How Spending Changes in Retirement


When James Doolin who played Star Trek chief engineer, Scotty, died in 2005, his will specified his desire to have his ashes sent into space. Two attempts failed for various reasons.

Finally, last Tuesday,

”The unmanned Falcon 9 blasted off at 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT) from here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, carrying the Dragon capsule filled with cargo bound for the International Space Station.

“Also packed aboard the rocket was a secondary payload carrying remains from 308 people, including Doohan and Mercury program astronaut Gordon Cooper, according to ABC News and Reuters.”

Here is a video from NASA of the liftoff. Beautiful.

Surely you remember when former Wyoming senator and cat food commission co-chair Alan Simpson referred to Social Security as a “milk cow with 310 million tits,” among his other – uh – colorful descriptions of people he doesn't like, mostly old ones.

In April, he reacted to a flyer, produced by the California Alliance for Retired Americans, against his deficit reduction plan. From his letter to the organization on his official ex-senator stationery [pdf]:

”What a wretched group of seniors you must be to use the faces of the very young people that we are trying to save, while the 'greedy geezers' like you use them as a tool and a front for your nefarious bunch of crap. You must feel some sense of shame for shoveling this bullshit."

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) president and CEO, Max Richtman, issued, in part, this response [pdf]:

”I know this letter is likely an exercise in futility. However, I'm writing to you today with one simple request – please cease and desist with the mean-spirited, denigrating and hate-filled personal attack on America's seniors.

“Sure, some in the press still love the profanity laden poison-pen letters and insulting soundbites, but it only denigrates the serious policy work many honest and caring people on both sides perform each and every day...”

Former Senator Potty Mouth is the sort of elder who gives the rest of us a bad name.

After her visit here in Oregon Norma, Peter Tibbles' assistant musicologist, moved on to the east coast of North America and sent me this postcard from Montreal:

Quebec Postcard

The description on the card says: "Designed in 1999, this 5-story, 3-dimensional, trompe l'oeil painting tells the story of Quebec depicting the seasons and showing many famous quebecois artists and writers."

As I've indicated on these pages in the past, I love being fooled by all forms of optical illusion – most particularly, trompe l'oeil – so I tracked down more information about this wall painting online.

You can see larger photographs of it and close-ups of many details of the painting at the website of Cite Creation which has made many such paintings on buildings throughout the world.

And here is someone's short tourist video of the Quebec trompe l'oeil:

Many months ago, my online friend Cynthia Friedlob interviewed me about “reinventing yourself” for her podcast, Experience Talks Online. If you're here before 8AM Pacific time today, you can read about the interview at the podcast website.

There is a link on that page to the Listen Page where the program will be available after 8AM or, here's the direct link to that page.

And look at this terrific bonus for readers of The Elder Storytelling Place. One of that blog's newest contributors, Lia Hirtz, is also interviewed on the show.

Thank you, Cynthia, for an interview that was a pleasure.

I think one of the coolest perks of being president of the United States is that you don't have to leave home to see the best musicians in the world. Pretty much anyone you ask shows up.

Obviously, it's an exclusive, invitation-only event when these performers appear at the White House but the videos, now posted regularly for the rest of us, are a good substitute. This is Stevie Wonder from the evening he was awarded the Gershwin Prize on 26 February 2009.

You can watch full concerts or selected performances at this White House website.

I ignore all sports so I had never heard of Sophie Gustafson until the Nikki, who blogs at From Where I Sit, sent this video to me last month.

Sophie is a professional golfer from Sweden who, earlier this year, was given a Ben Hogan Award from the Golf Writers Association of America. She also has a severe stutter which, in the past, kept her from doing media interviews.

This time, however, she taped the speech for playback at the award ceremony. It is a beautiful exercise in courage and an inspiration to others, particularly kids with her affliction.

In Needham, Massachusetts, there is a company called Vita Needle Factory. It employs a lot of old people – the median age of workers there is 74 and at least one is a centenarian.

”Vita Needle’s business model is based on a workforce of part-timers,” writes marketing expert Erin Read Ruddick. “That means elders and teenagers and everyone in between. The factory has workers born in almost every decade of the last century.

“At the North Hill program last week, you could see the obvious friendship and respect. And you could hear them laughing frequently, together, with humor that cut across the ages.”

The “program” Read refers to was the recent launch of a new book, Retirement on the Line, by anthropologist Caitrin Lynch based on her five-year study of “eldersourcing” at the Needham needle factory. Employing elders is a win-win for the company and the workers:

”Many of the workers told Prof. Lynch that outside of Vita Needle they are unrecognized or even invisible. Many old people feel that way. 'Old people just want to matter,' said Lynch.”

There needs to be a lot more of this kind of information about elder workers. You can read more here.

I started my first job in television as a lowly production assistant at the late-night Dick Cavett Show in December 1971. During my first week of employment, I witnessed up-close-and-personal a program that would become infamous.

It involved an ongoing feud between writers Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer. Both men were booked on the show that night along with Janet Flanner, the well-known writer, under the pen-name Genet, of the Letter from Paris column that appeared in New Yorker magazine in those days.

You don't get that much intellectual star power on today's late night talk shows and it certainly was a high glitterati/literati moment. Or, rather, was supposed to be.

None of these people, including Cavett, was a shrinking violet and the program turned into a deliciously vicious exercise in high and low wit that I doubt has been achieved on a talk show since that night, 2 December 1971. Here is a short clip:

A few years ago, Cavett wrote about the show in his occasional New York Times column. It's worth a read.

Nothing to know here. Just watch their wonderfulness.

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.


Love the kittens, and I will come back to see the Cavett clip. He was (and still is) my favorite.

I don't know Cavett of course in the UK, although I recognise the name. I'm always unsure about Mailer. He always seemed to me to be a Oliver Reed of a character balanced between the drunken antics in this show and sheer brilliance.

I don't know if he talks about Vidal in 'Advertisements for Myself', I haven't read it in years. I know he mentions Capote and in generally approving terms, although he can't resist a dig at his voice. In general though the patrician tones of Vidal were always likely to upset someone like Mailer.

I surely am glad I came back!! Cavett really put that snob in his

I applaud Sophie Gustafson for her courage in making that speech and letting the World see how badly she stuttered and how well she has accepted that challenge and overcome it.

My brother also had a severe stutter and it didn't hold him back one bit in a very successful career which included verbal contact with many people every day.

He became a master of synonyms.When he attempted to say a word and couldn't get it out he would quickly switch to another word with the same meaning.

We always said that Bob was a walking Roget's Thesaurus.I'm sure Sophie has that talent also. It is a sort of compensation to help a stutterer get through all the verbal encounters he/she has in a day.

You go, Sophie. I think your only handicap is on the golf course.

Thanks for sharing the Dick Cavett clip. I must confess I never liked Norman Mailer after seeing him on TV, but, of course, never having personally known him I cannot honestly judge. But it was fun reading the entire interview and seeing him put in his place.

It was a sweet pleasure to see the birth of the litter of kittens.

Interesting stuff indeed!!!!

I went straight over and listened to your interview. It was brilliant and I applaud you.

What got my attention is how Scottie got beamed up -- and how can I do the same???? One of my favorite lines is: Be me up, Scottie -- there's no intelligent life on this planet and I seem to be using it a lot more. I think I'd like that a lot! What fun for my grandsons to look at the stars and ask, "Where's Grandma!!!"

What I love about Scottie's last wish and the others who went with him is that Carl Sagan once noted we all began as "star stuff." Not believing in heaven or an afterlife, I'm quite content knowing one day I will again be star stuff. I may not get there as spectacularly as Scottie, but I will get there.

Thank you for the terrific interview for Experience Talks Online, Ronni! I hope you and your readers enjoy listening to it.

Thanks to you and Nikki for showing Sophie's Golf Writers Association of America acceptance speech. It was definitely a display in courage on Sophie's part.

Thank you for sharing your excellent interview. I enjoyed hearing the other two people on your episode, as well.

I had no prior knowledge of Sophie Gustafson, but what an inspiring and well-done acceptance speech. She is a remarkable, courageous young woman.

And the kittens. There are few things that tug at my heart as much as cats of any age, but you had me at "beautiful newborn kittens". So sweet.

I don't recall this Cavett interview, but I'll read more about it. I do sometimes miss the Gore Vidal/William F. Buckley political battles of wit/ego.

All great posts today, Ronni. Thank you.

Simpson's mouth clearly does wonders in helping the image of Congress.

Interesting to hear Sophie speak through her stutter. Wonder if she's content with the stutter, or if she's engaged in interventions? FWIW "affliction" is not typically a word best used for this and other differences -- it's a matter of language terms. :-)

I try always to view the White House Concerts on PBS -- and enjoyed Stevie Wonder on this number.

I recall this Cavett interview. Wish we had more smart repartee in late night talk which is only time I watch talk. Doesn't seem to draw the audience the ratings people and advertisers want. With all the channels surely there could be just one with a host allowed to cater to such tastes.

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