6 posts categorized "The Alex and Ronni Show"

What the Oldest Old Know

EDITORIAL NOTE: At the bottom of this post is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show - a now-and-then conversation between me, the proprietor of Time Goes By, and my former husband, Alex Bennett. Today's topic is cats. But first, I want to tell you about one of the best books of the year.

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John Leland, an exceptional reporter, joined The New York Times in 2000 and has been covering retirement and religion for the paper since 2004.

In 2015, The Times published Leland's year-long series, “85 and Up” about six of the oldest old living in New York City, all age 85 or older. I was hooked with his introduction which reads in part:

”Early this year, I began visiting these six elders, asking simple questions about their lives. What gets them going in the mornings? What are their aspirations, their concessions to age? Do they want to live to 100? Without the daily drumbeat of work or family responsibilities, where do they find meaning and purpose?

“What they shared, each in a different way, was a story of abrupt change — the loss of a spouse or a home, a sudden turn in health, the arrival of new love, the pain that signals only more pain to come...

“They buried brothers, sisters, parents, children, peers. They lived through the Depression, World War II, Nazi labor camps and the AIDS epidemic, but now they often find themselves with no one to listen to their memories.

“Few ever expected to be so old. None had a formula for how to do it.

“Their lives are a New York soap opera, unscripted.”

Earlier this year Leland, who is nearly three decades younger than the youngest of his six subjects, told fellow New York Times reporter, Jane Brody:

“These people totally changed my life. They’ve given up distractions that make us do stupid things and instead focus on what’s important to them.

“To a person, they don’t worry about things that might happen. They worry when it happens, and even then they don’t worry. They just deal with it.

“At whatever age we are, we can choose to adapt to whatever happens. We have influence over whether we let things knock us out.”

These six elders are a good cross-section of humanity at any age: an African-American man who is a veteran of World War II, a gay man whose partner of 60 years had died six years previously, a Chinese woman who maintains her social connections playing mahjong, a woman who found a new boyfriend in the retirement home where she lives and a well-known film director.

After repeated visits with each of his subjects over a year's time, Leland put together an extraordinarily informative and poignant story about – ahem, “what it's really like to get old” (see this blog's subtitle in the banner).

As he told host Terri Gross recently on her NPR radio program, Fresh Air, before this series, he was afraid of old age and sometimes still is:

”...when I started doing this series, I'd set out to - what one of the people I talked to calls - rewriting the Book of Job and doing a story on how this is terrible about aging.

“And you fall down, and you break your hip, and then it's all over. And you lose your eyesight, and then your friends all die, and then it's over. And your heart stops working. And you don't have sex anymore. And you don't work. And you don't have anything that gives you purpose. So now, it's all over.

“And that's what I thought old age was. But then you spend time with people, and a lot of that stuff is a part of their lives in old age but in no case was it how they defined themselves. So I wasn't getting it - what the truth about their lives was as they saw it.”

You can listen to Terry Gross's entire interview with John Leland, or you can read the transcript of their conversation here.

LelandBookCover125 In January this year, a book based on Leland's conversations with the six elders was published. Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old, received near-unanimous rave reviews.

In this short video from PBS NewsHour in March, Leland explains that learning how to think about death from his elder subjects changed how he lives:

During the past 20-odd years I've read hundreds of books on just about every aspect of growing old. There is a lot of dreck among the good ones but none has captured what it's really like to be old with such campassion, empathy, humor, genuine interest and, eventually, understanding as Leland does.

That happened because above all else, he is an excellent reporter who took the time to listen carefully and, as he says, “let them guide me through the world as they saw it."

The book is available at all the usual retailers online and off. If you have access to The New York Times, the original series begins here.

Leland's followup to the original series was published last December in The Times.

Given all the age-related reading I do, you'd think I pretty well have the subject covered and to a degree, I do. But John Leland opened my eyes, my thoughts and my imagination to a good deal more than I have considered before. Books like Leland's don't come around every day.

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Here is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded on Tuesday 22 May 2018.

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



Everything Takes So Damned Long When You're Old

The latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show is at the bottom of this post.

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As noted here in the past, until I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer nearly a year ago, I was lucky enough to be disgustingly healthy.

There were colds and other minor ailments now and then but nothing that kept me down and out for long, nothing that left me with permanent changes to my capabilities.

Not so much anymore. Yes, the doctors say I am now cancer free (whew!) but recovery from the Whipple surgery lasted many months, chemotherapy took its toll on my energy, I had to slack off workouts for too long and recent hospital stays for internal bleeding, a blood clot, placement of a stent, etc. haven't helped.

The bottom line is that everything – everything takes longer than it once did. Yes, yes, I know: just getting older, even without any health difficulties, slows down everyone. Bodies wear out, muscles don't work as efficiently, we tire more easily.

But until this bump in my personal road of life, slowing down wasn't an issue. As far as I could tell, I walked as fast as I always had and particularly after I lost more than 50 pounds some years ago, I could blast through housekeeping chores leaving plenty of time for whatever other plans I had.

No more.

When we get old, I think we understand as never before that our greatest gift is time. Each day now is precious and anything boring that takes up any of that time is stealing hours – even days, cumulatively - from us.

Here are some of the new tasks that eat up even more of my time than a year ago:

Tracking daily medications, keeping the chart up to date as doctors change meds, getting refills on time and filling the pill holders (plural!)

Actually remembering to take the pills at the right times of day (Post-it notes are my friends)

Arranging other events in life around medical visits

Keeping daily records of health information for the physicians

Napping (a lot recently) when my body tells me to stop for awhile

Tracking the cat's medications and trying to get pills down his throat when he would rather shred my skin than swallow.

And those are only some time eaters I can identify. Mysteries abound, such as this one: I thought I could vacuum the entire apartment in 30 minutes. So why does the clock say an hour has passed when I'm finished?

Or why does changing the beds seems so much harder – and therefore slower – than it used to be?

There is only one solution to this time annoyance – something many of you identified last week in that marvelously wise and interesting discussion about aspects of growing old: acceptance.

As Anne said on that post:

”Having just turned 78, maybe I should accept this and live at the tempo I can manage.”

I am not any good at all at this kind of acceptance. You?

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Here is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded on Monday 7 May 2018.

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



Are You Having Trouble Commenting or Receiving TGB Via Email?

We are here to fix those problems today but first:

EDITORIAL NOTE: Unless you have one or the other or both of this difficulties with using Time Goes By, this post will you put you straight to sleep so I've included a bonus at the end: The latest edition of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded yesterday.

For readers who want or need this housekeeping post, there is still the bonus for you too when you get to the bottom of the page.

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HAS TGB STOPPED ARRIVING IN YOUR INBOX?

If you receive Time Goes By via email from FeedBLITZ or via Facebook, Twitter or just visit the website in your browser), you can skip this part. This is for people who subscribe to TGB via FeedBURNER.

As one techie explained to me a while back, some years ago Google, which owns FeedBURNER, stopped supporting FeedBURNER. Since then, Google has not updated the service, not added or improved features and most important, has not fixed bugs nor replied to support requests.

So sometimes the service works for some people or it doesn't or it eventually breaks and Time Goes By does not arrive or the reader gets an announcement with the FeedBLITZ logo that FeedBURNER has run into a problem.

This means it is time to switch to the FeedBLITZ subscription.

Some back-end adjustments to the feed have now been made that may help, but to be certain of receiving the feeds (which go out in the mornings, Pacific time, each day except Tuesdays and Thursdays), you can resubscribe as follows:

HOW TO RECEIVE TIME GOES BY VIA RELIABLE FEEDBLITZ EMAIL

  1. In the upper right corner of every Time Goes By page is a subscription form.

  2. There are choices for Facebook and for Twitter if you prefer to read the blog on one of those platforms, although I rarely check in at either of them so hardly every see comments.

  3. If, instead, you want to receive blog posts automatically in your inbox, just enter your email address in the form and click the word, Subscribe. FeedBLITZ will send you a confirmation email, follow those instructions and then you are signed up. Nothing more to do. It is that simple.

ARE YOU HAVING TROUBLE LEAVING A COMMENT?
Some readers report difficulties with commenting. This issue is mostly exclusive to people who subscribe via email so let me explain.

The problem always involves the user clicking the word Reply in their email program. That has nothing to do with commenting. It works exactly like any email you answer – it goes to the sender which, in this case, is FeedBLITZ which supplies a copy to my email address.

(Obviously it follows that when you click Reply and write a reponse, no TGB readers can read it – only I receive it just like any other email.)

COMMENTS MAY BE MADE ONLY AT THE WEBSITE, not via email. Here is how to do that:

  1. Click the headline at the top of the day's story in your email. It will open in your browser. Alternately, you can scroll to the bottom of the story in your email program and click the link supplied there to go to the story in your browser.

  2. To comment, scroll to the bottom of the story in your browser and click on the word Comments in the footer.

  3. The story reopens in a page with a form for your comment. (If there are comments left before you got there, you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the list of comments to find the entry box.) Type your comment in the box.

  4. Enter your name or any alias, nickname, etc. you want to use. Enter a functional email address – it is for security purposes only and is not published. If you have a blog (that is not a commercial or retail website), enter the URL and your name will become a link to your site, if you wish. Or you can leave that entry box empty.

  5. You can Preview your comment by clicking that button and/or click Post. The page will refresh and your comment will appear at the bottom of the list of comments.

Remember: DO NOT CLICK REPLY IN YOUR EMAIL TO LEAVE A COMMENT. You must go to the website to have your say.

FYI, I switched the TGB email feed from FeedBURNER to FeedBLITZ a few years ago when Google announced it would no longer support FeedBURNER.

FeedBLITZ is a paid service for which I put out big bucks every year. In fact, they just charged my credit card for 2018.

So please, if necessary, make the switch to FeedBLITZ. It will save me hours answering your emails individually and also, I don't like wasting my money (actually, your money if you participated in the donation drive in February).

FeedBLITZ is good service. In all my years with them, there has not been a glitch and they have always answered my support questions within an hour. They are well worth the expense so please take advantage of it.

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Here is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show.



Living and Dying: A Love Story

At the bottom of this page is the latest edition of The Alex and Ronni Show – a conversation between me and my former husband, Alex Bennett, that we recorded on Tuesday.

Early in the recording, Alex (who lives in New York City) asked about Oregon's Death With Dignity Act – that is, physician-assisted suicide – and as serendipity sometimes has it, later that day as I was looking around the web, a documentary about an Oregon married couple's choice to die together in this way turned up.

Living and Dying: A Love Story is powerful and poignant, sad and uplifting and by the end, you know this couple, Charlie and Francie Emerick, made the right choice for them.

The couple's daughter, Sher Safran and her husband, Rob, asked permission to record her parents' final days and hours, and also gained their approval to share the video publicly.

Both Charlie and Francie had been diagnosed with less than six months to live and they are thought to be the only couple to take the drugs together. Kaiser Health News (KNH) reports,

”The pair, early members of the 1980s-era Hemlock Society, had supported the choice for years, and, when their illnesses worsened, they were grateful to have the option for themselves, family members said.

“'This had always been their intention,'” said [another] daughter Jerilyn Marler, 66, who was the couple’s primary caretaker in recent years. 'If there was a way they could manage their own deaths, they would do it.'”

And so they did, taking the state-prescribed medication together on 20 April 2017. Kaiser Health News again:

Francie, 88, went first, within 15 minutes, a testament to the state of her badly weakened heart. Charlie, 87, a respected ear, nose and throat physician, died an hour later, ending a long struggle that included prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease diagnosed in 2012.

“'They had no regrets, no unfinished business,' said Sher Safran, 62, one of the pair’s three grown daughters. 'It felt like their time, and it meant so much to know they were together.'”

But that is only the bare bones of the story. Sher and Rob, using mostly cell phone video, have produced a remarkable record not only of her parents' long (66 years) and loving marriage, but of the procedure involved with using the Death With Dignity Law in Oregon that so many of us are curious about.

Here is a trailer from the Safrans' 45-minute documentary, Living and Dying: A Love Story.

You can see a short, 20-minute version of the documentary at the Safran's website, Share Wisdom Network, where the longer, full version is also available to view online. (Scroll down to get to them.)

It is astonishingly brave to make this choice of controlling one's death – choosing time and day and making preparations. I've always said that I want to die in my sleep although I'm told most people say this and that it doesn't happen often.

Physician-assisted suicide is, to me, a good alternative when you know there is no chance of recovery and that your life will become considerably more difficult and/or painful toward the end. I would hope, in that circumstance, I would make the decision Charlie and Francie Emerick did.

Here are a couple of links that may interest you:

Wikipedia overview of U.S. states that allow assisted suicide.
Oregon Health Authority's section on the Death With Dignity Act with answers to your questions.

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The Alex and Ronni Show
Recorded Tuesday 6 April 2018.

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



Net Neutrality Dies on 23 April Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

It surprised me to find that the first interview I did via Skype with my former husband Alex Bennett was published here way back last September. (Blame that damned time-goes-faster-as-you-get-older phenomenon.)

Ever since, Alex has been nudging me to do more of such chats and from my end, there never seemed to be time until earlier this week.

Below is the full interview, about 30 minutes. For the second time, we had audio sync difficulties - it appears to be a feature, not a bug, of Skype. Oh well.

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

NET NEUTALITY SET TO BITE THE DUST
As Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai has been threatening since before he was appointed to that post, yesterday the agency filed its net neutrality revocation order in the Federal Register.

The ruling, misleadingly titled The Restoring Internet Freedom Order which can be found online here, goes into effect, if not stopped, on 23 April 2018.

A simple explanation of what that will mean to your internet life can be found here at TGB but even better is this easy, one-sentence explanation from Engadget:

”Net neutrality forced ISPs [internet service providers] to treat all content equally; without these rules in place, providers can charge more for certain types of content and can throttle access to specific websites as they see fit.”
So, for example, big rich companies could afford hefty fees to providers so their web pages arrive faster in your browser than – oh, let's say political groups that depend on donations or blogs like yours and mine that are throttled because they can't bear the increased cost.

Also, ISPs may offer new tiered systems of subscription where we, the users, could be required to choose websites and content based on the price we are willing or able to pay for a certain package level.

There are many more ways ISPs can favor one kind of content. The Verge explains another:

”One current practice that’s a sign of things to come is zero-rating, where internet providers offer free data when you use certain services. This sounds great on the surface (who wouldn’t want free data?), but it gives a huge advantage to the sites and services that the internet provider chooses to support.

“AT&T, for instance, offers free streaming of its own video services, like DirecTV Now, whereas subscribers still have to pay in order to stream Hulu. That means an AT&T customer may be more inclined to sign up for DirecTV than Hulu, which would make life harder for Hulu and other streaming video competitors.

“Over the long run, this could allow established tech and telecom giants to pick the services that win and lose, rather than having them all compete on an even playing field and letting consumers pick which they like better.”

Publication of the FCC order in the Federal Register is important because now, notes Reuters,

”...state attorneys general and advocacy groups will be able to sue in a bid to block the order from taking effect.”

Engadget again:

”...the attorney general of New York is set to sue the FCC over the repeal of net neutrality, and more states and advocacy groups will follow.

“Democrats in the Senate have the votes to restore net neutrality (but not the two-thirds majority required to override the president's veto, which would surely follow any action on their part.)”

Most of the news coverage of this filing yesterday suggested it will be difficult if not impossible for Democrats in Congress to override Republican approval of the revocation order. Reuters again:

”Even if Democrats could win a majority in the Senate, a repeal would also require winning a vote in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a larger majority, and would still be subject to a likely veto by President Donald Trump.

“Democrats need 51 votes to win any proposal in the Republican-controlled Senate because Vice President Mike Pence can break any tie...

“The approval of Pai’s proposal by the FCC marked a victory for internet service providers like AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc and hands them power over what content consumers can access.

“Earlier this month, technology companies including Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc threw their weight behind the congressional bid to reverse the Trump administration’s plan to repeal Obama-era rules designed to protect an open internet.”

Do recall, everyone, that during the public comment period for this order, the FCC received more than a million fake comments supporting their proposed repeal of net neutrality.

Rather than investigate the false comments to get an honest count of the public's position, Chairman Pai ignored the intrusion and went forward with safeguarding the internet for corporations. (See this Salon story.)

Net neutrality is a consumer issue but it is also an important free speech issue. Because the internet has become indespensible for almost everything we do in life, it is crucial to individual wellbeing, support of the Constitution and equality.

Between now and 23 April, please contact your federal representatives and urge them to vote down the hypocritically named Restoring Internet Freedom Order.



INTERESTING STUFF – 9 September 2017

ALEX BENNETT INTERVIEWS WIFE No. 2: ME

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

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

Ronni with Alex2017_09_06_680

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

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

SHRINKING THE WORLD 87 TIMES SMALLER

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

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

ANARCHIST ANIMALS

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

Bird Repellent

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

Squid transparent

More at Bored Panda.

HOW FOOD AFFECTS OUR BRAINS

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

JEAN ROBERTSON ON HAVING A SOUTHERN ACCENT

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

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

FOR OLD PEOPLE ONLY

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

Nonsequiter Cartoon

ECO-FRIENDLY HOBBIT HOMES IN WALES

As the YouTube page explains:

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

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

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

HOW WILL HISTORY JUDGE PRESIDENT TRUMP?

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

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

Carrilho Trump

You'll find the full story at Vanity Fair.

MAGIC WHEELCHAIRS

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

503613-Magic Wheelchair

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

Here is a video about the organization:

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

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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 IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.