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INTERESTING STUFF – 2 June 2018

WORLD'S OLDEST BLOGGER

She lives in Sweden. She's 106 years old. She didn't get her first computer until she was 100 years old. Her blog name is Bojan; her real name is Dagny Carlsson:

NOTE: Since I originally posted this video, it has been removed from embedding. You can watch it here.

Her blog is called Blogga Med Mig (Blog With Me) and you can see it here. (Thank TGB reader Joared for sending this item.)

UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT SAVES LITTLE BOY

You must have seen this by now but it's too good to ignore. A 22-year-old immigrant from Ghana, Mamoudou Gassama, didn't hesitate to risk his own life to save this little boy hanging from a high balcony in Paris.

What an inspiration Gassama is and a rebuke to anyone who would close our borders to all immigrants. He has been hailed as a hero worldwide, met with French president Emmanuel Macron who offered him citizenship and has accepted a 10-month internship with the French fire brigade. Read more at the Daily Mail.

FREE CREDIT FREEZE

A year or more ago, when my personal information was caught up in one of the massive data breaches that happen so frequently these days, I froze my credit report at all three of the major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUniion.

That meant no one (except companies with which I already do business) could see my reports unless I lifted the freeze. Here's the catch: it cost me $10 at each agency to freeze those reports and there would be additional fees to unfreeze them if I was applying for a loan, credit card or other transaction that needs a credit report.

I was fairly pissed off since it's not my fault those three agencies can't or won't keep their electronic files safe from thieves.

But now, Congress has done us this small favor: Tucked in that awful bill reversing many Dodd-Frank banking provisions put in place after the 2008 crash, is a requirement that there be no fee for credit freezes.

”By Sept. 21,” reports the Washington Post, “everyone will be able to place and remove a 'security freeze' on their credit files for free.

“Such a freeze — also called a 'credit freeze' — blocks lenders from pulling your credit reports. It’s a powerful tool to thwart identity thieves from using your financial information to open credit cards or take out loans.”

There are more details at the Washington Post story.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO TO AFFECT CLIMATE CHANGE?

The effects of climate change are awful for the future of mankind and for the planet in general, and it seems impossible that anything a single individual, like you or me, can do could change anything. But maybe not.

Just because you and I can't make a large difference in carbon emissions doesn't mean we each should not do what we can. There is more information especially about the effect of plastic on planet Earth in the latest issue of National Geographic and at the magazine's website.

A GRANDFATHER'S MEMORY BOOK

From The New York Times' Op-Docs video series, Colin Levy’s charming, illustrated remembrance, 'My Grandfather’s Memory Book.

NEW MEDICARE CARD IS ON ITS WAY TO ME

A couple of days ago, I got this email:

MedicareCardEmail

Yes. Medicare is sending the new Medicare cards to my state, Oregon, this month along with California, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and some U.S. territories. Here is the map the email directed me to:

NewMedicareCardShipped

So sometime this month I'll have that new card. If you are signed up for MyMedicare, you too can receive an email to let you know when cards are being shipped to your state. Or sign up here.

COMMON PHRASES YOU DON'T KNOW ARE QUOTING SHAKESPEARE

This is fun – everyday phrases that started with William Shakespeare or were used in his era.

Knock, Knock. Who's there? - Macbeth, Act II, Scene III
"Knock, Knock. Who's there, in th' other devil’s name?” - Porter

Geez, he even invented the knock-knock joke?

Green-eyed monster - Othello, Act III, Scene III
"O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on." — Iago

Kill with kindness – The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV, Scene 1
"This is a way to kill a wife with kindness, and thus I'll curb her mad and headstrong humor." — Petruchio

Mental Floss has 18 more familiar phrases most of us don't know are from Shakespeare.

PRO GUN RALLY – FROM THE DAILY SHOW

Comedy Central's The Daily Show host, Trevor Noah, sent one of the program's contributors, Roy Wood, Jr., to a pro-gun rally in Helena, Montana. Weirdness ensues. (Thank TGB reader Jim Stone for this.)

JAKE THE DIAMOND DOG

If you love baseball and dogs then you’ll appreciate the work that Jake the Diamond Dog does at minor league baseball games. Jake has been trained to retrieve the bats as well as to deliver water to players and referees on hot summer days.

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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” 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.




Insomnia in Elders

A month or so ago, TGB reader Salinda left this comment:

”Over the past year, sleep has become very elusive, and despite good advice from herbalists and docs, meditation, lots of exercise, no screens before bed, ETC, the situation persists.

“For now a coping strategy is to take a nap each day, whenever possible. Not only is my capability to function impaired by the tiredness, it's also more difficult to keep a positive attitude. Would love to hear how others deal with this.”

Remember what sleep was like when we were teenagers? In 1957 when I was 16 years old, I woke one morning with my bed two feet from the wall and no memory of how that could have happened without my noticing, even while asleep. Soon, radio news informed me that there had been an earthquake during the night.

There is no way I could sleep through that nowadays and for more than a decade nothing the so-called “experts” recommend to treat insomnia had helped me.

People don't take insomnia seriously enough. Even though masters-of-the-universe types and tech workers have for many years made it a point of pride to brag that they work 16, 18 and more hours a day, regular lack of sleep can have important consequences and it affects more people than I thought.

According to the National Institutes of Health, it is common problem affecting nearly 50 percent of people 60 and older and about 30 percent of younger adults resulting in significant impairment.

Lack of sleep causes difficulty with concentration, memory, reasoning, problem solving, not to mention attention lapses and slowed reacton time.

”The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),” reports Medscape, “estimates that at least 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths annually are attributable to sleepiness/fatigue.”

With so many people affected, you would think there are remedies, but there are not many that actually work well.

Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep. How many jokes have you heard over the years about old men getting up half a dozen times a night to use the bathroom? I'm living proof that it's a problem not only for men and until recently, I could never get back to sleep afterwards.

Treatments fall mainly into categories of “natural,” of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and of alternative or life-style changes. Before you try anything, be sure to find out if your insomnia is a result of an underlying disease or condition, or a side effect of medications. If not, here is a short overview.

NATURAL
Acupuncture, guided imagery, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, relaxation, meditation and massage fall into this category. There are herbs like melatonin and valerian that work for some people.

Exercise too, including tai chi, are useful although it needs to be no later than three or four hours before bedtime.

OVER-THE-COUNTER SLEEP REMEDIES
The names of these are probably familiar to you: Nytol, Sominex, Tylenol PM, etc. They contain antihistamines which induce drowsiness and they lose effectiveness over fairly short periods of time.

PRESCRIPTION SLEEP REMEDIES
Ativan, Xanax, Valium, Restoril and others are benzodiazepines which are habit-forming, contribute to falling and can be difficult to stop using. Old people's bodies metabolize drugs of all kinds differently from younger adults and because drugs are almost never tested on people older than 65, it is hard to know what is safe.

There is a comprehensive list of safety and efficacy of sleep medications in older adults at this website.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES
These suggestions for a good night's sleep may seem obvious but many studies have shown that they work as well of and, often, better than drugs.

Keep a regular sleep schedule

Avoid heavy meals, smoking, alcohol, or caffeine near bedtime

Avoid naps during the day

Keep your sleep surroundings as dark as possible

Don't watch TV in bed (I record late-night shows for later viewing)

Don't use other tech toys in bed – no phone, tablet, etc.

A few experts suggest no reading in bed either

Make sure you have a comfortable bed in a room not too hot and not too cold

If, in the end you can't get to sleep asleep, specialists suggest you get out of bed, leave the room and return when you feel sleepy again

SECOND SLEEP

That last suggestion brings me to a historic practice that was similar: First Sleep/Second Sleep which I wrote about here in 2012. I first heard about it in a fascinating book, At Day's Close – Night in Times Past by A. Roger Ekirch who posits that from about 1500 to 1850, before the advent of artificial light, people may have commonly slept in two shifts – so commonly that hardly anyone thought to mention it.

”...fragments in several languages...,” writes Ekirch, “give clues to the essential features of this puzzling pattern of repose.

“Both phases of sleep lasted roughly the same length of time, with individuals waking sometime after midnight before returning to rest...Men and women referred to both intervals as if the prospect of awakening in the middle of the night was common knowledge that required no elaboration...”

“After midnight, pre-industrial households usually began to stir. Many of those who left their beds merely needed to urinate...

“Some persons, however, after arising, took the opportunity to smoke tobacco, check the time, or tend a fire. Thomas Jubb, an impoverished Leeds clothier, rising around midnight, 'went into Cow Lane & hearing ye clock strike twelve' returned 'home & went to bed again.'”

I've tried this in the past and it worked for me to a degree except that too often, I stayed up several hours then slept in too late in the morning than I felt comfortable with.

CANNABIS
For the past several months, I've been using a tincture of cannabis to help me sleep and now, after at least a decade of not sleeping more than three or four hours a night, it feels like a miracle to me.

I use a tincture of THC (the non-high-producing CBD works for some people) and I'm easily getting seven or eight hours of sleep a night. Plus, when I get up to use the bathroom, I can go right back to sleep when I return to bed.

I could give you a long list of online websites to consult but it's just as easy for you to search “insomnia remedies” or “insomnia treatment”. There is an enormous amount of information and with minor discrepancies, most agree with one another.

Meanwhile, let's help out Salinda. What is your experience with insomnia? What have you tried that did not work and what have you used that does?

(Remember: no medical advice, no recommendations of medications, no links to other websites.)