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ELDER MUSIC: Oz Rock Bands

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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Here are some Australian rock bands that most Americans would not know. Thus there is no AC/DC, Little River Band, Easybeats, Crowded House, Men At Work or Air Supply. The ones today were all successful at home but made little impact in the wider world, and that is the world’s loss.

Because of the country’s small population, these bands developed their skills in pubs and clubs throughout the country, touring constantly, and they had to get good really quickly or they’d go under. These are the survivors of that process. As they used to say on records back in the day, turn up your volume.

Daddy Who? Daddy Cool! (Sorry, I was flashing back to 1971). DADDY COOL is my favorite Oz rock band, and probably the fave of most people of a certain age in this country.


All the members were in several bands previously and they set up Daddy Cool just as a side project, one where they could mess around and play whatever they wanted. What they wanted proved to hit a nerve with the public and they became hugely successful in their new guise.

Their first big hit, written by Ross Wilson, their singer and rhythm guitarist, spent a rather remarkable 10 weeks as number one on the charts. That song is Eagle Rock.

When Elton John toured and heard the song he was so impressed by it he (and Bernie Taupin) wrote Crocodile Rock as an homage.

♫ Daddy Cool - Eagle Rock

STARS were a country tinged band who only made two albums.


That’s because their main songwriter and guitarist died from cancer at the ridiculously young age of 25.

They were a particular favorite of Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and I asked her if she agreed with my choice of song. I think she would have been okay with any from either album. The one I chose is Let's Get Moving.

♫ Stars - Let's Get Moving

In the mid-sixties when young folks were taking up guitars and the like, THE LOVED ONES had an advantage over the rest as most of their members came from jazz bands. Thus they already knew how to play more than three chords.

Loved Ones

They had another advantage, a quite extraordinary singer (Gerry Humphreys) who was like no one else before or since. The band made an album that hit the top of the charts, had four singles that did the same and disintegrated after a year of huge success and popularity never to be heard from again.

The first of their big hits they named after themselves, The Loved One.

♫ Loved Ones - The Loved One

Easily the most successful band within Australia was COLD CHISEL.

Cold Chisel

They had many hits over the years, and this was another excuse for me to play their best song, Flame Trees.

♫ Cold Chisel - Flame Trees

Several of the members of HUNTERS AND COLLECTORS met when they were at Melbourne University.

Hunters & Collectors

They started a band and, as with just about all bands, they evolved, split and became several different ones over the years. The essential core remained the same, particularly their singer, songwriter and guitarist Mark Seymour (who, for those who like musical trivia, is the older brother of the late Nick Seymour of Crowded House).

There are few better songs that came out of that era than Throw Your Arms Around Me. There have been a couple of even better versions of the song, but this is the original.

♫ Hunters & Collectors - Throw Your Arms Around Me

SKYHOOKS were a serious rock band masquerading as a glam-rock outfit.


Well, perhaps not entirely serious, given some of their songs (whose names I won’t mention because this is a family blog). We won’t go with those, instead it’s a bit irony with All My Friends Are Getting Married.

♫ Skyhooks - All My Friends Are Getting Married

JO JO ZEP AND THE FALCONS were an early (but not the first) band formed by the musical powerhouse Joe Camilleri.

Jo Jo Zep

Jo Jo Zep was a nickname bestowed on Joe by his mother. The group’s style was rhythm and blues mixed with reggae, soul, punk and even a bit of jazz. That’s because their members were serious musicians who knew their stuff.

Their first song to make the charts was Hit and Run.

♫ Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons - Hit and Run

REDGUM recorded the best and most poignant song about the Vietnam war.


Yes, we were there too because our stupid Prime Minister at the time (Bob Menzies) pretty much insisted on it. I’ll stop there otherwise I’ll get really angry. The song is I Was Only 19.

♫ Redgum - I Was Only 19 (a walk in the light green)

THE CHURCH was pretty much the brainchild of Steve Kilbey.

The Church

Steve obviously listened carefully to The Byrds, especially to McGuinn’s twelve string electric guitar. However, the group quickly evolved into a distinctive one. They had several songs that became icons of the Australian musical scene. One of those is Unguarded Moment.

♫ The Church - Unguarded Moment

THE BLACK SORROWS were yet another of Joe Camilleri’s bands.

Black Sorrows

I could do a whole column on his bands. Oops, sorry, I’ve already done that. This was easily the most successful of his units. I’ll even play the most successful of his songs, Harley and Rose.

♫ Black Sorrows - Harley And Rose

The members of MENTAL AS ANYTHING are all from various art schools, and all of them are still involved in the art world. Indeed, Reg Mombassa (not the name his mum and dad gave him) is the creator of the Mambo line of clothing and whatnot.

Mental as Anything

Given their name, you can probably guess that they don’t take themselves too seriously – one of their big hits was If You Leave Me Can I Come Too? I nearly included that one, but finally decided on The Nips Are Getting Bigger. An Australian song about drinking. Who’d’a thunk it?

♫ Mental As Anything - The Nips Are Getting Bigger

I can’t help myself; I had to include another track from THE LOVED ONES.

Loved Ones

The song is Everlovin' Man. You really have to smile at Gerry’s vocal gymnastics (well, I do). If ever a band deserved the appellation “iconic” it was this one.

♫ Loved Ones - Everlovin' Man

INTERESTING STUFF – 29 September 2018


I may have mentioned that for the past five or six months I have been using a cannabis tincture of THC to help me sleep. It works well. Bud tenders at dispensaries I visit have told me that the majority – more than half – of their customers are people in my age group that is, elders.

About a week ago, the Washington Post reported on a new study of the age of marijuana users:

”The latest release of a massive federal drug use survey shows monthly marijuana use has skyrocketed among older Americans...

“As recently as the early 2000s, teens were more than four times more likely to use marijuana than 50- and 60-somethings. But as of 2017, Americans ages 55 to 64 are now slightly more likely to smoke pot on a monthly basis than teens ages 12 to 17...

“The oldest age group — seniors age 65 and older — has seen steep increases in marijuana use, as well. In the mid-2000s, monthly marijuana use among this group was effectively at zero percent. As of last year, 2.4 percent of seniors used marijuana monthly, and nearly 4 percent were using on at least an annual basis.”

Here's the chart:


It makes sense to me to me for several reasons. Cannabis is a effective treatment for a number if ailments that effect elders more than young people, an increasing number of states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use and old folks are, to a large degree, the Woodstock generation. We've been here before.

You can read more at the Washington Post.


About 95 percent of the time, I mute television commercials or skip through them if I'm watching a recording. But not this one.

Without making it clear what is it they do there, the commercial promotes the Hospital For Special Surgery, it has been running for many months and is titled, The Way You Move.

It always makes me feel good. How about you?

The music is Do Your Thing by Basement Jaxx.


Although leaders of the world have essentially done nothing, scientists have warned us for decades now that the polar ice is melting and many of us have seen videos of near-continent-size chunks of ice breaking off into the sea.

As a result of all this ice becoming water, scientists expect the seas to rise. And to rise more dramatically that I previously understood.

Here's a video about will happen to Earth if all the ice melts. (The video was released a year ago which accounts for the promotion of a film that was being released then.)


On the morning of the Blasey-Ford/Kavanaugh hearings, the print edition of The New York Times published this amazing front page – an image of Judge Kavanaugh's youthful calendar.


There is a larger image here. [pdf]


Two things about this item:

  1. TV commercials seem to be a theme of today's post. I don't know how that happened but there you are.

  2. I have a vague memory of possibly having posted this one in the past but I'm not sure. Either way, it is extraordinary. Not a word spoken and you know exactly what it's all about.


With the thousands of lies the U.S. president tells that has also given permission to others with such a bent to do the same, I have had a sense for a long time now that truth – even the idea of truth is being lost to us.

New Yorker writer, journalist and activist, Masha Gessen, says in this video:

”There is no such thing as truth. Whoever has objectively more power owns reality.”

This video from Vox gives us a fascinating lesson in how lies relate to power.


This is one of the most useful medical reports I have ever found.

ProPublica recently published a story about how cancer trials are conducted including a long list of answers to questions that any potential participant would want to know.

”Most trials are run at academic medical centers and conducted by researchers there,” writes ProPublica's Caroline Chen. “Patients outside those centers often aren’t aware that clinical trials are an option, or they may wonder what joining a study entails. For patients who might consider a clinical trial, here are answers to some common questions.”

Such questions, among others, are these:

Why should I join a clinical trial?
What are the risks of joining a clinical trial?
Will I be given a placebo?
How much time does it take to participate in a trial?
What if I cannot find a trial that will accept me?

This is worth not only a read but a good thing to set aside for when you or someone you know might want the information. You will find the entire story at ProPublica.


Otters, even the grownups, are the cutest things. Here is a big otter family giving the babies their first swimming lesson. From BBC Earth.


This Twitter video came in at the last minute from friend Jim Stone as I was putting together today's post. It seems to me after the terrible, no good, awful political week we have been through, we really need this catharsis:

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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.

Two Age Things of Opposing Interest

Yes, these look like items that would usually turn up in Saturday's weekly Interesting Stuff post. But I think they both deserve more attention than perhaps being lost among eight or 10 other items. See what you think.

Certainly I have banged on here – and will again - about how important it is for Americans to vote for their local and Congressional candidates in the midterm election on 6 November.

But never in my dreams could I have envisioned other voting advocates dismissing the need of some citizens to vote, and definitely not for the reason in this video.

It comes from an organization called the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that sounds righteous enough in their About statement on its website:

“NRDC was founded in 1970 by a group of law students and attorneys at the forefront of the environmental movement. Today's leadership team and board of trustees makes sure the organization continues to work to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities.”

“...ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water and healthy communities” but not, apparently, the right to vote after a certain age.

The video is obviously meant to have a little fun while promoting voting by imagining a Non-Voters Anonymous meeting based on the many flavors of such self-help groups. Take a look and be especially attentive at 2:40 in from the top:

Did you get that?

SPEAKER 1: You can vote in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s.

SPEAKER 2: Not 80s. Stay home.

SPEAKER 1: 80s too old. What's the point.

If that exchange was meant to be funny, it missed the mark by 100 percent. Shame on the National Resources Defense Council and everyone involved with the production of this video.

It is a credit to the simpatico between readers of this blog and me that most of the time when readers send links to stories, videos, books, movies, etc. they find interesting, I have just that day or so discovered them myself. (That doesn't mean you should stop sending them; there are plenty I wouldn't know about without you.)

I had just spent 13-plus minutes watching this documentary about Donald Hall when an email arrived from Jack Handley recommending it. He included this message in his note:

No sentimentalities
No denials
No woo woo
No sky gods
No perversion of emotions

And so it is.

American poet laureate, Donald Hall, who has been featured here on several occasions through the years, died in June at age 89. His most recent and now, alas, final book was published in July: A Carnival of Losses: Notes on Nearing 90.

The video, titled Quiet Hours by the producer/director Paul Szynol, premiered at The Atlantic website on Monday – a lovely meditation on old age in which Szynol gives us plenty of silent moments to contemplate what has been said and shown.

(One suggestion: Hall's voice is sometimes muffled and it helps to turn on the closed captioning which is, however, far from perfect but it will help you understand without having to stop and back up the video.)

For all my years producing television, it is words that have always mattered to me first. Two moments among others from the documentary that stand out for me – Hall speaking:

“My companion was her absence.” (Regarding Jane Kenyon, the love of his life who died 22 years ago:)

"Often, at night, solitude loses its soft power, and loneliness takes over. I am grateful for when solitude returns.”

Take a look for yourself:

More at The Atlantic website.

What Peter Tibbles Did on His Birthday

Short answer: “I broke my neck.”

[Ronni here for a moment. As most of you know, Peter Tibbles writes the Sunday Time Goes By column, Elder Music. It surprised me when I checked just now that he's been doing this for almost a decade – 2019 will be ten years.

Peter and Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, who live in Australia, are old friends now - they've even visited me here in Oregon. Twice. September 16 was Peter's 73rd birthday and – well, I'll let him tell the rest of the story.]

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Technically, that happened about an hour before the big day. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, was around for dinner, and I was seeing her off at the door when I started coughing, blacked out momentarily – just a second or two – and went downwards.

My head must have gone at an angle that it wasn’t meant to. The pain was way, way off the charts (and I used to have migraines as a youth and early adult, so I know about that).

Norma rang the ambulance and they arrived in about four minutes (one of their stations is just around the corner) and they did all that stuff you see when football players go down. There was an extra degree of difficulty – getting down two flights of stairs (or four, depending on how you count them).

Off to Emergency at the Alfred Hospital where I hung around looking at the ceiling for about five hours until they did x-rays, CT scans, CAT scans and whatnot.

It turned out to be a break in the C1 and C2 bones of the spine (those up closest to the head). Then my birthday was spent flat on my back staring vaguely towards the ceiling as I couldn’t see much without my glasses on.

To make things even more entertaining, the next couple of days consisted of vast amounts of projectile vomiting, lots of fun at any time, but even more so when you’re flat on your back wearing a rigid collar. This was unrelated to the fall and it wasn’t concussion.

For the next couple of days I was helpless as a kitten up a tree, but after about four days I was starting to walk around a little, and that kept improving.

In the meantime they took out blood, put stuff into me (including some good pain killers), and connected me to machines that went “bing”. They took my blood pressure seemingly about every 15 minutes.

I’m now home and I have to sleep with just a folded towel under my head, no pillows. It surprised me by being not at all uncomfortable, and I’ve slept really well. It’s difficult getting out of bed in the morning; it usually takes three or four attempts before I manage that.

So, I’ll be wearing this collar for the next three months, eating healthy food (gasp) and eschewing wine (yikes).

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[Ronni again. For some period of time, Peter tells me, he won't be able to sit for long at his computer. But that won't stop Sunday's Elder Music. We have a reasonable backlog and if that runs out, there is that decade of old columns that are worth exploring.]

A TGB Reader Story: Who Am I?

By Rosemary Woodel

I am a woman who no longer has her own washing machine.

I am very lucky to now live close to well-lit places I want to visit because I should no longer drive certain places at night.

I am a photographer and a writer.

I am a person who cries in public but likes to make people laugh.

I am no longer well organized. Where are the framed photographs I took in Ukraine? Did I give them away? Why?

I am someone who just found a comforter under the bed in a box I hadn’t seen for seven months, who “found” a drawer in the bureau which I hadn’t opened for six months. Apricot sheets!

I am the kind of person who spends an hour trying to fall asleep, ashamed of being grouchy to two people. And when I call to apologize, they didn’t think I was grouchy at all. I am a person who has forgiving friends.

I am someone who gave away nearly all the Christmas decorations I had in my big house and now misses having some of them in my small apartment.

I am a person who was highly regarded at white-water rafting this summer but two months later flunked out of the low-ropes course with leftover tendonitis and a possible meniscus tear. For at least four weeks I have to walk up steps with my left leg leading.

I am someone who likes living in a dormitory for old people. I am now a person with a Talbots credit card. Talbots?!

I am a person wondering how long I want to live.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: This feature, TGB Readers' Stories, appears every Tuesday. Anyone age 50 and older is welcome to submit a story. You can do that by clicking the “Contact” link at the top of every TGB page or at the Guidelines/Submissions page.

Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting a story. It will save me a lot of time.

Annual National Falls Prevention Checkup

Saturday was the first day of fall and it was lovely, sunny and warm, here. How about where you live?

Also, in the United States, it was the tenth annual National Falls Prevention Day, sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) – always a good time to review one's habits and home for falling safety.

I write about fall prevention so frequently that you must know the U.S. statistics related to people 65 and older by now. The two most important are:

  • An elder is treated for a fall in an emergency room every 13 seconds
  • In 2016, 29,668 people in that age group died as the result of a fall

If that doesn't get your attention, in May, the Los Angeles Times, working with data from the Centers for Disease Control, reported an alarming increase in death from falls among elders:

”...falls ended the lives of 61.6 out of every 100,000 senior citizens [in 2016]. Back in 2007, there were 47 fall-related deaths for every 100,000 senior citizens. That means the mortality rate due to falls increased by 31% over the course of a decade...”

The Times attributes the increase to growing numbers of people living longer, and Kaiser Health News reports that one's 80th birthday is a warning sign of increased susceptibility to falling:

”Fear of falling — and the emotional and physical blowback from a fall — are part of turning 80.

“If you are in your 80s and living at home, the chance that you might fall in a given year grows more likely, said Kritchevsky...The study notes that the risk increases with age, making people in their 80s even more vulnerable.”

So this is a good time to do a home and personal inventory to reduce the possibility of falling. The biggest change I made this year is to give up ladders. I'm just not as sure-footed getting up and down on them, so time to stop.

This video, even with its brevity, covers almost everything you need to know about preventing falls.

This infographic from the NCOA covers similar ground:


And this is a list of websites about most of the hazards and preventions we should check for and correct once a year:

National Institute on Aging

AARP – Preventing Falls in the Elderly

Mayo Clinic


National Institute on Aging

Just this week, Apple announced the release of its Series 4 Apple Watch that includes a fall detection algorithm. (It is also a blood pressure and heart rate monitor). Here is a photo:


Reports MobiHealth News,

”Apple's addition of fall detection is likely to be overshadowed by the ECG news, but it's also an impressive achievement...

"When the Watch detects the fall, it will give the user an opportunity to call an emergency contact. But if it detects that the user is immobile for one minute after the fall, it will automatically reach out to authorities using Apple's emergency alert system. It also sends a message to emergency contacts in that situation.”

Of course I have no idea how well this works – just letting you know it exists, among many other kinds of wearable falls detection devices. You will find one comparison list here.

On the other hand, if you're thinking this is too much ado about only one kind of elder danger (it isn't, but go with me on this for a moment), there is always this solution to taking a fall:


My apologies to the TGB reader who sent this cartoon – I forgot to make note of your name.

ELDER MUSIC: Film Associations

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.

* * *

Classical music has been used in numerous films but there are a certain few where the music has been inextricably linked to them. I'm going to feature some of those today. I imagine you know all of these, but it's fun to revisit them.


Elvira Madigan

“Elvira Madigan” is the only film on the list today that I haven’t seen, however, it does include Mozart’s music so I’ve included it. The music is his Piano Concerto No.21, the second movement.

♫ Mozart - Concerto n° 21 (2)


Lone Ranger

I haven’t seen a film of “The Lone Ranger” but I watched the TV program enough times when I was young so I think that counts.

There's an old saying that anyone who can listen to Rossini’s overture to his opera “William Tell”, and not think of “The Lone Ranger” is a civilised person indeed. I guess that makes me uncivilised. I don't think I'm alone.

Of course, when you listen to the complete overture you might be sitting there thinking, when does the famous bit kick in? Quite some time into the piece, is the answer.

♫ Rossini - Guillaume Tell



“Diva” is a French film that’s worth searching for if you haven’t seen it. It’s about a reclusive opera singer, played by Wilhemenia Fernandez, and an obsessive fan who wants to record her. The piece of music featured throughout is the aria Ebben Ne andrò lontana from Catalani’s opera “La Wally”.

♫ Wilhemenia Fernandez - Aria From La Wally


The Lady Killers

“The Lady Killers” is an entertaining tale of a bunch of crooks who pretend to be a string quintet to fool their landlady while they are plotting. What could possibly go wrong? The piece they play, and when I say play I mean play a record of, is a string quintet by Boccherini.

Old Boccers wrote music for a group called the Font String Quartet. He liked to play with the lads himself, so he added an extra cello part for himself and thus created a string quintet.

His most famous is the one used in the film, String Quintet in E major, G. 275, the third movement, a minuet.

♫ Boccherini - String Quintet in E Major Op. 11 No. 5 G. 275 (3)



Just about everyone knows the start of this film. The music used over the initial sequence is a small part of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.

It's a good thing that Stanley Kubrick only used this first bit because, to put no fine point on it, the rest of it is quite tedious – and it does go on for quite some time, so we're spared that.

So, here is just the first bit of the first movement of the tone poem by Richard Strauss called Also Sprach Zarathustra.

♫ Richard Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra (1)


Brief Encounter

Do films get any more British stiff-upper-lippery than Brief Encounter? No, they don’t. It’s probably the most passionate film ever made where nothing actually happens.

It all doesn’t happen to the sound of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, mostly the second movement.

♫ Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 2 (2)


The Shawshank Redemtion

This is a rare recent film that’s on the list of a lot of people’s favorites, including mine. (Rare because there would be few recent films that most of us would even consider for that list – or is that just me?)

There is a scene where prison inmate Andy (Tim Robbins) locks himself in the warden’s office and broadcasts to the entire prison the Letter Duet from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro”. His friend Red (Morgan Freeman) says, “For the briefest of moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free”.

♫ Mozart - Marriage of Figaro Aria


The Sting

"The Sting" brought the music of Scott Joplin back into the spotlight where it’s remained since. That was a bit odd because the period in which the film is set is some decades after Scott’s music was popular. Doesn’t matter.

The tune that was probably considered the main theme of the film is The Entertainer.

♫ Scott Joplin - The Entertainer


Priscilla Queen of the Desert

In case you’re unaware, Priscilla is the name of the bus used by the main characters to travel from Sydney to Alice Springs. During the journey Felicia (Guy Pearce) got on top of the bus and sang along to Joan Sutherland performing E'strano Ah fors'e lui Sempre libera from Verdi’s opera “La Traviata”.

♫ Verdi - La Traviata E'strano Ah fors'e lui Sempre libera


Death In Venice

“Death in Venice” used the music of Mahler quite extensively, sampling a couple of his symphonies. The biggest chunk was the fourth movement of Symphony No. 5. Like much of Mahler, this does go on for a bit so you could probably go and make a cup of tea or coffee. Perhaps cook some toast.

♫ Mahler - Symphony No. 5 (4)

INTERESTING STUFF – 22 September 2018


Washington Post columnist Max Boot, this week, marvelously compared Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to the sheriff who relentlessly tracked down Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.


Yes, that Butch and Sundance who tried mightily to elude the guys who were persuing them:

“'Those guys,' wrote Boot, “turn out to be a collection of the best lawmen in the West, led by a legendary sheriff named Joe Lefors, who have been assembled to finally hunt down the bandits.

“Robert S. Mueller III is the real-life incarnation of Lefors, and his special counsel team is the real-life superposse. Like Lefors in the movie, he never says a word. Instead, he lets his work speak for itself...

“As Mueller’s investigation advances, methodically and relentlessly, Trump is acting as rattled as Butch and Sundance — minus, of course, the charm, wit and good looks of Redford and Newman.”

Exactly. You can read the entire column here.

In case you're interested, Max Boot, who is so much more than an opinion columnist, has become one of my favorite regular reads. You can find out more about him here.


This happens to me once every day of the week at the same time each day:

”More than half of all complaints received by the Federal Communications Commission — more than 200,000 of them — are about unwanted calls. The FCC said Americans received about 2.4 billion unwanted, automated calls each month, according to 2016 estimates.”

The spoofing comes in when you answer a call because the phone number displayed shows your own Area Code so you might think it is a friend or neighbor. (I never learn; it gets me every time.)

You can read more here and this video has some information to help you keep calls to a low roar:


When I was growing up, Victor Borge was a staple on television variety shows of the era. I'd forgotten him until I ran across this video with one of his classic comedy routines:


Credit freezes are an important tool to keeping your personal financial information safe. As The New York Times

”Security freezes, often called credit freezes, are 'absolutely' the best way to prevent criminals from using your personal information to open new accounts in your name, said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer advocacy nonprofit group.”

Before now, the three major credit agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian charged a fee for consumers to freeze their credit. The first two dropped those charges awhile back and now, Experian has joined them in accordance with a new law that went into effect yesterday, 21 September.

Those links above will take you to each agency's credit freeze page. You can read more at The New York Times.


When John Oliver's HBO program, Last Week Tonight, is on hiatus, he sometimes posts a short, web-only video to carry us over until the next full show.

Here is one about retractions of previous statements he has made in error. Or not.


Not many people can afford these scissors. It's an amazing story and sad, too, that this man is the last one who knows how to do this.


There is a new study linking air pollution to dementia. Here's a short news video:

As The Guardian reports:

”Air pollution has already been linked with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, but this is one of the first studies to examine links with neurodegenerative illness.

“Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at King’s College London and one of the authors of the paper, told the Guardian: 'The study outcome suggests a linkage [between air pollution and dementia] but cannot inform on the cause. However, I believe that we now have sufficient knowledge to add air pollution to the list of risk factors for dementia.'”

More at The Guardian and the Daily Beast. The full study is at the BMJ [pdf].


This is no exaggeration. It happened to me almost word-for-word a few days ago. My friend and attorney John Gear sent it, perhaps in response to Crabby Old Lady's elder tech complaints last Monday.

Please enter your new password.


Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.

Boiled cabbage

Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.

1 boiled cabbage

Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces


Sorry, the password must contain at least one upper case character.


Sorry the password cannot use more than one upper case character consecutively.


Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.


Sorry, that password is already in use.


Have I shown you this video before? I know I saw it sometime in the past but I don't recall if I posted it. Anyway, it's just as amusing the second time around for me and maybe for you too.

And let's give the writer a hand – it's a great script.

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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.

The Age of Presidents and The Alex and Ronni Show

A couple of days ago, TGB reader Jean Gogolin asked me when I believe a person is too old to be president of the United States.

This year's midterm election is still weeks away but politicians are already been testing the waters for a presidential run in 2020. So I did a background check to see how old some of the possible contenders will be on inauguration day 2021. Here are a few of them in alphabetical order:

Joe Biden – 78
Cory Booker – 51
Kamala Harris – 57
Eric Holder – 70 (the day after the inauguration)
Bernie Sanders – 79
Donald Trump - 74
Elizabeth Warren – 72

For no good reason other than just because, during our Alex and Ronni Show recording on Wednesday this week, I put Jean's question to my former husband.

Here's the video we made; the presidential age question begins at about 11:30 minutes from the top. As you will see, we disagree.

I'm more articulate on paper than verbally and what I meant to make clear is that because humans age at remarkably different rates, I don't believe it's fair or possible to put an age limit on the presidency. Nor would I want to. There are people who might not be able to handle the job at 50; others would be fine at 80 and up.

An important question in placing an upper age limit on the presidency is when it would be imposed. If, arbitrarily, the limit were 65, would that mean a person could be elected at that age or would the candidate need to be 61 or 57 when elected to not pass the 65-year limit before the end of a four- or eight-year term?

At the other end of the age scale, the Constitution requires a president be at least 35 years of age. That seems to be a rational choice of the Founding Fathers to me. Although I might like to see a bit more seasoning that most of us have gained at that age, it is probably enough time for any serious person to be up for the job.

More to the point and after having somehow survived these past two years, it might be prudent for the country to consider a political science test to be sure a presidential candidate has a working knowledge of how government operates. Maybe a psychological test too. And is there such a thing as an ethics test?

Okay, I'm kidding in that last paragraph. But not by much.

What's your take on the presidential age question?

What Was Your Most Difficult Birthday?

As we have discussed here many times, most western democracies are profoundly ageist cultures.

It starts in the cradle, this antipathy toward the no longer young and from there, the number of ways that have been invented to marginalize people older than 50 – even, often, older than 40 – is boundless.

Just last evening, in an otherwise excellent novel I'm reading, this description of a newly introduced character appeared: “She was a woman of about 60 who in her younger years must have been a beauty.” There had been a similar sentence 50 or 60 pages earlier about another woman.

Are you saying that now she's a hag? I thought. It is the most common dismissal of women (and, occasionally, men), that if they are old – calculated by young people's standards – they are ugly.

Of course, the ramifications of such judgments are more serious than simple scorn: people are fired from jobs due to false stereotypes of older adults, not hired in the first place, subject to sub-par healthcare and generally discouraged from participating in public life.

But that's a story for another day. What I want to note today is that even while lamenting all that, we who are old generally abide with ourselves and our kind quite well and actually, life does get better.

These days, at age 77, I wake most mornings with a smile, eager to get on with whatever I have or have not planned for the day. That daily appetite is new and undoubtedly some of it is a consequence of surviving, so far, pancreatic cancer and being more fully aware than at any time in my life how precious is each new day.

But it's not all as a result of cancer. A lot, maybe the largest part, is having been surprised at some of the advantages of advanced age and the real changes I've experienced in my own attitudes and behavior.

Acceptance of what is, to which I have paid lip service for too long, is how, at last, I live mostly. I suspect it may arrive after decades of various levels of catastrophe that were, to my astonishment when they happened, survivable. Now I don't panic anymore when things go wrong.

This has brought better perspective, an increased ability to weigh events on more reasonable scales. Most occurrences that once fell into my disaster column are not - at least in the long run. Just cleaning up the spilt milk and getting on with living is so much easier than the “oh-my-god” anxieties and fears of the past.

And patience. It doesn't need to be today anymore. Although I will admit to being puzzled that at a time in life when what time I have left is demonstrably shorter, I am quite happy to put off all kinds of things – interesting as well as tedious - until tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next. I have no idea why it should be that way; it is a mystery.

And now, even in this culture that to a large degree despises people of old age, I welcome birthdays; I like ticking off the years as they go by. In fact, the last birthday that I feared was 40.

I spent my entire 39th year boring every person I knew with lamentations over the impending doom, as I saw it, of turning 40. Looking back at my incessant wailing, I'm surprised any friendships from that year survived.

When the dread day arrived, I found on my desk at work that morning a classic, long white box in which red roses are usually delivered. But my birthday is in April, springtime, and the man I was then dating was much more inventive than that.

Inside were 40 (I counted them) gorgeous, fresh tulips and as lovely as they were, it was the card that made my day: “See how beautiful 40 can be.” (The seventh photograph from the left in the banner at the top of this page was taken on the evening of that day.)

It was still another three decades or so before I began to make real peace with growing old but none of the succeeding birthdays were as fraught as 40. I was learning acceptance – it just took me a long, long time to get there.

Have you had a really difficult birthday?

A TGB Reader Story: The Grapes Aren't Sour; They're Just Not on the Menu Often Enough

By officerripley

I managed to strand myself in my old age in a conservative area and am feeling left out because I'm left of center compared to nearly all the gals in my age group who only seem to be concerned with grandkids, God, gardening and gun "rights."

The few gals in my age group with whom I do share political, social, and world views seem to find me "dull" because I have way less education than they do. (Although they'd never in a million years admit that they're even just the teeniest bit prejudiced against my "sort.")

After trying everything - book clubs,, even the few supposedly liberal churches in the area - I keep running into the same old, "Oh, you ONLY have a high school diploma? I see. Well, we only take women with degrees in our feminist group." Or "You CHOSE not to have kids?! I see." Or "You know, you'd probably be happier in or near a large city. What's that? You can't AFFORD to move? Oh, I see."

(And the look on their faces when they say that stuff? Don't get me started.)

Then I did finally find a group that was on the same political/social page as I, a group that I really enjoyed; finally, people that think and feel the same way I do!

I can let my hair down around these gals, yay! Then I began to feel weird about how much I looked forward to this one hour a month, about how I'd daydream about what I'll talk about at the next meeting, stuff that I have no one else I can talk to about.

I wondered why I was feeling worried about how much I relied on this group and realized that that's why I was right to worry: I was relying too much on this group. Even after some attempts on my part, no friendships developed even after two years, which is understandable since the gals in the group are at least 25 years younger than I.

The group was composed of young, still-working, busy gals who also had elderly parents to take care of; they didn't have time for anything else in their lives.

I finally began to see that me looking forward to that one hour a month was not enough. I realize that a lot of people - namely young people - would see this as akin to "sour grapes" syndrome: oh, you're mad at the world because you don't get to have this fun all month long, so you're throwing a tantrum like a bratty kid and saying "well, then, I don't want any fun!"

And I really soul-searched to see if that was what I was feeling, but I really don't think it is. The way I feel is that this is a way of protecting myself; that one hour a month is such a small "helping" of fun and good feelings that it makes the rest of the month that much harder to bear.

It feels like being hungry all the time and once a month, you get one bite of something delicious. After a while you being to realize that the one delicious bite makes the watery soup you have to eat the rest of the month that much harder to put up with.

Therefore, my goal is now to get myself used to the loneliness of spending my old age in an area where I don't fit in. It's cold comfort, but I keep hearing that it makes me a member of a very large club.

Also, maybe this will help anyone younger who happens to read this, or any of you high-energy, busy-all-time elderly – how the heck do you do it?! Espresso or what?! - understand why it seems as if some of us elderly have "given up." Self-protection; that's all it is.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: This feature, TGB Readers' Stories, appears every Tuesday. Anyone age 50 and older is welcome to submit a story. You can do that by clicking the “Contact” link at the top of every TGB page or at the Guidelines/Submissions page.

Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting a story. It will save me a lot of time.

Crabby Old Lady and Elder Tech

When Crabby Old Lady was growing up, the most ubiquitous radio and, later, television commercials for health remedies were about tummy upsets (Pepto Bismol), headaches (Bayer aspirin) and sore muscles (Ben-Gay) – nothing serious enough, most of the time, for a doctor and the products were relatively benign.

These days, drug commercials have gone big-time. They are all about cancer, diabetes, COPD, stroke, heart disease, dementia, and the rest that strike fear into those who are diagnosed and are, you will note, almost entirely to old people.

Although Crabby resents the constant presentation of elders as diseased and sick, she understands that to advertisers, we are where the money is - a large, still growing cohort that does, after all, use more of these drugs and treatments than younger people.

But nowadays it's not just hangnails and cancer. There is a burgeoning industry of “smart technology” specifically for old people. At least one writer calls it “gerontechnology” and by that he means:

”...devices or solutions, including telehealth, telecare, information and communication, and robotic options.”

Crabby Old Lady calls it elder tech and it is both much more intrusive than is mentioned in the reporting about it, the brochures and the advertising.

Writing at Atlas of Science, Stephen M. Golant tells us the goal of elder tech is to help elders lead healthier, more independent and active lives. He then lists specific solutions which Crabby is quoting in full because you should know what is available, in development and/or being planned for us:

'This technology relies on sensors found in the bracelets, necklaces, clothing, watches, or smartphones of older adults, inserted in the walls, floors, lighting, appliances, or furniture of their dwellings, or even implanted in their bodies.

“Robots with human-like appearances may also incorporate these sensors. They can continually monitor and evaluate the physical health conditions of older persons, their cognitive (e.g., memory and reasoning) and sensory (e.g., hearing and vision) performance, physical agility, activities in their dwellings, and social connections.

“They also monitor the comfort, safety, and security of their homes by measuring their air pollutants, dampness, water leaks, mold, bacterial infections, poor lighting or visibility, accident risks, and extreme temperature conditions.

“These sensors communicate their monitored information to older persons and designated family members and professionals who can respond to their unmet needs or problems.”

That's a whole lotta elder tech going on.

Given the amount of time Crabby has spent with physicians and other health care professionals over the past 15 months, she is most looking forward to telehealth and telecare. It exists in a few quarters but is, apparently, slow to be adopted.

If it were available to Crabby, she could have avoided about half the dozens of in-person visits she made with health care individuals in the past year. And it would be a boon to people who cannot or do not drive any longer.

Some of this technology, such as home sensors, bracelets, smartphones, etc. (the ones aimed at old people) have been on the market for at least a decade, becoming more sophisticated with each new release. Some others are at various stages of development, all often marketed to the adult children of elders, and not to elders themselves.

And that's the part about this equipment that makes Crabby Old Lady dubious, deeply so, with the use of these phrases:

“they can continually monitor”
“implanted in their bodies”
"communicate their monitored information”

It's just plain creepy that someone would know and make note if Crabby slept in past her usual waking time. Or that she stayed up all night. Or if it reported her to some anonymous monitor for “accident risks”.

Not to mention that if someone has not yet incorporated Alexa-type listening devices into these monitors, they soon will so that nothing an elder says or does in his/her home is private ever again.

Some elders may like all this peeping Tom elder tech and certainly many can attest to the importance of their medical alert buttons if they have fallen or have needed another kind of help. The difference is that no one is listening 24/7 through those alert devices and they are activated by the persons wearing them.

Golant's purpose with his article is to explain his study into whether elders will even use these smart devices. He has come up with four factors that would influence their decisions:

How serious they are about their health conditions
How resilient and receptive they are to new ideas
How persuasive the information is about the product
How good and/or bad past personal experience with technology has been

It sounds to Crabby that according to Golant she, at age 77, would make a decision pretty much on the same bases as she did at age 27. He suggests that elders focus on three attributes in choosing to purchase these products and services:

  1. Usefulness
  2. Ease of use
  3. Collateral damage

To Golant's credit, he mentions “assaults on privacy” as an example of collateral damage.

Overall, Crabby Old Lady is unsettled by these devices and solutions even as she can see some of their merit. A big problem for Crabby is that we know now after several decades of computers and related technology, that nothing is private anymore.

Not to mention the omnipresence of surveillance wherever we go. These new products just add indoor home cameras and microphones to the public ones that track us on every block.

Really now - Crabby Old Lady would like to walk around naked in her own home when she feels like it with the certainty she is not being watched.

What about you?

Just for fun here at the end, this is a trailer for my favorite robot movie, Robot and Frank starring Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon. As one of the YouTube commenters wrote:

”A brilliant piece of science fiction and drama without a single alien or spaceship."

ELDER MUSIC: Play it Cool

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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I had to Google those things because we don't have them where I live. I hope you aren't too cool to read the column as that's what it's all about.

I was driving to the library and my classical station was playing some really boring stuff so I switched over to the jazz station. I came in the middle of an interesting interpretation of some Leonard Bernstein music from West Side Story. "I wonder who that is", I thought. At the end the announcer said it was the BILL CHARLAP TRIO.

Bill Charlap Trio

"I have him", I retorted (in my head). When I got home I decided to check whether I had that track. Indeed I did and it inspired this column which has a whole range of different genres. Something for everyone.

Here's the inspiration, it's simply called Cool.

♫ Bill Charlap Trio - Cool

Getting quite a long way from lovely piano jazz we have the SONS OF THE PIONEERS.

Sons Of The Pioneers

The group was formed in the 1930s by Leonard Slye and a couple of his friends. Old Len is probably better known to most of us as Roy Rogers. He'd left to pursue a film career by the time this track was recorded, and we have long time front man Bob Nolan singing lead.

The song is one many have tackled over the years but none better than this one, Cool Water.

♫ Sons Of The Pioneers - Cool Water

BING CROSBY has the help of one time Mrs Ronald Reagan, JANE WYMAN. Jane had the good sense to bail out of that marriage.

Bing Crosby & Jane Wyman

There are a bunch of other singers warbling in the background but Bing and Jane are who we're most interested in. They sing In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening.

Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman - In The Cool Cool Cool Of The Evening

Hudson Woodbridge was born in Georgia and later went to Tampa, Florida where he polished his guitar playing. Later still, like many blues performers, he ended up in Chicago where he took the name TAMPA RED.

Tampa Red

Although renowned for his guitar playing, the track today is mostly piano based. It's She's a Cool Operator.

♫ Tampa Red - She's a Cool Operator

Eugene, Charles, and James Strider got together with their friend Earnest Griffin and formed a singing group called THE STRIDERS.

The Striders

Along the way they backed Savannah Churchill on a record and it went so well she joined them. Due to various shenanigans on the part of record companies and the like, their records weren't very successful in spite of the quality of the music.

One of those is Cool Saturday Night.

♫ The Striders - Cool Saturday Night

The Doowop group The Rays originally recorded a song called Daddy Cool. Normally, I would have included their song. However, that one inspired the name of Australia's greatest rock band (that Americans have never heard of) called DADDY COOL.

Daddy Cool

It's probably no surprise that they made a record of the song as well, which I think is better than the original (or maybe I'm biased). Anyway, see what you think.

♫ Daddy Cool - Daddy Cool

Another total change of pace will give us the great THELONIOUS MONK.

Thelonious Monk

The track is not piano based for a change, it's more trumpet and sax oriented than we're generally used to with Monk. It's from quite early in his career as a front man, and the tune is Let's Cool One.

♫ Thelonious Monk - Let's Cool One

There are few cooler performers around than TONY JOE WHITE.

Tony Joe White

If you've never seen him live you really should try to do that. Anyway, his song is Cool Town Woman.

♫ Tony Joe White - Cool Town Woman

Of the sixties English performers, there was no one cooler than GEORGIE FAME.

Georgie Fame

He wasn't like the other kiddies; he preferred cool jazz and laid back blues, no roaring guitars for him. Although he recorded a few pop songs, I didn't think his heart was in it. He was more comfortable with songs like the one today, Cool Cat Blues.

♫ Georgie Fame - Cool Cat Blues

I think I first noticed TIBBY EDWARDS because of his first name, one of my (many) nicknames when I was at primary school.

Tibby Edwards

Tibby was a Cajun country singer who played both styles as well as early rockabilly. He contributed the name of the column with his song, Play It Cool Man, Play It Cool. He obviously listened closely to Hank Williams.

♫ Tibby Edwards - Play It Cool Man Play It Cool

INTERESTING STUFF – 15 September 2018


Remember Wednesday's discussion about the future possibility of Medicare for All?

Throughout this year's primary election season, candidates of a single-payer system, have been winning more often that I, at least, would have predicted. And it happened again. From AP about this week's vote:

“Single-payer health insurance advocates came out on top and are aiming for House seats from West Virginia to California and in governor’s races in Maryland and Florida. Elsewhere, Democrats opted for more centrist candidates — but many of them still further left than the old Blue Dog Democrats booted from Congress during President Barack Obama’s two terms.”

You can read more here.


Or, as I prefer to use it, okay. Here's how it came to be probably the most used word on our planet.


As readers must know by now, this blog accepts no advertising and I'm strict about what products and services commenters are allowed to promote.

In no way do I mean you should rush out and buy this product. I just think it's really funny. Take a look:


If having your home smell like take-out Chinese food seems like a good idea, you can purchase the candle at Cool Material.


Honest, this is real. I'm not sure I need or want it, but it's an interesting idea.


Okay, the video is targeted to students, but we're clever enough at our ages to apply anything from this that makes sense to us in our own kind of stress situations.


From the Washington Post which has diligently been counting the president's lies and misinformation day in and day out.

”On Sept. 7, President Trump woke up in Billings, Mont., flew to Fargo, N.D., visited Sioux Falls, S.D., and eventually returned to Washington. He spoke to reporters on Air Force One, held a pair of fundraisers and was interviewed by three local reporters.

“In that single day, he publicly made 125 false or misleading statements — in a period of time that totaled only about 120 minutes. It was a new single-day high.”

Here's a video about it all:

Read more at the Washington Post.


...why did the chicken cross the road.

While workers in Mooroolbark Victoria, Australia were laying down a new sidewalk, a wayward chicken came out of nowhere and rudely walked across the wet cement, leaving a trail of distinctive footprints in her wake.

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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.

The Penis Legislation Act

Even with all the controversy and accusations surrounding the hearings of Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, last week, the people who are supposed to know such things are still saying that his confirmation is a done deal.

They may be right. It does not seem to register with Republicans in Congress that polls repeatedly show a majority of Americans want abortion to remain legal, and many people – legislators and voters - are convinced that a Justice Kavanaugh would become the fifth Court vote needed to overturn Roe v. Wade.

My friend Jim Stone sent me a link to a recent post at McSweeney's satirical section by a writer/reporter/author named Devorah Blachor. I had not read her work before but she sure does have my attention now that I have read her latest story.

Below is the first half or so of Blachor's “Why Are Men Getting So Hysterical About The Penis Legislation Act?” At the bottom, there is a link to the rest of it at the McSweeney's website.

This is a great piece of serious fun. (Links within the post are from the original.) Enjoy.

”We get it. Men are overly emotional. Just look at Alex Jones and Donald Trump. Ok, don’t. But the point stands. Your reaction to a perceived threat of the Penis Legislation Act being overturned is overwrought and hysterical.

“Yes, female politicians have been promising to overturn the Penis Legislation Act since it was enacted. And sure, the Vice President has vowed to send the Penis Legislation Act to the 'ash heap of history.' And fine, I concede that even the President has said she will overturn the Penis Legislation Act, which is so strange since she has clearly made use of it multiple times in the past.

“Still. Why do men have to be so loud and disruptive? The Penis Legislation Act is established and totally safe from being overturned, even though so many powerful women keep promising to get rid of it and seem to have no compunction about taking away men’s rights over their own penises.

“Just consider how the latest SCOTUS nominee was chosen. A small group of women who are famously hostile to the Penis Legislation Act carefully selected the best possible candidates.

“One of the women, who is especially committed to overturning the Penis Legislation Act, was an advisor to the President on this weighty decision. And now the nominee, an affable soccer mom, has refused to commit to upholding the Penis Legislation Act and secret emails reveal that she doesn’t believe The Penis Legislation Act is even settled law. Does that sound like The Penis Legislation Act is in peril? Calm down, gentlemen! Smile!

“While you’re smiling (you look so pretty when you smile!) why not consider, for a moment, that men might not actually know what’s best for their penises? What with their hormonal emotions and everything, might it be possible that we women should make the relevant decisions about men’s health, particularly those that are penile-related?

“When you really think about our track record of valuing male life, the answer is clear. You can totally trust us to decide for you.”

You can finish reading “Why Are Men Getting So Hysterical About the Penis Legislation Act? here at McSweeney's. There is no place to comment on that page but if you've got something to say, you can come back here to let us all know.

And, if you like what you've read, you can find out more about Devorah Blachor here.

What About Medicare For All

As soon as someone says “Medicare for All” or “single-payer healthcare” or “universal coverage”, someone else will argue about definitions. And there are important differences.

But today, we are going with what most of us mean when we use one of those phrases: a system of health care under which everyone is covered, however it is paid for.

Most western democracies use some form of this system. As VeryWellHealth explains:

”...several countries have achieved universal coverage, with 100 percent of their population covered. This includes Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.”

No one in these countries worries that a major illness will bankrupt them as happens in the United States.

Currently, in 2018, about 88 percent of Americans, according to Gallup, are covered to one degree or another depending on what they can afford from private insurers.

Among that number, however, there is one group of people in the U.S. who do enjoy universal, single-player health coverage. It's us old folks, 65 and older. It is of course, called Medicare and as it happens, over the past 15 months I've had a crash course in how it works in real life when something deadly serious comes along.

First, back up to 1965 when Medicare went into effect. I paid into the program from that time forward until I stopped working in 2004. Currently, the Medicare tax is divided between employer and employee, 1.45 percent each.

Many people believe that the Medicare tax covers it and that Medicare, once you are old enough to join, is free. Not so. Use me as an example (this is about traditional Medicare, not Medicare Advantage Plans which I'm not discussing today):

Part A - hospital insurance: free.

Part B – medical insurance: a premium, calculated on income, is deducted from the Social Security (or railroad, etc.) benefit each month. There is a deductible, $183 in 2018. Part B covers about 80 percent of Medicare-approved expenses.

Part D – prescription drugs: provided by Medicare-approved private insurance companies. Premiums vary dramatically.

Supplemental (Medigap) coverage: helps pay the 20 percent of medical costs Part B does not. Premiums currently range from about $74 to more than $400 per month.

In addition to all the personal fears and concerns I had when first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, I was terrified at what the surgery and accompanying care would cost me, and if I could even afford it. I decided to deal with after I recovered from the surgery.

What I learned is amazing: Medicare is a whole lot like universal coverage in those other countries: So far, I have paid not a dime for medical treatment.

My biggest expense has been Part D, prescription drugs. Just this month, I finally climbed out of the so-called “donut hole” having paid $5,000 out-of-pocket for drugs this year. I am now in what the program calls “catastrophic coverage” where I pay a small fee for each prescription until next year when the process begins again.

Until I was thinking about this blog post, I had never added up what I pay per year for Medicare coverage. I was surprised to find that the premiums for Part B, Part D and supplemental come to just over $4500 per year.

That sounds like a lot until you know that my treatment costs are, so far, close to $1 million.

Most of the objections to Medicare for All are about cost. I have seen estimates of between $2.4 trillion to $2.8 trillion per year. Who knows if that is anywhere near what the reality would be.

For decades, in certain quarters of the population, a few politicians talked about Medicare for All. Recently, during the 2016 presidential campaign, it was presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, calling for Medicare for All. The idea began to spread and catch on.

In April this year, Paul Waldman wrote in the Washington Post:

”Right now Democrats are coalescing around a new model for health-care reform. This November’s election could validate it in a way that practically settles the issue among Democrats. That will then determine the discussion in 2020, and in 2021 it could become the basis for a hugely ambitious overhaul of the system.

“Right now we could be witnessing the genesis of one of the most important domestic policy changes in our history.”

Also in April, Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Senator Christopher Murphy of Connecticut introduced S.2708, the Choose Medicare Act, that would open up Medicare to anyone who wants it and isn’t already eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.

It is such a good idea to just expand Medicare to everyone rather than start of scratch on a new program. The main infrastructure is already in place, it works well, and could be built upon for the entire population.

Of course, the Choose Medicare Act has gone nowhere due to the Republican control of Congress but if there turns out to be a blue wave in the November mid-term election, that bill – or some others with similar intentions - could come to the floor of Congress.

It won't happen that easily or that quickly, but it would be a fine start to the conversation and eventual reality.

Those countries that have had universal coverage for decades pay a lot more in taxes than we Americans do but I sure wouldn't care if everyone could be as free of economic worry as I have been granted, thanks to Medicare, during the wildly expensive treatment I've received.

Most of all, it is the right thing to do. Health care is a human right and the United States, that so glibly repeats that all men are created equal, that the rights of all persons are diminished when the rights of one are threatened, etc. etc., cannot possibly claim those principles if some cannot afford health care.

The United States desperately need this policy change. If you put more than a minute's thought to it, how can we do differently. Are people without coverage or inadequate coverage just allowed to die in the U.S.? I can't find the answer to that question – or maybe it would be too painful to know.

You might want to think about all this as you consider who to vote for in November.

A TGB Reader Story: The Season of "In Between"

By Carole Leskin

Labor Day weekend. The end of summer. Not really, of course. The calendar tells us that happens on September 22nd. But we know better.

The tourists and summer renters go home. Children go back to school. Families return to their normal, hectic schedules. Carefully tended gardens begin to wilt. And the sun sets earlier as if to say, "Time to go back to work. You've done enough playing for now."

Summer is not my favorite season. I love fall - the colors, fruits and vegetables, crisp air coming through open windows. Wearing sweaters and lighting the fireplace. Walks on brightly colored leaves and listening to them crunch beneath my feet. Hot chocolate and spiced apple cider.

And yet, I always feel this strange sadness as I turn the calendar page to September. A longing. A desire to hold up my hand and say "Stop! I'm not ready". Like I was as a girl - not wanting to leave behind my beloved cabin on the marsh by the bay, my sanctuary, the freedom.


I will look out over the now-almost deserted beach and listen to the seagulls and crashing waves. Watch the sunsets - different now than just a few days ago. I will think about all the summers past and wonder what the fall will bring.

Mother Nature growing older. As am I.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: This feature, TGB Readers' Stories, appears every Tuesday. Anyone age 50 and older is welcome to submit a story. You can do that by clicking the “Contact” link at the top of every TGB page or at the Guidelines/Submissions page.

Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting a story. It will save me a lot of time.

Reasons to Vote in 2018

The 2018 mid-term election in the United States takes place 58 days from today and it may be the most important election of our – the people who hang out at this blog – long, long lives.

Now I know perfectly well that no one here would skip voting. Right? But just in case you know someone who doesn't vote or who thinks is it not important or doesn't believe their vote could make a difference, let's talk about that today.

Let's start with the fact that voting is a fundamental right of all citizens in a democracy. We have the privilege (that many in the world do not) to select our leaders rather than having them imposed or inflicted upon us which gives us a moral duty to take part in that choice.

We cannot take the right to vote for granted. Don't forget that there was a time when only certain citizens – while male landowners – could vote. Changing that took a long time. Here is a reminder of how that went:

There are still too many impediments to voting and right now the majority of legislators trying to change voting laws are the ones who would further restrict the right to vote.

In addition to the high-minded, patriotic reasons to vote, there is the real chance that if too many voters of one persuasion or another stay home from the polls, we are stuck with a leader or leaders who do not reflect the views of the entire electorate, and there is no telling where that takes us.

Elected representatives have the power to affect vital issues of everyday life: taxes, roads and highways, food, health care, education, public safety, air quality, even fair elections, to name only a few. Certainly, you want your voice heard for the people who make those choices.

Don't forget the importance of local candidates in your state, county or town. The voices of the full spectrum of citizens need to be heard to produce a more balanced local government rather than the views of just one faction who turned up at the polls in larger numbers.

And one more thing: you cannot complain, not one word, about what elected leaders are doing if you don't vote.

Here are some more thought on the question, Why Should I Vote:

We have 58 days until election day on 6 November. Here are some things you should do before then:

Make sure you are registered to vote

Mark your calendar so you don't make other plans on 6 November that would keep you from voting

Check out voter ID requirements in your location and be sure to have the correct identification documents

Make sure you know where your polling place is. You can do that at the Polling Place Locator

Check out all the other preparations you might need to know at this well-done page titled, Voting in Person on Election Day, for additional voting information

Unless you live in Oregon or Washington, the two states that vote by mail, make arrangements to get to the polling place if you need to on election day. Or, offer to drive or accompany people who can't easily get there on their own.

If you happen to live in Oregon or Washington or other states that vote by mail, your ballots arrive two or three weeks before election day. Be sure to mark your ballot and mail it before the deadline. There are drop-off areas in your town or city too.

This may be the most crucial election of our lives. Please vote and get everyone you know to vote too. Our entire way of life may depend on it.

ELDER MUSIC: Songs About Cities - Las Vegas

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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Las Vegas

I've been to Las Vegas twice in my life but in spite of two visits, the total time I've spent in the place would not amount to more than four or five hours.

The second of these visits I was driving from Albuquerque to San Francisco with my sister, brother-in-law and a couple of friends. Two cars were involved (thus we could switch around if things got a bit tense).

We hit Vegas around lunch time and we stopped to eat. We had a splendid meal and some spectacular wines (those not driving) for not much money at all. This was back in the days when the gambling subsidized the food.

I thought very highly of the place at the time until we ventured back out on to the streets and reality reasserted itself. We drove on.

The first visit I was flying with my father from San Francisco to Albuquerque (you might notice a theme here) and we had to change planes at Las Vegas.

Like the rest of the city, McCarran airport is replete with slot machines. Dad, who liked a bit of a flutter, dug into his pocket and came up with three quarters. He put them into one of those machines and on the third try he had a mini-jackpot – about $20 or so.

He pocketed his winnings and we flew on. So, it means that my dad is one of the very few people who has gambled in that city and left showing a profit.

So, on the theme of Australians in Las Vegas, here is the LITTLE RIVER BAND.

Little River Band

Their song is Home on a Monday, which doesn't sound much like the topic today, however, they sing (several times) that they are calling from the Las Vegas Hilton. That's good enough for me.

♫ Little River Band - Home On A Monday

DARYL HALL AND JOHN OATES gave us one of the great Vegas songs.

Hall & Oates

Anyone who is familiar with their oeuvre will know immediately that I’m talking about Las Vegas Turnaround, the continuing story of Sarah who has appeared before in their songs.

♫ Hall & Oates - Las Vegas Turnaround

Well, the Queen of Spades is a friend of mine
The Queen of Hearts is a bitch
Someday when I clean up my mind
I'll find out which is which.

That pretty much sums up the city, and probably sums up the writer and singer of the song, the late great GRAM PARSONS.

Gram1 Parsons

That was from his song Ooh Las Vegas, which was on his final album, released posthumously, called “Grievous Angel”. He has the help of Emmylou Harris on this one.

♫ Gram Parsons - Ooh Las Vegas

BUCK OWENS’ mum didn’t seem to like the idea of her little boy venturing to Sin City.

Buck Owens

Buck seems to think that he’s Big in Vegas. He’s either kidding himself or us.

♫ Buck Owens - Big In Vegas

Buck is generally thought of a country singer, but here we have a real country song – drowning sorrows, pedal steels, takeout meals and a talky bit in the middle.

Okay, no takeout meals (that was my own private musical joke – I like to keep myself amused. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist will get it, I don't know about anyone else). The singer is BOB WAYNE.

Bob Wayne

Bob seems to have gone from the top to the bottom in the city. He’s not the only one who’s done that. He tells us all about in Lost Vegas.

♫ Bob Wayne - Lost Vegas

You were expecting this next one I imagine. I don't want to disappoint so here is ELVIS.

Elvis Presley

It is far from my favorite song of his, but it's on topic so it fits right in. It's probably the first one you thought of when the title came up. You know of what I speak, Viva Las Vegas.

♫ Elvis Presley - Viva Las Vegas

THE EVERLY BROTHERS are particularly jaded by our city.

Everly Brothers

Perhaps that should just be Don because as far as my ears can tell, Phil doesn’t seem to be present on this song. I assume that they performed in Las Vegas after their huge success tapered off somewhat.

I believe it pays well, but it could get a bit dispiriting as is evidenced by the song, I'm Tired of Singing My Song in Las Vegas.

♫ Everly Brothers - I'm Tired of Singing My Song in Las Vegas

I assume that SHERYL CROW feels the same as the Everly Brothers (or brother).

Sheryl Crow

That’s because she’s Leaving Las Vegas. The song was written by David Baerwald and is based on a book of the same name written by John O’Brien.

♫ Sheryl Crow - Leaving Las Vegas

Sheryl might pass SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS as they are going in the opposite direction.

Southern Culture on the Skids

SCOTS is a three piece band whose style leans towards rockabilly with a large dose of tongue-in-cheek thrown in for good measure. They’re heading for the city, but it seems it’s still 40 Miles to Vegas.

♫ Southern Culture On The Skids - 40 Miles to Vegas

TOM WAITS is channeling his inner lounge singer.

Tom Waits

That might come as a shock to those familiar with Tom’s work, but he seems to think he’s Frank Sinatra on this one. Indeed, the song sounds perfect for Frank. It’s a bit of a pity he didn’t get to record it. Straight to the Top (Vegas).

♫ Tom Waits - Straight To The Top (Vegas)

INTERESTING STUFF – 8 September 2018


As Laughing Squid explained recently:

”When hoodied musician Dr K (Brendan Kavanaugh) of Badass Boogie encountered a couple of teenagers who had never heard of Boogie Woogie, he sat down at the Yamaha Platform 88 public piano and rocked a mean Boogie Woogie tune to school them musically on the finer points of the genre.”

There is something about impromptu public music that is such great fun:

That reminds me of one of my all-time, top favorite boogie woogie tracks. I must have posted this in the past but it is more than worth a rerun. From the late, great Long John Baldry, Don't Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll.


As the dictionary company explains in their introduction to those new 840 words,

”A dictionary is almost like a glossary of life: peek inside and you see descriptions of everything around you. The addition of new words to a dictionary is a step in the continuous process of recording our ever-expanding language.”

I was intrigued right away by this one: TL;DR. Maybe you know it already. I didn't:

”Too long; didn't read — used to say that something would require too much time to read”

Speaking of too long, 840 is a lot of words to wade through. Fortunately, MentalFloss chose 25 of them to highlight. Two examples:

“Hangry (adj.) Irritable or angry because of hunger. People have been hangry (or at least using the word) since 1956.

“Rando (n) According to Merriam-Webster, this 'often disparaging' slang means 'A random person: a person who is not known or recognizable or whose appearance (as in a conversation or narrative) seems unprompted or unwelcome.'”

There are another 23 at MentalFloss, and the whole 840 at Merriam-Webster.


In this short, little video, John McWhorter, a professor of linquistics at Columbia University, talks about how texting and other electronic shorthand has changed how we speak – for the better, he says.

(Apparently, putting annoying, nonsense music behind the speaker's audio is, to the producer, a feature, not a bug. Sorry I can't delete it for you.)

What do you think? Does he have a point?


The Two Ronnies was a BBC television comedy show that aired on BBC One from April 1971 to December 1987. All these years later, their sketches hold up – just as funny now as then. Our good friend Darlene Costner sent this:


Do you recall reading Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates when you were a kid? Do you remember the part in the story about the kid who plugged a hole in the dyke with his finger?

Now, there is a modern-day, real-life version:

”It may sound like something straight out of a cartoon,” reports Mother Nature News, “but on the morning of Aug. 30, it was the only thing astronaut Alexander Gerst could think of.

“After receiving word from NASA that the International Space Station was very slowly leaking air, Gerst and five other astronauts starting scouring all over for the source. Upon finding the 2-millimeter (0.08-inch) hole in the docked Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, Gerst did what many of us would likely do — he stuck his finger over the opening.:”

In what must be one of the most massive understatements ever spoken (well, at least about space), NASA's Mission Control noted:

"'Right now Alex has got his finger on that hole and I don't think that's the best remedy for it.'”

There is follow-up reporting with more detail and new information at The Guardian.

THE MOST POPULAR (sic) SURNAMES IN THE U.S. did some digging and came up with the most common surnames in each of the individual United States.

Here's a map with the top three in each state. (I'm pretty sure Ancestry misspoke: certainly they meant to say the most common, not most popular since no one is choosing their surname.)


Well, that's way too small to try to read. Go see a readable version here.

The top three in my state, Oregon, are Smith, Johnson and Miller – which is close to true for almost every state.

You can also search for the origins and meanings of your own or anyone's surname.


Living spaces smaller than the dimensions of a parking space. This is incredibly sad. You should watch it anyway.


If you mostly watch cable news or read the front pages of newspapers, the only news happening this week were the Supreme Court nomination hearings and that unknown person who wrote an anonymous Op-Ed description of chaos in the White House published in The New York Times.

Even if it is not widely reported, other news does happen. In this case, one item is about American citizens who are being denied passports by the Trump administration:

"Juan is one of a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States but who are now being denied passports — their citizenship suddenly thrown into question,” reports the Washington Post, among other news sources.

“The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown.”

Juan's U.S. birth record shows he was delivered by a midwife. “He spent his life wearing American uniforms: three years as a private in the Army, then as a cadet in the Border Patrol and now as a state prison guard,” continues the Post.

“But when Juan, 40, applied to renew his U.S. passport this year, the government’s response floored him. In a letter, the State Department said it didn’t believe he was an American citizen...

“In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings. In others, they are stuck in Mexico, their passports suddenly revoked when they tried to reenter the United States.”

The story is too long to copy here. You should know more about this – most of those affected have brown skin - more at The Post.

Don't ever forget Martin Niemoller's poem: “First they came for the socialists, but I wasn't a socialist...”


As the YouTube page explains:

”A custom-made contraption has catapulted the Oregon Zoo’s cheetahs toward a new level of fitness. Dubbed the 'cheetahpult,' it’s an 8-foot wooden device that flings a ball far enough for a cheetah — the fastest land animal on earth — to chase.

“After more conventional ball launchers fell short, the cheetahpult was designed and built by staff members with the zoo’s speediest residents in mind.”

My god, these animals are beautiful.

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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.