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What Old Timey Print Ads Tell Us

Within an hour or so of each other on the weekend, emails arrived from two friends – one from Nancy Leitz whom you know from her family tales at The Elder Storytelling Place and the other from John Brandt, whom I've known for nearly 40 years.

The serendipity of the emails is that they contain the same kind of material. The contents are not necessarily new; people have been forwarding historical print advertisements for years. But while looking at two different collections, what leaped out this time is how dramatically our culture has changed since we elders were young.

Nancy's images are from a 1934 Montgomery Ward catalog – Monkey Wards, my mother called it. Even if that date is seven years before I was born, the pages are familiar to me.

Here are some shoes that look almost modern; I've seen similar ones on young women dressed for work. I'm guessing the price has increased by about 10,000 percent.


Aren't we glad, however, that we aren't wearing these torture garments anymore:


This ice box is similar to the one we had during World War II. There was a drip pan at the bottom and my mother often recalled that we could never go away over night lest the pan overflow and flood the kitchen.


I realize that the Montgomery Ward catalog was a lifeline to rural America, but I was still surprised to see the listing for live chicks. And look at that price!


John's group of ads were designed for shock value showing how ignorant we were 70 and 80 years ago. Cigarettes, then, were widely used and look at by whom:



There is another with Ronald Reagan, then still an actor, touting Chesterfields. The Santa cigarette ad is likely from the 1930s or early 1940s since perhaps you too recall that “Lucky Strike green went to war and didn't come home.”

Ads pushing Coca Cola and 7-Up for infants were surprising enough; then there was this one:


If you have ever questioned what difference the second-wave women's movement of the 1960s made in women's lives and the importance of language in changing people beliefs and attitudes, take a look at these ads for a Kenwood mixer, a Pitney-Bowes postage machine and Chase & Sanborn coffee. It is hard to believe these images and language were ever tolerated.




Well, it's hard to say this many decades removed from the ad, if this is punishment or soft porn.

The one ad in John's bunch that portrays something that has not changed much is this one for the prescription drug, Thorazine. In some nursing homes today, elders today are routinely controlled through over-medication. The only difference half a century later is that it has become somewhat of a secret.


This has been an interesting little cultural survey of our early lives. Now here's your assignment for today: what do you think people in the future, 50 or 60 years from now, will find about us and our lives to be as odd, wrongheaded, surprising or shocking as these ads about life in the early 20th century are to us?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Superstitions in China

E-Books and Elders

Laurie Orlov who runs the excellent blog, Aging in Place Technology Watch, asked a good question last week: Why aren't seniors wowed by tablets?

Laurie's main interest was Apple iPads and the many Android copycat computer tablets that come with e-book readers but also the stand-alone e-readers such as the Kindle and the Nook.

As Laurie noted, according to Pew's recent survey, e-book reader and tablet ownership each nearly doubled over the recent holiday season from 10 to 19 percent. But – in a big exception – when broken down by age, ownership of tablets by people older than 65 increased from only five to seven percent.

Ownership of e-readers did better with the elder age group but only slightly, going from eight to 12 percent.

Laurie suspects that price may have a lot to do with elders' apparent rejection of these gadgets:

”...median income for women aged 65+ is $15,282,” she notes. “That's a barrier, as is broadband penetration (31%), enabling and potentially costly data plans. So those significant limiting factors are big deals.”

That makes sense as does Laurie's other suggestion – that elders are just too damned smart to jump for every new electronic gadget that comes along.

Generally, I do not see the need for a tablet computer. Certainly they are cool looking and fun to play with, pushing stuff around the screen with your fingers and all. But I mostly use my laptop not to play, but to write – email, blog posts, notes to myself, edit stories, personal business, etc. – and tablets have no keyboards. Well, not real ones you could actually use.

In fact, after you've spent $500 to $700 for an iPad, if you intend to write anything longer than a tweet, you need to purchase a holder to keep the iPad vertical on your desk and then add a stand-alone keyboard. You can see what I mean here.

That's a lot of extra moolah to get an already expensive gadget's functionality up to speed with what is included in the price of even the cheapest laptop.

E-book readers, however, are a different matter. At least, I think so. Let me tell you why I believe they should be uniquely valuable to elders.

As we get older, small text is difficult to read. Although some dead tree books are published in large-print editions, not all are, they seem to be fewer every year and they usually cost more. With an e-reader, the font can be increased to any size you need with the touch a button.

For the past few years, I've noticed that large books, those that are more than 150 pages or so, are too weighty for me to hold for as long as might want to read.

I've taken to resting them on a pillow I place on my lap. Kindle and Nook e-readers, however, weigh in at about 10 to 13 ounces. Easy to hold.

Although publishing companies sometimes set higher prices by two or three dollars, the largest number of e-books at Amazon sell for $9.99. In addition, there are thousands of out-of-copyright classics that cost nothing. I had a fine ol' time re-reading Sherlock Holmes – all the short stories and the four novels - for the first time since my 20s for free on my Kindle.

I have no experience with Barnes & Noble, but Amazon holds regular sales of best-selling e-books at lower prices for short periods of time. And increasing numbers of local libraries are lending electronic books for free.

On the theory that you never know when you'll be stuck somewhere waiting for someone or something, I do not leave home without a book. In the past, that was difficult when I was reading one of those five- or ten-pounders. Now I just drop the Kindle in my handbag and I'm good to go.

Some elders have had to give up driving. Others cannot walk or stand for as long as they once could. So as much fun as hanging out browsing a good bookstore can be, it's not necessarily easy for elders to do. E-books are now here to help.

They download over the web in under a minute. No shipping costs. No leaving home. Easy peasy for those with limited mobility.

There are fancy models of e-readers that also function as tablets and are nearly as expensive as Apple iPads. But if, like me, you only want the book reading function, Barnes & Noble is selling their Nook Simple Touch for $99; Amazon sells the Kindle Wi-Fi for $79.

Given all these reasons, I believe e-readers ought to be big sellers for old people and next holiday season, I am going to recommend them as good gifts for elders.

For those on severely limited incomes, a year's internet subscription could be included and/or a gift certificate for book purchases. And don't forget that, at Amazon, at least, it is now possible to purchase e-books to be sent electronically as gifts.

I also subscribe to newspapers and magazines on my Kindle which has sharply reduced the amount of paper needing to be hauled out to the recycle bin. Because I have the least expensive, black-and-white version, images don't show well or are often omitted. So if it is an art book you want or anything in which the images are crucial, you probably need the print edition. And, in fact, I make other distinctions about which books I purchase in print and which as e-books. The goal for me is not to eliminate print book editions, but to use the ease of the Kindle when that it what matters.

Of course, there are always the Luddites - elders among them - who will insist they only want to read "real" books. Fine. But in keeping with Laurie's good point that old people are too smart, too experienced to fall for every new useless doodad that comes along, we are also smart enough, I think, to be discerning of ones to embrace when the advantages improve our lives.

It seems obvious but nevertheless, one of the small thrills about my Kindle is that the device automatically opens a book to the last page read. And now I have downloaded Kindle for PC onto my laptop and the Kindle for Android app onto my smartphone. With one click of the mouse, I can sync all three so that no matter which device I'm using, I can pick up reading where I last left off.

Not that I do much reading on a the small phone screen – but it's there if I want.

So I am wondering: do you own an e-reader? Do you use it regularly? Do you like it? Why do you think e-readers have not sold well (so far) among elders? Any other thoughts about e-readers?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: The Way the Cookie Crumbles


PeterTibbles75x75This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

I’ve previously done a column on Divas. Those were classical music divas and it was suggested that I should do soul divas. It’s taken a while, but here it is.

I’ll start with a particular favorite of mine, ETTA JAMES, who died just over a week ago and was buried in a private funeral yesterday, Saturday, where Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy.

Etta James

Etta could sing anything: soul, blues, rock & roll, country, jazz and did a great job at any and all of them. She was born Jamesetta Hawkins to a 14-year-old mother and an unknown father who could possibly have been Rudolf Wanderone, better known to most of us as Minnesota Fats, the famous pool player.

Etta started singing in various choirs in Los Angeles and formed a DooWop group when she was 14. They caught the ear of Johnny Otis (who, alas, also died recently) and they toured and recorded with him for a while. Later she backed Little Richard.

Etta signed with Chess records and had a number of hits in the sixties. She battled a major drug habit in the late sixties and seventies but got her life back on track and then has performed extensively, mostly singing blues and jazz.

Then, a year or so ago she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

There are a dozen or two tracks of Etta’s I could have chosen, but I’ve gone for one of her more famous ones, I'd Rather Go Blind.

♫ Etta James - I'd Rather Go Blind

LAVERN BAKER had a number of hits in the fifties that could be seen as proto-soul recordings. Unfortunately, many of her songs were covered by white artists without the talent that LaVern possessed. These sold more than the originals.

LaVern Baker

In the late sixties, she became seriously ill after entertaining the troops in Vietnam and gave up singing for more than 20 years. She made a successful comeback in the late eighties and also performed on Broadway and worked on the soundtracks of several films.

She had both legs amputated due to complications from diabetes but that didn’t stop her performing. LaVern died in 1997 from a heart attack. Here she is with an early song, I Cried a Tear.

♫ LaVern Baker - I Cried a Tear

Joshie Jo Armstead is a real renaissance woman.

Joshie Jo Armstead

Not only a fine singer, she is also a songwriter of considerable facility, an actor, an author, a clothes designer and even boxing promoter if you like that sort of thing (I don’t).

Born in Mississippi, Josephine Armstead started her musical career singing gospel songs in her mother’s church. However, she got hooked on the blues thanks to her grandfather who was a bootlegger and a gambler and he’d sneak the young Jo into juke joints and dances.

Jo’s sister was once married to Ike Turner and after she arranged an audition with him Jo became one of his touring musicians. Besides Ike, she sang backing for James Brown, Walter Jackson, B.B. King and many others.

By this time Jo was writing songs as well, including some for Ray Charles. There’s a lot more to her story, but not enough space. Here she is singing the rather awkwardly titled Stumblin' Blocks, Steppin' Stones (What Took Me So Long).

♫ Joshie Jo Armstead - Stumblin' Blocks, Steppin' Stones (What Took Me So Long)

I’m sorry, I can’t tell you anything about DORIS ALLEN.

Doris Allen

I know nothing much about her except that she’s a fine singer. The CD has no information at all. I thought I’d employ good old Dr. Google but all he could tell me that she was a great but little-known soul singer who often sang duets with John Hamilton and she died in 2008.

Just listen to her singing, I guess. A Shell of a Woman.

♫ Doris Allen - A Shell of a Woman

If I thought I had problems with Doris, little did I realize how difficult it was going to be with BARBARA WEST.

Barbara West

I thought, oh I have her on a couple of compilation CDs, that’ll be easy. Silly me. On one there was no information at all and the other told us all about the tracks as if we couldn’t hear them for ourselves and make our own judgment.

Again I went with Dr. Google and the only information I found was that she only released four singles in her career, far fewer than Doris. I’ve included her because I really like the track, Anyone But You.

♫ Barbara West - Anyone But You

IRMA THOMAS was born Irma Lee in Louisiana and got the Thomas from the second of her ex-husbands.

Irma Thomas

Irma is a regular in all the music festivals held in New Orleans (and further afield). Indeed, I think there might be a riot if she weren’t included. She started her recording career in 1960 and kept at it for more than 20 years when she took a bit of a break.

Irma has been back at it recently and as mentioned above, is a regular at music festivals.

Irma’s song is quite a contrast to the other tracks today. It sounds closer to gospel than soul, but that’s okay. It’s a song the Rolling Stones recorded after hearing Irma’s version, Time Is On My Side.

♫ Irma Thomas - Time Is On My Side

TOMMIE YOUNG was born and bred in Dallas. She was yet another of those who made their musical debut singing in the choir. I don’t know why I bothered mentioning that as all today seemed to have made their start that way, at least those I know anything about.

Tommie Young

Her first recordings were covers of songs by a couple of my favorites, O.V. Wright and Percy Sledge. She had a number of regional hits in the seventies and eighties but, although influential, she didn’t really hit the big time. I guess for someone of her talent there’s still time to do that.

More recently she’s recorded several gospel albums under the name Tommye Young-West (she had by then married Calvin West and seemed to have changed her given name slightly). I hear echoes of Aretha in Tommie, especially in this song, Do You Still Feel the Same Way?

♫ Tommie Young - Do You Still Feel The Same Way

PEGGY SCOTT was born Peggy Stoutmeyer in Queens, New York, and is often called these days Peggy Scott-Adams.

Peggy Scott

Early in her career she toured with Ben E. King and several of her songs made the charts in the sixties. She decided that she’d had enough of the music biz and retired soon after, moving to California where she married a Los Angeles politician (don’t hold that against her).

In 1996, she was persuaded to record an album that did okay for her. This is one of her earlier songs, Every Little Bit Hurts.

♫ Peggy Scott - Every Little Bit Hurts

I’ll bet you were starting to wonder “where’s Aretha?” Wonder no more, here she is. We couldn’t have a column on this topic without her.

I’m going to put most readers offside by saying that ARETHA FRANKLIN isn’t my favorite female soul singer. I don’t mind her but give me Etta any day.

Aretha Franklin

There’s little I can add that’s not already been written about Aretha, so I won’t try - at least, not in a short piece like this. Another time at greater length perhaps.

Like Etta, there are any number of songs from which to choose. Rather arbitrarily, I’ve gone for Chain of Fools.

♫ Aretha Franklin - Chain of Fools

INTERESTING STUFF – 28 January 2012

[ATTENTION: Those of you who read this blog via email or rss need to click on the title of the story so it will open in your browser where you can view the videos.]

This young standup comedian is barely 30 years old, but he's nailed the weight gain problem that comes along with age. His name is Andy Woodhull and you can read about him here.

Nothing really funny here. It's just sweet and it's always interesting to watch different species trying to figure out each other. This is a herd of cows indulging their curiosity about a six-month-old boxer puppy.

It's apparent that this year's election campaign is going to be one of the nastiest on record but this race for the U.S. Congress is already so out of hand that someone needs to go to jail.

Here is the description from Blue Arkansas earlier this week with an image. Warning: both are hard to look at at. (Jake Burris is the campaign manager for Ken Aden who is running to represent Arkansas' 3rd District.)

”Last night, Jake and his four kids had come back to their Russelville home. As they were getting out of the car, one of his children discovered their family cat dead on the front porch.

“One side of the animal's head had been bashed in and an eyeball was hanging out of its socket. But there was something even more horrifying to be found on the corpse.

“Written across the animal's fur in black marker was the word, 'LIBERAL.'”

Burris Family Cat

People will say this is an isolated incident. You can believe so if you want but people always say that when something awful happens. You can read more about the cat murder here and here and here or just search it: "jake burris cat"

Does anyone under age 50 dance the jitterbug anymore? This is terrific. (Hat tip to Darlene Costner)

Wind power doesn't degrade the environment the way mineral power sources do, but they still cause a lot of damage – birds and bat kills come to mind – and the constant whir, if you live nearby, can be hard to deal with. The esthetics are less than ideal too.

Now comes a New York design firm with an idea for “windstalks” that, like the blades we use now, generate electricity when the wind sets them waving but are completely silent and less likely to be lethal to flying animals.


”Each base is slightly different, and is sloped so that rain will funnel into the areas between the concrete to help plants grow wild.

“These bases form a sort of public park space and serve a technological purpose. Each one contains a torque generator that converts the kinetic energy from the stalk into energy...”

Who knows if windstalks will prove to be a viable energy source, but it's an interesting idea. Read more here.

Robot and Frank stars Frank Langella as an aging, retired jewel thief with his new caregiver, a robot. Plus, the always excellent Susan Sarandon as the love interest. Since I haven't seen it yet, I'll quote Tim Wu who viewed it at the Sundance Festival this month:

“The movie asks whether being truly alive depends in some sense on having a working memory. And the film hits a nerve when it makes clear just how much easier it can be to love our machines than our family members, especially when the former are programmed to help us, and the latter, seemingly, programmed to irritate.”

There are three more clips from the film here.

Oh, that the whole world could be this happy. And the music is perfect - Jump, Jive and Wail by Louis Prima. (Hat tip to Heidi McBride)

This grows on you as it moves along and thank god for the subtitles because the Irish accent gets a bit thick at times. The singing group is called Fascinating Aida (terrific name), they've been around for a long time. You can read about them here and here. (Hat tip to Darlene Costner)

There can be no end of delight in cute kitties, but this gorilla footage raises animal enjoyment to nirvana. The video was shot near Bwindi National Park in Uganda. Note the man's expression at the end. Yes! Exactly! (Hat tip to doctafil)

You definitely should click in the lower right to watch this full screen.

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.

Mr. President: Don't Sell Out American Elders

[UPDATE: I tried Midori's suggestion of using the email return on White House messages, but it goes to the same page at the White House website that limits messages to 2500 characters.

The shortened version that I sent the president really suffers for being cut in half but I had a mini-brainstorm: I've cut the original in half and resent it to the White House in two parts. Maybe someone will notice. Or not. Still, I've done my best.

[RONNI HERE: It wears me out that every few months President Barack Obama scares the bejesus out old people by saying something about "strengthening" Social Security which everyone knows is code for cutting it. He did it again in the State of the Union address so I sent him a severely edited version of this note - edited because the White House contact form allows only 2500 characters.

It is unlikely, among the thousands of letters sent to the White House, that anyone will read it, let alone respond or act on it. Still, I feel a little better.

Dear President Obama:

I am a 70-year-old Social Security and Medicare beneficiary. I publish a popular blog, Time Goes By, about what it's really like to get old.

You might enjoy stopping by sometime – - where you will find a large community of well-informed, thoughtful elders who pay a lot of attention to you, to politics in general and to the moves Washington makes on our two lifelines, Social Security and Medicare.

But to get to my point, in your State of the Union address Tuesday evening, you said this about Social Security:

"As I told the Speaker this summer, I'm prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.

“But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of Members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes...”

I worry every time I hear those words and you've been talking about “reform” of and “strengthening” Social Security since you took office. What concerns me the most is that a smart guy like you does not appear to understand the genius of the program's basic functioning as President Roosevelt set it up and how easily it can, with the wrong reforms (which we voters know is code for “cut”), be destroyed.

(I'm ignoring Medicare in this letter. It is a different kind of problem needing different solutions. But don't worry. I'll get back to you on that.)

Let's start with Social Security funding: You should know this and I'm pretty sure you do but just in case: Social Security has no relationship – none, zero, nada, zilch – with the nation's budget. Because it is self-funded through the dedicated payroll tax, by definition it cannot contribute to the nation's deficit.

It does not matter how many times Congressional Republicans (and a few ignorant Democrats) say differently: Social Security does not contribute to the deficit. It would be a very good thing if each time you make public statements about Social Security, you make sure to say that. Repetition works, you know.)

Because Social Security is not funded through the general revenue, it has been sacrosanct from budgetary battles in Congress for all its 75-plus years. That is, it was until last year when you signed the payroll tax holiday and when you extended it this year through February. That shortfall in uncollected Social Security payroll taxes is, as you well know, replaced in the trust fund from the general revenue.

And that is the first ever inroad to potentially cutting Social Security because it is not inconceivable that Congress, which holds the budget purse strings, can decide not to replace those funds. That you supported this move, Mr. President, is a big disappointment to me.

Even so, I'm pretty sure popular uproar would preclude such a theft, but the potentiality is there now. The seal on the door to the trust fund has been breached. That's scary if you're as old as I am – not just for me but all future generations who will need Social Security.

So, as politically useful as it is for you to call the payroll tax holiday a tax cut for the middle class, in reality it shortchanges Social Security and endangers the long term solvency of the program.

What you should be doing is raising the payroll tax by a percentage point or so (yes, even in these hard times) to ensure the program will be there past the next 20 years.

Because what rich people who do not need Social Security (but who are more than happy to take it for pocket change) do not understand is that without it, most Social Security beneficiaries would be living in cardboard boxes.

And by the way, it's not that we didn't try to save our own money for our old age. You perfectly well know – or should – that real wages have been flat for 30 years. For every raise people received during that time, inflation or health care or an emergency took more from their bank accounts.

Don't forget, too, that millions of old people lost trillions of dollars in life savings in the crash of 2008 and have no way to recoup. Personally, I lost a third of my modest savings and I'm among the luckiest for not having lost more.

Oh, and did I mention how many elders who planned to downsize from the large homes in which they raised their families cannot sell them now? Or are underwater? Or have been foreclosed upon – apparently illegally in many cases?

How many whammies is that against old people, Mr. President? I've lost count.

Elders cannot afford any cut to Social Security – and that includes the proposed reduction in the calculation of the cost-of-living adjustment which would affect current beneficiaries.

My appeal to you, Mr. President, is to get over this idea you apparently have to trade the program that modestly supports elders when their working lives are done for a bipartisan agreement to raise taxes on the wealthy.

I know you can't get those tax increases in this Congress and you should know it too. But go ahead, give it a try. Just don't sell out America's elders in your attempt.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: The Trouble with Four-Door Cars

Tribes of Eden by Dr. Bill Thomas

So much to read; so little time. Of the 200,000 or so books published each year (that's just in the U.S.), I learn of – oh, maybe several hundred through reviews, advertisements, personal internet alerts, publisher requests for blog mentions and friend suggestions.

I would rather not figure out how many I buy each year – too many – and at any given moment there are 20-plus books sitting around the house or on my Kindle that I haven't found time to read yet. One of my regularly occurring dilemmas is choosing the next read.

TribesThat's never an issue, however, when a friend publishes a book. It immediately goes to the top of the list as did Tribes of Eden by geriatrician Bill Thomas or, more formally, William H. Thomas, M.D., and I want to tell you about him and the book.

If you have been reading TGB for awhile, you know this guy. He wrote What are Old People For?, one of my continuing inspirations for this blog that I often mention.

BillthomasIn that book is Bill's vision for transforming the lives of elders and he has made astonishing progress with his dream/plan/mission for Greenhouses and the Eden Alternative – two growing, worldwide phenomena that replace the warehousing of elders in old-style, institutional nursing homes with elder-centered communities where residents are partners with their caregivers and one another.

You would think that getting through medical school, becoming a practicing geriatrician, writing a few books about aging and creating something that is changing the entire nature of elder care would be enough for any one person. Not if you're Bill Thomas. Now he's gone and written a novel too.

Tribes of Eden is a work of fiction into which Bill has exuberantly thrown all his passion and belief about the place elders should have in society and what life can be like for everyone when they do.

“Tribes” begins in the near future when the government of the U.S. and the country's institutions have wholly collapsed leaving a nation in chaos where hunger, crime and death are as commonplace as the fear they induce.

After a terrifying journey of escape across half the country, a young mother, her son and her daughter are welcomed into a self-sufficient community, the Shire, isolated from the wreckage of a culture that has lost its way.

The little family flourishes as the children grow up amid the trust, cooperation and love of the members of the Shire where elders are given respect and influence equal to all other adults.

In the outside world, order has been restored through the forced imprisonment of the population within the seduction and power of the GRID - a system that eventually will pit the brother and sister who were adopted into the Shire against one another in an epic battle.

When the GRID begins to fail, threatening not only its captives with destruction but the Shire too, it comes to pass that only a unique alliance between youth and the elders can save the world.

Time Goes By readers who enjoy The Elder Storytelling Place will be delighted, as I was, to learn that elders' stories about life before the Fall into chaos are a crucial aspect of resistance to the GRID.

”We have believed and taught others to believe,” says one of the Shire elders, “in the value of memory, in the power of legacy, in the virtue of a life lived long and well.”

With Tribes of Eden Bill has written classic tale of good and evil built on a solid, substantial world where elders are woven into the everyday fabric of life, valued for their experience, knowledge and wisdom – a story that needs to be repeated far and wide.

Most of all, the book is a load of fun, a page turner that will leave you thinking about it long after you have finished.

Currently, Tribes of Eden is available for US$9.99 in various ebook formats via the book's webpage. The print edition will be published in early April at which time there will be a contest here at Time Goes By for someone to win a copy.

Wait a minute: there is one more thing I want to tack on here. Throughout my time reading Tribes of Eden, I had no trouble picturing it as a movie. It would be good if that came to be.

For people who are being introduced to Bill Thomas for the first time, Time Goes By has an abiding and fruitful association with him. Regular readers may have seen some videos he and I have done together (two examples); a regular column, The TGB Geriatrician, he wrote for this blog in years past. There is an interview I did with Bill you can still read here, not to leave out his own blog, Changing Aging.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Fishing on the Salton Sea

Tales of Old Age Memory

category_bug_journal2.gif On Monday at The Elder Storytelling Place, our friend William Weatherstone entertained us with a 17-year-old column from newspaper editor, Colin McKim, about “losing it” as we get older. A sample line or two:

”These days I find I can’t hold a phone number in my mind long enough to get it punched in. Somewhere between my eyes and my index finger I lose it, or part of it, which amounts to the same thing.

“And then there’s the mystery novel on the bedside table. Now that I am losing it, I understand why they call them mysteries.”

Which is pretty close to what a 90-something woman said that I read somewhere: she now owns only one book, an Agatha Christie mystery, because she never remembers whodunit so she can read it again and again.

I know what that woman and Colin mean; it works that way for me with any given Law & Order episode.

The comments on William's story were fun. This from Herm:

”For the past three weeks I've been looking for my dress shoes and wedding band. My shoes aren't lost nor is my wedding band. They are where ever I put them. I just don't know where that is.

“On the other side of this coin, it drives me crazy when I get a certain something stuck in my head and can't get it out.”

Joanne Zimmermann noted that she couldn't “remember what else I was going to say.” And brbrsln2 suggested this:

”Maybe we should have a contest about the scariest or funniest personal description of 'losing it.'”

Well, not a contest, but let's fool around today telling each other our best personal forgetfulness stories.

According to the people who study such stuff, it is our short-term memory (where in the world could Herm's dress shoes be?) that bedevils us the most. Alternately, it is not uncommon in old age for our brains to dredge up long forgotten scenes from childhood.

But let's leave the science out of it today. This isn't about the tragedy of Alzheimer's or the fear of it; it's just normal old-age memory lapses that annoy and irritate but often are absurd and silly too.

My short-term memory has become so poor that I keep paper and pen nearby in most rooms of the house and my handbag to jot things down so they won't disappear into a black hole.

And it's amazing just how short short-term memory can get. It has happened more than once that somewhere between thinking, I must write that down, and putting pen to paper, I've forgotten what it was I wanted to remember.

But my favorite happened nearly 30 years ago when I was in my early 40s and couldn't find my house keys. An hour of searching turned up not a hint. I tried all the usual places and the tricks the experts suggest like retracing your steps from when you know you last used the keys.

Nothing worked. So I was stuck at home when I should have been at work because living in a house where my front door faced directly on the street in New York City, I couldn't leave without locking the door.

With a sigh, I went to the fridge for a drink and lo! There were the keys on a shelf next to some leftover Chinese takeout looking as out of place as a pig in the parlor. And it's not like I'd arrived home the evening before with food that needed storing. Who knows what kind of brain glitch was at work.

It wasn't long afterward that I obtained a nice-looking piece of wall furniture to place next to the door where I could leave mail and other things I wanted to be sure to take with me and, most important, hang the keys as my first act upon entering the house.

Now it's your turn – what are you adventures in “losing it.”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: My Purpose in Life

Money Saving Tips from the Local Power Company

category_bug_journal2.gif According to the Congressional Research Service, the median annual income of citizens age 65 and older was $30,770 in 2008. Like most elder women, my income is lower than that (men's is higher on average) and although I get by just fine, I am always looking for ways to stem the outflow.

In additional to the electronic bill that arrives via email each month from the local power company, Portland General Electric here in Oregon also sends out a monthly newsletter with information and advice on reducing usage and lowering the bill. Until recently, I hadn't paid much attention but now I have discovered how useful it is.

This month, there is a story on four ways to lower high winter heating bills which led me to an entire page of cooking tips that lower energy usage. Among them, use the microwave whenever possible because of shorter cooking time.

Using lids on pots shortens cooking time too and they suggest that unless precise temperature is critical, skip pre-heating the oven.

There is other good advice for saving energy and therefore money on other large appliances – dishwasher (well, I never use it, but some people do), refrigerator and freezer. For example, I did not know that both freezers and refrigerators run more efficiently when they are full.

In another section of the website, PGE calculates an estimate of electrical use in my home. Here is their first estimate, based on my address, square footage, number of occupants and type of heating showing that three-quarters of my energy bill is taken up by heating and lighting:

Home Energy Usage 1

Because I have swapped out about half my incandescent light bulbs for CFLs and I am careful about winter heating temperature control, I was pretty certain that couldn't be right.

So I spent the 20 minutes it took to fill out a more detailed form about what appliances I use with what frequency and such details as whether I use cold or hot water for laundry and how often I bathe, etc.

Here is PGE's revised chart showing that although heating and cooling take up more than half of my monthly bill, lighting has dropped to a tiny percentage.

Home Energy Usage 2

The chart is wrong about that big blue chunk labeled cooling. (UPDATE: This is an error. In the comments below, see comment no. 1 from Cop Car and my response in comment no. 3.) I have yet to even turn on the air conditioner, but there was no choice on the form for “never use it.” That's forgivable; I still have a reasonably good idea of where my energy dollars are going. And look how I stack up with similar homes:

Home Energy Comparison Chart

Actually, I spend more per year with PGE indicates, but it is still much lower than similar homes. It helps, of course, that only one person lives in this place. If I had a husband or roommate, the cost would be higher.

The company also supplies appliance-buying guides, upgrade advice with both no-cost and low-cost choices and charts to help lower energy use. This light bulb chart [pdf] compares costs, savings and usability among incandescents, CFLs and LEDs.

And here are 24 energy saving tips ranging from “without spending a dime” to “larger investments with big payoffs.”

I mention all this because although I do not recall such rich, useful websites for the power companies in Maine and New York where I previously lived, that doesn't mean they don't have them and perhaps your power company is equally informative.

Anything that helps save a few dollars is a good thing.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Don (Greywolf) Ford: Gone Fishin'

How We Might Come to Terms with Death

category_bug_journal2.gif I am aware that what I'm about to write is a long-ish, roundabout way of getting to my point today, but I think it is relevant. If it's not, I'm sure you will let me know.

A recent email exchange with Ashleigh Burrows began when she commented on last week's story here about age and the U.S. presidency.

“...there you are, up and down ladders and schlepping boxes,” she wrote, “and I remember your post when you moved in and all that work was overwhelming and exhausting and you were bummed. Seriously bummed. And today you write about it in a matter of fact way.”

That observation got me to sit up and pay attention. Ashleigh is absolutely correct. For years, I have repeatedly bitched on this blog and elsewhere in life that one of the most irritating things for me about getting old is that I tire more easily and can't get as much done as quickly as when I was younger.

But in that post, as Ashleigh pointed out, I wrote about tiredness after more-than-usual physical activity without annoyance and discontent, instead portraying it as a given, as an accepted part of where I am in life right now. Which is what I felt as I wrote it.

So I emailed Ashleigh to thank her for remarking on a change in myself I had not yet consciously noticed:

”How nice of you to point that out,” said I. “It's the best kind of life learning, isn't it - realizing you've come to something new in your own time as the necessity presents itself. Now that you've put it into words, it feels familiar and I have done it in other ways in the past unrelated to aging.”

Once again, in response, Ashleigh mined a thought I'd knocked off without giving it the weight it deserves:

...come to something new in your own time as the necessity presents itself. Three pieces there ring true - something new, in your own time, as necessity presents. Getting my head around it isn't easy, but necessity presents itself and so I go on.

“Because, honestly, what's the alternative? Lying in bed with a blanket pulled over your head? Not for us, we Jewish girls from NY - no f'ing way!”

Ha! For decades in New York City there were big poster ads in the subway and on bus shelters for Levy's bread. They changed every couple of months and each succeeding one showed a person of different ethnicity or nationality with the line, “You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's.”

Ashleigh is right (again) about us Jewish girls from New York but I think it probably applies to old people anywhere, too – eventually acknowledging the changes that come with age as we need to do, to get on with what's next.

Which finally brings me to my point today. Another recent post about making peace with death and a book giveaway on that topic drew a large number of thoughtful comments about facing the inevitability of our own demise. Here is a handful of the wide variety of perspectives:

"Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment." - Dag Hammarskjöld

I hate the topic but I know I have to deal with it.

As I viewed the video I got choked up and tears started. That is my usual approach to this topic. I think I need the book so that I can, at least, be calm as the end approaches.

He who is not ready to die cannot fully live. As a culture we have this taboo - as if we mention death the Grim Reaper will swoop in. I had to face my own mortality at 27, with two small children at home. It gave the rest of my life a different perspective.

Aging has a way of changing the things that are important to you each and every day.

We go through the largest part of our lives mostly ignoring the fact of our future deaths which is as it should be, I think. As the date gets closer, however, it needs to be addressed and, in time, accepted.

But as much as we yearn for acceptance and would like to “be calm as the end approaches,” thinking the thought doesn't make it so. What I believe can happen, however, is a lot like what Ashleigh pointed out to me about acceptance of my waning energy and stamina.

If, as we get on each day living in the present, we spend some time seriously thinking about it; if we talk about it now and then – here, perhaps, and with friends and relatives; if we seek out and read what others have written about it; if we ponder it quietly from time to time -

Then one day we will realize it has come to pass that we understand; that leaving this world is the completion of the circle of life and that we will welcome it, in its time, as the next great adventure.

And we will realize then, too, that we will have arrived at our equanimity each in our own time as necessity presents itself.

At least, that's how I hope it happens.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, from William Weatherstone: What Do You Do When You Find You're Losing It

ELDER MUSIC: Georgia on my Mind

PeterTibbles75x75This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

It’s time for another variation on a single song. It also gives me an opportunity to play a rather diverse range of performers in the one column. The song is Georgia on my Mind.

It was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell. The song has been adopted by the state of Georgia (that’s the American one, not the country that used to be part of the Soviet Union) as its official song in spite of Stuart, who wrote the words, saying he wrote it about Hoagy’s sister, Georgia Carmichael.

Given that, the appropriate place to start is therefore with the version by HOAGY CARMICHAEL himself.

Hoagy has been called the "most talented, inventive, sophisticated and jazz-oriented" of the songwriters composing pop songs in the first half of the 20th century. Looking through the songs he wrote, that’s not too far off the mark.

Hoagy Carmichael

Hoagy recorded the song in 1930 and if you listen carefully, you’ll hear Bix Beiderbecke playing along as well on this version. Unfortunately, this is one of the last tunes Bix recorded. Hoagy was a good friend of Bix and always ensured he had a job when he was down on his luck and boy, did Bix get down towards the end.

♫ Hoagy Carmichael - Georgia On My Mind

Probably the best known version is by RAY CHARLES.

Ray Charles

Indeed, it was Ray singing the song, with which he had a number one hit in 1960, at the Georgia state legislature in 1979 when the state adopted it. Ray was originally from that state so it was apposite that his version would be chosen.

I can’t imagine he would have been given that honor in 1960, but that’s neither here nor there. Sing it, Ray.

♫ Ray Charles - Georgia On My Mind

For a complete change of pace we turn to the DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET.

Dave Brubeck Quartet

This version has a lovely sax solo by Paul Desmond and, it goes without saying, a wonderful piano piece from Dave. This was taken from an album called “Gone With the Wind” which had, as you can probably guess, songs of the south.

♫ Dave Brubeck - Georgia On My Mind

An unlikely version is by THE BAND.

The Band

The Band mostly recorded their own songs (and occasionally a couple of Bob’s). However, on one album, “Moondog Matinee,” they recorded music that had inspired them to take up instruments and perform in the first place.

Georgia wasn’t on that album, it was from a later one. This has the soulful voice of Richard Manuel performing the vocals on their version.

It’s taken from the “Islands” album, generally considered the one they recorded purely as a contractual agreement album and the last studio album made by the original band.

♫ The Band - Georgia on My Mind

BILLIE HOLIDAY was born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia.

Billie Holiday

She led what is generally described as an “interesting” life. One that deserves a column of her own and you won’t be at all surprised to learn that she will get one.

During her recording career, she was often given second rate songs to sing by the powers that be. Naturally, her version turned them into first rate performances. Of course, there were the occasional first rate tune as well, like this one.

♫ Billie Holiday - Georgia on my Mind

Yet another instrumental version, this time by OSCAR PETERSON.

Oscar Peterson

Oscar was born in Montreal and was influenced by the jazz scene around where he lived. He started playing trumpet and piano at a young age but decided to concentrate on the piano after a bout of tuberculosis rather put paid to the trumpeting.

He studied classical piano but he was always taken by jazz musicians, particularly Teddy Wilson, Nat King Cole and Art Tatum, and that won out in the end. Let’s hear Oscar play the tune.

♫ Oscar Peterson - Georgia On My Mind

WILLIE NELSON recorded an album called “Stardust” – another song of Hoagy’s – in 1978 containing old standards, and what a fine job he did of them too. I’ve always looked upon Willie as a jazz singer anyway and this album is more evidence of that.

Willie Nelson

This was released as a CD a couple of years ago with another album with similar songs he’s recorded over the years. That second album was pretty good too; well, it is Willie, so how could it not be? Here’s Willie’s version of the song.

♫ Willie Nelson - Georgia On My Mind

I think LOUIS ARMSTRONG may have played every song known during his lifetime.

Louis Armstrong

I’ve also featured him quite a bit over the years and, like Billie, there’s a column in works as well.

Louis was the most important popular musician in the first half of the twentieth century. No one else in that time set the parameters for music as he did. His remarkable musicianship set him apart from his contemporaries. I’ll just let you hear what he does for the song.

♫ Louis Armstrong - Georgia On My Mind

Ah, the dynamic duo, ELLA FITZGERALD and JOE PASS.

Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass

I really don’t need to tell you about Ella. She and Joe made several albums together and this is the way I like Ella best, with just Joe backing her with impeccable guitar playing (okay, there’s a bass player in there as well). I don’t think any more instruments are needed.

Here they are with the song of the day.

♫ Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass - Georgia On My Mind

INTERESTING STUFF – 21 January 2012

This is a clever explanation of why English spelling is so difficult for school kids. The presenter is typographer Edward Rondthaler. He was 102 when he made this video; he died in 2009 at age 104.

You can read a bit more about Mr. Rondthaler here. (Hat tip to Midori Barstow)

Here's something you don't read every day. This metal tissue box has been sold at Bed Bath and Beyond online and in some of its stores since last July. Seems innocuous enough.

Tissue Box

Innocuous, that is, until earlier this month when it was discovered to contain radioactive cobalt-60.

“...radiation alarms were triggered during a check of a truck at an inspection station in California.

“[A Bed Bath and Beyond spokesperson said,] 'The NRC has also informed us that the material is believed to be in the tissue holder itself and cannot be inhaled, nor can it contaminate other objects (such as tissues).'”

Although the tissues boxes are considered to be safe, they have been recalled and also pulled the shelves – physical and virtual. You can read more here.

It's been going on for more than 25 years and I only just found out about it. You should know too.

Since 1985, Eye Care America has been providing eye exams and up to one year of care to U.S. citizens and legal residents within the continental U.S, Hawaii and Puerto Rico through volunteer ophthalmologists often at no out-of-pocket cost to those who qualify.

You must be at least 65 years old and not have seen an eye physician in three or more years. The exam covers diseases of the eye such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts. The service does not prescribe or pay for eyeglasses. 7000 ophthalmologists through the country who donate their time will waive co-payments and accept Medicare as full payment.

This is a wonderful and important service. The main website is here and you can find out more about eligibility here. There is no telephone service, only online application.

Crowboarding in Russia. Damn, crows are smart.

Not only has Bill Moyers returned to television, is not just a show promo page; it's a full service website.

Videos of each week's shows are posted there along with additional material – videos and print stories - that there was not time to include on television. There are videos from his previous programs. There is a daily blog titled, “What Matters Today” and an “Anthology” where the body of Moyers' life work is gradually being collected. And there is a place where you can ask Bill Moyers a question; he will answer one per week.

It's a great educational site worth bookmarking and subscribing to. Also, it appears that the video of each week's episode of Moyers & Company is being posted to the website by mid-afternoon or so on Fridays.

Last week I showed you an interesting set of shelves built under a staircase. This week, thanks to TGB reader, Cathy Johnson, we have a video from someone with way too much time on his or her hands.

I posted a similar video last March, but it has been removed from YouTube and this one is much more elaborate. Keep your eye on the wall clock.

Joseph Herscher lives in Brooklyn where he builds fabulously complicated Rube Goldberg contraptions. This one is a page turner:

The New York Times has helpfully provided a step-by-step explanation.

There is no end to the weird stuff that can happen in the world. First, neti pots are weird enough in and of themselves.

Neti Pot

What? You never heard of a neti pot? It's a method of sinus irrigation. You can find out about them at WebMD and you can even buy a neti pot at Amazon and other online stores.

Now it has been reported that two people in Louisiana have died from fatal infections caused by neti pots causing the state health department to issue a warning.

”A 51-year-old woman from DeSoto Parish and a 20-year-old man from St. Bernard Parish, a suburb of New Orleans, died after using Neti pots containing tap water to flush their sinuses. Both became infected with Naegleria fowleri, a parasite known as the brain-eating amoeba.”

Ew. You can read more here.

It will be a long, hard slog over several years but if Citizens United is not overturned, American democracy and its ideals, however flawed they may be, are doomed. This is Robert Reich's latest animation.

Hat tip to Rachel Eggleston for this great animal video that needs no introduction.

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.

Friday Fun – 20 January 2012

I'm taking a rest day from blogging and magically, as though he knew I needed some silliness and fun, TGB's own music guru, Peter Tibbles, forwarded what you see below which he had received from a friend in England, Lydia Everitt.

(Isn't it amazing how accustomed we have all become to stuff circling in the globe in seconds?)

You may have seen this before. Doesn't matter. It's still a load of fun.


Are you fed up with looking daily at your boring garage door?

Just stick a new decal on your door!

You should see the looks on the face of your neighbours!


Make an impression on your neighbors!

A German company, Style Your Garage, makes posters for your garage door. Prices vary from $199 to $399 for a double door! Everything included!





Remember, these are garage door posters.





Remember, these are garage door posters.






Remember, these are garage door posters.







And finally...


If I had a garage door, I would choose the New York City subway platform. Which would you choose?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson Phillips: You Can Never Go Home Again – Or Can You?

Elders on Television

The representation of old people on television does not have a good history. Most of the time, when we are included at all, we are portrayed as goofy stereotypes, always forgetful and none too bright.

Undoubtedly there are others, but two exceptions immediately come to mind. Golden Girls gave us some great, good jokes about being old without demeaning the four elder women or the idea of age.

The other was the character of Colonel Potter on M*A*S*H. As played by Harry Morgan, he was grumpy and snarly and also a good officer with a terrific sense of humor – a role model for the unruly younger members of the medical unit. Morgan, who said Potter was the best role of his life, died in December at age 96.

Speaking of people in their tenth decade, Tuesday was Betty White's 90th birthday and elderblogger Elaine Frankonis of Kalilily emailed to ask my opinion of her new show. I thought Elaine was talking about Hot in Cleveland, but no.

Surprise to me, a new program premiered this week on NBC, Betty White's Off Their Rockers. Sort of like the old Candid Camera or the contemporary MTV show, Pranked, Betty and her elder cohorts play jokes on unsuspecting younger people for, of course, laughs. Well, the cohorts doing the pranking; Betty provides inter-prank commentary.

Although the apparent intention is to show elders in a fun-loving, positive light (some PR material describes a “cast of sassy septuagenarians who are hip, sexy and ready to party”), Elaine has some reservations and after watching the show, I am ambivalent too. Take a look at this segment from the first episode that was broadcast earlier this week:

If I ran into that in the supermarket, it would be amusing and probably worth a mention on this blog but it's a subpar comedy scene – lame, actually. Whatever you think of its quality, however, the humor is not dependent on the age of the man. You would laugh (or not) whatever his age.

Now take a look at another segment from the episode:

This makes me uncomfortable and moreso knowing that three or four of the total dozen or so pranks in the premiere episode involve elder women coming on to young men. Another:

This kind of behavior creeps out young people which is neither right nor wrong – it just is. More important is that sex in the same sentence with elders has been a bad joke forever and pranks like this one reinforce the idea that somehow elders interested in sex are dirty old men and worse, much worse - dirty old women.

The best segments in the program would be, like the cake scene above, amusing whatever the age of the participants.

Below is the full 21-minute episode. If you have time for it, watch for the genuinely funny, and charming, balloon prank along with the unresponsive hot dog/soft drink cart attendant. That one, too, would be funny even if she were a teenager.

Overall, I'm uncomfortable with this program as representative of elders because aside from the sketches that do not need to rely on old people for the humor, it is designed to ridicule elders' foibles and failings. If there were more of us on television, more of us like Betty White's character, Rose, on Golden Girls and like Colonel Potter, it wouldn't feel so offensive.

On the other hand, maybe my funny bone is broken. Off Their Rockers is an adaptation of a hit Belgian TV series, Benidorm Bastards, that has won a boatload of awards in Europe.

What do you think?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Barbara Sloan: Irons and Mangles

Watching Out for Elder Scams and Fraud

As a general rule – no, I take that back. As a hard and fast rule, never, ever fall for anyone offering free anything.

A mid-2010 survey by Investor Protection Trust revealed that 7.3 million older Americans – 20 percent of citizens over the age of 65 – had been victimized by a swindle.

And, according to the National Consumers League [pdf], elders in particular are mercilessly targeted for frauds and scams. The top five scams reported to their fraud center in 2010 were:

Fake Checks (29.67%)
Internet - General Merchandise (27.24%)
Prizes/Sweepstakes/Free Gifts (20.49%)
Phishing/Spoofing (8.90%)
Advance Fee Loans, Credit Arrangers (2.44%)

Rounding out the top ten were timeshare resales, the Nigerian money offers, internet auctions, friendship and sweetheart swindles and scholarships/grants.

On the face of it, you would think everyone knows about the Nigerian email scam by now. After all, it's been going on for at least 15 years. But as new people take up computers, email and the internet – mostly elders coming to the party later than many of us – there are new marks every day.

The FBI keeps a special web section with good information about what kind of flimflams are common to elders and how to avoid them. The reason so many elders are targeted, they say, is that

• Elder are likely to have nest eggs, to own their homes and have good credit

• Elders are less likely to report being tricked out their money because they are ashamed or don't know how to or are afraid revealing the crime will lead relatives to believe they are no longer competent

• people who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s are generally more trusting and polite so less likely to just hang up the phone.

The FBI's pages of fraud alerts and explanations are extensive covering, among many others, scams involving investments, health care and insurance, counterfeit drugs, telemarketing and internet fraud, anti-aging products and identity theft.

Like me, you are probably convinced that you are too sharp, too smart and too aware to fall victim to a scam. Maybe that's so and maybe it isn't. But you probably have older relatives and friends who could use some help in this regard and, too, young people – maybe your grandchildren – are almost as vulnerable to fraud as elders.

However much we may think we can spot anyone trying to cheat us, maybe it won't be as easy to do someday. I like to believe that if I educate myself now while my mind is still in good working order, I will be better armed if I slip a few cogs in the future.

Below are some of the best educational resources about the many forms of fraud, how to avoid them and how to report them if you or someone you know becomes a victim.

FBI Elder Fraud Alerts pages (see above)

Do No Call Registry
This can cut down the number of telemarketing calls you receive. You can sing up at this link or check that you are still registered correctly. Currently, there is an announcement at the top of the page that some scam artists asking for your information to sign you up for the service.

North American Securities Administrators Association
List of securities and insurance regulators for every U.S. state to file complaints plus a lot of educational material about financial fraud

National Consumer League Personal Finance Section
Good coverage of many fraud topics – see links in right sidebar

Identity Theft Resource Center
Pretty close to everything you will ever need to know about how to protect yourself from identity theft

Consumer Protection for Seniors from
A thorough list of links to consumer information and help for elders from a variety of government agencies

If Republicans in Congress were not refusing to fund the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that Elizabeth Warren fought so hard for, all this information could be in one place.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: A Woman Who Knows Where She is Going

Age and the U.S. Presidency

category_bug_politics.gif Surprisingly, enthusiasm among young voters for 76-year-old, Republican, presidential candidate, Ron Paul, is strong. In the New Hampshire primary on 3 January, 47 percent of the voters between the ages of 18 and 29 chose the Texas congressman.

Economist and blogger, Robert Reich, does not buy the Republican establishment's argument that Paul is popular with the young due to his economic positions:

”Baloney,” says Reich. “The young are flocking to Ron Paul because he wants to slice military spending, bring our troops home, stop government from spying on American citizens, and legalize pot...

“Paul is attractive to younger voters precisely because of positions he takes that are anathema to the vast majority of the Republican base, including almost all Tea Party Republicans.”

Whatever the reason, it has been rare in my lifetime that there is widespread youthful support for public officials in their eighth or ninth decade and if I ignore Paul's political positions, this is good to see.

Paul has little if any chance to gain the Republican nomination but for a blog that is all about what getting old is really like, his candidacy brings up an interesting question: is Ron Paul too old to be president? If elected, he would be 77 on inauguration day making him the oldest person ever to assume the nation's highest office.

Who better to ponder this question than us – people who are approaching Paul's age, are already as old as Paul and some who are older. But first.

Among Paul's rivals for the nomination, only Rick Santorum has raised the issue of age. Referring to foreign policy, Santorum said of Paul, "He's going to be 78 years old. How many 78-year-olds change their opinion?"

Santorum later fell back on what has become among Republicans the customary retraction following an embarrassing gaffe: it was a joke. But is it?

That almost always depends on who is saying it and under what circumstances. I was heartened by this comment in The New York Times from a young voter:

“'Does old make someone dumb?” asked Jeremy Spice, 23, of Fort Wayne, Ind. 'If people are looking at who could be president by their age, by their haircut, by their genuine smile, then they are looking for wrong reasons.'”

And it is a move in the right direction for elders that a “joke” about an elder opponent's age is considered politically incorrect enough to warrant a retraction.

Paul himself has countered the age question by issuing a challenge to his opponents:

“I’ve offered to ride a bicycle for 20 miles in Houston when the temperature is 100° and the humidity is 100% and I will go 20 miles with them and then we’ll decide who’s the youngest.”

None of the candidates has accepted yet. Back in November, Paul addressed the age question with a columnist for the Iowa newspaper, Daily Times Herald:

“Whatever happened to this notion that maybe with age you gain wisdom?” asked Paul. “That may still exist for all we know. And it’s my health that is important...”

Right on, Ron Paul. And no one should not be elected because his or her health might fail in the future. If we held to that proposition, we could not elect anyone of any age.

You probably know the many examples of elders as old and older than Paul who successfully held high public office:

Charles de Gaulle became president of France at age 79. Konrad Adenauer became chancellor of the German Republic until age 73 and remained in office until he was 87. Nelson Mandela was president of South Africa from age 76 to just a month or two shy of 81. And, of course, Michelangelo famously began work at St. Peter's Basilica at age 71.

Certainly, we cannot omit from this litany Ronald Reagan's famous retort about his age during a debate with Walter Mondale in 1984 when Reagan was 72:

As I like to remind readers from time to time, no person's mental and physical capacities can be predicted on years alone. We age at dramatically different rates depending on genes, health and plain dumb luck. Some at 50 are impaired; others at 80 and 90, too, remain capable.

Nevertheless, I wonder about most of us after about age 65 or 70. I knew long before I retired that my brain slows down enough by mid-afternoon that I never make important decision after 2PM or 3PM. That is more true today.

For the past several days, I have been installing many bookshelves (with more to arrive) and after assembling them, sorting books, humping boxes from the guest room to the new shelves, climbing a step stool to reach the top shelves many times – and

Much more tired than when I packed those 35-odd boxes of books nearly two years ago and more tired still than when I last unpacked them in my previous home in 2006.

I know from experience now that after three days of this kind of work while keeping up the blog and other normal chores and errands, I won't be back to full energy and stamina for another day or two. It is morning now and I feel confident of my mental capacity; that will not be so later today.

So I am conflicted on this question of age and the presidency. I want my president to be as quick and sharp as necessary whenever necessary. Even though Mr. Paul is healthy and physically active, I wonder if his mind gets as tired as regularly as mine. Because national and international emergencies and even crucial day-to-day events don't happen on a schedule.

Overall, I want to believe that Ron Paul or any candidate his age is as capable as anyone else. But I know me. And I know other people near my age. And I know that sometimes we are just not up to it today. A president doesn't have that choice.

Here is a simple, little, grossly unscientific poll for us. You might want to give us all some explanation for your vote in the comments below.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ellen Younkins: Some Music

A Reader's Question About News

A couple of days ago, an email arrived from longtime TGB reader and elderblogger Marion Vermazen, saying,

“I would love a blog post about which news shows you enjoy and watch regularly. Do you watch Fareed Zakaria?”

Marion did not convince me in her short note that what I watch and read is worth a blog post but then I realized that I'm curious about what news sources you use and it would be fun to compare notes.

Sort of - I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

To get Fareed Zakaria out of the way – I watched his Sunday TV show for several months after it began and enjoyed the guests he books. But the goal for me is always to cut down on news reading and watching time and since Mr. Zakaria is primarily concerned with foreign affairs, I stopped. I suppose if we get into another war (Iran?), I'll go back to watching him.

I organize most of my news consumption around my twin interests: aging and U.S. politics both of which, by their nature and my concern, also involve social issues.

My day begins with coffee at the computer, The New York Times, of course. It is the closest thing we have to a national newspaper and even with the myriad complaints that legitimately can be made about its reporting, it is still the best, most comprehensive and most fair, if not necessarily balanced, of the major papers, with some excellent beat reporters.

I glance at Washington Post headlines and occasionally read its opinion page, but the paper so often mixes opinion within news stories that I ignore most of it.

But let me get to Marion's exact question – what news do I watch (or not).

It has been years since I last tuned in any of the network evening news broadcasts. With the internet breaking news all day, they can't tell me anything new and they don't deal in opinion about the news so they have become irrelevant for me, a waste of time.

Mostly, I get hard news and facts from the internet, a variety of sources. I use television for perspective and context – that is, opinion and discussion.

I keep a small television set next to my desk in the living room and usually turn on MSNBC at about 4PM for Chris Matthews while I'm doing other things. There is a lot to argue against with Matthews but I like his enthusiasm for Washington politics and enjoy some of his regular pundits – Ron Reagan among them.

I stop what I'm doing to pay closer attention when there is an issue or guests I care about or I sometimes click over to Fox News because I keep telling myself I should listen to the opposition. But the presenters there are so deeply stupid and superficial that to stick around would rot my brain.

It needs to be noted that for cable television, west coast residents like me are second-class citizens. Chris Matthews opens his program every day by saying, “Good evening”, when it's only 4PM because it is 7PM where he is in Washington, D.C. (Actually, that 4PM show is a rebroadcast which originally airs at 2PM Pacific time, 5PM eastern.)

Other people I watch regularly or spotcheck during the week are Reverend Al Sharpton, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell – all on MSNBC. (Several months ago, I gave up CNN which I had watched only now and then anyway.)

I've gone off Maddow in the past month or two. Have you noticed that she drones on forever without getting to a point?

Whatever her topic, she finds it necessary to regurgitate everything she ever learned about it whether it applies to the current news or not and her rat-a-tat-tat delivery of irrelevant information exhausts me without providing useful insight. So I don't watch as often as I once did.

Al Sharpton is a – well, sharp, old pol. What he lacks in television presence he makes up in subtle and sometimes cunning political insights that many reporters don't take notice of. And Lawrence O'Donnell is smart, smart, smart. I particularly like his (as with Matthews) insider government knowledge from having worked as a Congressional aide.

As I mentioned above, I've given up on Zakaria and also on most Sunday political television not necessarily because I don't like it but I want more time away from both politics and aging and those Congress people they book mostly sit there and lie to us – amusing, but not when I'd rather be doing something else. And on the rare occasional anything beyond the party line is said, it is reported elsewhere.

However, I have a new news crush. Since September, Chris Hayes has been hosting Up on MSNBC on Saturday and Sunday mornings. He is young, engaging, compelling, whip smart and immensely likable.

Hayes, just 32 years old, is also editor-at-large for The Nation magazine and before being given his own show, frequently appeared on or substituted for Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell, Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann before he left MSNBC.

He is the freshest voice on news television right now, obviously curious about all things political with a broad and often deep knowledge of the topics he chooses. His guests range from the usual suspects to some surprises from outside the punditry business who have a different spin on politics and government.

At the end of each show, Chris and each of his guests tell us what they know now that they did not know a week ago. It's a fun idea but also useful in pinpointing what happened in the past few days that is more than noise and actually adds to our knowledge or understanding.

If you live on west coast, you have be dedicated to watch Chris Hayes' show live. It begins at 4AM on Saturdays and 5AM on Sundays. I wake early so I usually see a few minutes of Saturday and most of Sunday.

Or, if you have a DVR, you could record it. And you can watch full episodes online at the Up with Chris Hayes website.

Television is, however, the least of my news consumption. Most is print/internet where I have about 40 to 50 daily or weekly feeds and newsletters and a dozen Google Alerts.

If you think that's excessive, you're right and no, I don't keep up with them all and I've actually deleted a few in the past couple of weeks. Maybe I'll get it down to a manageable number soon.

Now it's your turn. What do you watch and where else do you get your news.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Food in China

ELDER MUSIC: Some Classical Couth

PeterTibbles75x75This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

Well, after a month of dead musicians, silly Christmas music and my waffling on about what I collected 40 years ago, it’s time for a bit of couth. Some fine (and one just so so piece of) music. Don’t worry, I’ll be back to normal next week.

I'm not a religious person, indeed, I consider myself an atheist. However, I will say that GABRIEL FAURE's Requiem is a wonderful piece of music. It's nearly up there with those of Mozart, Brahms and Verdi.

Gabriel Faure

He wasn't commissioned to write this work He said it was "composed for nothing…for fun, if I may be permitted to say so". It may have been due to the death of his father in 1885. Some say it was for his mother's death two years later, however, he had already begun it by then.

It came out in dribs and drabs, initially as a work in five movements he called "un petit Requiem". He later added the "Hostias" and expanded the Offertory. Still later the "Libera Me" was added. In about 1900 he reworked it for full orchestra, the version that was given its premier that year.

He originally wrote it for a chamber orchestra and both versions are regularly performed these days.

Here we have the Sanctus and Pie Jesu from the Requiem. It sounds as if I know what I’m talking about but I’m just reading the back of the CD. Somewhere in there we have the wonderful Cecilia Bartoli and the excellent Bryn Terfel.

♫ Faure - Requiem (3, 4)

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF (or Rachmaninov or any other spelling variation you'd like) was born in Semyonovo, in northwest Russia.

Sergei Rachmaninoff

His mother gave him the odd piano lesson and his grandfather brought in an actual teacher from St Petersburg when he showed real talent. Even as a youngster, he demonstrated great skill in composition as well.

While still a student he met Tchaikovsky who became a bit of a mentor to him and he asked Sergei to write a piano transcription of a suite from his Sleeping Beauty ballet. Pyotr died soon after and Sergei wrote a trio in his memory.

Sergei was often inflicted with writer's block and he'd often go for several years without writing anything, then he'd come up with some excellent piece of music. Sounds like bipolar disorder to me.

He is most famous these days for his piano works and more particularly, his piano concertos, and it's part of one of those we have today. This is the second movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op 18.

♫ Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No 2 (2)

EDWARD ELGAR was born in Lower Broadheath in England.

Edward Elgar

His father was a piano tuner and later set up a music shop that sold instruments and musical scores, so young Eddie was always surrounded by music

Although he had some lessons on piano and violin as a youngster, he was largely self-taught, at lease initially. He pretty much borrowed all the books from the library on music theory and composition and worked his way through them all.

He learned German as he wanted to attend the Leipzig Conservatory, however, his folks couldn't afford to send him there. He said later that it was the best thing that happened to him; he'd escaped the musical dogmatism of the school.

He wrote some fine compositions – The Enigma Variations, The Dream of Gerontius, Pomp and Circumstance Marches, several symphonies and concertos of various kinds. He was the finest English composer since Mr. Handel (or Purcell if you don't go along with interlopers).

However, his works are seldom played outside his own country. This is a shame. In my small way, I will rectify that just a bit. This is the third movement from his Cello Concerto in E minor, Op 85 with the great Jacqueline du Pré playing the cello.

♫ Elgar - Cello Concerto Op 85 (3)

I have been a bit naughty about ROBERT SCHUMANN in several of the columns I've written.

Robert Schumann

I never have liked him much. However, just yesterday I was listening to the radio and there was a piano concerto. Ooh, that's good, I thought.

I was a bit puzzled though. It wasn't Mozart, it wasn't quite Schubert, not Beethoven or Haydn either. I wondered who it was. Well, knock me over with a feather, when it was announced at the end, it was Schumann. Even more amazing, by a piece of synchronicity, I discovered that I actually had it.

I was looking for a piece by Grieg for this column and there it was on the same CD. I had never played it; I'd always just programmed the Grieg. Well, you live and learn.

Now that I have your attention, I'm not going to play any of that concerto as the movements are far too long. However, I wondered if I had any more of him. Okay, I'm lying to you because I knew I did.

As with that one, there are other works of his on CDs with other composers I prefer and this time they are vocal items. One, especially I like as it has the late, great Kathleen Ferrier singing his songs (as well as those by Brahms). She can sing anything and make it sound good.

Kathleen Ferrier

I'm going for one of those. This is Du Ring am meinem Finger. I don't speak German, but I think I know what we're talking about here.

♫ Schumann - Du Ring am mainem Finger

EDVARD GRIEG was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1843.

Edvard Grieg

His mum was a piano teacher and taught young Edvard to play the instrument when he was six. He wrote his first composition when he was nine. Later, his folks were urged by a family (musical) friend to send him to Leipzig Conservatory. Edvard disliked the discipline there but he passed with flying colors.

Franz Liszt had heard of his work and asked to meet him. They met in Rome and Franz was very impressed with the young man's compositions, to such an extent that he played the piano at the premier of his piano concerto. Edvard thought Franz played it too fast.

The playwright, Henrik Ibsen, asked Edvard if he'd compose some incidental music for his play Peer Gynt. Eddie readily agreed and these enduring pieces are some of the most popular, not only of his music, but of any composer.

So, I'll go along with that. This is the first part of his Peer Gynt Suite No 1. This will bring a smile to your face on a Sunday morning, or any morning.

♫ Greig - Peer Gynt Suite No 1 (1)

EDOARD-VICTOIRE-ANTOINE LALO was born in Lille in France in 1823. Imagine writing that first name on a form.

Edoard-Victoire-Antoine Lalo

He studied at that city's conservatory and later at the one in Paris. He joined a local quartet playing viola and second violin, but not at the same time I imagine.

Eddie married an opera singer and she piqued his interest in that and he composed several of those. They weren't well received as they were a bit too “progressive” and we can't have that sort of thing.

One of these (Fiesque) didn't have its premier until a couple of years ago. He switched to writing chamber pieces and orchestral works as well as music for violin and piano. He really didn't taste success until he was in his fifties when his violin concerto struck a chord (sorry) with the public.

His works for cello, both concertos and sonatas, are especially fine. Here is part of one of them, the second movement of the Sonata for Cello and Piano.

♫ Lalo - Cello Sonata (2)

PERCY GRAINGER was a very strange person.

Percy Grainger

He was close to his mum. Indeed, he was very, very close to his mum. So much so that I won't go into any further details on this nice website. He was also fond of interesting practices that you only find on those "oh, I accidentally found this" websites, or so I'm told. We won't go there either.

He was probably the fittest composer ever. However, he did rather go over the top in that regard. Instead of driving or taking a train between gigs, he liked to run. We're talking mega-marathons. He was a vegetarian who was not particularly fond of vegetables.

Percy thought that the musical establishment didn't take him seriously as he didn't write any symphonies, concertos, sonatas, string quartets (or any sort of quartets or the like), operas or anything other else in such genres.

He wasn't a radical in the mode of Charles Ives or John Cage, although some his piano works are quite challenging. I don't like to side with establishment, but in this case I tend to agree with them.

Percy was born in Brighton (that's a suburb of Melbourne, the next one over from where I live) and when he was five, his dad took a sea cruise and never returned.

His mum took him to Europe in his teens where he studied music. At the outbreak of the first great unpleasantness he went to America. He eventually became an American citizen. You can have him.

He was fond of adapting folk songs and this is probably his most famous composition, Country Gardens.

♫ Grainger - Country Gardens

INTERESTING STUFF: 14 January 2012

IT TAKES A CAT... know how to puncture human pomposity. We could put this one to good use on the Republican presidential campaign trail.

Having spent the past couple of days assembling 14 feet of bookcases six feet tall and unpacking dozens of boxes of books, shelving is at the forefront of my mind right now.

I like these a lot plus they demonstrate my lifelong decorating solution: fill a room with books and you don't need to worry about color coordination.

UPDATE: These are NOT my bookshelves. The photo, which was unattributed, caught my attention - probably because that is what I am spending my time with these days. Sorry if I was unclear above.

Interesting bookshelves

The British government has just released previously protected census data from the year 1911. Heads of households who filled out the census form had some interesting ideas about what should be listed in the column headed “ailments and infirmities” of the people under his roof.

”The entries, given for the most part by people who would have had no medical knowledge, are often amusing, with some of the more unusual health conditions including old age, voteless, bald and being short of cash.

“A less politically correct age is apparent in the use of language - with 'lunatic and 'imbecile' both occurring in the top five most common ailments, along with 'feeble-minded.' “One record, written by John Underwood from Hastings, East Sussex, describes his children as 'quarrelsome,' 'stubborn,' 'greedy,' 'vain' and 'noisy' while he records himself as 'bad-tempered and his wife as suffering from a 'long tongue.'”

The report is a hoot. You can read more here.

There's a overload of cute in this video and besides having been shown on television, more than a million people have viewed it on YouTube. Doesn't matter; three-year-old Lua is a charmer.

According to, for the past hundred years, the Bavarian town of Mitterfirmiansreut has built a snow church to commemorate a 1911 snowstorm that left people stranded and unable to travel for Christmas mass.

Snow Church

For this year's snow church, architect Alfons Doeringer gathered almost 50,000 cubic feet of snow to create the domed walls and interior of this snow church. The front steeple rises 62 feet in packed snow, and the entire building is 85 feet long and 36 feet wide.

You can read about it and see a slide show here.

In last week's Interesting Stuff we had cow jazz. This week it's three guitars accompanied by a tractor – yes, a tractor - in Sweden playing Sweet Georgia Brown and Bye Bye Blues. It's a whole lot better than you would guess from the description. (Hat tip to Nikki of Nikki's Place)

I'm not sure if this is supposed to make us elder folks feel better about memory lapses or what. But according to a British study of 7700 civil servants over a 10-year period, our brains begin to fail us as early as age 45.

”A deterioration in the memory and thinking powers of the oldest volunteers might be expected, but in fact the researchers...found that the brains of even the youngest were already on the slide.

“Over the decade, there was a 3.6% decline in the mental reasoning of men and of women aged 45 to 49. The process appeared to have speeded up in the older age groups. Men aged 65 to 70 have a decline of 9.6% while women fared a little better, at 7.4%.”

You can read more here if you remember to click the link.

I am forever delighted at how human-like our furry friends can be.

Undoubtedly, some of you have cat stories to match that dog teaching a baby to play catch, but I think this video expresses well the basic attitude of most cats. They're just good a camouflaging it when it suits their purposes.

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.

Elder Treasure, Bill Moyers Returns


Moyers & Company from on Vimeo.

This weekend, 77-year-old Bill Moyers returns with his new program, Moyers & Company, on public television stations. I don't recall when I last looked forward to a show with such anticipation as I do with this one. I expect it, as has always been so with Moyers, to be an intense learning experience.

Moyers stands alone. He is the only interviewer on television who does not seek the superficial soundbite from his guests, who does not cut them off in mid-sentence or -thought nor does he tell guests the answer he is looking for with the wording of his questions as most other political interviewers do.

Instead, he allows guests to thoroughly explain their theses as he probes with exacting questions for more information, more detail, more of their knowledge giving us, the audience, the most enlightening and substantive hour of learning on all of TV.

Moyers is returning to television with a show he says is, as in the past, political but not partisan:

"Journalism has long been for me a continuing course in adult education. Given what's happening in this country, it's time to sign up for more classes.

"The lack of civility and common sense that has paralyzed our democracy, the vast economic and social inequality that sends both left and right raging into the streets, the corrosive influence of money in politics - we're in a tailspin with little hope for a course correction from our elected leadership or corporate-dominated media.

"The need for voices of reason, simple and eloquent, has rarely been stronger. Those voices, whether they be from artist or social critic, philosopher or poet, historian or physicist, can bring us truth, inspiration, even hope.

"So I'll be reaching out in this new series to people engaged in the trials and errors of democracy, who have tested their ideas against experience, and who know that the health of our body politic is everybody's business. They help us see the world anew, and to make informed choices."

Ordinarily, I would save this story for Interesting Stuff on Saturday, but I don't want it to get lost among the trivial. The topic of Moyers' premiere show is how Washington, D.C. made the rich richer at the expense of the middle class.

His guests are Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, the authors of Winner Take All Politics and Moyers will comment on the Occupy movement.

To find out when and on what channel Moyers & Company will be broadcast in your area, click here and fill in the requested information.

There is this note at Moyers' website: “Watch this space on Friday for the premiere episode of Moyers & Company, in which Bill explores how America’s gross inequality is no accident...”

I don't know if that means the program will available on that web page today but this is the link for you in case that's so.

Meanwhile, here is Moyers' most excellent appearance on Stephen Colbert's show earlier this week. Don't miss this; both men are brilliant in it.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marvin Waldman: The Magic of Chicken Fricassee

Maple Syrup and Senator Bernie Sanders


category_bug_politics.gif When I was a little girl, a ritual holiday gift in my family was maple sugar candy. Mmmmm, nothing quite as yummy as that and it came in a variety of shapes – still does: maple leaves were common but trees and Santas too at Christmas time and bunnies in the spring.

It was a favorite sweet then, and now that I'm an old woman, it is a flavor treat I actually crave from time to time – can't get it out of my head until I track down a small box of those candies.

Due to weight control issues, I eat pancakes or waffles only once or twice a year but I keep “pure maple syrup” in the house to use by the tablespoon or two in some salad dressings and in marinades sometimes for shrimp, salmon and other dishes.

When I lived in Maine, the price of maple syrup was not nearly as heart-attack inducing as it is here in Oregon, a continent away from the most northern northeast states where maple sugar/syrup is widely produced. But the syrup doesn't go bad in the refrigerator and with the infrequent, small amounts I use it, the cost is tolerable.

All of which is prelude to this:

The Republican primary is not the only reason New Hampshire has been in the news during these first days of January 2012. This may not have made the front page of The New York Times or turned up on network and cable news, but a warning about the decline and possible disappearance of maple syrup has been posted online at Grist, Mother Jones, The Atlantic and the website of Boston public television station, WGBH, among other locations along with a five-minute YouTube video.

The subject of the video is 65-year-old Martha Carlson, a former teacher and a maple farmer in New Hampshire for 30 years, she recently added researcher to her skills. She says there may not be any maple syrup by 90 years from now:

It's not just Ms. Carlson. Other scientists back up her findings of a shortened season and reduced sugar production by the trees, attributing it to climate change:

“[Professor of forestry and botany at the University of New Hampshire, Barrett Rock], says Martha Carlson’s work bolsters the evidence that the sugar maple is responding at least in part to climate change - but what’s surprising is how quickly it’s happening.

“'At 68, I didn’t think I would live long enough to see the impact of a changing climate. But I’m beginning to think living another 10-15 years, I will see some significant changes, and as Martha’s work has suggested, we’re already seeing significant changes,' Rock said.”

Please keep the potential demise of maple syrup in mind as you listen to the Republicans deny climate change during the coming year's campaign.

All of which is prelude to this:

Senator Bernie Sanders represents one of the biggest maple sugar producing states, Vermont. Yesterday, he sent out an email to his subscriber friends which began thusly [emphasis is mine]:

”I know that many of you are deeply concerned about the economy, health care, education, global warming and the environment, Social Security and Medicare, civil liberties, war and peace and the national debt. But here's an issue that's even more important because it encompasses all of these issues - and much more.”

The senator is referring to the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling and his constitutional amendment introduced a month ago in Congress to overturn that decision. Bernie's email continues:

”Short-term, we must do everything we can to support those progressive candidates in 2012 who are fighting for the middle class and the values we believe in. Long-term, we must overturn Citizens United and fight for real campaign finance reform which limits the power of big money.

“Your pledge of support today will show the Big Money interests that while they may have unlimited sums of money, we have something more important - the power of the people.”

Senator Sanders is asking that we join him, Democracy Now, Daily Kos and Democracy for America in this support. With the help of as many people as possible maybe we can overturn Citizen United AND elect enough of the right people to make changes that will save maple syrup.

Okay, I'm being silly about that last thing, but please do go sign Bernie's pledge. And let us note too that it is two elders - a 65-year-old maple farmer/researcher and a 70-year-old senator who are taking the lead on these crucial issues.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: The Tree Hugger