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A 27-Year-Old Takes on the World of Elders – Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a young woman inquiring about the possibility of a story at Time Goes By about her company.

I generally don't write about commercial enterprises but I was intrigued with the 27-year-old entrepreneur, Marcie Rogo, who has spent the past two years developing her idea for private, secure websites that connect neighbors within individual 55-plus communities.

”...this market was being ignored when it came to online networking services,” Marcie explained. “Furthermore, they weren't being listened to.

“They didn't want public websites that could open them up to scamming. So I made something that could help people connect just with their neighbors, so that they could make plans to get offline and get together.”

The websites for the first two communities, Summerset in Brentwood, California, and Rossmoor in Walnut Creek, California, were launched in 2012 and more are being added. The are funded by the communities' management companies and are free to residents.

Here's a short video from the main page of Marcie's website, ConnectAround:

Marcie and I spent more than hour on the telephone and she was patient with all my questions about how her company operates. But as we talked, I became more interested in what she has been learning about old people and how she has had to adapt to working primarily with elders.

So I asked her to write a story from her 20-something perspective for Time Goes By about some of the differences she has discovered between her generation and mine.

Here is Part 1 from Marcie. I have made only the most minor edits in her copy, mostly for clarity, the reason for which will become evident in her story. (Part 2 will follow tomorrow.)


This is the biggest and most startling difference I’ve seen and I believe it stems from a generation of war and fear of nuclear bombs but moreso, a lack of knowledge about technology.

Many of my users thought that by having their emails, I could somehow acquire their credit card information and steal their identities; however, they are more than happy to have their physical addresses and phone numbers in the public phone book.

People went to such extremes as to write negative and mean things about me on their Yahoo! chat board which is, ironically, open to the public saying that I was going to take advantage of them and “buyers beware!”

The funny thing is, I wasn’t charging anything! There was nothing to buy!

This paranoia has been consistent between both of our communities. Everyone is very protective over each other and a new technology or service is resisted versus my generation where it is sought after.

My generation wants to be on the cutting edge, wants to have the latest service that makes their lives easier. We want apps and we want our apartment hunting process to be easy, to find the cheapest hotel and get the latest private car service that is the same price as a taxi.

Whatever it is, all it takes is one legit article or a friend using it and then we adopt! There is very little hesitation. I guess we’re just used to the fact that our privacy is forever doomed, that our information is forever on the internet, and that if we want to use this free amazing service we have to give up a bit of our information to do so.


In my generation, there is lots of free lunch! In the older generations, there is none.

Out of respect for the fact that people are on fixed incomes and this would limit adoption, I decided not to charge for my service.

This was a big marketing mistake! (We are still not charging but changed our marketing.) People thought I MUST be stealing something because nothing comes free. I must be scheming to take advantage of them, planning to sell their information or something of that nature.

The truth is, I’m jaded because basically all online services I use on a day-to-day basis are free or have a free version. I, like my peers, have come to expect this.

Now, starting a business myself, I wish this wasn’t the way the internet world worked, but it is – everything is free! There is a free lunch.

The only caveat is that you get annoying emails that you can put in your spam folder. That’s about it. So they have your birthday and gender. So what? This helps their data! To me, lunch is still free. To my users, it is definitely not.


This is a fun one. I definitely believe in looking sharp but I don’t have the tools or skills to do my hair like they do in Mad Men. Literally none of my friends know how to do our hair like that, and frankly do not have the time.

Being from L.A., my hair being a little frazzled is kind of in style. Also, in the “startup world” and “internet world” the more homeless you look, the more successful people think you are! People are casual. It’s not about the clothes you wear but rather the websites you make.

When I visit my communities, I used to tend to defer to the casual side but my lovely 80-plus-year-old community liaison pointed out my hair or my outfit or something that was wrong, kind of like a mother.

But I’m glad she did because I needed a reminder that dressing for this generation is a bit different.

[Part 2 is here.]

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Susan Gulliford: 'Tis (Still) the Season

ELDER MUSIC: Some Lesser Known Jazz Musicians

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.

Today we have a few lesser known jazz artists. Well, they’re lesser known to me, they may be household names in your abode.

Their degree of known-ness is irrelevant, however, as these are all really fine musicians and have something interesting to say (and play).

Jazz these days is a minority sport. Even the big names seem to be doing other things. The Marsalis brothers spend as much time playing classical music as jazz, Harry Connick Jnr seems to be playing New Orleans funk and Sarah Jones has veered into country music.

Diana Krall keeps the flag flying although she often plays with pop and rock musicians. Nothing wrong with that. Anyway, here’s what I have for you today.

CATHERINE RUSSELL seemed to be destined to be a jazz performer.

Catherine Russell

Her father played piano for Louis Armstrong and later led his own band. Her mother is a bass player, guitarist and singer. Catherine spent a long time as a backup singer but now she’s stepped out on her own.

She can wail like the best (or worst) of them and sigh like a lover. Here she is more in the latter mode. I Haven't Changed a Thing.

♫ Catherine Russell - I Haven't Changed A Thing

Helen Keane was a revered figure in the music business. She was an A&R person for a couple of record companies and she’s probably best known for guiding Bill Evans’s career from the time he was with Miles Davis until his death.

She recorded and guided many other jazz musicians and advised them on various aspects of their playing. One of those is ROGER DAVIDSON.

Roger Davidson

Helen’s support led to his first recording 20 years ago. Now, with his trio, he pays tribute to her with an album called “We Remember Helen.” Here is the title track.

♫ Roger Davidson Trio - We Remember Helen

By the look of the album cover, it appears to me that DOMINICK FARINACCI would rather liked to have been born a lot earlier, so that he could have participated in the jazz scene of the fifties.

Dominick Farinacci

Dom’s a trumpeter and flugelhorn player and is yet another graduate from Juilliard. He’s open to all influences and recently opened for rock guitarist Jeff Beck. Quincy Jones has lauded him as one of the up and coming young jazz players.

This is I Concentrate on You.

♫ Dominick Farinacci - I Concentrate On You

His new album finds ORRIN EVANS return to the classic piano trio mode.

Orrin Evans

Orrin was born in New Jersey and raised in Philadelphia. He returned to his home state to attend Rutgers University where he studied with the jazz pianist Kenny Barron. He later worked as a sideman in several bands before forming his own group.

Here is a really swinging (and short) version of A Brand New Day, a soul tune created by Luther Vandross.

♫ Orrin Evans - A Brand New Day

SUSIE ARIOLI hails from Canada - Montreal to be specific.

Susie Arioli

It was there she met guitarist Jordan Officer and the two of them are the backbone of a band they formed together. They also produce and arrange Susie’s albums.

Her singing style springs from such performers as Sarah Vaughan and Chet Baker but she’s made it her own. Here she sings Here's That Rainy Day. Besides Jordan on guitar, this track features some nice work by vibes player François Stevenson.

♫ Susie Arioli - Here's That Rainy Day

It’s not unusual for jazz musicians to play the pop music of their day. That’s always been a staple of the genre. JACKY TERRASSON does the same, only his day is now and the pop songs he plays are by such singers as Justin Bieber and Amy Winehouse. He also plays John Lennon and Sonny Rollins.

Jacky Terrasson

I led you somewhat astray as the track I’ve chosen, Jacky wrote himself. Jacky is almost a definition of cosmopolitan. He was born in Berlin of a French father and American mother. He grew up in Paris where he studied classical music, he later studied jazz at the Berklee College of music and these days on the rare times he’s not touring, he calls New York home. Or Paris. Or somewhere.

This is Try to Catch Me, a singularly appropriate title for a tune about him.

♫ Jacky Terrasson - Try To Catch Me

I’ve decided to play two by Jacky Terrasson because the styles are so different you’d hardly know it was the same performer. Here he is joined by singer CÉCILE SALVANT.


Cécile was born in Florida of a French mother and Haitian father. Like Jacky, she studied classical piano and also had voice training. Realising she didn’t have enough to do in her life she went to France to study law and also baroque vocal music at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory.

There’s a lot more to learn about her but she makes me feel inadequate so I’ll skip it. Here she is with Jacky’s band and Je te veux.

♫ Jacky Terrasson - Je te veux

Someone who is quite well known to me is DUKE ROBILLARD. I’ve always thought of him as a blues guitarist who sometimes dabbled in rock. However, he’s a really fine jazz guitarist as well.

Duke Robillard

On the album “Wobble Walkin’,” he brings along his bass player Brad Hallen and drummer Mark Teixeira from his blues band. Like Duke, they turn out to be fine jazz musicians as well and he lets them shine on this track, the old George and Ira Gershwin standard, They Can't Take That Away From Me.

♫ Duke Robillard - They Can't Take That Away From Me

VINCE JONES is quite well known here in Australia but I imagine that he’s not familiar to most readers of this column, unless you have a very good memory indeed.

Vince Jones

Vince is a trumpet and flugelhorn player and a singer in the Chet Baker mode. He lives on the edge of a national park and is a serious conservationist. He also teaches at the Australian National University as well as performing and recording.

Here he plays one of his own compositions, I Watch Myself.

♫ Vince Jones - I Watch Myself



DSTposterIn most of the United States, tonight is the night - time to change the clocks again – spring forward as they say. There is now so much daylight saving time that we're on “regular” time for only four months. We will not be changing the clock again until 3 November.

The poster image is from 1918 when Congress passed the Daylight Saving Time Act “to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United State.”


This stuff just knocks me out. When the National Gallery in Washington, DC held a giant exhibit of trompe l'oeil paintings and objects about ten years ago, I made a special, overnight trip from New York to see it and had a great time.

Today, the artist is John Pugh who we've featured before and he gets a lot of internet attention for his fool-the-eye sidewalk paintings. This week, Darlene Costner emailed some stills of Pugh's work on sides of buildings and I tracked down a video of some of them.


Republican lawmakers ideas about social issues get crazier and crazier.

Last Monday, an Iowa House subcommittee approved a bill that would make no-fault divorce illegal. State Representative Tedd Gassman supported the bill as a method to keep familities together. As Huffington Post reported:

”Speaking about his granddaughter, whose parents recently divorced, Gassman said, 'There's a 16-year-old girl in this whole mix now. Guess what? What are the possibilities of her being more promiscuous?'”

Is this dumber than Todd Akin's belief that victims of “legitimate” rape can't get pregnant?


Nominated this year for an Academy Award in the Documentary Short category, King's Point has been 10 years in the making. Director Sari Gilman got the idea for it when her grandmother moved to this Florida retirement community and over those years she followed five long-time residents.

They talk about love and loss and loneliness, and their longing for human connection is obvious. But “Nobody gets too close,” says one. “You're alone but not alone,” says another. Most of the others agree.

Mostly, it's a sad film but it leaves you with a lot to think about what growing old can and cannot be. Take a look:

You can find out more about King's Point here. It debuts next Monday, 11 March, on HBO at 9PM.


Writing at The Elder Storytelling Place recently, Susan Gulliford asked Where's the Paperboy? Well, I found one of them this week delivering The Winters Express in Winters, California (population 6,000).

”Mr. [Newt] Wallace, one of eight carriers for the paper...On foot, he briskly delivers to downtown Winters’s businesses the papers, which are filled with local stories like the creation of a new bridge over Putah Creek and the rising value of Yolo County crops.

“'I don’t hunt or play golf; I deliver papers,' Mr. Wallace said recently as he walked his route. 'I like delivering papers. I get to see the people I know.'”

Oh, one more thing: Mr. Wallace is 93 years old. Read more about him here.


John Starbuck of For a Dancer alerted me to this fascinating video that shows what wealth equality really looks like. Obvious and shocking all at once.


All in one. It is still only in prototype and no one knows if Fujitsu will actually produce this walking stick or even if it's really useful or not. Nevertheless, I liked hearing about it:

You can see more photos and read more here.


Most of the time, the Buzzfeed website is just too silly for this old woman. But they got me with this one – a series of photos with instructions for making cat stew.

First, you need to find a cat or two or more. According to Buzzfeed, you can harvest one like this:

Harvest a cat

After several more steps you finish with this lovely cat stew:

Cat stew

I'm pretty sure you need to see the whole series of photos to really appreciate it. I was laughing out loud (but I didn't let Ollie the cat see it.)


This video grabbed me by the heart. Before it, I didn't even know what a wombat looks like. Here's part of what the text at YouTube tells us:

”Douglas is an orphaned Wombat who was taken care of at a school camp...near Tallangatta in Victoria, Australia. This video is 3 years old so he was just a little baby...He was the best experience I've ever had with an animal!”

Here it is:

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.

When Elder Capabilities Wane

Recently, I was alerted to an episode of Monday Mornings, a new medical drama on the TNT television channel inspired by a novel from TV physician/reporter, Sanjay Gupta, who serves as executive producer of the series.

Although it appears (from my viewing of one episode) to be competently written, acted and produced, the show has gotten terrible reviews and may not last much longer. But that is neither here nor there today.

My interest concerns the latest episode titled, “The Legend and the Fall.” The story turns on a confrontation between Harding Hooten, the chief of surgery at fictional Chelsea General (played by Alfred Molina) and Arvin Wayne, the hospital's renowned brain surgeon (played by 88-year-old guest star Hal Holbrook).

Early in the episode, gloved and gowned Wayne walks into the wrong operating room on the wrong day expecting to lead a team doing a different kind of surgery than is scheduled.

This mistake and two others lead Wayne's colleagues to question the octogenarian's cognitive abilities and Hooten places Wayne in the hot seat during the weekly surgical review meeting. Here is a clip of that encounter:

I tried mightily to use the TNT embed code so you could watch the clip here, but unlike most other video sites, it will not play correctly. Please go watch it here or here and then come back for the rest of this post.

I love it when entertainment television takes a serious look at elder issues which this episode does.

What you don't learn from the clip is that Hooten is emotionally torn, loath to believe that the capabilities of his old friend and mentor are ebbing. On the other hand, Wayne's job is to wield sharp objects within the recesses of human brains so whatever Hooten's personal feelings, he must be objective.

Most of us are not brain surgeons but there are other skills that, if diminished, could harm others – driving being only the most obvious. We all know stories of the difficulties some adult children face when their aging parents become dangerous drivers but refuse to give up the keys.

You have heard it from me a zillion times – we age at dramatically different rates dependent on genes, health and dumb luck. Some people can lose cognitive ability at age 50; others continue to be competent at 90 and beyond. The difficulty – individually and as a society - is working out how to be fair to the fit and still keep people safe from those whose capabilities have declined.

That's what I like about such shows as “The Legend and the Fall” on Monday Mornings. They raise serious questions within the context of enjoyable entertainment while contributing to public awareness and conversation.

If you are interested, this episode is scheduled to be repeated on TNT on Saturday, March 9 at 12:30AM or you may be able to view it at the tntdrama website.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: Social Media - Thunder Road Style

Crabby Old Lady: The High Cost of Being Old

As you know by now, the chained CPI, about which Crabby Old Lady addressed President Barack Obama yesterday, uses a different calculation that would reduce future Social Security cost-of-living (COLA) increases.

Except for the fact that some extremely rich men including at least one billionaire, believe old people have too much money, Crabby cannot understand how the president or anyone else thinks old people are rolling in dough. To bore you with one of the same old numbers again, the average Social Security benefit is $1230 per month.

The fact is, our expenses go up every year, even those when there is no cost-of-living increase, and are always larger than the COLA.

This year, Social Security recipients were given a 1.7 percent COLA. As pitifully small as the monthly increase is, Crabby lost half of it immediately due to the $5.00 increase in the deduction for Medicare Part B coupled with, in Crabby's personal case, an increase in her Medigap premium.

Certainly she is not alone in this event nor in the other shocking increases in her monthly expenses at the start of 2013.

The cable bill shot up by $30 a month. This is television and most important, internet. There is no competitor. Crabby made more than a dozen – count them, more than 12 - telephone calls over three weeks or so to her provider, Comcast, to discuss changes that would be less expensive.

She always got a recording asking for name, number and time of day. She always provided the requested information. And she has never received a callback.

Crabby's homeowners association dues went up too, by $16 a month. And because Crabby has apparently been talking a lot more than in the past, she increased her number of minutes to avoid 25-cent per minute overage charges that nearly killed her two months in a row. So now it costs an additional $12.

No doubt you have your own versions of these calculations.

Medical costs cannot be ignored – elders spent more on that than younger people. A Kaiser Family Foundation report quoted in The New York Times last fall

”...found that people with Medicare spent 16 percent of their income on out-of-pocket medical expenses in 2006 (an average $4,241 per Medicare member), up from 12 percent in 1997.”
Note that is 16 percent for out-of-pocket expenses which does not include premiums.

Has anyone noticed grocery prices lately? The least expensive jar of honey (tiny) a couple of week ago was more than $5 and Crabby saw a one-pound bunch of asparagus for $7.

So just on expenses Crabby can ennumerate, rather than estimate, the increases surpassed her 2013 COLA by 53 percent. Crabby knows several readers with similar or worse outcomes this year.

Now that the “sequester” is in force, the political chattering classes have moved on to the potential government shutdown on 27 March. The House passed legislation yesterday to avert it and for once, a debacle for the country may not go down to the wire.

But it has opened up discussion of the the budget among the punditry.

Crabby Old Lady pays attention to what the media, especially those based in Washington, D.C., say because Washington is a closed society – government, the media, lobbyists and the corporate CEOs who are buddies with these folks listen only to one another.

In the past week, those pundits have jacked up their number of references to “entitlements” and what they mostly have to say are variations on these two observations: “When is Congress going to get serious about cutting entitlements?” and “Everyone knows the only thing that will save the economy is to cut entitlements.”

Left or right on the political spectrum, pundits believe this stuff as though it has been handed down on tablets from Sinai. In one instance early this week, Crabby heard from a pundit show host that elders get Medicare for free. This is a common belief in the media and throughout non-elder America.

For the record, all workers pay into Medicare their entire working lives. Part A of Medicare is free. Part B costs, currently, $104.90 per month. Then there are Medigap (supplemental) premiums and Part D, prescription drug premiums which can range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. And, too, there are co-pays for medical services.

And, unlike the Veterans Administration, Medicare does not cover most hearing, dental and eye procedures. Elders bear the entire cost for those.

For Crabby, Medicare premiums take up 14 percent of her income. She's lucky – that's cheap compared to many elders.

The handful of Washington people who actually understand how the Social Security and Medicare work are not pundits. They are four or five legislators who occasionally appear on pundit shows of the political left variety - Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alan Grayson among them.

But because they appear infrequently and irregularly and are stuck with the usual three-minute segment that makes everyone at the desk or on the panel sound a lot like a Twitter conversation, no real information about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid passes out to viewers.

So in the tank for cutting entitlements is the general pundity that most of America will assume, as the public discussion accelerates, that cuts to social programs are necessary which, of course, you and Crabby know is nowhere near true.

So, it's not enough that elders' costs increase every year over and above whatever pittance of a Social Security COLA is granted. Everyone who has a Washington soapbox and therefore power to influence outcomes is hellbent on making it worse – that is, as awful as possible for elders.

Crabby Old Lady cannot come up with a single useful thing to do to stop any of this from happening. She is furious at the ignorance and stupidity of the punditry and frightened for all elders.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Women's Clubs

Dear Mr. President: Chained CPI

[EDITORIAL NOTE: The first in an occasional series of letters from Crabby Old Lady to the president about issues of interest to elders.]

Crabby Old Lady wonders if you have any idea how panicked she gets every time you mention chained CPI. Here's what your spokesman, Jay Charney, said last Friday at the daily press briefing that made her knees buckle: [the emphasis is Crabby's]:

”[The president] has put forward a technical change as part of a big deal - and it’s on the table - that he put forward to the Speaker of the House. The Speaker of the House, by the way, walked away from that deal...

“But as part of that deal, the technical change in the so-called CPI is possible in his own offer as part of a big deal.”

Oh, Mr. President, this is no minor technical change. It takes money out of current Social Security beneficiaries' pockets. Did you get that part? CURRENT beneficiaries' – retired people no longer working who have no way to make up the difference.

Not even Simpson/Bowles, Pete Peterson and Paul Ryan – people whose most fervid dream is to kill Social Security - have gone that far (and Crabby has no doubt they are happy to let you take the flak for it instead of them).

Further, with House Speaker John Boehner so far rejecting your chained CPI offer, you, sir, have become the biggest threat to old people in America.

Mr. President, is it possible you do not understand what chained CPI is or how it will affect elders for the rest of our lives?

Crabby Old Lady suspects you may not because the alternative is for her to believe you think it's a good idea for millions of old people who barely get by now to live on even less money in the future.

Because it would panic Crabby even more than the phrase “chained cpi” does to think the second explanation is true, she has here for you a short video from Representative Keith Eliison showing, in language and graphics a fifth grader can understand, what chained CPI is:

Does that make it more clear for you, Mr. President? Chained CPI means a lot of old people will skip meals and medication that they barely afford now.

You and your man, Jay Carney, talk a lot about “shared sacrifice” but how much more can elders give? Let Crabby cite you some facts:

ITEM: Social Security is a closed system. It is not possible for it to contribute to the deficit. Not one penny. You're a smart guy; you must know that. Right? If so, how could you include Social Security in any kind of budget package? If not, I am ashamed of you.

Oh, and by the way, Social security is not – as you keep calling it – an “entitlement.” Americans pay for it out of their paychecks every week of every year of every decade they are employed. It is not welfare. So please start calling Social Security what it is, an earned benefit.

ITEM: Now. The average Social Security payment is $1230 a month. Do you know that? And don't forget that $100 comes off the top of that benefit for Medicare Part B so it's really only $1130 per month – not even $300 a week for rent/mortgage, utilities, food, medical expenses and everything else.

And that's average, that $1100. A lot of old people have less.

ITEM: For one-quarter of elder beneficiaries (24 percent), Social Security is their sole source of income.

ITEM: For 36 percent of elder beneficiaries, Social Security is more than 90 percent of their income.

ITEM: Even higher percentages of minorites rely on Social Security for all or most of their income. Here is a chart about that from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:


ITEM: Many current Social Security beneficiaries were thrown out of work when the economy collapsed five years ago and have never worked again. That means they did not pay into Social Security during that time which has lowered their benefit. Forever.

ITEM: For many of those layed-off, elder workers, their only way to survive was to take early Social Security as soon as they were eligible at age 62, another decrease in their benefit. Forever.

ITEM: Like workers of all ages, most elder workers who managed to find jobs since the collapse are earning half and even less of their previous salaries. Again, less money into their SSA accounts and therefore, lower benefits. Forever.

ITEM: The financial collapse decimated older workers' and elders' savings – there have been estimates of $2 trillion lost just for elders.

Crabby Old Lady was one of them – 40 percent of her small nest egg gone never to be seen again because Crabby (and millions of other elders) don't trust high-yield investments not to tank again. Safer savings alternatives no longer pay any interest at all.

ITEM: Some of the people who want to cut Social Security tell old people to get a job. Any job. Huh? Pay attention, Mr. President: There's this little problem people like to pretend doesn't exist called age discrimination.

Yes, it's illegal in the workplace but no one enforces the law and anyone older than 50 knows that look on the face a hiring manager who, while being vaguely polite, has no intention of hiring an “old person.”

ITEM: Further, there is no way to know how many old people lost their homes to those criminal banks your administration has not prosecuted. Maybe a 35-year-old will be able to buy a home again some day for their old age, but no old person can.

So, Mr. share-the-burden President, elders are already drained dry. We have lost our jobs, our savings, our homes and our Social Security benefits have already been slashed by the recession.

And now you want us to give even more via chained CPI? Oof – it feels like a sucker punch in the gut to 71-year-old Crabby every time she says the phrase.

Mr. President, old folks have no more to give.

If all this doesn't convince you, maybe the fact that pretty much every person in America disagrees with you will.

Here's a chart of a poll from Pew taken just last month showing that 87 percent (!) of Americans believe Social Security should either be increased or stay the same. Only 10 percent want to reduce it.


Mr. President, nobody ever got rich on Social Security but a whole lot of people who earned this benefit would be poorer with chained CPI. You need to withdraw this terrible idea and fight with all your executive power against any Social Security cut proposals from others. It's the only right thing to do.

Crabby Old Lady

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joyce Benedict: Who Could It Have Been?

Elders, Modern Communication and Me

Remember what communication was like when we were kids? We had the telephone – often on shared party lines – hardwired into the wall. If we had something to say to anyone when we were away, we waited until we got home or, if time mattered, we found a phone booth.

The other option was snailmail, actual words in ink on paper sent through the post office. We didn't need to designate them “snailmail” back then; it was the only kind there was.

Nowadays, in addition to snailmail, there is email, instant messaging, tweeting, texting, Facebook, Skype and some other brands that are variations on these themes.

Most of all, there is the ubiquitous mobile phone which, nowadays, is hardly for talking at all. It's a GPS service, a game console, a camera and web browser. You can watch videos and TV, listen to your own music or to radio, scan a document, program your home DVR and, of course, indulge in the ever-popular texting.

(There are webpages devoted to long lists of more things cellphones can do including some that are hoaxes – extra, hidden battery power, for example, does not exist.)

The only time I can see that mobile phones are used for talking is at restaurant meals with a friends – often a beloved friends – whose phones continually buzz. “Sorry, I need to take this,” they say as they walk away from the table. And do again in a few minutes. And again. There seem to be a lot of emergencies during lunch and dinner these days.

Last week, I received an email from a long-time reader in Ireland named Anne Brew. She had been watching the video of a presentation I gave in 2007 on elders and technology:

”Do you still hate texting?” asked Anne.

“I'm 64 and a lot of my family don't live near enough to visit daily although I'd like to communicate with them daily. Phoning seems impertinent; it locks the person into talking to you when they might be at work, in the car, asleep. Texting has worked for me as a good alternative.”

Yes, I still dislike texting. The only possible use I can imagine for it is to let someone know I'm running late for our appointment but one could as easily make a voice call.

The phone keyboards – physical or virtual – are too small to be comfortable for typing longer messages and beyond “I'll be 15 minutes late,” well, call me unimaginative, but no other short messages worth sending come to mind.

Anne's comment that “phoning seems impertinent” is a surprise. Can that be true? After all, speech was the original reason for phones and there's something warm and comfortable about listening to a friend's voice, don't you think? And just as in the past, the callee is not required to answer or can say he or she is busy right now, so why not phone?

There are people with whom, via email, I make appointments for telephone chats, but there are at least an equal number – young and old – whom I call on whim, as do they. When there is no answer, leaving a voice message is as easy as it has always been and we get back to one another at our convenience.

What a terrible world it would be if the only time the phone rings is when it's spam.

Invariably, when this discussion has come up on this blog in the past, a number of readers sound defensive about Facebook. “I use it because that's where the grandchildren are,” they say.

Oh, come on. You can say it out loud without excuses. It's all right to like Facebook. I happen to dislike it (almost as much as Twitter). And that's okay too. I use FB only as an additional distribution channel for readers who find it convenient to read TGB that way. (Twitter too.)

What I find intolerable about FB (among other things) is the unceasing stream of short, out-of-context commentary and in particular, all the “likes” of this, that and the other. There is little value to the empty observation that someone likes this TV show or that photograph or book without knowing the reason.

Some people tell me blogging is old fashioned now and I should be doing this directly on Facebook along with tweeting short, pithy comments throughout the day about aging.

Throughout the day? I have a life, a life that after great effort on my part now involves much less screen time than in the past. More important, however, outside of “Fire! Run!” I believe there is precious little that can be said in under 140 characters that is worth spending the time to read.

No, I'm sticking with long form communication starting with unstructured telephone calls that meander from one subject to another and last until we feel we're done. Full-length blog posts too – to read and to write – with whole sentences, paragraphs and developed thought.

And so it goes each in our own way.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: On My Wardrobe in Retirement

New Elderblog List

Aside from personal R&R, my goals for last week's hiatus from daily blogging were to finish the updated elderblog list and make some back end changes to Time Goes By.

There is success and there is failure, the latter due to the length of time since I've done serious work with html and css resulting in a re-learning curve that mostly frustrated me last week. So I read a couple of books instead.

The only changes you'll notice right now are a new headline font and more effective subheads which will appear most often in Saturdays' Interesting Stuff posts. I'll have another go at the design changes I want when I feel less frustrated.

The success from last week is the newly updated Elderblog list. Before I get to that I want to reiterate my oft-repeated belief that blogging is a near perfect pastime for elders.

It is solitary in the need to sit quietly as we think and write – never a bad thing to take time for a closer look. It is also social in that blogging expands our circle of acquaintances and friends worldwide and, important, it cannot help but keep our minds active and exercised.

Plus, at a time in life when we no longer have the daily camaraderie of the workplace, may not drive any longer or, perhaps, are not as mobile generally as we once were, let's give a shout out to whoever the smart people are who invented this marvelous, new way to be in touch just in time for us to benefit.

On to the new elderblog list.

From the old list, I removed blogs that had not published in awhile. Some others had moved behind personal firewalls requiring passwords now, so those are gone too along with some that just disappeared, their URLs now for sale.

A lot more have been added than removed. In a few cases are blogs that had been listed at one time but then disappeared (couldn't tell you why) and have now been reinstated.

Undoubtedly, there are mistakes and I apologize but it is so tedious to change anything and keep the list looking neat and tidy that all I will do is make note of additions or subtractions for next time.

The new list is in its usual place and it is always linked from the box in the left sidebar on every page. And don't forget that every Monday, a new set of five featured elderblogs are linked from the left sidebar too.

Here are the new ones.

Age Myths
Aging Hippie's Guide to Aging
Aging in Chicago
Aging in Place Technology Watch
Alchemy of Clay
Amen With a T
Any Shiny Thing
Blueridge Boomer
Boots and Braids

Chatty Crone
Coward's Corner with Luckie
Desert Canyon Living
Engage Blog
For a Dancer
From the House of Mars
Gert, Tom & Rusty Too
Grey House Journal
Ground Level in Kansas

Gum Leaves
The Healthy Nut
Later Living
Live Life in Crescendo
Live, Love, Give!
Marc Leavitt's Blog
Martin Bayne
Me, senescent
Muffy's Marks

Nifty Fifty and the City (in French)
Old Lady Lincoln
On Being Seventy
Oops 50!
Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy
Ramona's Voices
Remarkable Wrinklies
Rhea Becker's Short Attention Span
Rocky Mountain Woman

Seeking Center in an Old House
Semantically Driven
Southern Rumors
Sunshine on My Shoulder
Sweetwater Lane
Windgrove: Life on the Edge
The Writer's Clinic

Tom's Wine Line
Walking to Retirement
The Way I See It
When I Was Sixty Nine
White Feather Farm
Yo Is This Ageist?

And one more thing. Recently there has been a noticeable uptick in the number of commenters whose names I've never seen before. That's terrific. It's good to have new perspectives and welcome to you all to TGB.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ross Middleton: In Thrall to Technology

ELDER MUSIC: Songs About Cities - London

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.


London seems to have more songs written about it than any other city in the world. I venture to suggest that it has more songs about it than all the rest put together.

I’ll start with a song about home-sickness – not homesick for London, but being in London and homesick for somewhere warm, like Australia. In this case, I assume Perth as that’s where THE WAIFS hail from.


The Waifs are sisters Vikki Thorn and Donna Simpson as well as Josh Cunningham. They add a bass player and drummer for their touring band, maybe also keyboard and violin now and then.

There was one tour in Australia where they opened for Bob Dylan. Bob must have been impressed because at the completion of the tour he asked them if they’d like to continue opening for him back in America. It seems they thought about this for some considerable time (like about a micro-second) before agreeing. Here they are with London Still.

♫ The Waifs - London Still

It could be argued, indeed I’ve done that very thing myself, that the most beautiful song produced by a rock band in the sixties came from THE KINKS.


After all, The Kinks were really a bit of a grunge band, at least that’s how they started, predating those from Seattle by a couple of decades. Of course, they did venture quite often into pop music.

It’s actually rather surprising that they produced as much as they did as the two main men of the group, the brothers Davies, were continuously at each others’ throats. Here is the song I’m talking about, Waterloo Sunset.

♫ The Kinks - Waterloo Sunset

This song had to be here. It’s by one of the most interesting, if totally erratic, songwriters of the last few decades, WARREN ZEVON. Those who are familiar with his oeuvre know the song I’m talking about.

Warren Zevon

Warren’s first couple of albums had some of the finest songs around and many of them were covered by other artists, especially Linda Ronstadt who must have made a considerable chunk of change for Warren.

This is from his album “Excitable Boy” and the song is Werewolves of London.

♫ Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London

Here is another song like the first about someone who wants to leave the city. This time it’s an American, TOM PAXTON.

Tom Paxton

In the early seventies, he and his family went and lived in London for four years so he knows of which he speaks when it comes to that city. However, he wrote and recorded this song years before that.

It’s really just about rambling, a topic at which he excelled. The song is Leaving London.

♫ Tom Paxton - Leaving London

If the (foreign) artists aren’t planning on leaving London, they seem to be complaining about the cold, the fog, the rain and other aspects of the weather. This song is no exception, A Cold Rainy Morning in London in June by MATRACA BERG.

Matraca Berg

Matraca followed in her mother’s footsteps (her mother was named Icie Berg, she must have had comedians for parents) as a songwriter. She wrote songs for such folks as Reba McEntire, Randy Travis, Tanya Tucker, Ray Price and others.

I first came across Matraca on one of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s semi-regular releases called “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” where they’d get the cream of country and bluegrass performers to create great music together.

It’s not too surprising she was on this album as she’s married to Jeff Hanna, one of the Nittys, but she deserved her place as I thought her contribution was the pick of that particular record. Here she is with Cold, Rainy Morning in London in June.

♫ Matraca Berg - Cold, Rainy Morning in London in June

A complete change of pace now as we have the DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET.

Dave Brubeck

This isn’t the classic Dave Brubeck Quartet, it’s a group Dave led in 2005 with a completely different line up. Bobby Militello on alto sax sounds quite different from Paul Desmond (who generally played tenor sax). Dave’s playing is still fine though.

The track is London Flat, London Sharp from the album of the same name.

♫ Dave Brubeck - London Flat, London Sharp

You knew this one had to be here. This is RALPH McTELL.

Ralph McTell

Ralph recorded this song several times (well, if you’re on to a good thing...), and this is the version I like where he has a little help from his friends. It’s his original recorded version. Streets of London.

♫ Ralph McTell - Streets of London

MEL TORMÉ has a couple of songs that could have been included, so it was down to me. Well, not quite. I asked Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, which I should use and she was emphatic, so I’ll go with her choice.

Mel Torme

Her suggestion was A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.

♫ Mel Torme - A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square

DONOVAN Leitch was born in Scotland but he wrote a rather good London song.


He started as a sort of Bob Dylan wannabe, but soon developed his own eccentric, if rather fey, style. He had a bunch of hits in the sixties and recorded a whole bunch of albums most of which wouldn’t be missed if you put them in a pile and set fire to them.

However, there are a good few of his songs that are up there with the best of his era. This is one of them, Sunny Goodge Street. Judy Collins did a fine version of this song, but I’ve already featured that one previously so it’s Donovan’s turn.

♫ Donovan - Sunny Goodge Street

I’ll finish with something from a form of music that hasn’t reared its ugly head in these columns before, punk. THE CLASH started as a punk band around the time it hit big in England but as time went on, they demonstrated that there was more to them than that narrow genre.


They were more musically interesting than their peers, blessed with having Joe Strummer as singer, guitarist and lyricist for the band. Joe also wrote film and TV scores, was an actor, radio broadcaster and all round renaissance man.

He was born in Turkey to a British diplomat and spent his early years in Cairo, Mexico City and Bonn. He died in 2002 of a previously undiagnosed heart defect.

Here is The Clash with the title song from their most successful, and best, album, London Calling.

♫ The Clash - London Calling



When I was a kid, a lot of old women had blue hair, the result of too much rinse to counteract gray hair going yellowish.

Now, actor Helen Mirren has a much better idea which she showed off on 10 February at the BAFTA Awards (the British Oscars) in London. Take a look:


Russian fishermen in the Sea of Okhotsk caught sight of a dog stranded on a way-too-small ice floe. Thanks to those brave fishermen, Dzulka the dog was saved. Watch.


...of Americans who do not know that the federal deficit is falling faster than at any time since the end of World War II?

According to Campaign for America's Future and other sources, the deficit

“ down about 50 percent as a percent of GDP just since Bush’s huge $1.4 trillion fiscal 2009 deficit. And the deficit is projected to be stable for a decade.”

Even so, just about everyone in Washington and a whole lot of other places are screeching about the how the deficit is killing the country.

Read more at the link above and here too, and you might want to let your legislators know too.


Like the dog on the ice floe above, here is another tale of an animal in need, with humans to the rescue. In this case what is fascinating is that the shark appears to have sought out the humans for the help he (she?) needed.

Take a look. (Hat tip to Nikki Lindquist of From Where I Sit)


If you are anything like me, you always wondered how those ubiquitous Scooter Store commercials could promise that with their help, anyone, anyone at all, could get a scooter and Medicare would pay. Well, just as we suspected, it turns out that's unlikely to be true.

Last week, the FBI stepped in:

Before the raid, a government audit had found that between 2009 and 2012, the Scooter Store had overbilled Medicare by $100 million. You can read more here.


Powell's book store in Portland, Oregon, is justifiably famous for its vast collection of books - millions. Mainly because the store's section on aging is pitiful, I would rank Powell's slightly below a similar store, The Strand, in New York City. But there are plenty of people who would disagree with me.

There are not many stores in the U.S.or even in the world as big as Powell's and the Strand but I was still surprised when Nikki sent me this two-page layout in her local paper in Sweden about Powell's.



It is pretty well understood now from many studies that learning any new things will help maintain healthy brains as we get older. Now there is one study reporting that learning to use Facebook will sharpen one's mind.

”Preliminary research findings from the University of Arizona suggest that men and women older than 65 who learn to use Facebook could see a boost in cognitive function.”

Of course, I cannot say if that's true. All I know is that for me it's harder to understand Facebook functions that it would be to learn to speak Klingon so I don't bother. Have you noticed my mind slipping? You can read more here.


There's not much to say about this video. It's just a man, his dog and a motorcycle. Enjoy.


There are a lot of animal videos this week. It's just the way things fall sometimes.

This one comes from TGB's assistant musicologist, Norma, about a bearded dragon playing an iPhone game. Each time I watch I wonder why the dragon doesn't get hungry and frustrated.

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.

Old and Single By Choice, Or Not

Remember a month ago when I was thinking out loud that maybe my comfort with living alone most of my life isn't so comfortable anymore? While looking for something to fill this space while I'm on hiatus this week, I ran across a post from 2005, that tells a different story.

Reading it now, seven-and-a-half years later, the reasoning at first seemed superficial but on second thought, maybe not. Depending on the day of the week, I could go with last month's post or this old one with one or two updates.

Recently, a past lover contacted me with a thought toward renewing discussion of an idea we once lightly entertained: living together in our old age.

Even though that was only a decade ago, old age still seemed a long way off to me and now that it has arrived, I have come to see that living as half a couple was never my strongest inclination.

Let me tell you a story:

In the middle of the night, many years ago, my husband and I received a call from his mother. His father was not expected to live - a brain tumor, she said, and we must come to San Francisco immediately.

After the funeral, my husband returned to his job in Houston while I stayed behind for six weeks to help his mother take care of details and adjust to her new life. Keep that number of weeks – six – in mind.

On my return home, the first thing I noticed in the kitchen was an oozing, greenish-black blob with gray fur. It was not as though you could miss it; it was spread over most of the counter on one side of the sink.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered.

With a few careful pokes at the distance of an extra-long knife, I deduced that it was a rotted avocado undoubtedly placed on the counter to ripen a month-and-a-half earlier and forgotten in our haste to get to San Francisco.

“Why didn’t you clean it up?” I asked.

“Because it was icky,” said he. “I didn’t want to touch it.”

Cut to some years later. Different man. Same theme:

ME: The dentist called and said you didn’t show up for your appointment today.

HE: Was it today?

ME: That’s what she said.

HE: Well, why didn’t you remind me?

Why IS it that a man becomes helpless when there is a woman in his life?

Is it all women or just me? With the exception of one (whom I lacked the wit to grab while I could), the men I’ve had a daily working knowledge of are incapable of basic domesticity.

No amount of noxious odor emanating from the kitchen garbage bin can induce them to take out the trash without being asked. Change the bed on their own? The sheets would rot first. Do the laundry? “I don’t know how,” they whine.

Don’t get me wrong: I like men. They are warm and fuzzy and endearing in many ways and I count a number of them among my friends. But after dinner or a movie these days, they go home – to their homes where, apparently, they clean up their own dead avocados or pay a cleaning service to do it.

There was little time in my adult life when I was without a man of significance to one degree or another, and men were pretty much the major topic of conversation among my women friends. Most of them – the men and the women – married long ago now, but the right time or the right man never came along for me.

Nowadays, I have come to see that whatever my generation’s cultural indoctrination toward marriage in our era's youth (it was powerful) and humankind’s natural inclination to pair, some of us are ambivalent.

Certainly that's true for me, having recently entered my eighth decade: one day I'm fine with aged singlehood, the next I'm not and after that, I reverse myself again.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Tragedy