooking meals together

I'm sure you can come up with more activities that old and young can participate in equally – the kinds of things that grease the wheels of conversation among age groups that don't get to spend much time together, and especially that lead them to laugh with one anther.

Something close to that has been happening recently in and around the U.S. Capitol.

GTG tech three girls

Last week, the Washington Post published a story about three 17-year-old high school students - Hannah Docter-Loeb, Kaela Marcus-Kurn and Aviah Krupnic - who started a group they named GTG Tech which, they say, stands for Generation to Generation and Grandkids to Grandparents and Giving the Gift.

”...they hold free training sessions at libraries, senior centers and community halls once a month [in the Washington, D.C. area]. It’s a nonprofit, volunteer group that’s growing as their friends join in to help.

“But it’s not like they’re trained computer experts, the girls reminded me. They’re working on the simple, everyday tasks that digital natives take for granted.

“'We just grew up in this, so we know how to do it,' said Kaela, a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.”

Here's a short video produced by One News Page about GTG Tech:

A whole lot more is going on than showing an 80-year-old how to text her boyfriend, or helping an 87-year-old who didn't understand how to use Wi-Fi:

”...there is also something magic about the formula, the intergenerational exchange that happens when young and old interact, especially when they aren’t related.

“'It’s like a blood transfusion. It’s about more than computers,' said Renee Dunham, 78, after the teens helped her with text messaging. 'I learn a little bit about their lives. How they organize their lives, their phones. What they’re listening to or what tech they’re using.'

“And, Dunham observed, it came with no strings attached. No long debates with her granddaughter about her hair and make-up, no reminders to tell her grandson not to slouch.

“'Like you can’t teach a family member to drive. That never works,' Dunham said.”

GTG tech one-on-one teaching

I'm not a sociologist nor a child psychologist, but those clauses I bolded strike me as right on the money with families. GTG Tech has been wildly successful both in terms of popularity and what young and old are getting out of it which is much more than instruction.

”Although it might be easy to make fun of Grandpa when he brings in his three maxed-out Hotmail accounts and isn’t sure how to delete emails,” writes the WaPo reporter, Petula Dvorak, “the teens have learned that he was once a hottie who flew warplanes. Or the lady walking with a cane used to be a ballet dancer.

“On a recent rainy Saturday at the Chevy Chase library, every GTG Tech slot was full. And for three hours, the teens gave digital advice to many interesting seniors: a retired linguistics professor, a pioneer FORTRAN programmer, a former wire service reporter.”

Grandchildren notwithstanding, few of us have opportunities to spend real time with people of a generation so different from our own, nor do many young people have reasons to hang out much with elders unrelated to them.

But in the case of GTG Tech, everyone is getting an up close and personal insight into what each other's lives are like - which is what happened to me with Brownie troop.

Do they give you any ideas? (The photos in this story are from the GTG Tech website which you will find here.)

Wide shot GTG Tech teaching


ELDER MUSIC: Soul Men

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.

* * *

It surprised me that I haven't done a column completely dedicated to male soul singers, as I've already done one on the females - quite some time ago. Thus today I'm going to rectify that oversight.

Naturally, with today's title it's axiomatic that I begin with the soul men themselves, SAM AND DAVE.

Sam & Dave

That not only describes them, it's also the name of the song. Well, nearly, it's actually Soul Man.

♫ Sam & Dave - Soul Man


OTIS REDDING is guaranteed to be present today.

Otis Redding

There are scores of his songs that I'd be happy to include but I'll go with the first one he recorded. This was after some other performer's session had ended and there was still time on the clock and Otis pretty much said, "I have a song, could we do it?"

First take, cut, released and a classic was created. He was backed by the band in the studio, Booker T and the MGs. It was far from the last time they performed together. These Arms of Mine.

♫ Otis Redding - These Arms Of Mine


The next song is indelibly associated with Otis but others have performed it too. One of the best of those is ARTHUR CONLEY.

Arthur Conley

Arthur is best known for his song Sweet Soul Music where he name checks the best of the soul singers. Naturally, he left himself off the list, but perhaps he should have been included.

Let's see what he does with I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now), a song written by Otis and Jerry Butler.

♫ Arthur Conley - I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)


CLARENCE CARTER was born blind but he didn't let that set him back.

Clarence Carter

After achieving a degree in music, he began singing professionally with Calvin Scott as Clarence & Calvin later shortened to the C & C Boys (a bit unfortunate, that name).

He began a solo career when Calvin was seriously injured in a car accident. Clarence has recorded a bunch of songs and has had several that crossed over on to the pop charts, including Patches, Too Weak to Fight and the one we have today, Slip Away.

♫ Clarence Carter - Slip Away


Z.Z. HILL, like many soul singers, began his career in a gospel group, in his case The Spiritual Five.

Z. Z. Hill

Later he performed in clubs around Dallas until Otis Redding caught his act and encouraged him to record. Z.Z. went to Los Angeles and joined his brother, who fortuitously, was a record producer.

Z.Z. brought a more blues sound to his soul music, which is no bad thing. You can hear that, as well as some gospel, in Ain't Nothing You Can Do.

♫ ZZ Hill - Ain't Nothing You Can Do


I've stated before that James Brown learnt pretty much his entire act from DON COVAY.

Don Covay

He wasn't particularly grateful as he tried to shoot Don once (he missed).

I've always preferred Don as a performer, which might be the reason I keep mentioning that story. As well as singing, Don was a writer of songs, both for himself and others – Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Wilson Pickett, the Rolling Stones and Solomon Burke are only a few who have covered his songs.

Here, he gets a bit of a surprise in his song I Was Checkin' Out She Was Checkin' In.

♫ Don Covay - I Was Checkin' Out She Was Checkin' In


The life of Overton Vertis Wright, generally known as O.V. WRIGHT rather parallels that of Z.Z. Hill.

O.V. Wright

In O.V.'s case, he was from Tennessee and the gospel groups he fronted were The Sunset Travelers and later The Harmony Echoes. He was in the latter group with James Carr, one of the all time finest soul singers.

O.V.'s first recorded song was That's How Strong My Love Is, later covered by Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Percy Sledge and many others. Today he sings He Made Woman For Man, that sounds rather gospelly to me.

♫ O.V. Wright - He Made Woman For Man


Okay, this next one isn't entirely a soul man – we have both genders here today. This song has always tickled me but I know others don't like it. You can make up your own mind.

In the eighties one of the more interesting soul singers was RICHARD FIELDS. He generally went by the nickname Dimples because he had (and I bet you can't guess) dimples.

Richard Dimples Fields

One of his most interesting albums from that time was called "Dimples" which I have on vinyl, but I haven't seen on CD (but it's probably out there somewhere).

From that record is a song I think is a real hoot called She's Got Papers on Me. Listening to it the first time, you think that it's just another conventional soul song until towards the end when we get a bit of a swerve to the left when BETTY WRIGHT joins the party.

Betty Wright

♫ Richard Dimples Fields - She's Got Papers On Me


JAMES & BOBBY PURIFY were James Purify and his cousin Robert Dickey. In later years Ben Moore took over as the second Bobby Purify.

James & Bobby Purify

Most of us are probably familiar with the song, Shake a Tail Feather, particularly the version by Ray Charles, even if just from the "Blues Brothers" film. He wasn't the first to record it though, that was The Five Du-Tones.

Some years later James and Bobby tackled the song and did a really good job of it. See what you think.

♫ James & Bobby Purify - Shake A Tail Feather


JOE SIMON may not be a household name but he's had dozens of hits that made both the pop and R & B charts over the years.

Joe Simon1

I won't even try to list those, or even the most significant ones. I'll just play the song I selected, Message from Maria.

♫ Joe Simon - Message from Maria


Here is a very late bonus track. I only learned about this band last Saturday as Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and I were driving to the South Melbourne Market.

This song came on the radio and we wondered who it was, it was so good. Several different people were suggested by us but we were wrong because it turned out to be someone we hadn't heard of. They are THE TESKEY BROTHERS.

Teskey Brothers

These are young folks from Warrandyte, an outer suburb of Melbourne, home of great wines, gorgeous scenery and now, terrific music in the form of Pain and Misery. It demonstrates that the young folks are still producing wonderful music.

♫ The Teskey Brothers - Pain and Misery



INTERESTING STUFF – 20 May 2017

PORTRAITS OF A CENTURY

As Senior Planet explains it, Czech Republic photographer, Jan Langer

”...has spent some time comparing images of people when they were young with their 100-year-old selves. His meditation on age is the basis for a thoughtful, impactful and deeply moving photo project, Faces of Century.

First example is Antonin Baldrman at age 17 and 101:

AntoninBaldrman

And here is Marie Baresova at age 23 and 101:

MarieBurwsova

See more at Senior Planet and even more at Mr. Langer's website.

HISTORY OF THE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE

There aren't many of us who have not eaten chocolate chip cookies or even baked them too. Mental Floss recently published a history of the chocolate chip cookie. Apparently, they say, there are many versions of the origin story.

But I thought the story screamed for video and I found several at YouTube. Here is one of the many I found on this topic.

A more detailed story is at Mental Floss.

VERTICAL FARM IN NEWARK

Vertical farms aren't new but this one, AeroFarms, is said to be the largest in the world that grows produce indoors without sun, soil or pesticides. Here's a short video:

There is a much more thorough story about it at The New York Times.

NET NEUTRALITY UPDATE

Last Saturday, I posted John Oliver's essay on Net Neutrality along with a link to the website he had set up to make it easy for all of us to tell the FCC what we think about the director, Ajit Pai's intent to kill equal access to the internet.

The response of viewers of the essay on Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight, broke the FCC website which then announced it would not accept comments until after the FCC commissioners vote on the proposal. They did that on Thursday, voting 2 to 1 to end net neutrality.

"The agency is now inviting public comment on whether it should indeed dismantle the rules," reported the BBC yesterday. "Americans have until mid-August to share their views with the FCC.

"This call for comments is likely to attract a huge number of responses. Prior to the vote, more than 1 million statements supporting net neutrality were filed on the FCC site."

As I told you last Saturday, Oliver posted a web-only update which is well worth your time to watch – it's shorter than his usual essays, about six minutes:

As of late Friday, the Oliver link to the FCC comment page was not yet functional. I'll update here when it is. Meanwhile, here again is the procedure to leave your message to the FCC. Even if you left a comment before the website broke, please do it again as the FCC has announced that it will not count those earlier comments.

Again, here is the procedure – Oliver had made it easy:

  1. Navigate in your browser to gofccyourself.com
  2. Click the word “express” on the right side of the page
  3. Fill in the form to support net neutrality and Title 2

When the comment page is available, do it, please, to help save the internet for everyone.

SOME GREAT ROCK AND ROLL DANCING

I used to be able to do this. Quite well. Many decades ago. This video calls it the lindy hop but when I was young, we called it swing dancing. It seems to me to be the same thing or close enough. Enjoy.

This video was recorded at International Lindy Hop Championship in 2014. The Lindy Hop Championship organization has a Facebook page here.

PRETTY, BIG AND DANCING

Oh, let's go ahead and have two dance stories this week. This one is a whole different kind, 21st century dance, with an important goal beyond the joy of dance itself. The YouTube page explains:

”Akira Armstrong started dancing at 8 years old and never looked back. She even landed a featured appearance in two Beyonce music videos, but when she decided to pursue dance professionally, she faced rejection from agencies because of her body type.

“She didn’t fit the physical mold of a typical dancer. So, Armstrong took matters into her own hands and started a plus-size dance company, Pretty Big Movement. “

Take a look – it's a terrific mini-documentary about what Ms. Armstrong is doing.

AHCA: HOW DID YOUR REP VOTE?

You wouldn't know it from the news coverage of all things Trump this week but the Senate Republicans insist they are working on a rewrite of the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

If you don't already know how your representative voted on the House version of AHCA, AARP has posted a list showing how all 435 member voted laid out alphabetically by state.

You'll find the list here.

DIALYSIS – JOHN OLIVER

As John Oliver admits at the top of his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, you might think you don't care about a 24-minute video essay about dialysis.

He says – and so do I – that you would be wrong. This is an stunning expose of the for-profit dialysis business, deadly serious but as he always can, Oliver finds a way to make us laugh while educating us.

NATURE'S GREATEST ARTIST

Okay, it's not as cute as the animal videos I usually post at the end of each Interesting Stuff column but it sure is amazing.

Thank TGB reader Joan McMullen for this one.

* * *

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

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


Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder

Earlier this week, I received this email note from Peter Tibbles, he who runs the Sunday Elder Music column and is a handful of years younger than I am:

”This morning I decided to take some cardboard down to the recycle bin (and yes, they were empty wine boxes). So with laden hands, I unlocked the door and attempted to pull the key out of the lock (I have a deadlock and I leave the key in the lock when I'm home).

“It wouldn't come out. I tried and tried, but nothing. Well, the door was open so I decided to take the cardboard downstairs and check it later, making sure that the downstairs door was snibbed open.

Lock

“Well, I got back and the key still wouldn't come out of the lock no matter what I did. Then it occurred to me that it should be aligned at 3 o'clock to come out, not 6 o'clock as I was trying to do.

“Thirty years I've been here.

“I offer these mitigating circumstances: the lock on the other side of the door requires the 6 o'clock orientation to remove the key. Perhaps I didn't know if I was inside or outside.”

Oh, I know all about such a memory lapse. They happen to me all the time. It takes a good deal longer than necessary to get blog posts done because I frequently have to hunt for the feature I want in OpenOffice or paint.net or my email.

Peter has his 30 years using that lock. I have two decades using these computer programs; I should be able to function with them in my sleep. But nooooooo.

A few days ago, my Kindle needed charging. I opened the drawer where the cable lives and – oops, nothing there. I stared in disbelief; I'm good at returning items to where they belong.

It took a few hours for me to recall that a month or two ago I had moved the cable to a drawer in another room.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. I had broken one of my own long-standing rules for being old: never, ever change the place where you have stored a tool for a long time because the first storage place will stick in your mind forever and you might never find the tool again.

These – Peter's and my own memory-related mistakes – will not be unfamiliar to most of you who read this blog. I have dozens of other examples and I'm sure you do too.

Yesterday, I heard from cyber-friend and fellow New Yorker, Esther Harriott. You may remember her name from the story here two years ago about her excellent book, Writers and Age: Essays on and Interviews with Five Authors.

Esther included a link to a video that has a load of fun with the topic of today's post. It may be as vaguely familiar to some of you as it was to me yesterday. I was surprised find that it had been posted in these pages as a written joke in 2007, and in 2011, this self-same video - which further underlines the transitory nature of elder memory - or, at least, mine. Enjoy.

I'm no doctor or medical researcher but I'm pretty sure none of these incidents should be read as incipient dementia. It's just, as the video says, age-activated attention deficit disorder. Nothing to do but live with it.