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February 2016

A Welcome Snow Day

Recent weird and dreadful weather worldwide notwithstanding, one of the things I miss about living in the northeast United States is four definitive seasons.

Each one of them has its charms and I never tired of feeling the change in the air with the arrival of the first hint of a new season.

In New York City, it was fall that you could feel most sharply – the first morning you could discern that little bite in the air that presaged the coming need for a coat and hat.

Here in northwest Oregon where I live now, we are surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. What we do not have, however, is the kind of weather that makes a “real” winter. You know, one with snow. Essentially, we have only three seasons.

Until yesterday.

I waken so early that it is dark for several hours after I arise and I often have no idea what the weather is until sunrise. Look what surprised me when the sun came up yesterday:


The snowfall around my apartment grounds was heavy enough that it looked like it might actually last long enough to build a small snowman. Here's another shot while it was still coming down:


It's been a long time since I've seen a big deal, giant snowstorm like this one in New York City when I was still living there in 2006:


Or how about this white Christmas in Maine in 2008, when my car got completely buried overnight:


Now THOSE are snowstorms to write home (or a blog post) about.

Alas, the snow yesterday ended about 20 minutes after I took the photos above. The accumulation was no more than an inch disappointing my personal criteria for real snow: that you can't see the grass.


It's cold enough this morning that the snow may stay on the ground for awhile but a slight warmup is due along with rain this afternoon.

Too bad for my little kid excitement. But it did give me a reason to postpone reactivating brain cells after the holiday vacation from actual thought needed to write a real blog post. It's amazing how intellectually lazy I can get in only two weeks.

Ray's Music Exchange

Tibbles1SM100x130This 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.

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Ray's Music Exchange

Movie buffs will possibly recognise the name of today's column; others can take it at face value. The above picture might give the game away.

It's an impossible job to do justice to RAY CHARLES in a single column or two so I won't even try. The column is really just to demonstrate the many different styles of music Ray made his own.

Ray Charles

Ray started out emulating his hero Nat King Cole and he didn't do a bad job of it as you will hear in Roll With My Baby.

♫ Roll With My Baby

Ray Charles

It didn't take him long to develop his own voice and style. Ray was on the road listening to some gospel music and he was taken by one song he heard and he got together with his trumpet player, Renald Richard. Together they came up with the song I Got A Woman. The song turned out to be a pretty big hit, Ray's first, and here it is.

♫ I Got A Woman


Ray was also recording instrumental albums around this time. One of those was called "The Great Ray Charles." It was released later on CD as "The Genius After Hours.” I have problems with the word genius, it's thrown around far too much for my liking. Okay, enough raving from me.

One tune that wasn't on the original album but surfaced on the later release is Hornful Soul.

♫ Hornful Soul

Ray Charles

A completely different direction came in the early sixties when Ray recorded a country music album called "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.” To my mind and ears, this really showed the country music establishment how their music should be performed.

They took no notice of me but Ray's album was very successful and he recorded a sequel (and others in the same vein later on). From that first one is You Don't Know Me.

♫ You Don't Know Me

DAVID (FATHEAD) NEWMAN played tenor (and occasionally alto) sax and he began his performing career in Ray's band.

Ray Charles & David Newman

He later went out on his own playing both jazz and rhythm and blues, equally adept at both styles.

From an album, rather clumsily named "Fathead, Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman" comes the tune Sweet Eyes. It has Ray playing piano and it's in the jazz mode.

♫ Sweet Eyes (David Newman)

Ray Charles

The first (and better) Blues Brothers film featured Ray performing Shake Your Tailfeather. Here is the original studio version of that song, rather than the one from the film soundtrack.

♫ Shake Your Tailfeather

Some more jazz from Ray, with a stellar lineup including Milt Jackson, Connie Kay, Oscar Pettiford and Kenny Burrell. In spite of its name, Soul Meeting, this is straight ahead jazz.

That's Ray with Milt Jackson in the picture.

Ray Charles & Milt Jackson

♫ Soul Meeting (with Milt Jackson)

Ray Charles

Here's some more country music, and somewhat later than the earlier one. Ray took John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads and put his own stamp on it. Well, maybe not completely his own. It strikes me that he had a close listen to Toots Hibbert's interesting reggae version of the song.

♫ Take Me Home, Country Roads

Ray Charles

Losing Hand is an atmospheric song from early in Ray's career, and his voice hadn't yet taken on its distinctive timbre. The song is pretty much straight ahead blues. Of course, Ray can perform in any style of music he set his mind to. That's the point of the column, after all.

♫ Losing Hand

Ray Charles

The great success of What'd I Say earned Ray larger royalties for his records and eventual ownership of all his record masters, a hugely lucrative deal in the long run.

Here is that song that set him up financially, and there's no better way to end the column.

♫ What'd I Say

INTERESTING STUFF – 2 January 2016


What if in the afterlife, you relive all of your experiences but this time, you experience them grouped together? You’d spend six weeks clipping your nails, for example, then 15 months looking for lost items, 18 months waiting in line, and so on.

This is just one of the afterlives neuroscientist and writer David Eagleman imagines in his book, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives. Studiocanoe (aka the filmmaker and illustrator Temujin Doran) took that particular afterlife and made it into a video for us to ponder.

You can find out more about Eagleman here and more about Temujin Doran here.


...just a single one - linked the warmest December weather ever recorded to climage change.

”A Raw Story search of broadcast and cable news weather forecasts between Dec. 21 and Dec. 29 (via TVEyes) revealed that Steve MacLaughlin of WTAE was the only meteorologist to note that the weather patterns had been 'enhanced by climate change' and El Niño.

“In fact, a number of meteorologists went out of their way to explain why the high temperatures could not be tied to climate change.

“WABC’s Jeff Smith agreed that El Niño played a role, but dismissed a link to climate change, saying that 'you can never really blame one weather event, including a really warm month or two, on global warming.'”

One can only wonder of Mr. Smith has been asleep for the past 15 or 20 years. You can read more at Raw Story.


Yes, I own a cat. I have always had cats and never dogs. Doesn't mean I don't like dogs – I just don't like having to walk a dog.

Cats have different attributes but that doesn't mean dogs aren't wonderful too.


Are you familiar with Jerry Seinfeld's web interview show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee?

The premise is simple: For 20 minutes or so, Jerry drives around while interviewing a comedian - people like Stephen Colbert, Steve Martin, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart.

For episode 1 of season 7, Jerry snagged President Barack Obama and the interview premiered last Wednesday. It might be the most interesting - certainly the most real - conversation I've ever seen with the president. Sit back and enjoy.


Now wasn't that fun? If you're new to Jerry's show, you can see all the back episodes at the program's website.


If it were not for the internet, we would have no idea what strange, crazy and wonderful interests and talents some people have. Cindy Chinn sculpts pencil lead – as in this one of a teeny tiny graphite train:


And a teeny tiny Converse sneaker:


There are more of Chinn's pencil graphite sculptures at Bored Panda. This isn't her only talent. Find more at her website and at her Etsy store.


On Face the Nation last week, Late Show host Stephen Colbert explained how Donald Trump is just his old Comedy Central character but on steroids. Wonderful.

And even though Colbert insists he knows nothing about politcs, he sounds fairly astute to me.


Like a lot of TGB readers, language mistakes are among my favorite funny things. Buzzfeed this week listed a bunch that left me helpless with giggles.




It happens to me nearly every day when a common word I've used a thousand times just refuses to materialize in my brain. Beyond the fun, what interests me about this list is that Buzzfeed, undoubtedly referencing young people's mistakes, calls them “brain farts.” When old people forget, they are “senior moments.”

Whether you like people making that distinction or not, there are a whole lot more such errors at Buzzfeed. They silliness is cumulative - the more of them you read, the funnier it all gets.


Thank TGB reader Alan Goldsmith for sending this stunning video of world champion cliff diver, Lionel Franc.

The film, directed by Jean-Charles Granjon and shot in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southeast France, is titled IMPACT and “tells the story of the mental journey of a high diver in the seconds before his jump.”

You can find out more at Vimeo.


We have featured tools to estimate life expectancy in the past. One recently turned up in an email that gave me so many more years of life, I wondered what others would say.

So here are three life expectancy calculators that are a bit more thorough than the ones that just ask age and gender. I tried three with these results.

The Canadian Business website tells me I will live to be 88.6 years.

The Real Age calculator at gives me almost 10 years more: 95.5

Good old, unexciting Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company's Lifespan Calculator is giving me a whopping 29 more years of life: 103.

Since they think I have so many years left, do you think they would give me a discount on life insurance premiums?


Songwriter Carol King is among the 2015 Kennedy Center Honorees and guess who showed up to sing what is undoubtedly King's most well-known composition? Aretha Franklin brought down the house belting out (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

Just as I was tearing up, it was good to see that I was in fine company. Check out the president in the video and keep your eye on the honoree herself too. What must it feel like to write or sing such a song as this.

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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.

A Poem to Welcome 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote here of a new study from Yale's Becca Levy about how negative beliefs about growing old may correlate with later onset of Alzheimer's disease.

In case anyone misunderstood, it was not my intention to imply that if you adopt the right attitude you can kiss the possibility of Alzheimer's goodbye.

For me, it was an interesting research outcome that dovetails with a growing number of studies showing that there is a connection between ageism and poor physical and emotional health of elders. Of course, it is not definitive anymore than cancer is the always result of smoking tobacco.

We all try our best, especially as we get older I think, to eat, exercise, get enough sleep and do all the other things we told add up to a healthy life. But we all know, too, that it doesn't always work that way.

Grace Paley was a well-known American short story writer, teacher, political activist and poet. Tom Delmore, a poet himself and TGB reader, sent this poem of Paley's the day after that post about ageism and Alzheimer's was published.

“I had thought the tumors...” was published in Paley's collection, Fidelity in 2008, a year after she died at age 84.

I had thought the tumors
on my spine would kill me but
the tumors on my head seem to be
extraordinary competitive this week.

For the past twenty or thirty years
I have eaten the freshest most
organic and colorful fruits and
vegetables I did not drink I
did drink one small glass of red
wine with dinner nearly every day
as suggested by The New York Times
I should have taken longer walks but
obviously I have done something wrong

I don’t mean morally or ethically or
geographically I did not live near
a nuclear graveyard or under a coal
stack nor did I allow my children
to do so I lived in a city no worse
than any other great and famous city I
lived one story above a street that led
cabs and ambulances to the local hospital
that didn’t seem so bad and was
often convenient

                                      In any event I am
already old and therefore a little ashamed
to have written this poem full
of complaints against mortality which
biological fact I have been constructed for
to hand on to my children and grand—
children as I received it from my
dear mother and father and beloved
grandmother who all
ah if I remember it
were in great pain at leaving
and were furiously saying goodbye

Ms. Paley had no reason I can see to be ashamed. There are a lot of unknowns in growing old, hardly anyone has good answers for them and I think most elders are incredibly brave to take it all in stride most of the time. A few complaints along the way are hardly add up to a black mark.

I'm looking forward to seeing how we here at Time Goes By handle what gets thrown our way during this new year.