ELDER MUSIC: Nothing

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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Nothing ain’t nothing.

Nothing is a roiling mass of quantum effects where particles and anti-particles wink into existence and return to nothingness. This happens billions of times a second. Once upon a time one of those random events got out of hand and created the universe – it expanded exponentially (generally called the Big Bang), then slowed down, then speeded up again.

Oops, sorry, this isn’t a physics column, it’s all about music. On with the nothingness.

After I had collected the songs, I noticed that it had pretty much turned into a column replete with soul music. That’s fine with me; I hope it is with you as well.

I’ll start with the greatest soul singer, OTIS REDDING.

Otis Redding

He says that I'll Let Nothing Separate Us. I hope he’s right, but this is the real world.

♫ Otis Redding - I'll Let Nothing Separate Us


Next we have the only singer who could have taken Otis’s crown from him, if there hadn’t been that “incident”, SAM COOKE.

Sam Cooke

Sam could sing songs from just about any genre of music and make it his own. Not just his own, but better than just about anyone else. His song is Nothing Can Change This Love.

♫ Sam Cooke - Nothing Can Change This Love


For a change of pace, we have the song that inspired this column. When I saw a vid of the rather fine British group, The Beautiful South, perform a cover of a song by IRIS DEMENT, I knew I had a column.

Iris Dement

Iris was also in their show. Naturally, I’m going with her original version of You've Done Nothing Wrong.

♫ Iris DeMent - You've Done Nothing Wrong


TOUSSAINT MCCALL only had two songs that made the charts, and only one that got to the pointy end.

Toussaint Mccall

That song is Nothing Takes the Place of You. I don’t know why he wasn’t more successful as he was a fine singer, but we know how fickle the music industry is.

♫ Toussaint Mccall - Nothing Takes The Place Of You


JAMES HUNTER had the help of VAN MORRISON on his first album “Believe What I Say”.

James Hunter & Van Morrison

This was a really terrific soul/rhythm & blues-based album that’s worth seeking out, as are James’s subsequent records. From that first album, with Van in tow, we have Ain't Nothing You Can Do.

It was written by Deadric Malone and Joseph Scott and first recorded by Bobby Blue Bland, whose version is excellent.

♫ James Hunter - Ain't Nothing You Can Do


Here are PAUL MADIGAN and ROSS HANNAFORD from an impromptu jam session they performed a few years ago.

Ross Hannaford & Paul Madigan

Paul sings and plays acoustic guitar and Ross plays electric guitar and sings a bit towards the end of the song. Ross was the guitarist for the group Daddy Cool (and others as well). He was easily the finest rock guitarist Australia has produced. Unfortunately, he died recently.

The song they perform is There's Really Nothing You Can Do.

♫ Ross Hannaford & Paul Madigan - There's Really Nothing You Can Do


THE BEARDS are completely tongue in cheek but you wouldn’t know because they all have big beards so you can’t see any cheeks.

The Beards

According to their song, it seems that you can achieve anything if you have a beard - world peace, stop global warming and perform several rather more interesting things. I can attest to that - after all, There’s Just Nothing Better Than a Beard.

♫ The Beards - There’s Just Nothing Better Than a Beard


There were a number of contenders for the next song but with BILLIE HOLIDAY in the mix, it’s a done deal as far as I’m concerned.

Billie Holiday

The song is from the recordings she did that later became known as The Ben Webster, Harry Edison Sessions where some of the finest songs of the era were recorded. One of those was Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me.

♫ Billie Holiday - Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me


CLYDE MCPHATTER is one of several singers that first came to prominence as lead singer for The Drifters.

Clyde McPhatter

He then went on to have a successful solo career. He was one of the best of the pop/soul singers and this song is an example. Although having said that, the song sounds more like a gospel song with some of the words tweaked to fit in, but then a lot of soul music does just that. I really like it. Without Love (There Is Nothing).

♫ Clyde McPhatter - Without Love (There Is Nothing)


It tickles me that PETER PAUL & MARY always had an ampersand in their name rather than the word “and”.

Peter, Paul & Mary

That’s just me; I get distracted by these rather trivial things. Anyway, they perform a song of Bob Dylan’s, not too much of a surprise there.

This is one from the period when he was recovering from his motor cycling accident when he wrote songs and sent them out to people he knew would do a good job with them. PP&M certainly did that with Too Much of Nothing.

♫ Peter, Paul & Mary - Too Much Of Nothing


I’ll end as I began, with a great soul singer. This time it’s PERCY SLEDGE.

Percy Sledge

Percy is another in the top echelon of soul singers - there are quite a few of them as this genre seemed to attract really good singers, many from gospel backgrounds.

Percy is best known for his classic song, When a Man Loves a Woman. From around the same time we have When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters).

♫ Percy Sledge - When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters)




INTERESTING STUFF – 6 October 2018

MURPHY BROWN RETURNS

Back when Murphy Brown a staple on prime time television, I was a fan. Not only was it a well-done sitcom, it was set within my then-professional milieu – network television production. It was well done and I enjoyed it.

Well, it's back. Murphy, played again by Candace Bergen has, along with the original regulars, grown as older, as we have, and they are not pretending otherwise.

The premier episode aired a week ago and it was a load of fun including this cameo from a recent presidential candidate playing “Hilary Clendon” applying for the job of Murphy's secretary. Here is that scene:

The show is broadcast Thursdays at 9:30PM on CBS.

COMMERCIAL FOR NEW, BIGGER IPHONE

Continuing my own personal meme from last week's Interesting Stuff, here is another television commercial that charms me – for the new, bigger iPhone:

7 WAYS CONGRESS MIGHT MAKE AIR TRAVEL LESS AWFUL

Does anyone without a private jet think air travel is fun anymore? Or even vaguely comfortable?

I get invited to visit friends here and there, but I can't bring myself to get on an airplane. Now, perhaps, it might get a little less awful as Congress considers a bill to reduce the effect of some of the terrible things airlines inflict on passengers, Among them:

A prohibition on the use of electronic cigarettes aboard aircraft.

A ban on talking on cell phones aboard commercial flights

A requirement that the FAA establish minimum seat dimensions on passenger airlines.

It's probably not enough for me to get back on an airplane but maybe, if Congress really does this, it is a start for a return to basic needs and requirements for human beings to be shut up inside a metal tube for hours.

You can read the rest of the seven proposals at Roll Call.

ANOTHER AGEIST PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

My friend Chuck Nyren sent this video. Adweek calls it “comically savage” and apparently it is supposed to make young people want to vote. See what you think:

There is no question that it's a good idea to find creative ways to get people (of all ages) to vote. But to do so by demeaning one age group over another is unconscionable, and it tells us exactly what the creators think of old people.

More at Adweek.

FIRST ROBOTIC FARM IN U.S.

They say Iron Ox is the first farm in the United States run entirely by robots, something that becomes more important now that there are no longer enough immigrants allowed into the country to do this kind of work. Take a look:

The farm's website is here and you can read more at the San Francisco Chronicle.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG – MISJUDGED

“Misjudged.” That's the title of Jill Lepore's story in the current issue of The New Yorker about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's unlikely path to the Supreme Court. It begins:

”Ruth Bader Ginsburg blinked behind giant, round eyeglasses. It was the first day of her confirmation hearings, in July of 1993, the year after the Year of the Woman, and Joe Biden, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was very pleased to see her...

“She sat with the stillness of a watchful bird. 'Judge Ginsburg, welcome,' Biden said, heartily. 'And, believe me, you are welcome here this morning.' You can read it at the magazine or listen to it being read on the same page.

GinburgBio150In case you are as interested as I am, a new biography, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life, by Jane Sherron De Hart will be published on 16 October. It was written, according to the Amazon page, with the cooperation of Justice Ginsburg and based on interviews with the justice, her husband, her children, her friends, and her associates.

2017/18 FLU SEASON BROKE ALL PREVIOUS RECORDS

And not the good kind. The Centers for Disease Control tell us this week that this past influenza season was the deadliest in at least 40 years. CNN reported,

“Influenza killed about 80,000 people in the 2017-2018 season, according to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The previous high for a regular flu season, based on analyses dating back more than three decades, was 56,000 deaths.”

According to the Washington Post, the CDC's report is

”...the most detailed picture of the devastating reach of the respiratory virus, which sickened millions of people as overwhelmed hospitals pitched tents to treat patients.”

Get your flu shot this year. Don't blow it off. It's free at any pharmacy. Do it.

You can read the CDC report here.

HAWK RESCUE ON THE DADDYKIRBS FARM

Blake Kirby wrote on the Youtube page of this video:

“When we first saw the wild animal we thought he was a dead chicken floating in the rain tank. Then I noticed he was still alive and NOT a chicken! I knew I needed to help this beautiful bird.”

And so he did.

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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.




Have You Been Dropping More Things as You Get Older? Take Two

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Something came up in the past couple of days that didn't leave me time to get a post written for today. In place, then, of something new, here is the most popular story on TGB since it was published in January 2016.

Most popular, in fact, by a whopping 55 percent which reinforces my belief that the many kinds of changes that accompany growing old are ignored – or don't even exist in the literature - because the experts are, primarily, not yet old and don't yet know.

And that gives me an idea for an upcoming post. Meanwhile, if you have not read this before, see if any of it resonates with you.

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It is hard to be sure but it seems to be so for me. And it is really annoying.

For example, one day last week, I dropped a spoon on the kitchen floor. I picked it up, rinsed it off and as I reached for the towel, I dropped in again. Damn.

A day or two before that, I had dropped the shampoo bottle in the shower – a new, full one that barely missed my toes. Later that day, I dropped the two-quart, plastic box where I store the cat's dry food, scattering it all over the kitchen. Damn again.

Not long ago, I dropped a nine-inch butcher knife – that one could have been disastrous – but on another day I was lucky to be standing on a carpet when I dropped my mobile phone so it didn't break.

None of these occurrences is important individually and probably not even in their proximity to one another. But they made me wonder if dropping stuff is a “thing” with old people. So I took to the internet.

There is a lot of unsourced and untrustworthy health information online and that is always dangerous for “low information viewers,” as it were. The first I found was a large number of forums where people with no expertise were freely offering their uninformed opinions.

In answer to inquiries about dropping things, many instantly went to fear-mongering: Based on nothing at all, they advised people to see a doctor right away because it could be an early symptom of MS, ALS, Huntington's disease and more.

That's nuts. Those were anonymous forums, for god's sake. I hope no one takes them seriously.

Digging deeper at more reputable websites, I found that sometimes dropping things can be among the symptoms of serious disease but only one symptom, a minor one among dozens of others anyone would notice long before worrying about dropping something.

Checking further, I found that dropping things is not a big enough issue with growing old to warrant much notice.

In fact, a webpage of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services for training elder home staff is the only direct mention of elders dropping things I found.

”The sense of touch changes,” they report. “In older adults the sense of touch may decrease as skin loses sensitivity. Pressure, pain, cold and heat do not feel the same as they used to feel. Decreases in touch sensitivity may cause residents to drop things.”

That reference to skin losing sensitivity reminded me that a few years ago, I discovered through personal experience that old people often cannot be fingerprinted, particulalry with electronic scanners, because their fingerprints are worn off.

When I wrote about that here three years ago, I quoted Scientific American magazine:

”...the elasticity of skin decreases with age, so a lot of senior citizens have prints that are difficult to capture. The ridges get thicker; the height between the top of the ridge and the bottom of the furrow gets narrow, so there's less prominence. So if there's any pressure at all [on the scanner], the print just tends to smear.”

That would certainly affect sense of touch and the ability to know if you are holding things tightly enough. A report from Oregon State University [pdf] concurs with Pennsylvania report supplying a bit more medical information:

”With aging, sensations may be reduced or changed. These changes can occur because of decreased blood flow to the nerve endings or to the spinal cord or brain. The spinal cord transmits nerve signals and the brain interprets these signals.

“Health problems, such as a lack of certain nutrients, can also cause sensation changes. Brain surgery, problems in the brain, confusion, and nerve damage from injury or chronic diseases such as diabetes can also result in sensation changes.”

I finally found the most pertinent answer to my question at The New York Times. Noting that fine touch may decrease in old age,

“Many studies have shown that with aging, you may have reduced or changed sensations of pain, vibration, cold, heat, pressure, and touch. It is hard to tell whether these changes are related to aging itself or to the disorders that occur more often in the elderly...”

This Times information is quoted from A.D.A.M., a private source of medical information for health professionals and other paid subscribers.

So what I have deduced from two or three hours on the internet is that barring injury or disease or, perhaps, waning strength that affects one's ability to grip strongly, maybe elders do drop things more frequently.

Maybe a diminishing sense of touch in general means that we cannot effortlessly perceive the appropriate strength of our grasp as automatically as when we were younger. At least, that's what I choose to believe for myself until someone enlightens me further.

Following on that, for the past few days I have been making a conscious effort to be sure I am holding whatever is in my hand tightly enough that it will not slip.

I want that to become second nature because the knife I mentioned was a close call and I certainly don't want to drop a cup of hot coffee on my foot or the cat.

Does any of this ring a bell for you?




Grandkids on Demand Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

Following my cancer surgery last year, it was six or eight weeks before I felt capable of driving to the market, medical checkups and other appointments. I live in the suburbs so there isn't much choice in getting anywhere beyond walking distance except by driving.

I was lucky. Terrific neighbors and friends stepped in to take up that slack while I needed it but not everyone has that choice.

According to the 2016 Older Americans Key Indicators of Well-Being report [pdf], 25 percent of men age 65 and older live alone and 36 percent of women in that age group do. Some have friends and family nearby to help out when needed but tens of millions of us do not.

That's what Andrew Parker realized not long ago that led to his founding Papa, a service that matches elders in need of some assistance with college students who want to help.

Parker had been regularly helping his grandfather – whom he calls Papa – but as his day job workload increased he couldn't always get away to run errands. He hired a woman via Facebook who began assisting Papa in Parker's stead. But as he told TechCrunch:

”The experience made Parker realize there was a gap in the market for seniors who, like his grandfather, were mostly independent and don’t require a caregiver, but still needed occasional help from a trustworthy person.”

That's when he quit his job to create Papa, providing “what he describes as 'pre-care' from college students he named Papa Pals.”

Here's Andrew Parker talking about Papa:

Parker further explained how it works in an interview with Pymnts.com:

“'The first time someone contacts us, they often have a specific idea about what they need, and we catalog that and send it on to the student who will be working with them. Sometimes they want a ride to the doctor, sometimes they are looking for someone to teach them how to use Netflix.

“'We had a member who was on the campaign trail with Ronald Reagan 30 years ago, and her family hired a Papa Pal to help her transcribe her very interesting life story into a digital format for her family.'

“What they often found, however, is that the relationships evolve between the users and the Papa Pals, so that the tasks they end up doing together often range widely from where they started.

The students are carefully screened before being accepted as Papa Pals. Among the requirements, according to the Papa website:

3.0 GPA or higher

Major/Minor in Nursing, Psychology, Pre-med, Health Sciences or other health-related field preferred

Full or part-time student enrolled in a four-year university

Must have a valid .edu email address, a vehicle and a valid drivers license

Must be able to pass a full background check

Clients can pay for services a la carte at about $20 an hour, or use the subscription service. The student Papa Pals earn about $15 per hour.

Beginning in 2019, new rules will make it possible for Medicare Advantage to pay for some of Papa's services, particularly medical appointment transportation.

For now, Papa operates only on Florida but they have plans to expand, first to 10 more states and then beyond.

I think this is an extremely important innovation. Whether we elders like to admit it or not, the time will come when we can't do as much as we once did and may even need to give up our driving privileges.

As I mentioned above, I had a taste of what is to come after my surgery. It was a long time before I could shove the vacuum cleaner around and even pulling the laundry out of washer and into the dryer was difficult.

For people who don't need full-time care but can use some help in other ways, this is a great solution.

You can find out more about Papa at the company's website and the Facebook page.

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Here is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded yesterday. In the second half there is a lot of Judge Brent Kavanaugh chat. I'm not sure we said anything you haven't heard.

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




A TGB READER STORY: A Story

By Mary Symmes

In 1975, I was studying Arabic at the Foreign Service Institute. The last part of the course was at the American Embassy in Beirut and I duly arrived, age 25, with the rest of the new class of Arabic students.

I had spent a good part of my childhood in the Middle East so I had an idea of what it would be like to live in Beirut. But in August 1975 Beirut was full of unrest and violence and on the verge of civil war. (Fortunately I was immortal at the time).

Shortly after we arrived, old friends of my parents invited me to dinner. I love Arabic food and ate heartily. I knew that uncooked fruits and vegetables would probably make me sick but because these were urban, educated people, I had no qualms in eating whatever was presented to me. Somehow it would be sanitized.

Later that night, I woke up with nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. I walked several blocks to the embassy the next morning so I could see the embassy nurse and prayed with every step that nothing would happen until I was near a toilet. I was lucky.

After another attack, I walked back to the hotel with Paregoric and instructions about what to eat and drink. I really felt ill and weak and I knew the Paregoric would make me sleepy, so I called the wife of one of my fellow students, who was staying in the same hotel, and asked her to call me every day to make sure I was okay.

I spent the next two days mostly asleep, and then arose feeling almost human.

As I was getting dressed to go to the embassy cafeteria, I realized that while I was so sick the maids had cleaned the room and stolen two purse-sized perfume dispensers I had left out of my locked suitcases.

There was nothing I could really do about it so I didn't even tell the management. And I was so lonely and relieved that I was better that I just wanted to be around other people again.

I got to the embassy and was eating dry bread and drinking tea as various people I knew came by, all telling me how awful I looked!

I went back to class that afternoon and eventually moved into my own apartment until all nonessential personnel were evacuated from Beirut that October. But that is another story.

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

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




Prescription Drug Prices Off the Charts

It's almost that time of year again, the annual open enrollment period for Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) that will take place from 15 October to 7 December 2018. We'll have a more detailed discussion of that here in a couple of weeks.

For now, you should know about the most recent annual report from the AARP Public Policy Institute titled (exhaustively), AARP Public Policy Institute Trends in Retail Prices of Brand Name Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans: 2017 Year-End Update.

It was released last week and it is not good news. According to the report, summarized at AARP,

The retail prices of some of the most popular prescription drugs older Americans take to treat everything from diabetes to high blood pressure to asthma increased by an average of 8.4 percent in 2017, far exceeding the 2.1 percent inflation rate for other consumer goods and services...

“The report shows that the annual average retail cost for just one popular brand-name drug among the 267 that AARP studied would have been nearly $6,800 in 2017.

“But had pharmaceutical price increases been limited to the country’s general inflation rate between 2006 and 2017, that cost would have been more than $4,600 lower. Retail prices increased in 2017 for 87 percent of the brand-name drugs studied.”

The report notes that the retail price of one widely used brand-name drug to treat fibromyalgia, Lyrica,

”...increased by 19.3 percent; the price of diabetes drug Januvia increased by 8.2 percent; and the price of Benicar, a widely used medicine for high blood pressure, increased by 17.8 percent.”

Here is a chart from page 12 of the report showing what the average price of the prescription drugs would be if increases had matched overall inflation:

PriceIncreasevInflation

The researchers have sliced and diced their price findings about a dozen different ways but the numbers come out all the same: jaw-dropping increases. Among the highlights (well, I suppose we ought to call them lowlights):

“Brand name drug prices increased four times faster than the 2017 general inflation rate”

“Retail prices in 2017 increased for 87 percent of the 267 brand name drugs studied”

“Retail prices for 113 chronic-use brand name drugs on the market since at least 2006 increased cumulatively over 12 years by an average of 214 percent compared with the cumulative general inflation rate of 25 percent between 2006 to 2017”

After a lifetime of good health requiring no more prescription drugs than an occasional antibiotic, I found out first hand this past year about the cost of drugs. It's frightening.

One of the giant problems with Medicare prescription drug plans is that none of us has any way to predict what drugs we may need in the coming year and the varying providers have different formularies.

Since I am not a fortune teller, until my cancer diagnosis in 2017, I had always chosen the cheapest coverage.

Then, during the Part D enrollment period for 2018 last year, I knew what drugs I would need to continue taking I made an informed choice of which policy would be best for me.

That worked well enough until, in May, I was prescribed an expensive drug not covered by my provider. Oof. That was tough.

Many Medicare beneficiaries who take more than one or two prescription drugs has his/her own story about that kind of sticker shock but we'll discuss that another day.

Among the study's concluding observations are these two strong charges:

”Current market forces do not adequately protect against excessive brand name drug prices and price increases, and the resulting growth in pharmaceutical expenditures is not sustainable.”
“Current pricing practices for brand name pharmaceuticals are a threat to the health and financial security of individual consumers and to taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

“Brand name prescription drugs can provide substantial health benefits including improved health outcomes; however, these benefits are only available to those who can afford to use them.”

You can read the full AARP report here. [pdf]




ELDER MUSIC: Oz Rock Bands

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 Australian rock bands that most Americans would not know. Thus there is no AC/DC, Little River Band, Easybeats, Crowded House, Men At Work or Air Supply. The ones today were all successful at home but made little impact in the wider world, and that is the world’s loss.

Because of the country’s small population, these bands developed their skills in pubs and clubs throughout the country, touring constantly, and they had to get good really quickly or they’d go under. These are the survivors of that process. As they used to say on records back in the day, turn up your volume.

Daddy Who? Daddy Cool! (Sorry, I was flashing back to 1971). DADDY COOL is my favorite Oz rock band, and probably the fave of most people of a certain age in this country.

DaddyCool

All the members were in several bands previously and they set up Daddy Cool just as a side project, one where they could mess around and play whatever they wanted. What they wanted proved to hit a nerve with the public and they became hugely successful in their new guise.

Their first big hit, written by Ross Wilson, their singer and rhythm guitarist, spent a rather remarkable 10 weeks as number one on the charts. That song is Eagle Rock.

When Elton John toured and heard the song he was so impressed by it he (and Bernie Taupin) wrote Crocodile Rock as an homage.

♫ Daddy Cool - Eagle Rock


STARS were a country tinged band who only made two albums.

Stars

That’s because their main songwriter and guitarist died from cancer at the ridiculously young age of 25.

They were a particular favorite of Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and I asked her if she agreed with my choice of song. I think she would have been okay with any from either album. The one I chose is Let's Get Moving.

♫ Stars - Let's Get Moving


In the mid-sixties when young folks were taking up guitars and the like, THE LOVED ONES had an advantage over the rest as most of their members came from jazz bands. Thus they already knew how to play more than three chords.

Loved Ones

They had another advantage, a quite extraordinary singer (Gerry Humphreys) who was like no one else before or since. The band made an album that hit the top of the charts, had four singles that did the same and disintegrated after a year of huge success and popularity never to be heard from again.

The first of their big hits they named after themselves, The Loved One.

♫ Loved Ones - The Loved One


Easily the most successful band within Australia was COLD CHISEL.

Cold Chisel

They had many hits over the years, and this was another excuse for me to play their best song, Flame Trees.

♫ Cold Chisel - Flame Trees


Several of the members of HUNTERS AND COLLECTORS met when they were at Melbourne University.

Hunters & Collectors

They started a band and, as with just about all bands, they evolved, split and became several different ones over the years. The essential core remained the same, particularly their singer, songwriter and guitarist Mark Seymour (who, for those who like musical trivia, is the older brother of the late Nick Seymour of Crowded House).

There are few better songs that came out of that era than Throw Your Arms Around Me. There have been a couple of even better versions of the song, but this is the original.

♫ Hunters & Collectors - Throw Your Arms Around Me


SKYHOOKS were a serious rock band masquerading as a glam-rock outfit.

Skyhooks

Well, perhaps not entirely serious, given some of their songs (whose names I won’t mention because this is a family blog). We won’t go with those, instead it’s a bit irony with All My Friends Are Getting Married.

♫ Skyhooks - All My Friends Are Getting Married


JO JO ZEP AND THE FALCONS were an early (but not the first) band formed by the musical powerhouse Joe Camilleri.

Jo Jo Zep

Jo Jo Zep was a nickname bestowed on Joe by his mother. The group’s style was rhythm and blues mixed with reggae, soul, punk and even a bit of jazz. That’s because their members were serious musicians who knew their stuff.

Their first song to make the charts was Hit and Run.

♫ Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons - Hit and Run


REDGUM recorded the best and most poignant song about the Vietnam war.

Redgum

Yes, we were there too because our stupid Prime Minister at the time (Bob Menzies) pretty much insisted on it. I’ll stop there otherwise I’ll get really angry. The song is I Was Only 19.

♫ Redgum - I Was Only 19 (a walk in the light green)


THE CHURCH was pretty much the brainchild of Steve Kilbey.

The Church

Steve obviously listened carefully to The Byrds, especially to McGuinn’s twelve string electric guitar. However, the group quickly evolved into a distinctive one. They had several songs that became icons of the Australian musical scene. One of those is Unguarded Moment.

♫ The Church - Unguarded Moment


THE BLACK SORROWS were yet another of Joe Camilleri’s bands.

Black Sorrows

I could do a whole column on his bands. Oops, sorry, I’ve already done that. This was easily the most successful of his units. I’ll even play the most successful of his songs, Harley and Rose.

♫ Black Sorrows - Harley And Rose


The members of MENTAL AS ANYTHING are all from various art schools, and all of them are still involved in the art world. Indeed, Reg Mombassa (not the name his mum and dad gave him) is the creator of the Mambo line of clothing and whatnot.

Mental as Anything

Given their name, you can probably guess that they don’t take themselves too seriously – one of their big hits was If You Leave Me Can I Come Too? I nearly included that one, but finally decided on The Nips Are Getting Bigger. An Australian song about drinking. Who’d’a thunk it?

♫ Mental As Anything - The Nips Are Getting Bigger


I can’t help myself; I had to include another track from THE LOVED ONES.

Loved Ones

The song is Everlovin' Man. You really have to smile at Gerry’s vocal gymnastics (well, I do). If ever a band deserved the appellation “iconic” it was this one.

♫ Loved Ones - Everlovin' Man




INTERESTING STUFF – 29 September 2018

ELDERS USING CANNABIS

I may have mentioned that for the past five or six months I have been using a cannabis tincture of THC to help me sleep. It works well. Bud tenders at dispensaries I visit have told me that the majority – more than half – of their customers are people in my age group that is, elders.

About a week ago, the Washington Post reported on a new study of the age of marijuana users:

”The latest release of a massive federal drug use survey shows monthly marijuana use has skyrocketed among older Americans...

“As recently as the early 2000s, teens were more than four times more likely to use marijuana than 50- and 60-somethings. But as of 2017, Americans ages 55 to 64 are now slightly more likely to smoke pot on a monthly basis than teens ages 12 to 17...

“The oldest age group — seniors age 65 and older — has seen steep increases in marijuana use, as well. In the mid-2000s, monthly marijuana use among this group was effectively at zero percent. As of last year, 2.4 percent of seniors used marijuana monthly, and nearly 4 percent were using on at least an annual basis.”

Here's the chart:

Marijuanausebyage

It makes sense to me to me for several reasons. Cannabis is a effective treatment for a number if ailments that effect elders more than young people, an increasing number of states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use and old folks are, to a large degree, the Woodstock generation. We've been here before.

You can read more at the Washington Post.

HOSPITAL FOR SPECIAL SURGERY COMMERCIAL

About 95 percent of the time, I mute television commercials or skip through them if I'm watching a recording. But not this one.

Without making it clear what is it they do there, the commercial promotes the Hospital For Special Surgery, it has been running for many months and is titled, The Way You Move.

It always makes me feel good. How about you?

The music is Do Your Thing by Basement Jaxx.

IF ALL THE ICE MELTS WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO EARTH

Although leaders of the world have essentially done nothing, scientists have warned us for decades now that the polar ice is melting and many of us have seen videos of near-continent-size chunks of ice breaking off into the sea.

As a result of all this ice becoming water, scientists expect the seas to rise. And to rise more dramatically that I previously understood.

Here's a video about will happen to Earth if all the ice melts. (The video was released a year ago which accounts for the promotion of a film that was being released then.)

EXTRAORDINARY NYT PRINT EDITION FRONT PAGE

On the morning of the Blasey-Ford/Kavanaugh hearings, the print edition of The New York Times published this amazing front page – an image of Judge Kavanaugh's youthful calendar.

NYTFrontPage20180927680

There is a larger image here. [pdf]

CLEVER TV COMMERCIAL WITH A WONDERFUL SURPRISE ENDING

Two things about this item:

  1. TV commercials seem to be a theme of today's post. I don't know how that happened but there you are.

  2. I have a vague memory of possibly having posted this one in the past but I'm not sure. Either way, it is extraordinary. Not a word spoken and you know exactly what it's all about.

WHY OBVIOUS LIES MAKE GREAT PROPAGANDA

With the thousands of lies the U.S. president tells that has also given permission to others with such a bent to do the same, I have had a sense for a long time now that truth – even the idea of truth is being lost to us.

New Yorker writer, journalist and activist, Masha Gessen, says in this video:

”There is no such thing as truth. Whoever has objectively more power owns reality.”

This video from Vox gives us a fascinating lesson in how lies relate to power.

CANCER PATIENTS' GUIDE TO CLINICAL TRIALS

This is one of the most useful medical reports I have ever found.

ProPublica recently published a story about how cancer trials are conducted including a long list of answers to questions that any potential participant would want to know.

”Most trials are run at academic medical centers and conducted by researchers there,” writes ProPublica's Caroline Chen. “Patients outside those centers often aren’t aware that clinical trials are an option, or they may wonder what joining a study entails. For patients who might consider a clinical trial, here are answers to some common questions.”

Such questions, among others, are these:

Why should I join a clinical trial?
What are the risks of joining a clinical trial?
Will I be given a placebo?
How much time does it take to participate in a trial?
What if I cannot find a trial that will accept me?

This is worth not only a read but a good thing to set aside for when you or someone you know might want the information. You will find the entire story at ProPublica.

BABY OTTERS FIRST SWIMMING LESSON

Otters, even the grownups, are the cutest things. Here is a big otter family giving the babies their first swimming lesson. From BBC Earth.

AN INTERESTING STUFF EXTRA

This Twitter video came in at the last minute from friend Jim Stone as I was putting together today's post. It seems to me after the terrible, no good, awful political week we have been through, we really need this catharsis:

* * *

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.




Two Age Things of Opposing Interest

Yes, these look like items that would usually turn up in Saturday's weekly Interesting Stuff post. But I think they both deserve more attention than perhaps being lost among eight or 10 other items. See what you think.

ITEM 1: NON-VOTERS ANONYMOUS
Certainly I have banged on here – and will again - about how important it is for Americans to vote for their local and Congressional candidates in the midterm election on 6 November.

But never in my dreams could I have envisioned other voting advocates dismissing the need of some citizens to vote, and definitely not for the reason in this video.

It comes from an organization called the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that sounds righteous enough in their About statement on its website:

“NRDC was founded in 1970 by a group of law students and attorneys at the forefront of the environmental movement. Today's leadership team and board of trustees makes sure the organization continues to work to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities.”

“...ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water and healthy communities” but not, apparently, the right to vote after a certain age.

The video is obviously meant to have a little fun while promoting voting by imagining a Non-Voters Anonymous meeting based on the many flavors of such self-help groups. Take a look and be especially attentive at 2:40 in from the top:

Did you get that?

SPEAKER 1: You can vote in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s.

SPEAKER 2: Not 80s. Stay home.

SPEAKER 1: 80s too old. What's the point.

If that exchange was meant to be funny, it missed the mark by 100 percent. Shame on the National Resources Defense Council and everyone involved with the production of this video.

ITEM 2: OLD AGE IS A CEREMONY OF LOSSES
It is a credit to the simpatico between readers of this blog and me that most of the time when readers send links to stories, videos, books, movies, etc. they find interesting, I have just that day or so discovered them myself. (That doesn't mean you should stop sending them; there are plenty I wouldn't know about without you.)

I had just spent 13-plus minutes watching this documentary about Donald Hall when an email arrived from Jack Handley recommending it. He included this message in his note:

No sentimentalities
No denials
No woo woo
No sky gods
No perversion of emotions

And so it is.

American poet laureate, Donald Hall, who has been featured here on several occasions through the years, died in June at age 89. His most recent and now, alas, final book was published in July: A Carnival of Losses: Notes on Nearing 90.

The video, titled Quiet Hours by the producer/director Paul Szynol, premiered at The Atlantic website on Monday – a lovely meditation on old age in which Szynol gives us plenty of silent moments to contemplate what has been said and shown.

(One suggestion: Hall's voice is sometimes muffled and it helps to turn on the closed captioning which is, however, far from perfect but it will help you understand without having to stop and back up the video.)

For all my years producing television, it is words that have always mattered to me first. Two moments among others from the documentary that stand out for me – Hall speaking:

“My companion was her absence.” (Regarding Jane Kenyon, the love of his life who died 22 years ago:)

"Often, at night, solitude loses its soft power, and loneliness takes over. I am grateful for when solitude returns.”

Take a look for yourself:

More at The Atlantic website.




What Peter Tibbles Did on His Birthday

Short answer: “I broke my neck.”

[Ronni here for a moment. As most of you know, Peter Tibbles writes the Sunday Time Goes By column, Elder Music. It surprised me when I checked just now that he's been doing this for almost a decade – 2019 will be ten years.

Peter and Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, who live in Australia, are old friends now - they've even visited me here in Oregon. Twice. September 16 was Peter's 73rd birthday and – well, I'll let him tell the rest of the story.]

* * *

Technically, that happened about an hour before the big day. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, was around for dinner, and I was seeing her off at the door when I started coughing, blacked out momentarily – just a second or two – and went downwards.

My head must have gone at an angle that it wasn’t meant to. The pain was way, way off the charts (and I used to have migraines as a youth and early adult, so I know about that).

Norma rang the ambulance and they arrived in about four minutes (one of their stations is just around the corner) and they did all that stuff you see when football players go down. There was an extra degree of difficulty – getting down two flights of stairs (or four, depending on how you count them).

Off to Emergency at the Alfred Hospital where I hung around looking at the ceiling for about five hours until they did x-rays, CT scans, CAT scans and whatnot.

It turned out to be a break in the C1 and C2 bones of the spine (those up closest to the head). Then my birthday was spent flat on my back staring vaguely towards the ceiling as I couldn’t see much without my glasses on.

To make things even more entertaining, the next couple of days consisted of vast amounts of projectile vomiting, lots of fun at any time, but even more so when you’re flat on your back wearing a rigid collar. This was unrelated to the fall and it wasn’t concussion.

For the next couple of days I was helpless as a kitten up a tree, but after about four days I was starting to walk around a little, and that kept improving.

In the meantime they took out blood, put stuff into me (including some good pain killers), and connected me to machines that went “bing”. They took my blood pressure seemingly about every 15 minutes.

I’m now home and I have to sleep with just a folded towel under my head, no pillows. It surprised me by being not at all uncomfortable, and I’ve slept really well. It’s difficult getting out of bed in the morning; it usually takes three or four attempts before I manage that.

So, I’ll be wearing this collar for the next three months, eating healthy food (gasp) and eschewing wine (yikes).

* * *

[Ronni again. For some period of time, Peter tells me, he won't be able to sit for long at his computer. But that won't stop Sunday's Elder Music. We have a reasonable backlog and if that runs out, there is that decade of old columns that are worth exploring.]




A TGB Reader Story: Who Am I?

By Rosemary Woodel

I am a woman who no longer has her own washing machine.

I am very lucky to now live close to well-lit places I want to visit because I should no longer drive certain places at night.

I am a photographer and a writer.

I am a person who cries in public but likes to make people laugh.

I am no longer well organized. Where are the framed photographs I took in Ukraine? Did I give them away? Why?

I am someone who just found a comforter under the bed in a box I hadn’t seen for seven months, who “found” a drawer in the bureau which I hadn’t opened for six months. Apricot sheets!

I am the kind of person who spends an hour trying to fall asleep, ashamed of being grouchy to two people. And when I call to apologize, they didn’t think I was grouchy at all. I am a person who has forgiving friends.

I am someone who gave away nearly all the Christmas decorations I had in my big house and now misses having some of them in my small apartment.

I am a person who was highly regarded at white-water rafting this summer but two months later flunked out of the low-ropes course with leftover tendonitis and a possible meniscus tear. For at least four weeks I have to walk up steps with my left leg leading.

I am someone who likes living in a dormitory for old people. I am now a person with a Talbots credit card. Talbots?!

I am a person wondering how long I want to live.

* * *

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

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




Annual National Falls Prevention Checkup

Saturday was the first day of fall and it was lovely, sunny and warm, here. How about where you live?

Also, in the United States, it was the tenth annual National Falls Prevention Day, sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) – always a good time to review one's habits and home for falling safety.

I write about fall prevention so frequently that you must know the U.S. statistics related to people 65 and older by now. The two most important are:

  • An elder is treated for a fall in an emergency room every 13 seconds
  • In 2016, 29,668 people in that age group died as the result of a fall

If that doesn't get your attention, in May, the Los Angeles Times, working with data from the Centers for Disease Control, reported an alarming increase in death from falls among elders:

”...falls ended the lives of 61.6 out of every 100,000 senior citizens [in 2016]. Back in 2007, there were 47 fall-related deaths for every 100,000 senior citizens. That means the mortality rate due to falls increased by 31% over the course of a decade...”

The Times attributes the increase to growing numbers of people living longer, and Kaiser Health News reports that one's 80th birthday is a warning sign of increased susceptibility to falling:

”Fear of falling — and the emotional and physical blowback from a fall — are part of turning 80.

“If you are in your 80s and living at home, the chance that you might fall in a given year grows more likely, said Kritchevsky...The study notes that the risk increases with age, making people in their 80s even more vulnerable.”

So this is a good time to do a home and personal inventory to reduce the possibility of falling. The biggest change I made this year is to give up ladders. I'm just not as sure-footed getting up and down on them, so time to stop.

This video, even with its brevity, covers almost everything you need to know about preventing falls.

This infographic from the NCOA covers similar ground:

Ncoa-falls-free-infographic-680pixels-2

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

National Institute on Aging

AARP – Preventing Falls in the Elderly

Mayo Clinic

WebMD

National Institute on Aging

Just this week, Apple announced the release of its Series 4 Apple Watch that includes a fall detection algorithm. (It is also a blood pressure and heart rate monitor). Here is a photo:

Apple-Watch-ECG-heart-handout-712

Reports MobiHealth News,

”Apple's addition of fall detection is likely to be overshadowed by the ECG news, but it's also an impressive achievement...

"When the Watch detects the fall, it will give the user an opportunity to call an emergency contact. But if it detects that the user is immobile for one minute after the fall, it will automatically reach out to authorities using Apple's emergency alert system. It also sends a message to emergency contacts in that situation.”

Of course I have no idea how well this works – just letting you know it exists, among many other kinds of wearable falls detection devices. You will find one comparison list here.

On the other hand, if you're thinking this is too much ado about only one kind of elder danger (it isn't, but go with me on this for a moment), there is always this solution to taking a fall:

Cantgetup

My apologies to the TGB reader who sent this cartoon – I forgot to make note of your name.




ELDER MUSIC: Film Associations

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.

* * *

Classical music has been used in numerous films but there are a certain few where the music has been inextricably linked to them. I'm going to feature some of those today. I imagine you know all of these, but it's fun to revisit them.

ELVIRA MADIGAN

Elvira Madigan

“Elvira Madigan” is the only film on the list today that I haven’t seen, however, it does include Mozart’s music so I’ve included it. The music is his Piano Concerto No.21, the second movement.

♫ Mozart - Concerto n° 21 (2)


THE LONE RANGER

Lone Ranger

I haven’t seen a film of “The Lone Ranger” but I watched the TV program enough times when I was young so I think that counts.

There's an old saying that anyone who can listen to Rossini’s overture to his opera “William Tell”, and not think of “The Lone Ranger” is a civilised person indeed. I guess that makes me uncivilised. I don't think I'm alone.

Of course, when you listen to the complete overture you might be sitting there thinking, when does the famous bit kick in? Quite some time into the piece, is the answer.

♫ Rossini - Guillaume Tell


DIVA

Diva

“Diva” is a French film that’s worth searching for if you haven’t seen it. It’s about a reclusive opera singer, played by Wilhemenia Fernandez, and an obsessive fan who wants to record her. The piece of music featured throughout is the aria Ebben Ne andrò lontana from Catalani’s opera “La Wally”.

♫ Wilhemenia Fernandez - Aria From La Wally


THE LADY KILLERS

The Lady Killers

“The Lady Killers” is an entertaining tale of a bunch of crooks who pretend to be a string quintet to fool their landlady while they are plotting. What could possibly go wrong? The piece they play, and when I say play I mean play a record of, is a string quintet by Boccherini.

Old Boccers wrote music for a group called the Font String Quartet. He liked to play with the lads himself, so he added an extra cello part for himself and thus created a string quintet.

His most famous is the one used in the film, String Quintet in E major, G. 275, the third movement, a minuet.

♫ Boccherini - String Quintet in E Major Op. 11 No. 5 G. 275 (3)


2001" A SPACE ODYSSEY

2001

Just about everyone knows the start of this film. The music used over the initial sequence is a small part of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.

It's a good thing that Stanley Kubrick only used this first bit because, to put no fine point on it, the rest of it is quite tedious – and it does go on for quite some time, so we're spared that.

So, here is just the first bit of the first movement of the tone poem by Richard Strauss called Also Sprach Zarathustra.

♫ Richard Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra (1)


BRIEF ENCOUNTER

Brief Encounter

Do films get any more British stiff-upper-lippery than Brief Encounter? No, they don’t. It’s probably the most passionate film ever made where nothing actually happens.

It all doesn’t happen to the sound of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, mostly the second movement.

♫ Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 2 (2)


THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

The Shawshank Redemtion

This is a rare recent film that’s on the list of a lot of people’s favorites, including mine. (Rare because there would be few recent films that most of us would even consider for that list – or is that just me?)

There is a scene where prison inmate Andy (Tim Robbins) locks himself in the warden’s office and broadcasts to the entire prison the Letter Duet from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro”. His friend Red (Morgan Freeman) says, “For the briefest of moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free”.

♫ Mozart - Marriage of Figaro Aria


THE STING

The Sting

"The Sting" brought the music of Scott Joplin back into the spotlight where it’s remained since. That was a bit odd because the period in which the film is set is some decades after Scott’s music was popular. Doesn’t matter.

The tune that was probably considered the main theme of the film is The Entertainer.

♫ Scott Joplin - The Entertainer


THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

In case you’re unaware, Priscilla is the name of the bus used by the main characters to travel from Sydney to Alice Springs. During the journey Felicia (Guy Pearce) got on top of the bus and sang along to Joan Sutherland performing E'strano Ah fors'e lui Sempre libera from Verdi’s opera “La Traviata”.

♫ Verdi - La Traviata E'strano Ah fors'e lui Sempre libera


DEATH IN VENICE

Death In Venice

“Death in Venice” used the music of Mahler quite extensively, sampling a couple of his symphonies. The biggest chunk was the fourth movement of Symphony No. 5. Like much of Mahler, this does go on for a bit so you could probably go and make a cup of tea or coffee. Perhaps cook some toast.

♫ Mahler - Symphony No. 5 (4)




INTERESTING STUFF – 22 September 2018

BUTCH, SUNDANCE AND ROBERT MUELLER

Washington Post columnist Max Boot, this week, marvelously compared Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to the sheriff who relentlessly tracked down Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

ButchandSundance2

Yes, that Butch and Sundance who tried mightily to elude the guys who were persuing them:

“'Those guys,' wrote Boot, “turn out to be a collection of the best lawmen in the West, led by a legendary sheriff named Joe Lefors, who have been assembled to finally hunt down the bandits.

“Robert S. Mueller III is the real-life incarnation of Lefors, and his special counsel team is the real-life superposse. Like Lefors in the movie, he never says a word. Instead, he lets his work speak for itself...

“As Mueller’s investigation advances, methodically and relentlessly, Trump is acting as rattled as Butch and Sundance — minus, of course, the charm, wit and good looks of Redford and Newman.”

Exactly. You can read the entire column here.

In case you're interested, Max Boot, who is so much more than an opinion columnist, has become one of my favorite regular reads. You can find out more about him here.

NEIGHBOR SPOOFING

This happens to me once every day of the week at the same time each day:

”More than half of all complaints received by the Federal Communications Commission — more than 200,000 of them — are about unwanted calls. The FCC said Americans received about 2.4 billion unwanted, automated calls each month, according to 2016 estimates.”

The spoofing comes in when you answer a call because the phone number displayed shows your own Area Code so you might think it is a friend or neighbor. (I never learn; it gets me every time.)

You can read more here and this video has some information to help you keep calls to a low roar:

REMEMBER VICTOR BORGE?

When I was growing up, Victor Borge was a staple on television variety shows of the era. I'd forgotten him until I ran across this video with one of his classic comedy routines:

FREE CREDIT FREEZE

Credit freezes are an important tool to keeping your personal financial information safe. As The New York Times

”Security freezes, often called credit freezes, are 'absolutely' the best way to prevent criminals from using your personal information to open new accounts in your name, said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer advocacy nonprofit group.”

Before now, the three major credit agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian charged a fee for consumers to freeze their credit. The first two dropped those charges awhile back and now, Experian has joined them in accordance with a new law that went into effect yesterday, 21 September.

Those links above will take you to each agency's credit freeze page. You can read more at The New York Times.

JOHN OLIVER WEB EXCLUSIVE - RETRACTIONS

When John Oliver's HBO program, Last Week Tonight, is on hiatus, he sometimes posts a short, web-only video to carry us over until the next full show.

Here is one about retractions of previous statements he has made in error. Or not.

THE LAST SCISSOR CRAFTSMAN IN JAPAN

Not many people can afford these scissors. It's an amazing story and sad, too, that this man is the last one who knows how to do this.

AIR POLLUTION LINKED TO DEMENTIA

There is a new study linking air pollution to dementia. Here's a short news video:

As The Guardian reports:

”Air pollution has already been linked with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, but this is one of the first studies to examine links with neurodegenerative illness.

“Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at King’s College London and one of the authors of the paper, told the Guardian: 'The study outcome suggests a linkage [between air pollution and dementia] but cannot inform on the cause. However, I believe that we now have sufficient knowledge to add air pollution to the list of risk factors for dementia.'”

More at The Guardian and the Daily Beast. The full study is at the BMJ [pdf].

@#$%^&* TECHNOLOGY

This is no exaggeration. It happened to me almost word-for-word a few days ago. My friend and attorney John Gear sent it, perhaps in response to Crabby Old Lady's elder tech complaints last Monday.

WINDOWS:
Please enter your new password.

USER:
Cabbage

WINDOWS:
Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.

USER:
Boiled cabbage

WINDOWS:
Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.

USER:
1 boiled cabbage

WINDOWS:
Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces

USER:
50damnboiledcabbages

WINDOWS:
Sorry, the password must contain at least one upper case character.

USER:
50DAMNboiledcabbages

WINDOWS:
Sorry the password cannot use more than one upper case character consecutively.

USER:
50damnBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDon'tGiveMeAccessNow!

WINDOWS:
Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.

USER:
ReallyPissedOff50DamnBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDontGiveMeAccessNow

WINDOWS:
Sorry, that password is already in use.

WOODPECKER VERSUS SQUIRREL

Have I shown you this video before? I know I saw it sometime in the past but I don't recall if I posted it. Anyway, it's just as amusing the second time around for me and maybe for you too.

And let's give the writer a hand – it's a great script.

* * *

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 Age of Presidents and The Alex and Ronni Show

A couple of days ago, TGB reader Jean Gogolin asked me when I believe a person is too old to be president of the United States.

This year's midterm election is still weeks away but politicians are already been testing the waters for a presidential run in 2020. So I did a background check to see how old some of the possible contenders will be on inauguration day 2021. Here are a few of them in alphabetical order:

Joe Biden – 78
Cory Booker – 51
Kamala Harris – 57
Eric Holder – 70 (the day after the inauguration)
Bernie Sanders – 79
Donald Trump - 74
Elizabeth Warren – 72

For no good reason other than just because, during our Alex and Ronni Show recording on Wednesday this week, I put Jean's question to my former husband.

Here's the video we made; the presidential age question begins at about 11:30 minutes from the top. As you will see, we disagree.

I'm more articulate on paper than verbally and what I meant to make clear is that because humans age at remarkably different rates, I don't believe it's fair or possible to put an age limit on the presidency. Nor would I want to. There are people who might not be able to handle the job at 50; others would be fine at 80 and up.

An important question in placing an upper age limit on the presidency is when it would be imposed. If, arbitrarily, the limit were 65, would that mean a person could be elected at that age or would the candidate need to be 61 or 57 when elected to not pass the 65-year limit before the end of a four- or eight-year term?

At the other end of the age scale, the Constitution requires a president be at least 35 years of age. That seems to be a rational choice of the Founding Fathers to me. Although I might like to see a bit more seasoning that most of us have gained at that age, it is probably enough time for any serious person to be up for the job.

More to the point and after having somehow survived these past two years, it might be prudent for the country to consider a political science test to be sure a presidential candidate has a working knowledge of how government operates. Maybe a psychological test too. And is there such a thing as an ethics test?

Okay, I'm kidding in that last paragraph. But not by much.

What's your take on the presidential age question?




What Was Your Most Difficult Birthday?

As we have discussed here many times, most western democracies are profoundly ageist cultures.

It starts in the cradle, this antipathy toward the no longer young and from there, the number of ways that have been invented to marginalize people older than 50 – even, often, older than 40 – is boundless.

Just last evening, in an otherwise excellent novel I'm reading, this description of a newly introduced character appeared: “She was a woman of about 60 who in her younger years must have been a beauty.” There had been a similar sentence 50 or 60 pages earlier about another woman.

Are you saying that now she's a hag? I thought. It is the most common dismissal of women (and, occasionally, men), that if they are old – calculated by young people's standards – they are ugly.

Of course, the ramifications of such judgments are more serious than simple scorn: people are fired from jobs due to false stereotypes of older adults, not hired in the first place, subject to sub-par healthcare and generally discouraged from participating in public life.

But that's a story for another day. What I want to note today is that even while lamenting all that, we who are old generally abide with ourselves and our kind quite well and actually, life does get better.

These days, at age 77, I wake most mornings with a smile, eager to get on with whatever I have or have not planned for the day. That daily appetite is new and undoubtedly some of it is a consequence of surviving, so far, pancreatic cancer and being more fully aware than at any time in my life how precious is each new day.

But it's not all as a result of cancer. A lot, maybe the largest part, is having been surprised at some of the advantages of advanced age and the real changes I've experienced in my own attitudes and behavior.

Acceptance of what is, to which I have paid lip service for too long, is how, at last, I live mostly. I suspect it may arrive after decades of various levels of catastrophe that were, to my astonishment when they happened, survivable. Now I don't panic anymore when things go wrong.

This has brought better perspective, an increased ability to weigh events on more reasonable scales. Most occurrences that once fell into my disaster column are not - at least in the long run. Just cleaning up the spilt milk and getting on with living is so much easier than the “oh-my-god” anxieties and fears of the past.

And patience. It doesn't need to be today anymore. Although I will admit to being puzzled that at a time in life when what time I have left is demonstrably shorter, I am quite happy to put off all kinds of things – interesting as well as tedious - until tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next. I have no idea why it should be that way; it is a mystery.

And now, even in this culture that to a large degree despises people of old age, I welcome birthdays; I like ticking off the years as they go by. In fact, the last birthday that I feared was 40.

I spent my entire 39th year boring every person I knew with lamentations over the impending doom, as I saw it, of turning 40. Looking back at my incessant wailing, I'm surprised any friendships from that year survived.

When the dread day arrived, I found on my desk at work that morning a classic, long white box in which red roses are usually delivered. But my birthday is in April, springtime, and the man I was then dating was much more inventive than that.

Inside were 40 (I counted them) gorgeous, fresh tulips and as lovely as they were, it was the card that made my day: “See how beautiful 40 can be.” (The seventh photograph from the left in the banner at the top of this page was taken on the evening of that day.)

It was still another three decades or so before I began to make real peace with growing old but none of the succeeding birthdays were as fraught as 40. I was learning acceptance – it just took me a long, long time to get there.

Have you had a really difficult birthday?




A TGB Reader Story: The Grapes Aren't Sour; They're Just Not on the Menu Often Enough

By officerripley

I managed to strand myself in my old age in a conservative area and am feeling left out because I'm left of center compared to nearly all the gals in my age group who only seem to be concerned with grandkids, God, gardening and gun "rights."

The few gals in my age group with whom I do share political, social, and world views seem to find me "dull" because I have way less education than they do. (Although they'd never in a million years admit that they're even just the teeniest bit prejudiced against my "sort.")

After trying everything - book clubs, meetup.com, even the few supposedly liberal churches in the area - I keep running into the same old, "Oh, you ONLY have a high school diploma? I see. Well, we only take women with degrees in our feminist group." Or "You CHOSE not to have kids?! I see." Or "You know, you'd probably be happier in or near a large city. What's that? You can't AFFORD to move? Oh, I see."

(And the look on their faces when they say that stuff? Don't get me started.)

Then I did finally find a group that was on the same political/social page as I, a group that I really enjoyed; finally, people that think and feel the same way I do!

I can let my hair down around these gals, yay! Then I began to feel weird about how much I looked forward to this one hour a month, about how I'd daydream about what I'll talk about at the next meeting, stuff that I have no one else I can talk to about.

I wondered why I was feeling worried about how much I relied on this group and realized that that's why I was right to worry: I was relying too much on this group. Even after some attempts on my part, no friendships developed even after two years, which is understandable since the gals in the group are at least 25 years younger than I.

The group was composed of young, still-working, busy gals who also had elderly parents to take care of; they didn't have time for anything else in their lives.

I finally began to see that me looking forward to that one hour a month was not enough. I realize that a lot of people - namely young people - would see this as akin to "sour grapes" syndrome: oh, you're mad at the world because you don't get to have this fun all month long, so you're throwing a tantrum like a bratty kid and saying "well, then, I don't want any fun!"

And I really soul-searched to see if that was what I was feeling, but I really don't think it is. The way I feel is that this is a way of protecting myself; that one hour a month is such a small "helping" of fun and good feelings that it makes the rest of the month that much harder to bear.

It feels like being hungry all the time and once a month, you get one bite of something delicious. After a while you being to realize that the one delicious bite makes the watery soup you have to eat the rest of the month that much harder to put up with.

Therefore, my goal is now to get myself used to the loneliness of spending my old age in an area where I don't fit in. It's cold comfort, but I keep hearing that it makes me a member of a very large club.

Also, maybe this will help anyone younger who happens to read this, or any of you high-energy, busy-all-time elderly – how the heck do you do it?! Espresso or what?! - understand why it seems as if some of us elderly have "given up." Self-protection; that's all it is.

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

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




Crabby Old Lady and Elder Tech

When Crabby Old Lady was growing up, the most ubiquitous radio and, later, television commercials for health remedies were about tummy upsets (Pepto Bismol), headaches (Bayer aspirin) and sore muscles (Ben-Gay) – nothing serious enough, most of the time, for a doctor and the products were relatively benign.

These days, drug commercials have gone big-time. They are all about cancer, diabetes, COPD, stroke, heart disease, dementia, and the rest that strike fear into those who are diagnosed and are, you will note, almost entirely to old people.

Although Crabby resents the constant presentation of elders as diseased and sick, she understands that to advertisers, we are where the money is - a large, still growing cohort that does, after all, use more of these drugs and treatments than younger people.

But nowadays it's not just hangnails and cancer. There is a burgeoning industry of “smart technology” specifically for old people. At least one writer calls it “gerontechnology” and by that he means:

”...devices or solutions, including telehealth, telecare, information and communication, and robotic options.”

Crabby Old Lady calls it elder tech and it is both much more intrusive than is mentioned in the reporting about it, the brochures and the advertising.

Writing at Atlas of Science, Stephen M. Golant tells us the goal of elder tech is to help elders lead healthier, more independent and active lives. He then lists specific solutions which Crabby is quoting in full because you should know what is available, in development and/or being planned for us:

'This technology relies on sensors found in the bracelets, necklaces, clothing, watches, or smartphones of older adults, inserted in the walls, floors, lighting, appliances, or furniture of their dwellings, or even implanted in their bodies.

“Robots with human-like appearances may also incorporate these sensors. They can continually monitor and evaluate the physical health conditions of older persons, their cognitive (e.g., memory and reasoning) and sensory (e.g., hearing and vision) performance, physical agility, activities in their dwellings, and social connections.

“They also monitor the comfort, safety, and security of their homes by measuring their air pollutants, dampness, water leaks, mold, bacterial infections, poor lighting or visibility, accident risks, and extreme temperature conditions.

“These sensors communicate their monitored information to older persons and designated family members and professionals who can respond to their unmet needs or problems.”

That's a whole lotta elder tech going on.

Given the amount of time Crabby has spent with physicians and other health care professionals over the past 15 months, she is most looking forward to telehealth and telecare. It exists in a few quarters but is, apparently, slow to be adopted.

If it were available to Crabby, she could have avoided about half the dozens of in-person visits she made with health care individuals in the past year. And it would be a boon to people who cannot or do not drive any longer.

Some of this technology, such as home sensors, bracelets, smartphones, etc. (the ones aimed at old people) have been on the market for at least a decade, becoming more sophisticated with each new release. Some others are at various stages of development, all often marketed to the adult children of elders, and not to elders themselves.

And that's the part about this equipment that makes Crabby Old Lady dubious, deeply so, with the use of these phrases:

“they can continually monitor”
“implanted in their bodies”
"communicate their monitored information”

It's just plain creepy that someone would know and make note if Crabby slept in past her usual waking time. Or that she stayed up all night. Or if it reported her to some anonymous monitor for “accident risks”.

Not to mention that if someone has not yet incorporated Alexa-type listening devices into these monitors, they soon will so that nothing an elder says or does in his/her home is private ever again.

Some elders may like all this peeping Tom elder tech and certainly many can attest to the importance of their medical alert buttons if they have fallen or have needed another kind of help. The difference is that no one is listening 24/7 through those alert devices and they are activated by the persons wearing them.

Golant's purpose with his article is to explain his study into whether elders will even use these smart devices. He has come up with four factors that would influence their decisions:

How serious they are about their health conditions
How resilient and receptive they are to new ideas
How persuasive the information is about the product
How good and/or bad past personal experience with technology has been

It sounds to Crabby that according to Golant she, at age 77, would make a decision pretty much on the same bases as she did at age 27. He suggests that elders focus on three attributes in choosing to purchase these products and services:

  1. Usefulness
  2. Ease of use
  3. Collateral damage

To Golant's credit, he mentions “assaults on privacy” as an example of collateral damage.

Overall, Crabby Old Lady is unsettled by these devices and solutions even as she can see some of their merit. A big problem for Crabby is that we know now after several decades of computers and related technology, that nothing is private anymore.

Not to mention the omnipresence of surveillance wherever we go. These new products just add indoor home cameras and microphones to the public ones that track us on every block.

Really now - Crabby Old Lady would like to walk around naked in her own home when she feels like it with the certainty she is not being watched.

What about you?

Just for fun here at the end, this is a trailer for my favorite robot movie, Robot and Frank starring Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon. As one of the YouTube commenters wrote:

”A brilliant piece of science fiction and drama without a single alien or spaceship."




ELDER MUSIC: Play it Cool

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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Iciles

I had to Google those things because we don't have them where I live. I hope you aren't too cool to read the column as that's what it's all about.

I was driving to the library and my classical station was playing some really boring stuff so I switched over to the jazz station. I came in the middle of an interesting interpretation of some Leonard Bernstein music from West Side Story. "I wonder who that is", I thought. At the end the announcer said it was the BILL CHARLAP TRIO.

Bill Charlap Trio

"I have him", I retorted (in my head). When I got home I decided to check whether I had that track. Indeed I did and it inspired this column which has a whole range of different genres. Something for everyone.

Here's the inspiration, it's simply called Cool.

♫ Bill Charlap Trio - Cool


Getting quite a long way from lovely piano jazz we have the SONS OF THE PIONEERS.

Sons Of The Pioneers

The group was formed in the 1930s by Leonard Slye and a couple of his friends. Old Len is probably better known to most of us as Roy Rogers. He'd left to pursue a film career by the time this track was recorded, and we have long time front man Bob Nolan singing lead.

The song is one many have tackled over the years but none better than this one, Cool Water.

♫ Sons Of The Pioneers - Cool Water


BING CROSBY has the help of one time Mrs Ronald Reagan, JANE WYMAN. Jane had the good sense to bail out of that marriage.

Bing Crosby & Jane Wyman

There are a bunch of other singers warbling in the background but Bing and Jane are who we're most interested in. They sing In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening.

Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman - In The Cool Cool Cool Of The Evening


Hudson Woodbridge was born in Georgia and later went to Tampa, Florida where he polished his guitar playing. Later still, like many blues performers, he ended up in Chicago where he took the name TAMPA RED.

Tampa Red

Although renowned for his guitar playing, the track today is mostly piano based. It's She's a Cool Operator.

♫ Tampa Red - She's a Cool Operator


Eugene, Charles, and James Strider got together with their friend Earnest Griffin and formed a singing group called THE STRIDERS.

The Striders

Along the way they backed Savannah Churchill on a record and it went so well she joined them. Due to various shenanigans on the part of record companies and the like, their records weren't very successful in spite of the quality of the music.

One of those is Cool Saturday Night.

♫ The Striders - Cool Saturday Night


The Doowop group The Rays originally recorded a song called Daddy Cool. Normally, I would have included their song. However, that one inspired the name of Australia's greatest rock band (that Americans have never heard of) called DADDY COOL.

Daddy Cool

It's probably no surprise that they made a record of the song as well, which I think is better than the original (or maybe I'm biased). Anyway, see what you think.

♫ Daddy Cool - Daddy Cool


Another total change of pace will give us the great THELONIOUS MONK.

Thelonious Monk

The track is not piano based for a change, it's more trumpet and sax oriented than we're generally used to with Monk. It's from quite early in his career as a front man, and the tune is Let's Cool One.

♫ Thelonious Monk - Let's Cool One


There are few cooler performers around than TONY JOE WHITE.

Tony Joe White

If you've never seen him live you really should try to do that. Anyway, his song is Cool Town Woman.

♫ Tony Joe White - Cool Town Woman


Of the sixties English performers, there was no one cooler than GEORGIE FAME.

Georgie Fame

He wasn't like the other kiddies; he preferred cool jazz and laid back blues, no roaring guitars for him. Although he recorded a few pop songs, I didn't think his heart was in it. He was more comfortable with songs like the one today, Cool Cat Blues.

♫ Georgie Fame - Cool Cat Blues


I think I first noticed TIBBY EDWARDS because of his first name, one of my (many) nicknames when I was at primary school.

Tibby Edwards

Tibby was a Cajun country singer who played both styles as well as early rockabilly. He contributed the name of the column with his song, Play It Cool Man, Play It Cool. He obviously listened closely to Hank Williams.

♫ Tibby Edwards - Play It Cool Man Play It Cool




INTERESTING STUFF – 15 September 2018

SINGLE PAYER CANDIDATES WINNING PRIMARIES

Remember Wednesday's discussion about the future possibility of Medicare for All?

Throughout this year's primary election season, candidates of a single-payer system, have been winning more often that I, at least, would have predicted. And it happened again. From AP about this week's vote:

“Single-payer health insurance advocates came out on top and are aiming for House seats from West Virginia to California and in governor’s races in Maryland and Florida. Elsewhere, Democrats opted for more centrist candidates — but many of them still further left than the old Blue Dog Democrats booted from Congress during President Barack Obama’s two terms.”

You can read more here.

WHY WE SAY OK?

Or, as I prefer to use it, okay. Here's how it came to be probably the most used word on our planet.

CHINESE TAKEOUT SCENTED CANDLE

As readers must know by now, this blog accepts no advertising and I'm strict about what products and services commenters are allowed to promote.

In no way do I mean you should rush out and buy this product. I just think it's really funny. Take a look:

Takeout-Candle-1_1024x1024

If having your home smell like take-out Chinese food seems like a good idea, you can purchase the candle at Cool Material.

TIRES THAT MOVE A CAR SIDEWAYS

Honest, this is real. I'm not sure I need or want it, but it's an interesting idea.

THE LINK BETWEEN STRESS AND MEMORY

Okay, the video is targeted to students, but we're clever enough at our ages to apply anything from this that makes sense to us in our own kind of stress situations.

TRUMP HITS 5000 LIES ON WAPO FACT CHECKER

From the Washington Post which has diligently been counting the president's lies and misinformation day in and day out.

”On Sept. 7, President Trump woke up in Billings, Mont., flew to Fargo, N.D., visited Sioux Falls, S.D., and eventually returned to Washington. He spoke to reporters on Air Force One, held a pair of fundraisers and was interviewed by three local reporters.

“In that single day, he publicly made 125 false or misleading statements — in a period of time that totaled only about 120 minutes. It was a new single-day high.”

Here's a video about it all:

Read more at the Washington Post.

GIVING WHOLE NEW MEANING TO THE AGE-OLD QUESTION...

...why did the chicken cross the road.

While workers in Mooroolbark Victoria, Australia were laying down a new sidewalk, a wayward chicken came out of nowhere and rudely walked across the wet cement, leaving a trail of distinctive footprints in her wake.

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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.