The Alex and Ronni Show: On the End of Life

INTERESTING STUFF – 20 October 2018


The latest video in Nike's Just Do It series is a woman who took up marathon running at age 81:

”A few years after her husband had passed away, New York-native Marjorie struck up a conversation with her friend, a marathoner, at the dog park one day. 'Do you think it would be okay for me to run the marathon?' Marjorie asked her.

“Seven months later, Marjorie was at the starting line of New York City’s most prestigious race for her first 26.2. With 50,000 other runners.”

My friend, Erik Martin, a Nike employee here in Portland, Oregon, pointed out the video to me. We agreed that in general, neither of us is fond of news stories, ads and promotions, etc. that hold up elders as paragons that all people of age should aim for in extreme sports situations that few people of age can reasonably handle.

But we like this one beause it is well done and it is important to see elders included in the overall idea of Just Do It. Even if we can't all run a marathon or climb Mt. Everest, there are plenty of other games and sports we can participate in.

You can view all the Just Do It series of videos here and read more about Marjorie here.


Most Americans our age can recall when the name was Sears, Roebuck & Co. back when we were kids, and now we see the passing of an American icon.

My first thought on hearing the news of the Sears bankruptcy is that it had been the Amazon of its day – it certainly was in my household when I was growing up - and I'm not the only one who had that thought. There's a story about Sears' importance in American life at The New York Times.

The Washington Post has the business particulars that led to the bankruptcy.


A gazillion details go into the magic of making movies and TV shows appear to be as real as real life, and if the people who create those details do their jobs well, you and I never notice the make-believe.

This guy creates paper props and there's a lot more to it that I'd ever bothered to think through.

”Ross MacDonald makes his paper by making paper. For the last 25 years, he’s created tens of thousands of paper props for movies and television shows like Baby’s Day Out, Silver Linings Playbook, Boardwalk Empire and Parks and Recreation..

“From handwritten letters to driver’s licenses, each piece is custom made and thoughtfully imbued with backstory. Step into Ross’s Connecticut workshop to see how movie magic gets illustrated, aged, cut and copywritten.”

IF YOU CAN WATCH THIS VIDEO AND NOT VOTE... must be dead inside. (From friend Jim Stone.)


The Washington Post reported on the obituary of Rick Stein, age 71, who recently died in a plane crash - a man about whom his closest family and friends could not agree. His daughter wrote the obit:

“He owned restaurants in Boulder, Colorado and knew every answer on Jeopardy, she tells us. “He did The New York Times crossword in pen. I talked to him that day and he told me he was going out to get some grappa. All he ever wanted was a glass of grappa.

“She quotes Stein’s brother as saying Stein couldn’t have been a pilot; the two owned a jewelry and Oriental rug gallery together. His sister says she thought Stein was a cartoonist and freelance television critic for The New Yorker.

“Then the rest of the family weighs in:

“David Walsh, Stein’s son-in-law, said he was certain Stein was a political satirist for Huffington Post while grandsons Drake and Sam said they believed Stein wrote an Internet sports column for ESPN covering Duke basketball, FC Barcelona soccer, the Denver Broncos and the Tour de France.

“Stein’s granddaughter Evangeline claims he was a YouTube sensation who had just signed a seven-figure deal with Netflix.”

The daughter, Alex Walsh, said her father had “an endless appetite for comedy.” To not spoil the fun, I'm sending you to the entire obituary at Delaware Online to read the whole thing. You must read clear to the end to really get it.


This seems so obvious I cannot understand why the crossings are not standard requirements for every highway that runs through a wildlife area.


This is a beautiful story not only for the oddity of the flora but the man who keeps watch.

”Hidden deep in the woods of the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a small cluster of unusually pale, phantom trees. These 'ghost trees' are albino and extremely rare. Out of the roughly 400 albinos in the world, there are 13 in the park.

“Due to threats to their ecosystem, only a select few people know of the trees’ exact locations. Dave Kuty is one of them. As the unofficial caretaker of the albino trees, his love for these redwoods has followed him the past 40 years.”


As I have mentioned in the past, I use a tincture of cannabis (THC) as a sleep agent and it works quite well. It's easy for me because I live in one of the U.S. states that has legalized use of marijuana for medical and/or recreational purposes.

This week, Canada became only the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize recreational use of marijuana nationwide. The first dispensaries opened their doors last Wednesday.

”Adults will be able buy cannabis oil, seeds and plants and dried cannabis from licensed producers and retailers and to possess up to 30 grams (one ounce) of dried cannabis in public, or its equivalent,” reports the BBC.

“Edibles, or cannabis-infused foods, will not be immediately available for purchase but will be within a year of the bill coming into force. The delay is meant to give the government time to set out regulations specific to those products.”

The BBC also included a map of marijuana use throughout the world:


A couple of weeks ago, Pew Research published findings on support for nationwide legalization of recreational marijuana in the United States – about 62 percent approve:

”As in the past, there are wide generational and partisan differences in views of marijuana legalization. Majorities of Millennials (74%), Gen Xers (63%) and Baby Boomers (54%) say the use of marijuana should be legal.

“Members of the Silent Generation continue to be the least supportive of legalization (39%), but they have become more supportive in the past year.”


“They’re short, they waddle, and they come to eat the snails,” the blurb tells us.

“Meet the quack squad, nature’s very own pest control. Every morning, duck farmer Denzel Metthys releases over 1,000 Indian Runner ducks on the Vergenoegd Winery in South Africa. Trained to march in a long line en route to the vineyard, these ducks mean business.”

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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.


As a kid living overseas, I waited all year for the Sears, Roebuck catalog. It quickly turned into a dog-eared tome that I'd carry around, shoving under my mom's nose, begging every chance I got.

It seemed to me that I recalled a lot more about the Montgomery Ward catalog than the Sears. That got me digging around and I discovered that Montgomery Ward went into the mail-order business fourteen years earlier and that was when my grandmother's family moved onto the Nebraska prairie. By the time Sears and Roebuck entered the mail-order business the family was back in Iowa. Wards was seized by the government in 1944 and, after the war, bet on the Wish Book over stores.

In hilly Pennsylvania, there has long been a very utilitarian bridge over the PA Turnpike, with a wire cage over it, for wildlife to use to cross over the highway. Not nearly as cool as the new ones being designed, but effective. Also, my sister lives in a Sears house, so I've sent the link to WaPo article for her to read. Thanks for another fascinating grouping of Saturday info.

LOVED the Women Rising! LOVED the ducks! I believe that America not only is the biggest consumer of marijuana, but also morphine, and some other drug I can't remember. What happens when nature and the soul are ignored.

My sister and I in the could hardly wait for the Sears Christmas catalog. Later when I first got married the only charge card we had was a Sears card. It had everything we needed, especially later those Toughskins my sons wore until they became devoted to Levi's. We got our tires there, a new roof. Our first sofa. Oh well.

Running a marathon at 81 ~~ this reminds me of a googled image I ran across recently : "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream"

For many of my generation, the Wish Book, and especially the annual Christmas catalog, provided hours of entertainment. As we entered adulthood, a Sears card was often our entrance to the world of credit. A world without "Monkey Wards"? Woolworth's? Sears? Who thought it would be a good idea to sell the only assets of value Sears had left, Craftsman and Kenmore? Well, if you hire a pirate to man the ship, you shouldn't be surprised at the consequences.

Ahh, the Sears Christmas catalog. Our "wish book" every year. Who can ever forget? And yes, their Toughskin jeans were essential for my son.

All the videos are wonderful. I did keep hoping for an explanation of how the ghost trees can live with no chlorophyll for photosynthesis. But obviously they do. And the majesty of redwood forests -- one must visit one in order to fully appreciate them. I felt I was in a cathedral.

I just looked it up and here in Colorado we have 30 wildlife crossings, both over- and underpasses. They are so important.

During tough times the Sears credit card enabled us to buy presents for our children at Christmas.

Some of my kitchen appliances are Kenmore. Will the guarantee still be honored?

I can't imagine a world without Sears, but we seem to have survived the loss of many of the institutions of my childhood. Life moves on and so must we.

I have mixed emotions of the 81 year old woman running the Marathon. I admire her pluck, but would never attempt that even if my legs were still good.

And I thought running my first marathon at 50 was a big deal. She looks wonderful. Ah Sears, I worked for 25 + yrs. at Sears Canada which left our retail landscape last year, alas no more wish books.
Loved the animal bi-ways and the ducks.

Mother bought from the Monkey Wards catalogue. Even the refrigerator and sewing machine came from Money Wards. I raised my kids a little south from Mother, and we had a first mall and a sears. I made a lot of the clothes, but we bought shoes and kids school clothes there. I miss them still.

In my earliest years, virtually all our clothing came from the Sears Catalog. And the Christmas Catalog was the stuff that dreams were made of. Just by circling our wants, we felt as if we had acquired these wonderful things—Dolls! Dollhouses! Toy farms! Cap guns! Christmas candy! Actually getting some of the things we had circled was frosting on the cake.

When I was first married, we had absolutely no credit. So when we needed a refrigerator for our first apartment, of course we went to Sears and paid for a very basic appliance “on time.” We didn’t have a Sears charge card. We bought a washing machine or a television and paid for each item in “easy payments.” I don’t even remember when so-called “revolving” charge cards first entered the picture.

I only ever bought appliances at Sears, as did my parents -- It was a no-brainer and our Kenmore washers and dryers and other appliances lasted many years, always our choice when we moved.. They also had a great credit card program, deferring interest if I recall correctly. Then about eight or so years ago, we had to replace a lot of thing installed in the 1990's. Of course we went to Sears. It was incredibly different -- the sales people seemed to know very little about the machines, plus the credit arrangements had evaporated. I have total recall about our last visit to Sears. It was amazing to me that two sales people we dealt with spoke only marginal English and could not answer basic questions -- plus there was no one more senior to ask. There was no incentive to stay with them, so we went to a local Seattle distributor (Albert Lee : ) and will never go back to Sears. I feel badly about this, as I was an automatic Sears purchaser until things went south. I liked feeling loyal (too quaint, I know) so for me this was a big disillusionment and I regret their demise. Ave atque vale.

Ronni, you always make my Saturday mornings!
This week’s Interesting Stuff is exceptional—love it all—thank you!

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