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Crabby's Vocabulary Complaints

A couple of evenings ago, a young pundit who is a regular on the MSNBC political chat shows used the word, “efficacy.” Crabby Old Lady thought it was nice to hear the vocabulary of public discourse raised a smidgeon from its usual third-grade level.

Or, rather, she would have thought so if he had not pronounced the word, e-FIK-a-see. (Say that aloud; it sounds like a chicken dish.)

How is it possible, Crabby wondered, that someone could use a word correctly, as he did, while getting the pronunciation (correctly, EF-i-ka-see) so wrong?

The answer, of course, must be that he had only read the word and never heard it – not difficult in a era of declining literacy. This reminded Crabby of another word, one that is, apparently, undergoing a change in pronunciation.

She first heard it three or four years ago when a neighbor in Maine, a musician, told her he was going on tour for a month. She did not immediately understand what he was saying because he pronounced the word as “tore” - going on tore.

Huh? Since then, Crabby has heard this pronunciation with increasing frequency and it came up many times on the cable news channels last weekend as reporters spoke of the tourist – that is, toreist – dollars being lost up and down the east coast due to Hurricane Irene. Every reporter Crabby heard, without exception, pronounced it toreist.

In all Crabby's 70 years, until recently, that word was pronounced toor rhyming with moor, not more. When and why did this change?

The pundit's pronunciation of efficacy is simply wrong. But tour is not an obscure word that wouldn't be heard by everyone with some regularity. The change in its pronunciation sounds ignorant, or it could be sloppy, like dropping a g; it takes slightly more effort to say toor than tore.

Crabby Old Lady knows perfectly well that in the greater scheme of things, this falls at the bottom of any given list of 10,000 issues. Still, she finds both e-FIC-a-see and tore annoying.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: My Angels

GAY AND GRAY: One Vision for Gay Elder Care

JanAdams75x75Gay and Gray is a monthly column at Time Goes By written by Jan Adams (bio) in which she thinks out loud for us on issues of aging lesbians and gay men. Jan also writes on many topics at her own blog, Happening-Here, and you will find her past Gay and Gray columns here.]

TGB readers will have figured out that I've been an "out" lesbian activist for decades. Much of that time, the long slog toward full gay inclusion in U.S. society has not been my main political focus, but I've always kept track of our uneven progress.

I'm from the gay generation for whom "coming out" - insistently announcing our presence in the world - was a crucial step toward winning general acceptance.

As folks will also know if they saw the recent Harvey Milk movie, one of the milestones on the path toward mass coming out and gay rights was the defeat of a ballot measure called the Briggs Initiative in California in 1978. This would have made it illegal for gays to teach in the public schools.

The movie makes it look as if it was all Harvey's charisma that won that election, but there was also a huge grassroots movement that canvassed door-to-door to reach voters who didn't know they'd ever met a gay person.

Back in those days, many peoples' ideas about homosexuals were pretty one-dimensional; we were emblematic of one thing - perverted sex.

We, gay people and our many allies, defeated the Briggs Initiative. I remember attending a post-mortem meeting where activists chewed over what had worked and hearing a woman talk about how she knew her canvassing was effective when the voters she met started sharing with her their anxieties about their own marriages and sex lives.

Helping people become more comfortable about talking about their own sexuality was just part of what our strategy of coming out meant we had to do. I knew she had expressed something very true: at that time and place, gay people's social function was to catalyze everyone to become a little more open and honest about sex.

Maybe it still is, although we've acquired a more rounded profile in subsequent decades.

Amber hollibaugh That brave speaker I remember from 1978 was Amber Hollibaugh who moved to the east and went on to take part in the numerous LGBT struggles and organizations since. These days, she is executive director of Queers for Economic Justice in New York. When I heard she would be giving the keynote speech at a recent Berkeley conference on "Faith and LGBTQI Aging," I had to go. Here's a report:

Hollibaugh laid out some pretty dire facts about what aging is likely to look like for most gay folks now over 65. Today there are some three million of us; by 2030, there will be six million.

Seventy to 80 percent of gay elders do not have children. Many have been estranged from their relatives and have located themselves far from kin. These realities lead to big problems says Hollibaugh because "access to unpaid family labor provides what we have for a structure for getting old in America."

The gay movement, like so much of U.S. society, is youth-centric. Like many young people, young LGBT folks can't form a picture of what aging will mean for themselves because their lives don't include elders. So gay institutions are only slowly developing to assist our elders.

Working in New York City, Hollibaugh has observed a frightening trend. We know that older workers laid off in the Great Recession have a hard time getting new jobs and are seeing their savings dwindle. But for some isolated, working-class, older gays, the downturn has pushed precarious lives over the brink. She is seeing a wave of newly unemployed LGBT people ages 47 to 55 turning up at New York City homeless shelters.

As low income urban gays age without children, they are very likely to end up in what she calls "nursing home dump sites," the least desirable institutional arrangements where they have no advocates to fight for them. The "families of choice" they've built up over the years tend to be of the same aging generation; these networks will no longer be able to care for each other. And the institutions often don't recognize or honor such relationships.

Playing the role of the organizer as she always has, Hollibaugh offered a vision for how we create better possibilities for gay elders. Her premise is that "we will all be more and more dependent eventually - we need community."

And there are still places in our society whose mission is to foster community, even if they have not always been friendly to gays: these are the various faith institutions. Churches and other religious bodies make counter-cultural affirmations that dovetail with the needs of aging gays:

  • They affirm openness to people throughout their entire lifespan, young and old
  • Instead of sweeping reality under a rug, they assert that we live through a lifespan and they recognize the inevitability of dying
  • They usually claim to be communities of welcome and compassion.

Sure, religious congregations present problems for gay elders (and many others). They are often divided by class and race. They frequently are better at "loving" the other than sitting next to her/him at a table. Gay people still remind them of sexuality and that seems to make many religious folks queasy.

But the ostensible values of faith institutions - what they say they stand for - push them toward creating broad community when the chips are down.

LGBT elders need to access what churches have to offer and, while we have the energy, to use our lifelong movement experience to urge them to create "best practices" that meet the needs of our elders.

Working with churches on creating models of good elder care makes sense to Hollibaugh. Maybe those models can even spread beyond church institutions.

She's not pushing God (I have no clue from her speech how she does or doesn't relate to a deity.) She points out that in getting the needs of gay elders on the table, we don't have create institutions from scratch. "Remember - churches already have nursing homes! We need to work with them."


Do I buy Hollibaugh's vision? Not completely, but as usual, she's on to something.

This is made easier for me because I have already found connection within a little Episcopal Church congregation that provides a vital, if fractious, multi-generational, multi-class and sexually diverse community. And I've worked for inclusion in the national religious institution, getting to see how holding people to their values can effect amazing changes.

But I also know that many LGBT people and others have been hurt horribly by judgmental religion and would hate the idea of aging in a setting colored by religion. Still, there are possibilities in that arena and poor elders are going to need help wherever they can find it.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Herchel Newman: Forever Glow

Elders and Hurricane Irene

First an earthquake and then a hurricane. I fully expect the east coast to be hit with swarms of locusts next week followed by a plague of frogs.

It was impressive in the run-up to Hurricane Irene how hospitals and nursing homes in low-lying areas of many cities worked to evacuate patients. This description of the process at Coney Island Hospital doesn't begin to cover all the necessary details:

”The parade of 15 newborns, two children and 248 adults in various states of distress started early Friday. Sixteen were on ventilators. They lined up in the hospital's foyer one by one and were loaded into a line of awaiting hospital and for-hire ambulances.

“The retreat lasted until 7:43 p.m., with some doctors and nurses for critical and specialty-care patients joining them at their new hospitals.”

Think of it: finding hospitals on higher ground with enough space, arranging for medical records to accompany patients along with medications, those ventilators, drip bags and all manner of other equipment needed to keep patients stable and alive.

It was amazing how well the evacuations were organized as were those of many assisted living and nursing homes in the eastern coastal states. And I saw one television news report about a young man boarding up windows for his elder neighbors; another about volunteers sandbagging elders' homes.

If Hurricane Irene were not so terrible for literally millions of people, the wall-to-wall news coverage over the weekend would have been a relief from daily drumbeat of awful political news we live with these days. But to keep Hurricane Irene from being a completely loathsome-free disaster, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor leapt into the breach.

The tea party favorite, who represents Virginia where several people were killed in the hurricane and the governor declared a state of emergency, proved the underlying meanness of the Republicans in general and the tea party in particular.

Even before the hurricane hit land, Cantor reiterated his requirement first voiced after the earthquake that any federal disaster relief funds be offset with cuts elsewhere in the budget:

"When there's a disaster there's an appropriate federal role and we will find the monies," Cantor said during a news conference in Mineral, Va. "But we've had discussions about these things before and those monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere in order to meet the priority of the federal government's role in a situation like this."

Oh, so if elders are rescued in a natural disaster, their Social Security will be cut, is that it?

As Louisiana Representative Cedric Richmond responded: "It is sinful to require us to cut order to provide emergency disaster assistance for American citizens.”

If the good citizens of Virginia don't unseat Cantor in next year's election, they deserve him. Unfortunately, if they don't, the rest of us are stuck with him too.

For the 40-odd years I lived in New York City and Maine, I felt fortunate that we did not experience extreme weather as much of the rest of the country does – only a blizzard every decade or so and they are more fun than dangerous.

At the risk of provoking kanahara (Yiddish for curse or jinx), I feel equally sanquine about the weather in northwest Oregon where I live now. Beyond the potential for an earthquake, it mostly just rains a lot although not enough for much flooding.

But many TimeGoesBy readers live on the east coast from Florida to Maine. So tell us your hurricane stories in the comments below (if you have power and an internet connection). How did you fare? Did you evacuate? How did you prepare? Is everyone okay?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ralph Lymburner: Dancing with the Stars (Senior Version)


PeterTibbles75x75You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.

1962, what a dreary old year you were musically. This year could be considered the nadir of the Sixties; it may be the year people had in mind when they said nothing much happened between Buddy Holly and The Beatles. I’ll try to find something interesting for you.

What happened in 1962?

  • Well, I was in 6th form (year 12)
  • Andy Warhol exhibited his “Campbell’s Soup Cans” for the first time
  • The Rollin’ Stones debuted at the Marquee Club. They later added a g to their name
  • Spiderman made his debut
  • Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was released
  • Canada launched a satellite. Canada?
  • Richard Nixon said that we won’t have him to kick around anymore. If only.
  • Australia won the Davis Cup (again).
  • Marilyn Monroe died.

GENE PITNEY wrote a lot of his own songs; he also wrote a bunch of them for other singers.

Gene Pitney

However, some of his biggest hits had other authors, particularly Hal David and Burt Bacharach who were responsible for several of them. This is one of them that’s been covered by a number of artists, in particular Dionne Warwick, Bobby Vinton and Sonny James. They weren’t the only ones, but Gene’s is still the definitive version of Only Love Can Break a Heart.

♫ Gene Pitney - Only Love Can Break a Heart

Although born in England, FRANK IFIELD moved to Australia with his family when he was a kiddliewink.

Frank Ifield

Frank liked a bit of a yodel and used to sing to the cows he was milking on the family’s property in New South Wales. He started recording when he was only 13 and by the time he was 19 he was a big star in Australia (and New Zealand).

It was around this time we returned to the old country (well, his old country) and there he recorded several songs that went to number one there and here. One of those is I Remember You.

♫ Frank Ifield - I Remember You

BOOKER T AND THE MGS were the house band for Stax Records and they backed just about everyone who appeared on that label – Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and so on.

Booker T and the MGs

The band consisted of Booker T Jones, Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn and Al Jackson. This is the classic lineup. However, when this tune was recorded, Lewie Steinberg played the bass rather than Duck Dunn.

Al Jackson was murdered in 1975 but the other three continue to this day with various drummers taking his place. The group was in the studio, just grooving away and the engineer hit the record button. Green Onions was the result.

♫ Booker T and the MGs - Green Onions

After Bobby Vee, TOMMY ROE was the next of the Buddy Holly sound-alikes. Indeed, he sounded more like Buddy than Bobby did. Or anyone else really.

Tommy Roe

If you don’t listen too closely to this song, you would probably say that it was Peggy Sue. You’d be wrong, but not by much.

Tommy was from Atlanta and started writing and singing while still in his teens. Like many at the time, he started a band in high school. He had several other hits after this first one, Sheila, and is still out there singing and playing.

♫ Tommy Roe - Sheila

GENE CHANDLER, or Eugene Dixon to his folks, was from the south side of Chicago.

Gene Chandler

It was there he took up singing in various doo-wop groups, finally in one called The Dukays. After a while he became the lead singer in that group. After more time had passed he was drafted into the army.

He rejoined the group after his service and they recorded a few songs that made the charts. One of those, Duke of Earl, hit number one and stayed there. Gene bought himself a top hat, cape, cane and monocle and styled himself the Duke of Earl.

He then left that record company and joined another as a solo singer. Both companies put out material in his name. If you’d like to see Gene in full regalia, he appears thus in a film that, strangely, didn’t win any Oscars called, Don’t Knock the Twist.

♫ Gene Chandler - Duke Of Earl

STEVE LAWRENCE is an unlikely inclusion as his music really doesn’t appeal to me. However, there’s something about this song that rings my bell. It could be the rather tacky nature of the song, if you really listen to the words.

Steve Lawrence

Steve was born in Brooklyn and his folks knew him as Sidney Liebowitz. He was drafted into the army in the late Fifties and he served as a musician in the army band. Early in the Sixties, he had a number of solo hits.

Steve is usually paired with his wife Eydie Gormé and they are both still out there making music. This is the rather creepy Go Away Little Girl.

♫ Steve Lawrence - Go Away Little Girl

Some of the songs from this year sound as if they came from the mid-Fifties, this one in particular. The singer is MARCIE BLANE

Marcie Blane

Marcie was born Marcia Blank in Brooklyn. She recorded this song as a demo for a friend but the record company liked it and released her version. She recorded a couple of other songs that didn’t do much at all. This is her biggie, Bobby’s Girl.

♫ Marcie Blane - Bobby's Girl

Although Solomon Burke had done it previously on a few tracks, it took RAY CHARLES to record an album that amalgamated country music with soul. This was “Modern Sounds of Country and Western Music”. He followed this with Volume Two.

Ray Charles

On these two albums, and others later, Ray recorded some of the best versions of country songs I’ve ever heard. His most famous in this genre is easily his interpretation of Don Gibson’s I Can’t Stop Loving You. Sing the song, children.

♫ Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You

BOBBY DARIN seems to have been a singer for everyone.

Bobby Darin

He started as a rock & roller, became a jazz singer in the Sinatra mould, a lounge singer and later a folkie. He was pretty good at all of those. That’s what I like about an artist, refusing to be pigeon-holed into a single style.

This was about the time he was changing from the first to the second of those categories. The song is Things.

♫ Bobby Darin - Things

THE EXCITERS started as an all female trio consisting of Brenda Reid, Carolyn Johnson and Lillian Walker. They later added a bloke, Herb Rooney, who was Brenda’s husband.

The Exciters

The Exciters were from New York and the song today was their first record. This was produced by the great songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. They had several other hits, most notably Do-Wah-Diddy that Manfred Mann covered and had an even bigger hit. This is Tell Him.

♫ The Exciters - Tell Him

1963 will appear in two weeks' time.


Category_bug_interestingstuff 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” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably 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 have one.

Darlene Costner sent this video of a cat floating around in zero gravity. I've always wanted to try that myself. There is no information about how the cat felt about it, but this short little clip is beautiful.

Ten days ago, the Metropolitan Museum of New York unveiled its new, nine-ton statue of Amenemhat II, the third king of the 12th Egyptian Dynasty in the Great Hall.

Egyptian Statue

As good as the Met's Egyptian collection is, they have never owned a statue of this monumental size – and they still don't. This one is on loan for ten years from the Egyptian Museum in Berlin while it is undergoing renovation.

The New York Times has a slide show of Amenemhat II at the Met here.

In a ceremony planned to take place tomorrow, Sunday, the new Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial was to be dedicated on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Hurricane Irene has forced a postponement of the dedication, but the 30-foot-tall statue of King is in place.


Included in the memorial are inscriptions of excerpts from many of King's speeches and sermons. You can read more details on the Memorial website and there is a gorgeous photo at The New York Times.

One of the smartest and most compelling political voices in the nation is returning to television. Beginning in January, Bill Moyers will be hosting an hour-long, weekly program, Moyers and Company, that will focus on one-on-one interviews with “thinkers who can help us understand the chaos of these times.”

”We’re going to be concerned with the state of democracy and the state of affairs,” Moyers continued, “but we will leave the daily and weekly story to others and try to do the back story.”

It won't be on PBS. The show is being carried instead by American Public Television but a lot of PBS channels broadcast APT's offerings. I sent an email to my PBS station urging them to pick up Moyers' new show and got an almost instant (and enthusiastic) reply confirming that they will air it.

You might want to check with your local PBS channel too. Read more here.

Remember Socks the Cat from the Clinton White House?

Socks the Cat

Most presidents have dogs, but in addition to Socks, there have been a pony named Macaroni, a macaw and a raccoon.

This past week, the White House website posted three photo galleries of presidential pets, one of them devoted entirely to Bo the Portuguese water dog currently in residence with President Obama. You can view them here.

It is traditional during the August Congressional recess for politicians to hold town hall meetings in their districts find out what their constituents are concerned about. This year, at least one Republican is charging admission and 60 percent are hiding out, refusing to face voters at all.

Among them is Representative Chris Cravaack of Minnesota – that is, until a bunch of elder women shamed him into it. Here's a little bit of video of the confrontation:

You can read more here.

There is no end to the ways that our pets can delight us. At a Charleston golf course, a golden retriever has taken it upon herself to help out tired golfers and keep the inventory in check. Take a look:

There is no world on whether she's getting paid.

At her rural home in Germany, a 90-year-old woman threw aside her walker, grabbed her cane and beat up three burglars who then fled.

Usually, I don't like stories about elders participating in extreme physical activities. They invariably are accompanied by the implication that the rest of us who aren't bungee jumping, skydiving or climbing Mt. Everest are slackers. But this is different: there was an emergency and the woman did what she had to do to protect herself.

Nevertheless, someone from the local constabulary just had to admonish her:

"It was quite courageous of her. But on the other hand it was also quite dangerous. She was quite fortunate that nothing serious happened."

Good god – something “quite dangerous” was already happening. Couldn't the cop have just said, “Good for you,” instead of admonishing her? The full story is here.

Robins built a nest in one of Fred Margulies' hanging flower baskets and four blue eggs soon appeared. Over the ensuing weeks, Fred videotaped avian parenting techniques. Nice.

Robins: 4 Eggs, 4 Weeks from Fred Margulies on Vimeo.

When it Comes to Money, It's Always Something

It would be easy to assume after the posts of Monday and Tuesday this week that Crabby Old Lady had had her say for awhile. But it's always something. Thursday morning, Crabby woke to no hot water.

(Insert all your best curse words here.)

When staring at the tank for several minutes produced no information that would illuminate the problem, Crabby determined that a plumber was needed but having lived here only a bit more than a year without need yet for that specialty, she had no name.

So Crabby hied herself off to the local Ace Hardware store. (Blatant but deserved plug for the good folks there who have helped her with a bunch of less urgent home needs and been correct every time.)

Ace came through again, this time with the name of a recommended plumber. A call was made and an appointment secured.

Counting all three homes Crabby has owned over a period of 28 years, she has replaced five water heaters. Television sets, refrigerators and ranges, which would seem to fall into the same category as water heaters, last forever – or close enough to call it that. Not one has ever died on Crabby. What is it about water heaters that causes them die so young?

And oh, the price! Like many elders, Crabby lives close to the bone. She can cover her monthly and annual expenses with relative ease but she budgets carefully for other expenses – one month this, next month that; whatever can be paid in cash. Crabby abhors credit card debt.

So if it's painting now, then a coffee table must wait. New bookshelves means curtains are on hold. And if it's teeth – well, most of a year's budget is shot.

The items planned for this month had been carpet/upholstery cleaning and car servicing. Note, “had been.”

But lo, Crabby must have pleased the plumbing gods recently because a repair restored the heater to working order. It took most of the day and screwed up Crabby's blogging schedule (hence, this bitch session), but Crabby will need to postpone the carpet cleaning.

It's always something or, at least, an annoying bit of budget triage.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: A Week at the Beach

We Need Jon Stewart More Than Ever

In the park where I was walking one morning a few days ago, I found myself in conversation with two strangers who were near my age. The talk turned to politics and although they were interested, their lack of knowledge surprised me.

Jay Leno's name came up and I asked if they watch The Daily Show. They both looked blank for a moment. Maybe they thought I was nuts because after an awkward pause, one asked what a comedy show had to do with federal debt.

It has been said that many young people get their news mostly from Jon Stewart and if that is so, they are better informed and have a deeper understanding of issues and current events than people who are reading newspapers or watching network and cable news - and certainly better than those two women in the park.

In the days since I posted a brilliant segment from The Daily Show last Saturday, it has continued to roll around in my head and I've watched it several more times to analyze how it succeeds so well compared to the same kind of news and commentary from mainstream media.

A big part of the answer is that Stewart provides perspective you don't often get elsewhere – crucial facts along with historical setting and context – then he skewers his target with a devastatingly funny punchline that brings his argument home.

Do you think that's easy? There is nothing harder to write than comedy and I frequently burn with jealousy when Stewart and I take on the same political topics from a similar point of view. Mine reek of earnestness; his leave viewers holding their sides in laughter. Which do you think is more potent and convincing?

What makes The Daily Show humor all the funnier is that it grows directly out of the reporting that leads up to it. No comedian (hell, no “legitimate” news show) does better research than Stewart and my envy triples when he finds great material I've missed. (Okay, he's got a staff and I've got me, but still.)

The segment at hand, about the Republican/Fox News outrage at billionaire Warren Buffett's New York Times Op-Ed urging higher taxes on the wealthy, is intricately produced.

First, there are more than 40 video clips and graphics. Starting from Buffet's Op-Ed, those had to be found, viewed and edited down to their essence. There was, undoubtedly, an equal number that were rejected but still had to be viewed and considered, decisions made.

Someone else was researching facts and statistics. Meanwhile, as the clips were being assembled, writers were working on Stewart's script, arranging and rearranging the sequence to best effect and crafting the jokes that run throughout the piece.

I've done a lot of this kind of television – minus the humor – and that Stewart and his team created this segment in under four days from the date the Op-Ed was published on a Monday until their show was broadcast on Thursday while producing the other shows of that week is awesome. My respect overfloweth.

If you haven't seen it or want to watch again – it's worth a re-viewing – here it is.

This has everything - education, illumination, context, perspective – that “real” news programs do not. Sure, it's partisan (as is every news broadcast) but without the phony pretext to balance of the others.

Among the slew of Emmys The Daily Show has received are a number of prestigious news awards including two Peabodys, but it is billed as a fake news program and Stewart has always insisted that he is a comedian, not a journalist, that the humor is uppermost.

I'm pretty sure that's what makes it so good and keeps it there but in his commentaries, the reports from his “correspondents” and his interviews, there is more substance than you'll find in any other given half-hour of “real” news programming.

When, every day, there is so much real-life fakery from the mouths politicians, we need Jon Stewart. He has become an essential source of news and if you don't watch, you should. You will be enlightened and you will laugh even if, sometimes, bitterly.

(For those of you who have given up television, all shows are posted and can be viewed free the next day at The Daily Show website.)

Stewart doesn't hit a home run as good as this one every night, but it's close enough. He and his “reporters,” Samantha Bee, Wyatt Cenac, Jason Jones, Aasif Mandvi, Olivia Munn, John Oliver, Lewis Black, John Hodgman, Al Madrigal, Kristen Schaal and Larry Wilmore really are, as Stewart bills it, the “Best F#@king News Team” on television.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmerman: Jealousy

What's So Great About a College Degree?

Crabby Old Lady has been silent for a long time. Apparently, she is making up for her absence with a second screed this week and who knows if there will be more.

On Monday, Crabby Old Lady was advised that she is ineligible for a volunteer position with an organization in her county because she lacks a college degree.

No, she's not going to give you details because she has to live in this county, there may be other kinds of opportunities in the future and she does not want to make enemies. But she has got her knickers in a big-time twist over this.

What's a college degree worth, anyway? Grade inflation has been growing for so long, it has been decades since there was any way to know if students actually learn anything. But Crabby is getting ahead of herself.

It's true. Crabby Old Lady did not go to college. And if you want to be literal about it, her formal education lasted only nine years.

In the middle of fifth grade, when that class was overloaded with students, she was promoted with several others to sixth grade which was less crowded.

But Crabby didn't get off free. In addition to her regular sixth grade classes, she was required to study everything in the second half of fifth grade and the first half of sixth grade with a special teacher. She passed all those tests with A's, although Crabby suspects this is where the Greek and Roman gods may have slipped through the cracks.

Nowhere in school did she study those and forever since then she has been confused about which gods are whose. (These days when such questions arise, she thanks every one of them for Wikipedia where she can get a quick answer.)

Jumping ahead to high school, in the summer between Crabby's sophomore and junior years, her parents divorced and she moved from Oregon to California with her mother. It took only a few weeks that fall to figure out that there was nothing in any of her classes that she hadn't already learned.

So Crabby, bored out of her teenage skull and more deeply affected emotionally by the divorce and move to a new community than she understood at the time, became a world-class, successful truant. She showed up at just enough classes to stay out of trouble and figured out a dozen ways to leave most of the classes she did attend shortly after arriving.

For test days, she spent a couple of nights at home catching up with the texts and made it through her two final years of high school with A's and one B. It's not that Crabby is all that smart; the classes in history, science, math, Latin, etc. were that easy and most of it was not new to her.

It may have helped too that she spent a lot of the time she was supposed to be in class reading books she had checked out of the town library, especially on history and politics but some Nancy Drew too. (Crabby checked these out on weekends so the librarians wouldn't question why she wasn't in school.)

It's a shame that happened. From the first day of kindergarten, Crabby Old Lady loved school. She couldn't wait to get there each day to find out what amazing new stuff there was to know and until the move to California, school never let her down.

After graduation, Crabby could have commuted to Berkeley. It was cheap for California residents then and Crabby's mother would have supported her at home for those four years.

But here's a little secret she did not tell anyone for many years. Crabby was so cripplingly shy in those days that when she imagined herself driving across San Francisco Bay and needing to ask someone, a stranger, where the campus administration building was, she was terrified – and defeated. (If you've never suffered shyness you have no idea how debilitating and confining it can be.)

It was far less frightening for 16-year-old Crabby, who was more comfortable with adults than her peers, to get a typing job (with grownups) in San Francisco.

Throughout her career in radio, television and later, the internet, no employer questioned Crabby's lack of a college degree. She left that line blank on the formal applications and still got the jobs.

That doesn't work anymore. Even the lowliest, entry-level positions require a four-year degree and often a graduate degree. But how much do these kids really know? From Crabby's personal experience when she was still working, sometimes not much and frequent reports on the declining quality of education at all levels is dispiriting.

So as a result of 21st century requirements, Crabby has been rejected out of hand only for her lack of a degree and she is furious about it. It's not like Crabby ever stopped learning. She has always had a wide range of interests and is a quick study when she needs or wants to know something. She'll put her autodidactic education up against a general college degree any day.

By the way, that word, “autodidact,” is usually applied with bit of a sneer as though one cannot be adequately self-taught. But among well-known autodidacts are Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, John Stewart Mill, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Buckminster Fuller and Jane Jacobs.

And two of the most successful technology titans, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, are Harvard dropouts.

But Crabby has been locked out of an unpaid, volunteer position in an area where she has a great deal of knowledge because some rule or unknown official has rejected her as uneducated. Blast them!

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: Snakes, Snails and Little Boy Tales

Crabby Old Lady's Economic Prescription

Crabby Old Lady has been on sabbatical from this blog for a couple of months. Spurred on by the debt ceiling kabuki that obsessed Washington politicians for months along with their general falsehoods and stupidities on the subject of the nation's problems, she has spent a great deal of that time studying the business press and economics in general.

For all her life, Crabby had assumed that economics, particularly with the need to understand numbers and statistics, was too much for her math-deficient brain. Crabby's more a word person. But here is a revelation:

If you put your mind to it, if you carefully separate the ignorance, lies, partisan ideology and spin from the facts in any given business news report or commentary from a wide range of publications, anyone with slightly above average intelligence (we're all from Lake Wobegon at TimeGoesBy, right?) can figure out this stuff.

Leaving the intricate economic models with their convoluted formulae to the Nobel winners, here is what Crabby Old Lady has learned and discerned about the trouble we're in, broken down to its essentials:

If, as everyone says (Crabby has no reason to believe otherwise), 70 percent of the U.S. economy is dependent on consumer buying, then everything that has been done since the crash of 2008 is useless to improving the economy. Everything that has been done up until now has sent consumers (all of us) to our bunkers.

Twenty percent of eligible workers – the unemployed and the underemployed – do not and cannot spend beyond subsistence level. (Forty million Americans are on food stamps.) Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not count workers who, unable to find jobs, have dropped out of the workforce, that percentage is much higher than is calculated each month.

Because wages continue their 30-year gradual drop or stagnation, millions who are lucky enough to have jobs are not buying. They are living paycheck to paycheck, cutting back everywhere they can.

Nervous about where the economy is headed, others with a bit more than the funds to keep life, limb and credit card together are saving it. The savings rate hasn't been this high in decades.

While the majority of Americans (read: consumer economy) have been losing ground and/or hoarding their money over the past three years, the federal government's solutions - an array of trillions of dollars in bailouts, stimuli, low- and no-interest loans to corporations – have not only failed to lift the economy, they have, by any measure except corporate profits, dug a deeper ditch. (Well, it's more complicated than that, but the result is the same.)

The Washington powers that be keep begging corporations to hire people with the trillion-plus cash surplus they are sitting on. But why should they? Without demand for their products and services, there is no point to increasing production.

In addition, corporations, being the greedy bastards they are, pump up their profits year by year laying off more workers and shipping more jobs overseas to low-wage countries without a smidgeon of protest from the government, further impoverishing America. This makes no difference to corporate executives who are stashing their increasing personal fortunes overseas anyway.

While all this continues, the know-nothing and no-to-everything tea party-enthralled members of Congress march the nation ever closer to an economic cliff with no reason other than to thwart a president they openly hate. The goal, chanted by Republican House Leader Mitch McConnell, Representative Michele Bachmann and others, is to make Barack Obama a “one term president.”

Which brings Crabby Old Lady to this: the only hope the people of America have for a brighter economic future is President Obama. Congress sings only one tune, cut poor people's benefits, and that doesn't increase consumer demand.

So the president is the only person who can actually do anything productive.

First, however, he must ditch his annoying chant, bipartisanship, which has proved to be as much a failure as the economy. It is evident after two-and-a-half years that Congressional Republicans would rather turn the U.S. into a third-world country than compromise with the president.

Once he has given up that bipartisan mantra, Obama should go gigantic. Crabby has come to believe this is the only possible solution and that if the president will do it, a country that is crying out for jobs will cheer like nothing he has heard since Berlin.

In early September, President Obama is scheduled to make a speech laying out his jobs plan. From leaks so far, the biggest news we have is that he will ask Congress to extend the payroll tax holiday and – let's chant it together: “deal with long-term debt.”

Oh, ho hum. We've seen that movie for the past year and it just means we'll have to listen to more of Representative Eric Cantor's shared sacrifice talking points dictated by the corporate chieftains who bankroll his campaign while the economy continues to deteriorate.

The president needs to ignore the Republicans and go big, bigger than anything since the 1930s. In fact, a lot like the 1930s:

Create a new New Deal - a modern WPA, CCC, etc. The whole country's infrastructure is falling apart and rebuilding throughout the land will create millions of jobs and not just those paid by the federal government. All the tools, equipment, big machines, transportation, supplies like steel, concrete, etc. have to come from somewhere. That means manufacturing jobs in the private sector.

All these new jobs will create other new businesses that grow up in the cities and towns where there are jobs. Empty storefronts will open again. Homes will be bought. Local tax revenues will grow.

And while the president is crafting this jobs program, he should, when feasible, target in particular the local projects Republican Congress members want in their districts. Then, when he gives that speech in about two weeks, SELL it.

Play hardball the way Republicans do. Choose one of those Republican projects and lay out in detail how that community will improve while their broken bridge or rail line or schools are fixed: the number of new jobs, new businesses, projected taxes and how many fire fighters, teachers and police can be rehired.

Do this and dare the Republicans to refuse to pass it. Crabby Old Lady didn't think this up herself, you know – a lot of people with strings of letters behind their names are saying it too – and she is certain the people of America will support him big time – if he goes big time enough.

How to pay for it? Come on, Ben Bernanke, print more money. You already did that by the trillions for the bailouts. Now do it not just for the people, but for the future of America because we're not getting out of this recession/depression by cutting benefits on the people who have already given all they have.

Sure, it will probably lead to some inflation. We can handle that for awhile. We cannot handle much more of this economic disaster. (See London riots.)

Still, a bold jobs program is not enough. Here are a few budget items that need to be implemented. Crabby is not picking on rich people for revenge. It's because all the jobs programs in the world won't help much if the wealth distribution gap is not reduced.

And don't worry about those Congressional Republicans. If the president goes big enough on all this, the people will see to it that their Congress members support these items too – or lose their jobs:

Raise taxes on corporations. “Experts” keep saying that business is not hiring because they have no confidence in what the federal government might do next meaning raise taxes or impose more regulation. Those are red herrings. They are not hiring because there is no consumer demand. With jobs and, therefore, demand, they'll pay the taxes and live with the regulations which, in most cases, are needed.

Allow the Bush tax cuts on the rich to expire and taking it further, increase taxes on the wealthy whose income, including capital gains and dividends, is above $1 million. The rich will squeal but in their day-to-day lives will barely notice it. (They should be happy we don't return to the highest tax bracket of the Eisenhower years, 91 percent.

Neither corporations nor rich individuals are "job creators" as Republicans keep insisting. We are years into this recession and corporations have not hired anyone to speak of. And what are individuals doing - hiring a nanny? A housekeeper? A pool boy?

Of course, the salary cap on Social Security should be eliminated. This alone will come close to ensuring the program for the next 75 years with only a couple of other smaller tweaks needed to close the shortfall completely.

For elders, absolutely no decreases of any kind to Social Security. Not just for current beneficiaries, but everyone. In today's economy, workers cannot possibly save for retirement.

Half of workers make so little money they pay no income tax at all. With income that low, Social Security is their only hope for a minimal retirement which isn't good enough, but a big jobs program that Crabby outlines could help change that.

Crabby Old Lady is leaving out a lot of nuance and details. Foreign policy (which makes her eyes cross), corruption on Wall Street, corporate control of Congress along with the awesome stupidity and cupidity of many of its members each play a part.

After weeks studying the economics of the left and right, conservative and liberal, historical and current, she believes this is America's best, maybe only chance to avoid a decade or more of continued unwinding because the only way the economy will get better is to get more people working, millions more. Congress will not do that so the president is the only elected official who can.

Of course, Crabby could be wrong. However, solutions of the past three years have failed so how much worse could these ideas be.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: An Invitation to Dinner

Elders and Heat Waves

category_bug_journal2.gif So far, it has been a mild summer here in the environs of Portland, Oregon – mostly in the 70s Farenheit. On Saturday, we reached the 90s for the first time, about 95, and the weather folks say it will stay in the 80s for the next week or 10 days.

That's not so bad compared to many TimeGoesBy readers who are experiencing prolonged temperatures in the triple digits. And unlike where many of you live, even when daytime temperatures here reach uncomfortable heights, it always cools off overnight to the 50s so mornings are refreshing.

With my second summer here, I have the climate control in my home down to a science without pumping up the power bill by using the air conditioner. In fact, I still don't know if it works; I've never turned it on.

I just open all the windows first thing in the morning and when the outside temperature gets up to about 70, I close the windows and Olllie the cat and I are fine for the rest of the day and night.

I should have written this post earlier in the summer, but there is still plenty of time for more hot weather and it is particularly hard on elders – it can kill. Some years ago during an extremely long heat wave in France, nearly 15,000 people, mostly elders, died.

In the U.S., about 370 heat-related deaths occur each year, half of them old people.

One reason is that as we age, our body temperature regulators don't work as well as when we were younger. We might not sweat as much and might not feel thirst when our bodies need liquid. So remind yourself to drink plenty of water during hot weather. If your urine is dark, you're not getting enough liquids.

Here are some other tips:

  • Do not drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages; they are dehydrating.
  • Wear light-colored, loose clothing.
  • Heat waves are not the time to skimp on the electric bill. Turn up the air conditioning when you need it.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, find out the locations of your city's cooling centers. Hundreds of cities use school gyms and other large gathering places to help people cool down during the worst of the day's heat.
  • You could also go the movies, the mall or visit a friend who has air conditioning during the afternoon.
  • If you have air conditioning, consider inviting a friend who does not to visit you for a couple of hours.
  • If you must be out and about during a heat wave, do your errands in the early morning. Schedule appointments before the worst heat of the day.
  • Eat light meals that do not need cooking. High-water-content foods like cantaloupe, watermelon, apples and other fruits are good.
  • Keep window shades and curtains lowered during the heat of the day.
  • Some medications for diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions can inhibit the body's ability to cool itself. If your area is experiencing a prolonged heat wave, perhaps ask your physician if you can forgo those medications for the duration.

There are two heat-related conditions that are serious and you should know the symptoms:

HEAT EXHAUSTION occurs when the body gets too hot. Symptoms are thirst, weakness, dizziness, profuse sweating, cold and clammy skin, normal or slightly elevated body temperature. Move yourself or someone experiencing this to a cool place, drink cool liquids, take a cool bath or shower and rest.

HEAT STROKE is a medical emergency. It can cause brain damage so get thee or the affected person to a hospital. It occurs when body temperature reaches 104 or 105 in a matter of minutes. Other symptoms include confusion; faintness; strong, rapid pulse; lack of sweating and bizarre behavior. Don't fool around with this.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, June Calendar: Off Leash

ELDER MUSIC: Clive and Friends

category_bug_eldermusic Today's column is about Clive Powell and his friends and associates. Who? I can hear you ask. Who indeed? This is another column with music suggested by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and all will be revealed.

Georgie Fame

It is GEORGIE FAME today, and no, Mr and Mrs Fame didn’t call their little boy Georgie. The young Clive Powell was from Lancashire, England, and had piano lessons as a kid.

As a teenager he entered a singing contest at one of the infamous Butlins holiday camps. He won that and was offered a job there. Not too long after that, he went to London and the entrepreneur Larry Parnes started managing him. It was Larry who insisted that Clive change his name to Georgie Fame or he wouldn't be used in any of Larry’s shows.

Georgie soon proved a success traveling the country with English and visiting American musicians. He eventually got to record and produced some of the more interesting pop songs from Britain in the mid-Sixties, but jazz was his real interest.

Jon Hendricks, Georgie Fame, Van Morrison

Now to the music. First off, we have Clive with a couple of his friends, VAN MORRISON and JON HENDRICKS, singing one of Van's greatest songs, Moondance.

My goodness, it doesn't get any better than this. Well, except for Van's original. Of course, Van's in the mix as well in this version. Add to that perhaps the finest male jazz singer ever, Jon Hendricks, and we're swinging.

♫ Georgie Fame - Moondance

Lambert, Hendricks and Ross

Okay, we now have Jon Hendricks in the mix, we'll take a step backwards to the group that brought him to worldwide fame, that is LAMBERT, HENDRICKS AND ROSS. These folks were the epitome of cool singers in the late Fifties and early Sixties.  They took jazz singing and turned it on its head.

They were hugely influential, most obviously in the work of Manhattan Transfer, but also on the Pointer Sisters, Bette Midler and it may not be stretching it too far to suggest Joni Mitchell as well.

Georgie is one of the few singers around to take an interest in the art of vocalese, which is essentially what LH&R performed. I imagine that's why he's recorded with both Hendricks and Ross over the years.

Here we have the ones who really started it all, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross with Moanin'.

♫ Lambert, Hendricks and Ross - Moanin'

Annie Ross

Let's get ANNIE ROSS together with Georgie. Annie is often described as Scottish, however, she was born in London and, when she was four years old, the family settled in Los Angeles.

She was a bit of a child actress and when she was eight, appeared in The Little Rascals singing Loch Lomond. She also played Judy Garland's sister in a film.

By her mid-teens, Annie was not only singing but writing tunes as well. Before she was 20, Annie was living in Paris where she met some of the great jazz musicians of that time (or any time really) and started recording with them.

Annie met Dave and Jon when they required a choir for a song they were recording. She was the only one who could sing their complicated arrangement, all the rest were dismissed and a new vocal group was born.

Later, Annie and Georgie got together to record an album of Hoagy Carmichael songs. Here they sing My Resistance is Low.

♫ Georgie Fame and Annie Ross - My Resistance Is Low

Alas, we can't feature Dave Lambert singing with Georgie as he was killed in a car accident in 1966.

Van Morrison

Getting back to Van Morrison, it's time for a solo number from him. Well, any time is time for a solo from Van. When I say solo, I mean he's not singing with any of the others; there are other musicians playing on this track.

The A.M. and I played many Van tracks to come up with one that fitted with the rest of the music and showed off Van’s scat singing. I suggested just about anything from “Astral Weeks” but it isn’t the A.M.’s favorite. It doesn't matter, there are plenty more great Van albums out there.

As she chose the rest of the music for this column, it was her choice for Van's number as well and that is Tupelo Honey.

♫ Van Morrison - Tupelo Honey

Count Basie, Van Williams, Lambert, Hendnricks and Ross

In keeping with the spirit of the column today, we have Lambert, Hendricks and Ross singing with JOE WILLIAMS and backed by the COUNT BASIE Band with the Count doing some fine ivory tinkling on the track as well.

Joe was a Chicago-based jazz singer who appeared often with Count Basie (and many others). Television viewers may remember him playing Bill Cosby’s father on The Cosby Show. I can’t imagine I need to introduce Count Basie to any readers of this column. Put all of these elements together and we have the song, Goin' to Chicago Blues.

♫ Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, Joe Williams and Count Basie - Going To Chicago Blues

Mark Murphy

And now for something (not quite) completely different. Okay, the genre and the style is the same, it's just that we haven't had MARK MURPHY sing with any of the other artists so far.

I imagine he probably has done so over the years, but not on any of the albums we own. It doesn't matter, he fits right in as he’s another singer of vocalese.

Mark continues to experiment. In the Fifties, he’d sing Charlie Parker; these days he turns Johnny Cash and Coldplay songs into jazz classics. This tune, though, leans more towards Charlie Parker (and LH&R). It is Mark with Be Bop Lives (Boplicity).

♫ Mark Murphy - Be Bop Lives (Boplicity)

Georgie Fame

To finish off, we'll go back to the source of this column, back to Clive and to the song that really put Georgie Fame on the musical map.

This is really an unusual track considering when it was recorded. The time was the swinging Sixties and The Beatles and the Stones were doing their various things. The other British groups were pretending to be black blues men from Mississippi. The Americans were doing something similar with a bit of folk music in the mix as well.

Georgie came out with this wonderful jazzy song and topped the charts, knocking The Beatles from that position for the first time in ages. No one else was performing music like this in the pop world, and it brings us back to Jon Hendricks who wrote the lyrics to the tune, Yeh, Yeh.

♫ Georgie Fame - Yeh, Yeh


Category_bug_interestingstuff This week's collection is heavy with animal video. Perhaps it's my way of relieving the affect of the bleak headlines that confront me in my daily internet rounds. How can anyone not love the perfect being-ness of animals. Wild or domestic, they are what they are, no pretenses and with our pets, all they want is to love us. Speaking of unconditional love...

Here's what the wife of a returning military officer wrote about this video that shows the homecoming of her military officer husband:

“After a long 9 months apart, our dog, Emmitt Thunderpaws, is REALLY HAPPY to see his favorite person again! He smelled him in the house and then ran outside to greet him. Dogs are awesome.”

Did you know there is an entire website devoted to videos of military homecomings? You can see it here.

Many years ago, a friend invited me to lunch along with six other of his friends for a giant lobster feast. Giant in the sense that the lobster weighed 23 pounds. It was an amazing lobster and an amazing meal, and it put to rest the myth that big lobsters are tough.

Recently, an 18-pound lobster met a better fate. He (or she) was headed for the cooking pot when the bookkeeper at the seafood company took pity and found the lobster a home at the New York Aquarium.


You can read more here.

In the mid-1950s, most of the otters disappeared from all of England due to the poisoning of rivers from chemical pesticides. A cleanup was begun, fish returned and last week, it was announced that with otters having been spotted in Kent County, the animals have repopulated the entire country.

”The otter's return represents a happy ending to one of the worst episodes in modern British wildlife history: the sudden disappearance of one of our most widespread and charismatic mammals.”


You can read more about this happy outcome here.

Jan Adams, who writes the monthly Gay and Gray column here at TGB, has begun a weekly series about climate change at her Happening Here blog.

Naming the new feature Warming Wednesdays, Jan posted the first entry this week about how islands will be the first land masses to be affected by rising seas. You can read it here.

A while back, Philips Cinema held a film contest in which amateur entrants were to shoot a short feature with just five lines of supplied dialogue that could not be altered or added to. The dialogue was this:

What is that?
It's a unicorn.
Never seen one up close before.
Get away.
Get away.

Here is the grand prize winner titled, Porcelain Unicorn, directed by Keegan Wilcox. It's not what you think it might be and it is gorgeous. (Hat tip to Darlene Costner)

You can watch all top five winners here.

On Tory Island off the northwest coast of Ireland, there is a dog who makes a daily trek to the ocean to swim with the dolphin who hangs out in local waters. I wish the video told us more about the two, but it's charming anyway.

When I was a kid, tattoos were for mostly for sailors. Nowadays, they are for just about everyone except me – or maybe not. Temporary tattoos may soon be coming to a hospital or doctor's office near you.

”The first generation of medical patches can monitor electrophysiological signals associated with the heart, other muscles and brain activity. But in future people may benefit from patches that go beyond this passive role...”

You can read more about these medical tattoos here.

As many have noted, comedian and host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, often does a better job of news commentary than the biggest of big-name pundits. He doesn't nail it every night or even most of the time. No one can. But when he does, he is splendid.

On Thursday night, he smacked down the right wing's attack on billionaire George Soros' call for the wealthy to pay more taxes. It is breathtakingly brilliant. Here's the segment; it is longer than most videos I post, and worth every minute:


They are called The Jazz Aces and we again have Darlene Costner to thank for this fabulous feel good video of the song, Bring Me Sunshine.

EDITORIAL NOTE: 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” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably 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 have one.

Social Security – Yes, Again, Because... is vitally important not only to you and me, but to our younger friends, our children, grandchildren and beyond. Nevertheless, a lot of members of Congress and all the Republican presidential candidates would kill it altogether if they could.

Failing that, they keep coming up with ways to chip away at the benefit – if not for current recipients, then future ones. It continues to amaze (and annoy) me, when they try to reassure elders that reductions would not affect people already receiving Social Security, that they apparently believe we don't care if our children are short-changed.

That tells you more about their worldviews than ours. This little chart from the Strengthen Social Security website should convince anyone of the extraordinary value of the program:


That's right, since the inception of Social Security, the poverty rate for elders has dropped from 50 percent to 10 percent – all due to Social Security. Without it, I cannot imagine how I would live. For me, it would be a choice between Medicare premiums and eating.

Which brings me to the current danger to the program - the Congressional “Super Committee” that is tasked with finding $1.5 billion in deficit reduction costs which, according to Strengthen Social Security, can include cuts to Social Security as well as Medicare and Medicaid.

A week ago, Congress finished appointing the six Democrats and six Republicans to the Committee, half from the Senate and half from the House. According to Eric Kingson, Co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign,

"...half of the members of the Super Committee have already voted to make deep cuts to Social Security benefits while giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy...

"All it takes is one more vote on the Super Committee and the economic security of tens of millions of Americans would be put in great peril."

You expect the Republicans on the Committee to want to hack away at Social Security, but some of the Democrats have been wobbly too.

Committee Co-Chair, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wa) has said nothing is off the table.

Senator John Kerry (D-Ma) believes Social Security and other programs are to blame for the deficit and supports a “grand bargain” that could cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) is willing to consider a cost-of living (COLA) cut (that would affect current beneficiaries) and is open to means testing for Social Security.

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) is open to a “grand deal” that could cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The Committee's approval of their recommendations requires only a simple majority; as Eric Kingston said, “all it takes is one more vote” meaning, from a Democrat.

There is an excellent and thorough page at Strengthening Social Security with details about where all the Super Committee members stand on these issues, their past votes and statements.

By Congressional standards, the Super Committee has little time to come up with a plan – just three months from now. This is the schedule:

  • September16: Super Committee must have first meeting
  • October 14: Legislative committees and president make recommendations to Super Committee
  • November 23: Super Committee must vote on plan. If approved, it goes to Congress
  • December 23: Super Committee plan must pass both chambers to avoid trigger

Just in time for Christmas. If the Committee does not deadlock, if there is a plan and it passes Congress, will the holiday be a happy one for elders, or not?

The Strengthen Social Security Campaign also has an informative page with three charts showing, by the numbers, the importance of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to the people in the Committee members' states and districts.

This organization, which has 320 national and state coalition partners, has been around only a year and already they have created a valuable resource of information about Social Security updated regularly with the latest information. You should bookmark it.

I know, I often ask you to call or write your representatives and sign petitions and now I am asking you again. The Strengthen Social Security Campaign has a new petition asking the 12 members of the Super Committee to remove Social Security from consideration in their deficit reduction deliberations. Please sign it. You can do that here.

I have no idea if petitions help, but I do know that not signing definitely won't help.

There is no story at The Elder Storytelling Place today. There will be next week.


Happy Birthday Millie G

For those of you who may be new to blogging or elderblogging or TimeGoesBy, meet Millie Garfield. She is one of the oldest bloggers around – in her own years and in the number of years blogging. A pioneer of the form long before most young people began, she's been doing it since 2003.

If you have never seen her video series, I Can't Open It, you can view them here. They are classics now and you are sure, if you are of a certain age, to identify.

Today, Millie is celebrating 86 years and this is the sixth year of our annual online birthday party for her. It's not every day someone reaches that age so a celebration of the achievement and wonderful Millie herself is in order. So get yourself over to her blog called, My Mom's Blog, and wish her a happy day.

Millie, here's a song for your day:

There is no story at The Elder Storytelling Place today. More soon.

Is This the Best America Can Do?

category_bug_politics.gif Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney believes corporations are people.

Michele Bachmann has pledged to support a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and wants to “wean everybody off” Social Security and Medicare.

In his three-day-old campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Governor Rick Perry has come out slugging. He told a crowd that (Bush appointee) Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's policies are “treasonous.” He denounced President Barack Obama as “the greatest threat to our country.”

He also said Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional.

Oh, and another Texan, Representative Michael Burgess, with the backing of many tea partiers, wants to impeach Obama to stop the president from “pushing his agenda” as if that isn't the president's job.

Welcome to the Republican freak show. Are these people the best America can find as leaders?

Many decades ago when the United States was in as much serious economic trouble as we are now, leaders aspired not to destroy but to build. Because Social Security is under strong attack from all these , I've been doing some more reading on its history.

The Social Security website has a good historical section and I enjoyed some of the old posters explaining the program when it was new. Here is one from 1936 urging people to sign up for Social Security at post offices.


This one, from 1939, followed up on amendments adding benefits for widows and children.


This 1940 poster reminded Americans that Aid to Dependent Children was part of the original Social Security Act until it was repealed under President Clilnton in 1996 as part of “welfare reform.”


Skipping ahead to 1968, this poster reminded people that they were eligible for Medicare at age 65. In the early years, Medicare was administered by the Social Security Administration.


I love these old posters for their vintage design and because are a terrific reminder that at a time when America was on its knees, it created a program that helped make a great nation. On his blog yesterday, Jared Bernstein wrote this about Social Security related to the current campaign:

”A sure applause line among politicians is “America is the greatest country in the world.” That’s as it should be — patriotism runs strong.

“But what do we really mean by this — what makes us a great country?

“It is no exaggeration to say it’s ideas like Soc Sec — ideas that tie us together —ideas that by their nature, provide security and respect to those who raised us, who spent their lives helping to build our future.”

All the candidates for the Republican nomination are extremists who want to blow up Social Security aided, perhaps, by a president who is too willing to compromise with them. Again, is this the best we can do?

(You can see more historic material about Social Security at the agency's website.)

There is no story at The Elder Storytelling Place today. More soon.

Blog Housekeeping Notes

I'm taking a day off from blogging but here are a couple of housekeeping items.

There is a new addition to the TGB feature, Where Elders Blog, from a woman who calls herself The Little Old Lady. Take a look.

Attention people who read TimeGoesBy via email and rss: Recently, there has been a fairly large uptick in comments sent to me via email. This happens when you hit "reply" in the email or rss.

When you do so, only I see your comment via email. A lot of these comments are pithy, useful, funny, interesting or all of the above and it would be good for other readers to see them. Here is how to do that:

  1. Click on the title of the story
  2. This opens the same blog story in your web browser
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The comments are a rich addition to whatever the day's story is - often better than the story itself - and if you're not clicking over to read them, you are missing the conversation which is a big point of blogging, as well as, often, a lot of good information or, at least, a laugh or even a Wow! moment.

This also saves me the time of explaining this process in reply to each and every email which helps make me a happier person.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Key to My Heart

There is No Shame in Getting Old

category_bug_ageism.gif Not long ago, Marian Van Eyk McCain of elderwomanblog alerted me to a story at Huffington Post by 93-year-old Rhoda P. Curtis. She writes about our ageist society and some elders' fear of aging related to shame they feel about their aging selves.

”I think we need to accept ageing as a necessary process, not as a disease. Aging is a process that begins with birth, and does not need to be conflated with infirmity.” [emphasis added]

How right she is and the many comments left on her story mostly uphold her point of view. There was one, however, that reminds me of how often, in the ageism we constantly encounter, that elders are blamed and shamed for their afflictions and conditions.

The commenter first quoted one sentence from Ms. Curtis's story: “It isn't as if the ageing process was something we could control and/or manage.” Then, working overtime against Ms. Curtis's protest against shame:

”Of course you can control and/or manage your ageing process! Don't put garbage in your body, work out, eat natural and lightly, pray/meditate, maintain healthy community, keep learning. You'll still get old, but you'll be strong and vibrant instead of feeble and dull.”

Here we go again. It's your fault if your body fails you.

Perhaps I am particularly sensitive right now to the crap shoot of life having learned, Friday, of an old and dear friend who just underwent surgery for a malignant brain tumor.

His diet is more in line with health guidelines than most people I know. He never skips his physician-prescribed, daily, three-to-four mile walk. He has a close and loving extended family. He's always busy with one project or another. He is only 61.

My answer to the commenter is this: you are wrong; we cannot control and manage aging.

Certainly healthy eating, getting a reasonable amount of exercise, maintaining interests and friendships are good for us. But people who appear to do everything right get smacked with bad, even fatal health news every day.

World class runner Jim Fixx died at 52 of a heart attack. Being trim and active did not protect actor Mary Tyler Moore from diabetes. ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, who had not smoked in 30 years, died of complications from lung cancer.

I have no doubt the commenter I quoted is young enough to still run for the bus, climb flights of stairs and haul home 30 pounds of groceries. But plenty of elders who are otherwise healthy can't do those things anymore and there is no shame in that. It's called getting old. It's okay. The body winds down.

So let us reject those who think they know what's good for everyone else. We all die of something and on that journey, shit happens to some people no matter how hard they work at healthy living.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: My Naughty Computer


PeterTibbles75x75You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.

What happened in 1961?

  • Well, I was in 5th form (year 11)
  • Trams in Sydney ceased operations. Melbourne kept theirs
  • Eisenhower warned of the growing power of the “military-industrial complex.” No one took much notice.
  • The Beatles performed at the Cavern Club for the first time.
  • Neil Armstrong set a world speed record in a rocket plane. He later set another record.
  • Australia won the Davis Cup (again).
  • Dashiell Hammett died.

LEROY VAN DYKE was from Missouri and graduated from the university there majoring in agricultural journalism.

Leroy Van Dyke

His first song was a big hit called The Auctioneer. This was so successful that they made a film out of it.

His next was even bigger, indeed, Billboard claims that on the basis of sales, time on the charts and length of stay at number one, Walk on By was the biggest country single of all time.

I’d like to see their statistical analysis of that, but it’s a good song anyway.

♫ Leroy Van Dyke - Walk on By

BOBBY VEE was the first of the “Buddy Holly clones” after Buddy died. However, there was a bit more substance to Bobby than the others.

Bobby Vee

Robert Velline was from Fargo, North Dakota, and he made his first appearance in Moorhead, Minnesota filling in for Buddy after he was killed in the plane crash the night before. He and his band, who also appeared, had modeled themselves on The Crickets and knew the songs.

After this, to my mind not a particularly auspicious beginning, Bobby went on from strength to strength with many hits in the early Sixties. This is just one of them, Take Good Care Of My Baby.

♫ Bobby Vee - Take Good Care of My Baby

SUE THOMPSON sounded as if she were about 16 when we first heard her around this time, but she was more than twice that age when she had her series of teen hits in the early Sixties.

Sue Thompson

Sue was from Missouri but her family moved to San Jose when she was young. There, even before she hit her teens, she was singing and playing guitar around the traps. She appeared on TV before WWII.

Sue married at 17, but that lasted only about three years. Her second marriage didn’t even fare that well. Her next try proved a bit more fruitful and it led to her recording the songs that established her in the early Sixties.

Most of her songs from this time were written by the prolific John D. Loudermilk. This is the first of those, Sad Movies.

♫ Sue Thompson - Sad Movies

DEE CLARK's singing can be as smooth as Sam Cooke, as raucous as Little Richard and everything in between. This sometimes happened in the one song.

Dee Clark

Dee, or Delectus to his mum and dad, was from Arkansas and the family moved to Chicago during the War. Dee’s mum was a gospel singer who encouraged the young lad in his own singing endeavours.

He was a member of several R&B groups, the Hambone Kids, the Goldentones, the Kool Gents and The Delegates. Actually, the last three were all the same group, they just evolved over time.

After this, he struck out on his own and had a few minor hits. Then he hit it big with Hey Little Girl and even bigger with his next song, Raindrops.

♫ Dee Clark - Raindrops

John D. Loudermilk wrote a song called Midnight Bus that he recorded and released as a B side to Tobacco Road. The song had a killer cover version here in Australia by BETTY MCQUADE.

Betty McQuade

I’m not usually one for the covers but I’m making an exception this time. Betty was from Scotland and emigrated to Brisbane (that’s the one in Queensland not California).

She made her way to Melbourne where all the music was happening (and still is). There (or here in my case), she recorded the song backed by local band, The Thunderbirds. She eventually returned to Queensland and is still performing around the traps and tours occasionally.

♫ Betty McQuade - Midnight Bus

By 1961, ROY ORBISON was really on a roll.

Roy Orbison

That year he recorded what I think are his two best songs (from a portfolio that includes numerous wonderful tunes). These are Crying and Running Scared. He was yet another fine Texas musician. What would the world of music be like without them?

Roy didn’t think his voice was all that great; he was the only person on the planet who thought that. He did say that it wasn’t bad. Dwight Yoakam said that Roy's voice sounded like "the cry of an angel falling backward through an open window.” I don’t know what that means, but it sounds good.

Roy liked working with an orchestra and decided to try something a bit different from the rockabilly and doowop backings of his earlier records. It seems to me that there are hints of Ravel's Boléro in its rhythm.

This is possibly his masterpiece, Running Scared.

♫ Roy Orbison - Running Scared

I must admit that I was a bit smitten with LINDA SCOTT when I first heard her performing I Told Every Little Star. Well, I was young.

Linda Scott

However, I became decidedly de-smitten later on when I found she had got a degree in theology. Oh Linda, what have you done? Anyway, before that she managed to get about a dozen songs on the charts, only a couple of which I can remember (if I even knew the others in the first place).

Linda Sampson was from Queens and first recorded when she was still at school. Her record company changed her name, probably without her knowing – that’s the way things were done back then. She hit it big worldwide with that first song.

♫ Linda Scott - I've Told Every Little Star

BOBBY LEWIS officially was born Indianapolis in 1935. He was actually born in 1925. Bit of a difference there.

Bobby Lewis

He was brought up in an orphanage and learned to play the piano at a very young age. He was adopted at age 12 by a family in Detroit.

As a young adult he traveled around the midwest performing as a singer and became friends with Duke Ellington, Wes Montgomery and Jackie Wilson. He was a likable person and these musicians, and others, would use him as an M.C. for their shows.

When appearing at the Apollo in New York, he was offered a new song that he recorded. That song is Tossin' And Turnin'.

♫ Bobby Lewis - Tossin' And Turnin'

By a nice coincidence CHRIS KENNER was born in the town of Kenner, just north of New Orleans.

Chris Kenner

Chris sang gospel music as a kid and moved to the big smoke when he was in his teens. He started recording around 1955, and had a few regional hits. Then he teamed up with the great producer and musician Allen Toussaint and the hits started flowing. The first of these was I Like It Like That.

♫ Chris Kenner - I Like It Like That

I’d listened to quite a bit of RAY CHARLES in my younger years thanks to a fine jazz program on local radio where one of whose presenters was a big fan.

Ray Charles

So, I was grooving to his jazz tracks but it wasn’t until he recorded this song that I thought, “Oh, Ray can do this as well”. This is probably when he first hit the consciousness of pop music fans.

He really needs no introduction and deserves a column of his own. Hmm, mentally penciling that in. Here’s Hit the Road Jack.

♫ Ray Charles - Hit the road Jack

1962 will appear in two weeks' time.

INTERESTING STUFF – 13 August 2011

Category_bug_interestingstuff 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” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably 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 have one.

Aside from corporate titans and five U.S Supreme Court justices, I don't see how anyone can vote for someone with this worldview. Take a look.

According to a story at Computerworld:

”Start-up Millenniata and Hitachi-LG Data Storage plan to soon release a new optical disc and read/write player that will store movies, photos or any other data forever.” [emphasis added]

This disc is made of a “stone-like” natural substance and will sell for about US$3 each. I can't decide if this is a boon or a bummer. Read more here.

I love this. At a neo-Nazi rally in Germany recently, attendees were given freebie teeshirts emblazoned with the slogan, “Hardcore Rebels.” But the neo-Nazis got punked.

When the teeshirts were washed, that message was replaced with another: “If your t-shirt can do it, you can do it too — we’ll help you get away from right-wing extremism.”


Read about how this clever trick was done.

A YouTube video contributor wrote this:

”On the Morning of May 18th 2011 my wife noticed a deer in our yard that appeared to be frantically looking for something in the rocks that form a wall on property line in Brush Prairie WA...We went out to the area the deer was concentrating on and could hear a baby fawn crying in the rocks.”

Kathleen Noble sent along this heartening video of mankind to the rescue.

Take a look and a listen to how the so-called patriots of the tea party movement reacted when they heard about the downgrade of U.S. debt by Standard & Poors. Yes, those are cheers.

Also called Neocubes, Cybercubes, Nanodots, Magcubes, they are a set of 216 (or more) round, super magnets that you can do all sorts of fun things with. Aside from books, TimeGoesBy never promotes commercial products and I'm not doing that now. I just enjoyed the idea and this video explanation.

UPDATE: As Genie notes in the comments below, this video has been disallowed since I first found it a few days ago. You can watch it here.

Some people have had enough of the kid, but the E-Trade baby is one television commercial I always stop to watch. Apparently, there are those who cannot resist tinkering with now-iconic character and in this one, the E-Trade baby loses everything.

A lot of cities outlaw animals in food stores but in New York City bodegas, cats work for their living keeping the rodent population in check – a far better idea around food than rat poison.

Those that are so inclined also double as customer greeters and the one at my corner bodega became a good friend. Here's a little video about a New York bodega cat.

I'll play us out with music again this week. I'm pretty sure you'll identify with Tom Rush's lyric.

“Entitlements” in Republican Crosshairs

category_bug_politics.gif Before I get into this post, a word about a word – entitlement. In the ignorant way of certain American politicians and too many in the media, the meaning has become twisted into the opposite of its definition. When they say “entitlement,” they almost always give it a negative spin especially when declaring Medicare and Social Security to be the causes of the budget deficit.

This may stem from a common phrase used to describe people who are overly self-involved or narcissistic: we say they have a “sense of entitlement.”

Contrary to common public usage, however, entitlement is something one is guaranteed to receive or entitled to have.

We are entitled to Social Security because we paid into it all our working lives. We are entitled to Medicare because we also paid into that program since it began in 1965. To further clarify, Medicare, as too many believe, is not free. We pay premiums for Part B and Part D and both may, depending on individual coverage, involve deductibles and copays.

Got that? Okay. Moving on.

A couple of days ago, I republished Saul Friedman's excellent and eloquent explanation of why Social Security is not, as some Republicans assert, a Ponzi scheme.

Nevertheless, you will continue to hear that lie, among others (Republican presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry is fond of this one), in the coming months and all through next year's election campaign.

Another lie is equating the costs of Social Security and Medicare with the causes of the recession. Early this week, Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) met with a group of Chinese and Russian elders at a Jewish community housing development in Brighton, Massachusetts. As reported in the Boston Globe:

”US Senator Scott Brown today warned seniors worried about Medicare and Social Security cuts that their benefits could be slashed because 'we’re in a financial emergency right now...'

“'If anybody’s telling you that “Everything’s OK, and don’t worry about it, and you’re going to get all your benefits, and everything’s fine,” then they’re not really telling you the truth.'”

When asked what the potential is for cutting Social Security,

“Brown responded that 'it was difficult to say' what might be cut until a new deficit-reduction panel in Congress releases its recommendations later this year. But he said his job was 'to try to push them toward looking at everything in a thoughtful, structured manner.'” [emphasis added]

Oy. It's going to be a rough year for truth, and scaring the piss out of old folks will be high on Republican candidates' agenda.

The “deficit-reduction panel” Brown referred to is the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction enacted with the debt ceiling legislation and as of yesterday, Congressional leaders finished appointing the 12 members, six from each party and six from each House of Congress.

The committee is tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in tax cuts by Thanksgiving and if they fail to come up with a plan that can pass Congress, automatic cuts of $600 billion each in defense and non-defense (read Medicare/Medicaid) will be triggered.

Fortunately, Social Security is not included in those automatic cuts, but that does not mean the Committee will not try to take a whack at it in their deliberations. And don't forget that the Committee legislation requires an up-or-down vote in Congress with limited debate and no amendments.

The facts of Social Security will undoubtedly be mangled between now and Thanksgiving so here are a few important points to have at hand when politicians, pundits and reporters try to bamboozle us with false, exaggerated and uninformed assertions. Such as:

We Must Raise the Retirement Age to Save Social Security
When raising the retirement age is broached, remember that it is already being gradually increased. For example, I was not eligible for the full benefit until age 65 and 10 months. Full retirement age for Social Security will be 67 for everyone beginning in 2027.

During the 2010 election, I lost track of the number of candidates who said we must raise the retirement age to 67. Some, now having been set straight, have upped their proposed age increase to 70.

The Deficit is Caused by Social Security Costs
The Social Security tax, FICA, is a dedicated tax – that is, revenue collected from employees and employers goes into the Social Security Trust Fund, not into the government's general revenue fund. Therefore, by definition, it does not affect the deficit.

Current benefits are paid from the Trust Fund.

The Trust Fund is Empty
Actually, the Social Security Trust Fund is currently carrying a surplus of $2.6 trillion.

It is true that Congress and every president since at least Ronald Reagan has borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for wars, education, highway programs and anything else they wanted that was not specifically funded.

The amount they borrow is replaced by Treasury securities that earn interest and the Trust Fund will continue to grow every year by about $1 billion until 2020.

The Trust Fund is Just Useless IOUs
Only if you believe the Chinese buy U.S. bonds and T-bills to paper their walls.

Although the securities in the Social Security Trust Fund are non-marketable, they are no different from the Treasury securities held by individuals, corporations and foreign governments, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government which is obligated to pay them back with interest.

To default on the securities held in the Social Security Trust Fund is as unthinkable as defaulting on any other government debt.

Any thinking person should know that Social Security is the least of our nation's problems. The shortfall that will hit the program in 2037 can easily be fixed by eliminating the salary cap and a couple of other small tweaks that would not be painful.

And Medicare? The simplest and most productive way to fix it is to enact universal coverage, Medicare for All. This chart from Jared Bernstein's Blog is worth a look.

”[L]look at the below list of countries that both maintain a triple-A rating from S&P (though some are on their downgrade watchlist) and have some version of universal health coverage, in other words, an 'entitlement' that goes much further than anything we’ve got over here.”


We have our work cut out for us. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare had this to say on Thursday about the Joint Deficit Committee:

”Half of these Committee members have pledged to keep revenues out of the solution, and even more than half are on the record with statements about the need to consider cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

There is no post at The Elder Storytelling Place today. More next week.