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A Mystery of Slow and How Do You Dream of Yourself?

No statistics today or links or research or quotations from experts. Just a couple of observations I'm wondering about, mostly just for fun or, perhaps, some enlightenment among us.

A MYSTERY OF SLOW
One of the things I have done all these years to inform this blog is monitor the ways I am changing as the years pile up. It's not as dumb an idea as you might think as the one lesson I know for sure is that if it – whatever “it” is at a given time - is happening to me, it is happening to thousands and, probably, millions of other people.

A limitation to that monitoring turned up after my cancer surgery 14 months ago: I sometimes can't work out now if a change is the result of that big-time interruption to my life or just a normal part of getting older.

For example, the crepe-y skin that has appeared almost overnight just about everywhere on my body – even my knees – turned up during my recovery. It is due to expected loss of muscle mass, so I put that in the cancer box.

The reason for a new slowness, however, is up for debate.

It's not, as far as I can tell, that I walk more slowly or even need to rest part way through an activity – I've pretty much recovered my energy. It's that I seem to so easily stray from the business at hand. The internal monologue goes something like this:

[RONNI – VACUUMING]
Oh, look here. I've been searching for that book all week.

She sits down on a stool and flips through the book for 10 or 15 minutes)

That's not a one-off. Such distractions happen while making dinner, too, or halfway through sorting laundry or (more internal monologue)

[RONNI – WRITING A BLOG POST AT HER COMPUTER]
Did I remember to pay the cable/internet bill? I'd better check.

Sees headline about Woodward book and clicks link to read about it. When finished, she clicks the next headline about the Senate Kavanaugh hearings. One hour later:

[RONNI – STILL AT COMPUTER]
Okay now, what was I doing before those news stories?

Even with that thought of getting back to the original task, it is not unlikely I'll recall that I didn't take out the trash earlier so I do that or telephone a friend or do something else until I take myself in hand and concentrate again.

This stuff can happen off and on all day. It seems to take forever now to get through my daily to-do list. It's not that it's longer than in the past. In fact, it's often shorter due to some adjustments I've made to what's important and what isn't.

Nevertheless, I rarely, these days, am able to check off all the items and it is due mostly to following distractions wherever they lead me instead to finishing what I've started.

That might be a result of a lot of anesthesia over the past year affecting concentration or, it could be reduced executive function in my brain - not uncommon as we get older.

Is this familiar to any of you?

HOW DO YOU DREAM OF YOURSELF?
It is well known, of course, that everyone dreams but you wouldn't know it by me. Even when I occasionally wake with the wisp of dream in my head, it is trailing off by then and gone before I can grasp it.

So it was a surprise, a few days ago, when I woke with a picture, a short video really, in my head of me getting off a motorcycle and leaning it against a red-brick wall.

While doing that, I noticed a man about 10 or 15 feet away, leaning against the same wall. He had clearly been watching me ride up and smiled in an appreciative manner.

I couldn't miss that he was gorgeous and maybe about 10 years younger than I, not so much that it would necessarily be an impediment to – whatever.

Nevertheless, I went on my way in the opposite direction, immediately had a thought that I shouldn't pass up saying hello to someone as attractive as he was and turned to walk back toward him.

Then I woke up. (What a shame.)

It should be noted that I've never ridden a motorcycle, except once as a passenger, and my response to the man in the dream, reversing my direction, as mild as it seems to me now, was more brazen than I recall being in my dating years.

I'm not interested in interpreting the dream – I don't believe in that. Here is what has been on my mind about it since that morning:

I was the age I am in waking life, 77. I was aware of that in the dream, it was a feature of the dream, and in a passing moment, I was pleased at the grace I could feel in my movements as I got off the bike.

Because I rarely remember dreams, I don't have a history of what I have felt about myself in dreams. Age or capabilities have not been features. I just was. More, perhaps, that I was my internal self, I think, rather than being a certain age or recognizing any particular physical sensations either of youth or old age.

What I am wondering is how you experience yourself in dreams. Are you ever older or younger or different in some ways from what you are when awake? Has that changed as you've gotten older?



What to Call Old People

Although it has been awhile, we have been discussing what words we like and don't like to describe old persons since the earliest days of this blog 15 years ago and there is still not a consensus among us or anyone else.

From past posts, my views are well-known and not counting quotations from others, I don't stray from my personal preferences: old, old person, elder and that's about it.

Not senior or senior citizen and certainly not “older adult” and “older person” which use the comparative adjective as a synonym for “old” in the false belief that it's more polite or somehow doesn't mean the person referenced is old. Come on now, of course it does. Why shilly-shally around.

“Elderly” is another term I eschew as it generally refers to people who are old and medically infirm to differing degrees while implying that all old people are sick or disabled by virtue only of their age and therefore lesser than younger people.

I also don't use cutesy-pooh names like “oldster”, “golden-ager” or “third-ager”, and unless I am referring to a person we know was born between 1946 and 1964, I don't use the word, “boomer.”

In surveys, baby boomers say they don't mind that term as a synonym for old, failing to understand, I guess, that it refers to their specific generation and not all old people up until dead.

There are, give or take, 30 million of us in the U.S. - still very much alive - who were born before and during World War II who do not share the attributes assigned to the boomer generation. Personally, I dislike being lumped with them; we are older, have different experiences, attitudes and outlooks.

A few days ago, the Wall Street Journal took on this long-ongoing debate in a short report titled, “Forget 'Senior' - Boomers Search For a Better Term”, which you can read here [pdf].

I will let it go that, from the context, the WSJ reporter seems to believe “boomer” is a synonym for all old people. Further, Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, tells the Journal that people don't like the word “old”:

“For a long time, Dr. Carstensen, 64, tried to get people to call themselves old and be proud of reaching advanced age. Getting others to embrace the term was a tough sell, she says. Other, more positive terms, such as sage, don’t always apply either. 'There are a whole bunch of older people who are nothing close to wise,' she says. She prefers perennial...”

As does former Secretary of State Madeleine Allbright. But I agree with Daniel Reingold, CEO of Riverspring Health, a nursing, rehabilitation and managed care company in New York: perennial “sounds like a plant,” he says.

Reingold says his company has struggled through the years to come up with appropriate wording around this issue.

”He prefers 'older adults,'” reports the WSJ, “which he thinks is neutral and accurate. 'The difference between a 90-year-old and a 40-year-old is that one adult is older,' he says. He’s just not sure when the term starts to kick in: 'I’m 64 and I’m not sure I want to be called an older adult.'”

Oh just stop it. Everyone, stop it. If you are asking the question about when being old “kicks in”, you're there.

Referring again to Carstensen's declaration about urging people to feel “proud” of their advanced age, I disagree again. What is there to be proud of? Why should anyone be proud of being old any more than claiming pride for being 17 or 36 or 52 or any other age?

Pride of years makes no sense to me. All ages are equally valid. Unless we die young, we each go through all of them. There is nothing unique or special about a certain age compared to another.

To use respectful words won't suddenly do away with ageism but over the long haul, it will contribute to easing that particular prejudice. Given how far we have not come in regard to racism (for just one example), that haul will be particularly long given that so many people – including millions of old people themselves – deny that ageism exists.

Elders who think ageism is not real or is not important often say, “Age is just a number.” No it is not, not if you can't get a job, are denied medical care or are cruelly dismissed and ignored due to the number of your years.

In regard to choice of words about anything, I do my best always come down on the sides of fact and clarity – something we should all be well tutored in these days while enduring this bizarre era of daily “fake news” accusations from the president of the United States.

For better and worse, language is used every day to persuade, manipulate, exhalt, denounce and more. Let's make sure we each use it with respect for everyone including elders. Language matters.

What do you think should be preferred terms for old people? And why?



A TGB READER STORY: Hozho

By Melanie Lee

”Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
        - Rumi, poet

After retiring from university teaching at 70, my husband Louis and I moved to Sedona, an artist’s colony and nature paradise in Northern Arizona.

Settling into our new life as aspiring cultural creatives, we studied up on the original inhabitants of this ancient Colorado Plateau region. I became fascinated with the Navajo concept of Hozho, which loosely translates to beauty.

Hozho is a way of life encompassing harmony peace, peace of mind, goodness, ideal family relationships, beauty in arts and crafts, and health of body and spirit.

A certain mindful focus on beauty has its rewards. And takes a good bit of patience. But fortunately when you reach a certain age (“wisdom's edge”) that becomes more available. Courage too.

I’ve a deep admiration for people who’ve fiercely devoted their lives to beauty like Navajo (Dine') sculptor Larry Yazzie. His sculpture Surrender is the embodiment of Hozho, and his creative process adds gravity.

Surrender by Larry Yazzie

Yazzie begins each new piece never knowing what it will become, the stone itself decides what it will be. Yazzie has said if you know what you're going to do next, then your creative process becomes just a job.

Sometimes, for inspiration, I think about Yazzie and his process. I get up in the morning, make a coffee, sit down, switch on my electric candle (symbolic, handy, economically sensible and besides I'm Aquarius rising), then deliberately start my day by surrendering to beauty.

Turning eyes right, a view beyond my small, lace curtained window appears and behold, Hozho!

Hozho  beauty

Intriguing chunky textures and shapes, a sturdy pink stone wall, a full cascade of English ivy with deep green leafy variations, caressed by an endless expanse of golden sunrise. Hello out there, you big old beautiful world, what's out there for me today?

I’ve come to see that life is awash, just drowning in possibilities for walking the Beauty Way, for the sacred experience of Hozho, not only the visual but also the intangible and spiritual – a wish for someone's well being, gratitude for comfort and safety, gladness for old friends.

Oh, I know. You’re skeptical. "What, sun, lace, rocks, sky, ivy? Oh please, that's nothing to get worked up about."

No, I reply, a thousand times no! It's everything to get worked up about, because in this present moment I am spoken to about beauty. I am breathing, safe, grateful and blessed. I’ve learned, being here in Sedona, how to move into this optimistic and welcoming inner space, no longer trying to force awareness or awakedness.

My part is only to allow the curves of the soul to lead me, listening to the Saguaro cacti, speaking to the gnarly old junipers, saluting the stirring sunsets, marveling at the charm of hummingbirds, honoring the magnetic red rocks turned into enchanted cairns living along well used hiking trails.

Purposely focusing on the Hozho of the present moment as a singular beauty in itself is a way to honor life for what it is now and for what it might yet become.

At 73 years old, I fully understand life should, and can, be more than just a job. Like artist Larry Yazzie, I think life can be a work of art. Maybe you do too.

Here’s an idea for how to begin the day with Hozho: Get up some morning, greet the promise of the day and surrender to beauty.

Muse on a moment when you encountered something in nature so beautiful that it brought you close to tears with its near-perfection. Don't forget the sensual details, sight, sound, taste, feel, smell.

Remember an inspirational person you admire (real person or fictional character), someone who first gave you a sense of beauty and awakened you to the possibility of being so present, that life could be experienced on a higher, more creative and fulfilling plane of existence.

Finish this Hozho greeting by recalling a story (could be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essay) that was so viscerally powerful that, after you’d finished reading it, your life was changed forever in a positive way.

* * *

[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.
]



Labor Day 2018: Stuck In Old People Jobs

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Don't forget, if you are interested the documentary film, RBG, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it will be broadcast this evening on CNN at 9PM and again at 12 midnight U.S. eastern time.

* * *

Between the beginning of the great recession in 2008 through the year 2010, 8.7 million U.S. workers, many at the peak of their careers, were laid off. Breakdown of the statistics by age is hard to come by but we can estimate that at least tens of thousands were within the last two or three or four years or so their working lives.

When jobs began to return, did they get back on track?

Through the years since the start of the recession I've wondered what happened to those people. And now that the country apparently has attained near-full employment, have they been hired?

As of last month, the number of jobs in the U.S. is 7.7 percent higher than at the start of the recession. So pretty much everyone should be employed, right?

Well, maybe. Except for the fact that the 7.7 percent comes out almost even equal with the number of new workers who have entered the workforce in that period of time. Even so, the unemployment rate is currently at a low 3.9 percent, a number that hasn't been seen since 2001.

Last week, the Boston Globe (paywall) took a look at what such a tight labor market means for older workers.

The jobless rate for workers 55 and older, 3.1 percent, looks good for those job seekers on it face.

”...but that’s little consolation to the longtime unemployed and underemployed in that age group," reports The Globe. "Research dating back to the 1980s shows that job options narrow for those over 50.

“Many of these workers get funneled into lower-paying 'old person jobs' — everything from retail sales clerks to security or school-crossing guards to taxi drivers, according to a 2016 study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.”

Plus, the same-old, same old false prejudices and objections to older workers are still widespread: that they expect higher wages; they increase health insurance costs; they are stuck in their ways and can't learn new skills. The Boston Globe:

”Fairly or not, employers’ reluctance to pay more for older workers can be the biggest obstacle, said Donald Klepper-Smith, chief economist at DataCore Partners, an economic research firm based in New Haven and Martha’s Vineyard.

“'Many employers are looking at what they’re paying a 60-year-old and they’re saying, Wait, I can hire two hungry 30-year-olds  for the same cost,' he said. Klepper-Smith, who is 64, added, 'My wife is joking right now that she’ll outsource me for two 30-year-olds.'”

I don't mean to be snide - well, maybe I do - is age and low wage now the only criteria? Do knowledge and experience have no place anymore in the workplace?

For older workers left out or left behind in those old people jobs, the future can be bleak. After years of no income and/or much lower income, their savings is often depleted, they don't make enough to pay off debts and save for their future which has its own consequences:

”...older employees continue to be pigeonholed into lower-wage positions, Rutledge said, with often dire financial consequences for their retirement savings and income.

“A lot of people think their earnings are going to grow as they get older,” he said. “When that doesn’t happen, it means they’ve probably overestimated how much they can save and what their Social Security benefits will be. And they’ll end up living on less.”

Although the number of unfilled jobs in the U.S. is the highest it has been in 17 years, ”...most of the openings are in sectors like retail, services, and transportation”, reports The Globe. Old people jobs.

Some say the job market is loosening up a bit and that that bodes well for age 55-plus workers. I'm not so optimistic. In all the years prior to the great recession, age discrimination in the workplace was in full force. Many TGB readers, including me, have been caught in that trap as we grew older.

Don't forget too that in the decade since the recession, the gig economy has taken off with its short-term jobs, low pay, often no health coverage, and freelancers and contractors usually required to pay the full Social Security tax including the employer half, not just their own contribution.

That affects workers of all ages but older ones have so little time to make up the difference for their retirement.

Employment these days is not a pretty picture for millions of people and I'm grateful to not be part of it any longer, either starting out or finishing up a career. Like many TGB readers, I had a taste of workplace discrimination when I was laid off at age 63 and couldn't get rehired in the extremely youth-oriented internet work world I had been part of for 10 years, or anywhere else.

That affected my Social Security benefit in the negative but I'm fortunate to have enough to get by in relative comfort anyway. I don't want for anything and I thank the gods daily for Medicare.

And contrary to what the Boston Globe seems to believe, age discrimination in the workplace has not gotten better with time.

It has been 51 years since the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was enacted by Congress. It is administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) but far too often the law favors employers over aggrieved employees.

One way that happens is that in legal proceedings, most employers have attorneys on staff or on retainer and they get paid whatever they are working on. They can drag out paperwork and other delays, as only lawyers can, until the (now laid off) plaintiff can't afford to pay his/her attorney any longer.

As pessimistic as I am, even the EEOC doesn't see much change in attitudes of the culture and employers toward older workers. In a historical overview published in 2017, the agency reported:

“Despite decades of research finding that age does not predict ability or performance, employers often fall back on precisely the ageist stereotypes the ADEA was enacted to prohibit.

“After 50 years of a federal law whose purpose is to promote the employment of older workers based on ability, age discrimination remains too common and too accepted.”

It is true that the workplace is in a huge transition and no one knows how or when or in what form it will settle down.

One thing can be counted on, however: age discrimination in the workplace is only one form of ageism and it will not go away until all forms of ageism are vanquished, and no one is stuck in an old person's job just because they are old.



ELDER MUSIC: 1954 Yet Again

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.

* * *

Rhythm and blues had started to enter into the purview of the general hit parade by 1954. It still hadn't morphed into rock & roll; that would take another year or so. However, it meant that we were starting to get some interesting music, at least from this young lad's point of view.

I'll start with one of the best RAY CHARLES.

Ray Charles

Ray started out performing rather in the same vein as Nat King Cole but he quickly developed his own style. Even by this year his style seems to be fully formed in the song I Got a Woman.

♫ Ray Charles - I Got a Woman


Gene De Paul and Sammy Cahn wrote the song Teach Me Tonight this year. It was first recorded by Janet Brace and hers was the first to make the charts. Not long after, DINAH WASHINGTON had a crack at it and her version is the one most of us remember (or at least I do).

Dinah Washington

Sammy Cahn wrote an extra verse for Frank Sinatra many years later when he recorded it referring to Frank's many affairs. Today it's Dinah's turn.

♫ Dinah Washington - Teach Me Tonight


The late great JOHNNY ACE is a bit of a cliché these days.

Johnny Ace

However, it's quite true that he was a great performer and no doubt would have turned into a superb soul singer. Alas, there's the "late" part. Johnny managed to shoot himself in a very silly stunt (he was overly fond of guns). His song is the one he's best known for, Pledging My Love.

♫ Johnny Ace - Pledging My Love


EARTHA KITT was wonderfully outspoken, famously serving it up to the first lady (Lady Bird Johnson) at a White House lunch. She wasn’t invited back, but I don’t think she cared.

Eartha Kitt

Eartha spent quite some time in France and that’s pretty obvious from her song Under the Bridges of Paris.

♫ Eartha Kitt - Under the Bridges of Paris


GUY MITCHELL was all over the charts around this time.

Guy Mitchell

He took an old song called Sippin’ Cider and transformed it, as I imagine that sounded a bit racy for 1954. Instead we have Sippin' Soda. I guess all the kids down at the malt shop were doing that. At least, that’s what their parents thought they were doing.

♫ Guy Mitchell - Sippin' Soda


I had completely forgotten the next song until I reviewed it for the column. That was not a good thing because, once I'd played it, I remembered that it was a real earworm for me back in the day. I found that it still holds that power and I've been singing it (or bits of it in real earworm style) all week.

The song is I Get So Lonely by the FOUR KNIGHTS.

The Four Knights

On another tack, what's with all these Four Something-or-others back then? There were The Four Lads, The Four Aces, The Four Seasons, The Four Preps and on and on. I would have left the number off because if one member left you'd be scrambling around for a replacement or you'd have to change the name (unfortunate if you already had a following). Anyway, here's that annoying song.

♫ The Four Knights - I Get So Lonely


MUDDY WATERS was selling lots of records by this stage.

Muddy Waters

I had to wait to discover them as they didn’t really impinge on the couple of radio stations that we could pick up regularly in the country town where I was living in far western Victoria in Australia. With hindsight, though, I’m really happy to include Muddy performing I'm Ready.

♫ Muddy Waters - I'm Ready


TONY BENNETT was somewhat puzzled when his producer Mitch Miller suggested he record one of Hank Williams' songs. "Country music?" he asked, somewhat quizzically.

Mitch said that it would be unrecognizable after they arranged it. That song was Cold, Cold Heart and it went on to sell millions. So, when Mitch suggested another song of Hank's, Tony was still a bit reluctant but less so. That song was There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight.

Tony Bennett

The song also sold well, but not as much as the previous one. Here it is.

♫ Tony Bennett - There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight


Probably most of the best songs from this year, and you’ve heard several already, didn’t make the top of the charts. That goes for the next one, which in spite of the good ones we’ve had, I think is the pick of the crop. It’s by RUTH BROWN.

Ruth Brown

As with Muddy, the song isn’t one I remember hearing on the two radio stations we could pick up in my town, a long way from anywhere (Melbourne was 250 miles to the east and Adelaide was 250 miles to the west). I only learned about it later. Oh What a Dream.

♫ Ruth Brown - Oh What A Dream


The MILLS BROTHERS just kept on keeping on.

The Mills Brothers

They had been around since the thirties and were still producing good music, or at least interesting music. I don’t know which category The Jones Boy fits into, but I quite liked it at the time.

♫ The Mills Brothers - The Jones Boy



INTERESTING STUFF – 1 September 2018

EDITORIAL NOTE: As I mentioned Friday, my main computer died and I'm on a cranky, old, slow laptop until a new one is procured and set up.

Because I don't have access to my Interesting Stuff notes stuck in the dead computer, this is a shorter, more slapdash edition of Interenting Stuff with what I could pull together quickly.

* * *

NOTORIOUS RBG DOC AIRS ON MONDAY

Here's your chance if, like me, you missed seeing the documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg titled RBG in a theater earlier this year.

It will be broadcast on CNN Monday (Labor Day) evening at 9PM and again at 12 midnight U.S. eastern time. Here is the trailer:

She's my number one hero for several important reasons. I wouldn't miss this screening for anything.

NEW OPINION SURVEY ON WOMEN IN POLITICS

More women than ever in history are running for public office this year. Pew Research checked out how Americans feel about that:

Wo,/P.menRunningforoffice

Republicans have a way to go to catch up to the prevailing opinion that the number of women on ballots in the midterms is a good thing but men are doing well in accepting that.

You can read more about the survey at Pew Research.

HOW POLLING WORKS

As long as we're speaking of polls, here a short explanation of how a small number of respondents can be representative of an entire population.

What surprises me is that the method doesn't seem to have changed much since, as manager editor of cbsnews.com during the presidential election of 1996, I worked with the head of polling at CBS News.

Do keep in mind as you watch this that the pollsters failed dramatically to predict the winner in 2016.

CLEVER RACCOON

I have first-hand experience with raccoons' ability to foil just about any human attempt to keep them out of the garbage or wherever else they might find food. Take a look at this clever guy:

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ANTLERS AND HORNS

There are, here and there in my life, things I believe I ought to have known about since I was kid. But new ones I'm ignorant of turn up regularly. Here is the latest:

SCREENED OUTDOOR CAT PATIOS

Depending, among other considerations, where you live, it might not be a good idea to let the family cat run free outdoors. But most of them never stop trying to sneak out the door.

Here are some solutions, quite elaborate ones, some people have come up with in Portland, Oregon:

Catio-styles1

Catio-styles2

More photos of cat patios here.

* * *

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.