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INTERESTING STUFF – 5 December 2015

THE SAN BERNARDINO MASSACRE

On the morning after the terrible shooting in southern California, the New York Daily News ran this front-page headline:

DailyNews

Widely tweeted and retweeted, many supported it, others virulently opposed it. You?


OPENING DAY AT THE SKATING RIBBON IN CHICAGO

With the level of violence in that city and the most recent hideous video release, Chicago definitely needs a place as peaceful and lovely as this.

A friend in the midwest sent this video of the “skating ribbon” opened just a year ago and named for a former mayor's late wife, Maggie Daley. This was shot on the opening day of the ribbon this year.

You can read all about the ribbon and its construction here.


THE PERFECT BUZZFEED PERFECTION LISTICLE

I rely on Buzzfeed's daily listicle of the world's minor follies and triumphs to give me a morning smile and, sometimes, a belly laugh but about 99 percent of them fail to live up to their billing - too many items fall short of the headline.

This is not one of them. Titled 29 Pictures That Will Finally Give You Some Goddam Satisfaction, they are all from people who clearly have too much time on their hands but Buzzfeed is right: so satisfying. Here are two examples:

FoldedSnow


Sprinkles

For the full effect, you need to scroll through all 29 images of perfection. You can do that here.


ACTOR ANTHONY HOPKINS IS ALSO A COMPOSER

Did you now that? I didn't. According to Buzzfeed, Hopkins has dabbled in music throughout his life.

Below is an Anthony Hopkins composition, And the Waltz Goes On. According to the story, he had never heard it played by a full orchestra until Dutch violinist André Rieu performed it with his orchestra in 2011, nearly 50 years after it was written. Take a look at the performance and Hopkins reaction.

There is more at Buzzfeed including (scroll down) a video interview with Hopkins about his musical interests.


THE NEW YORK TIMES ADOPTS MX

A lot of us at this blog can remember when all men were identified publicly with a single honorific, Mr., and women were divided by their marital status with Mrs. and Miss. Nowadays, we have Ms. for all women.

Now, a new honorific, Mx., is slowly gaining acceptance. It is pronounced “mix” and is used as a gender-neutral designation for people who do not identify exclusively as male or female.

The Observer noted this week that The New York Times, which often sets the standards for other news publications, had used Mx. for the first time:

”Mx. Hardwick, 27, who prefers not to be assigned a gender — and also insists on the gender-neutral Mx. in place of Ms. or Mr. — is a staff member at Bluestockings, a bookshop and activist center at 172 Allen Street on the Lower East Side.”

You can read more at the Observer.


HELPING TO FIX FOOD WASTE

Acknowledgement of stupid food waste is a growing issue and one of the fixes is for sellers and buyers to embrace less than perfect-looking produce.

It's not hard. During the growing season I buy most of my vegetables and fruit – the kind grown locally – at the farmer's market and know all about weird shapes and non-perfect examples. I like them. I think they interesting and often they are funny.

This week, The New York Times published a video about how people are starting to get “ugly produce” out of the trash and onto our plates (Keep your eye out for John Oliver about halfway through the report.)

Read the accompanying article here.


MARK TWAIN'S BIRTHDAY

Last Monday, 30 November, would have been Mark Twain's 180th birthday. This is lovely portrait of Twain by A.F. Bradley in Twain's later years.

Twain1909CreditAFBradley

Poet and TGB reader Tom Delmore alerted me to Twain's birthday anniversary and included a report of what Twain said 110 years ago about getting old:

"'I have achieved my 70 years in the usual way: by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else.' Then he proceeded to explain the lifestyle that had gotten him there, which included eating mince-pie after midnight; smoking at all times when he was awake (including in bed); avoiding exercise at all costs; and living what he called 'a severely moral life.'

“He ended his speech: 'I am 70; 70, and would nestle in the chimney corner, and smoke my pipe, and read my book, and take my rest, wishing you well in all affection, and that when you in your turn shall arrive at pier No. 70 you may step aboard your waiting ship with a reconciled spirit, and lay your course toward the sinking sun with a contented heart.'"

Isn't that a fine speech about growing old.


FROZEN BUBBLE

I want one of these but it's not cold enough where I live to achieve. This is a real-time video, no time lapse:

The bubble was created by Chris Ratzlaff and you can see more images here. As he explains:

“...frozen bubbles are still very fragile creatures so I’ve experimented with different recipes to create a durable bubble wall that won’t pop in the slightest breeze; dish soap for the bubbling, corn syrup to thicken the wall and sugar to help crystallization. I let the mixture chill in the freezer to help speed up the freezing once outside”
Ratzlaff provides his formula on the YouTube page.


FOX HUNTING IN SNOW

Let me rephrase that: not “fox hunting” but a fox hunting in the snow. Amazing.

* * *

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 at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


Happy Hannukah 5776

This year Hanukkah begins at about 4:30PM my time on Sunday but because Sunday is always Elder Music with Peter Tibbles day at this blog, I'm celebrating online today.

I will, however, be lighting the first-night candle at the proper time on Sunday. It's not that I do much about being Jewish but I like the Hanukkah candles each evening for eight nights. And I like the story.

My Israeli friend, Yaakov Kirschen, has been writing and drawing his Dry Bones cartoon for more than 40 years. (You can follow him at The Dry Bones Blog.) This is his entry for Hannukah this year.

DryBonesHannukah

HappyHannukahEveryone

I'll see you back here tomorrow for Saturday's regular Interesting Stuff post.


Holiday Gifts for Elders 2015

A quick look around here reveals that I've been doing this annual post since 2006 – ten years now. Even so, the bare bones truth is that I don't know any more about gifts for old people than the next person. Most of what I've written during this decade is common sense.

In fact, because I detest shopping (except for food), I have no idea what's out there that might be new, different or interesting.

But I do have one strong feeling about gifts (at any time of year): no gift is worth its name if it is not something you know the recipient wants, needs or would enjoy.

Oh, and one other thing: unless, for example, a washing machine, vacuum cleaner, blood pressure monitor or hearing aid is needed and economically out of the question for your giftee, go for personal, fun or indulgent every time. That's what gift occasions are for.

You already know the major categories of gifts: personal, practical, home, technology, entertainment. Plenty of ideas from previous years on this blog apply. You can find some here and here and here and here. (There is probably a lot of repetition.)

With all that, this year's gift post is short. So here are a very few additional ideas and links that might help expand your thinking. I'm not endorsing any of these websites.

Notorious RGB Coffee Mug

Notorious RGB Mug

This is my favorite new, small thing. As the website says,

“Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a real badass, because real badasses push forward women's and minority rights. It's everyone's favorite Supreme Court justice, Notorious R.B.G.”

The mug costs $19 and you can buy it here.


A Donation Idea
Lots of old people say they don't want anything. If you choose to believe someone on your list about that, how about a donation in their name.

There is a important program called Reading is Fundamental (RIF) that Frank Bruni wrote about in The New York Times recently. The 50-year-old organization provides books to children who otherwise might not have access to them. Here is a short video from RIF's president and CEO, Carol Rasco.

You can donate via RIF's home page. Or, if you like the donation idea but prefer a different recipient that might mean more to your giftee, I'm sure you can come up with other good possibilities.


Adult Coloring Books
I am skeptical about this entire idea but reader Antonia Albany emailed to suggest them and I recently saw a large table in a bookshop overflowing with adult coloring books. I doubt they are being featured for nothing.

Here is an example:

Coloringbook

You can see many more examples here. If you go with this, don't forget the crayons or whatever people use for coloring these days.


Taxi Vouchers
Doctafil mentioned this and I hear again and again from elders, their friends and relatives that taxi vouchers are a big deal, welcome gift for people who don't drive anymore. I'm pretty sure I will feel the same when the time comes for me.


Time
Undoubtedly the most precious gift for elder family and friends (or people of any age) is the gift of time - and not just for holidays. You could create a homemade booklet of outings to do together during 2016: a museum, the zoo, a fancy dinner, theater, movies, a promise to go to Fourth of July fireworks together, etc.

You could also show up once every month or two – pre-arranged probably helps – with the all the fixings to cook dinner at home.

The point is time together on a regular basis, not just holidays or a birthday.


Other Stuff
Here are links to four websites with lists of gifts. They are not meant to be exhaustive and I don't necessarily endorse them. But there seem to be some excellent ideas.

Two of the Best Lists I've Seen
Gifts for Grandparents
Geripal

Two Lists for Friends or Family in Assisted Living
A Place for Mom
Aging Wisely

Among all the above are hundreds of ideas. If you have others to contribute, please feel free in the comments.