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That #$%^&* Republican RGB “Joke” Video

Many TGB readers have emailed to complain about the video I posted nine or ten days ago of Representative Ralph Norman's [R-SC] abominable joke about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg being groped by Abraham Lincoln.

The readers were not complaining about the joke but about the fact that the damned video kept replaying every time they opened TimeGoesBy in a browser. I know. Me too.

Clearing my browser cache on my desktop helped for a day or so and seemed to work for some readers but then the video returned. Or, in my case, just the audio from it.

It's a long, painful story of frustration and failure, my week-long search for a solution. I got so backed up in the rest of my life that by Thursday, I couldn't even find time to write a blog post for Friday.

After several more hours of work on Saturday morning, I finally found what appeared to be a solution. A couple of readers say it seems to have worked for them; no more Rep. Norman.

My brain is still fried from having spent so many days thinking through and/or reading about computer minutiae – something I can usually do fairly well but don't like to and it takes forever.

So this explanation is the best you're getting for today. I took the rest of the weekend off.

Maybe you want to chat about the Kavanaugh win? Or anything else that suits you. Let's make today a rare case of TGB open mic.



ELDER MUSIC: Nothing

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.

* * *

Nothing ain’t nothing.

Nothing is a roiling mass of quantum effects where particles and anti-particles wink into existence and return to nothingness. This happens billions of times a second. Once upon a time one of those random events got out of hand and created the universe – it expanded exponentially (generally called the Big Bang), then slowed down, then speeded up again.

Oops, sorry, this isn’t a physics column, it’s all about music. On with the nothingness.

After I had collected the songs, I noticed that it had pretty much turned into a column replete with soul music. That’s fine with me; I hope it is with you as well.

I’ll start with the greatest soul singer, OTIS REDDING.

Otis Redding

He says that I'll Let Nothing Separate Us. I hope he’s right, but this is the real world.

♫ Otis Redding - I'll Let Nothing Separate Us


Next we have the only singer who could have taken Otis’s crown from him, if there hadn’t been that “incident”, SAM COOKE.

Sam Cooke

Sam could sing songs from just about any genre of music and make it his own. Not just his own, but better than just about anyone else. His song is Nothing Can Change This Love.

♫ Sam Cooke - Nothing Can Change This Love


For a change of pace, we have the song that inspired this column. When I saw a vid of the rather fine British group, The Beautiful South, perform a cover of a song by IRIS DEMENT, I knew I had a column.

Iris Dement

Iris was also in their show. Naturally, I’m going with her original version of You've Done Nothing Wrong.

♫ Iris DeMent - You've Done Nothing Wrong


TOUSSAINT MCCALL only had two songs that made the charts, and only one that got to the pointy end.

Toussaint Mccall

That song is Nothing Takes the Place of You. I don’t know why he wasn’t more successful as he was a fine singer, but we know how fickle the music industry is.

♫ Toussaint Mccall - Nothing Takes The Place Of You


JAMES HUNTER had the help of VAN MORRISON on his first album “Believe What I Say”.

James Hunter & Van Morrison

This was a really terrific soul/rhythm & blues-based album that’s worth seeking out, as are James’s subsequent records. From that first album, with Van in tow, we have Ain't Nothing You Can Do.

It was written by Deadric Malone and Joseph Scott and first recorded by Bobby Blue Bland, whose version is excellent.

♫ James Hunter - Ain't Nothing You Can Do


Here are PAUL MADIGAN and ROSS HANNAFORD from an impromptu jam session they performed a few years ago.

Ross Hannaford & Paul Madigan

Paul sings and plays acoustic guitar and Ross plays electric guitar and sings a bit towards the end of the song. Ross was the guitarist for the group Daddy Cool (and others as well). He was easily the finest rock guitarist Australia has produced. Unfortunately, he died recently.

The song they perform is There's Really Nothing You Can Do.

♫ Ross Hannaford & Paul Madigan - There's Really Nothing You Can Do


THE BEARDS are completely tongue in cheek but you wouldn’t know because they all have big beards so you can’t see any cheeks.

The Beards

According to their song, it seems that you can achieve anything if you have a beard - world peace, stop global warming and perform several rather more interesting things. I can attest to that - after all, There’s Just Nothing Better Than a Beard.

♫ The Beards - There’s Just Nothing Better Than a Beard


There were a number of contenders for the next song but with BILLIE HOLIDAY in the mix, it’s a done deal as far as I’m concerned.

Billie Holiday

The song is from the recordings she did that later became known as The Ben Webster, Harry Edison Sessions where some of the finest songs of the era were recorded. One of those was Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me.

♫ Billie Holiday - Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me


CLYDE MCPHATTER is one of several singers that first came to prominence as lead singer for The Drifters.

Clyde McPhatter

He then went on to have a successful solo career. He was one of the best of the pop/soul singers and this song is an example. Although having said that, the song sounds more like a gospel song with some of the words tweaked to fit in, but then a lot of soul music does just that. I really like it. Without Love (There Is Nothing).

♫ Clyde McPhatter - Without Love (There Is Nothing)


It tickles me that PETER PAUL & MARY always had an ampersand in their name rather than the word “and”.

Peter, Paul & Mary

That’s just me; I get distracted by these rather trivial things. Anyway, they perform a song of Bob Dylan’s, not too much of a surprise there.

This is one from the period when he was recovering from his motor cycling accident when he wrote songs and sent them out to people he knew would do a good job with them. PP&M certainly did that with Too Much of Nothing.

♫ Peter, Paul & Mary - Too Much Of Nothing


I’ll end as I began, with a great soul singer. This time it’s PERCY SLEDGE.

Percy Sledge

Percy is another in the top echelon of soul singers - there are quite a few of them as this genre seemed to attract really good singers, many from gospel backgrounds.

Percy is best known for his classic song, When a Man Loves a Woman. From around the same time we have When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters).

♫ Percy Sledge - When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters)



INTERESTING STUFF – 6 October 2018

MURPHY BROWN RETURNS

Back when Murphy Brown a staple on prime time television, I was a fan. Not only was it a well-done sitcom, it was set within my then-professional milieu – network television production. It was well done and I enjoyed it.

Well, it's back. Murphy, played again by Candace Bergen has, along with the original regulars, grown as older, as we have, and they are not pretending otherwise.

The premier episode aired a week ago and it was a load of fun including this cameo from a recent presidential candidate playing “Hilary Clendon” applying for the job of Murphy's secretary. Here is that scene:

The show is broadcast Thursdays at 9:30PM on CBS.

COMMERCIAL FOR NEW, BIGGER IPHONE

Continuing my own personal meme from last week's Interesting Stuff, here is another television commercial that charms me – for the new, bigger iPhone:

7 WAYS CONGRESS MIGHT MAKE AIR TRAVEL LESS AWFUL

Does anyone without a private jet think air travel is fun anymore? Or even vaguely comfortable?

I get invited to visit friends here and there, but I can't bring myself to get on an airplane. Now, perhaps, it might get a little less awful as Congress considers a bill to reduce the effect of some of the terrible things airlines inflict on passengers, Among them:

A prohibition on the use of electronic cigarettes aboard aircraft.

A ban on talking on cell phones aboard commercial flights

A requirement that the FAA establish minimum seat dimensions on passenger airlines.

It's probably not enough for me to get back on an airplane but maybe, if Congress really does this, it is a start for a return to basic needs and requirements for human beings to be shut up inside a metal tube for hours.

You can read the rest of the seven proposals at Roll Call.

ANOTHER AGEIST PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

My friend Chuck Nyren sent this video. Adweek calls it “comically savage” and apparently it is supposed to make young people want to vote. See what you think:

There is no question that it's a good idea to find creative ways to get people (of all ages) to vote. But to do so by demeaning one age group over another is unconscionable, and it tells us exactly what the creators think of old people.

More at Adweek.

FIRST ROBOTIC FARM IN U.S.

They say Iron Ox is the first farm in the United States run entirely by robots, something that becomes more important now that there are no longer enough immigrants allowed into the country to do this kind of work. Take a look:

The farm's website is here and you can read more at the San Francisco Chronicle.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG – MISJUDGED

“Misjudged.” That's the title of Jill Lepore's story in the current issue of The New Yorker about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's unlikely path to the Supreme Court. It begins:

”Ruth Bader Ginsburg blinked behind giant, round eyeglasses. It was the first day of her confirmation hearings, in July of 1993, the year after the Year of the Woman, and Joe Biden, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was very pleased to see her...

“She sat with the stillness of a watchful bird. 'Judge Ginsburg, welcome,' Biden said, heartily. 'And, believe me, you are welcome here this morning.' You can read it at the magazine or listen to it being read on the same page.

GinburgBio150In case you are as interested as I am, a new biography, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life, by Jane Sherron De Hart will be published on 16 October. It was written, according to the Amazon page, with the cooperation of Justice Ginsburg and based on interviews with the justice, her husband, her children, her friends, and her associates.

2017/18 FLU SEASON BROKE ALL PREVIOUS RECORDS

And not the good kind. The Centers for Disease Control tell us this week that this past influenza season was the deadliest in at least 40 years. CNN reported,

“Influenza killed about 80,000 people in the 2017-2018 season, according to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The previous high for a regular flu season, based on analyses dating back more than three decades, was 56,000 deaths.”

According to the Washington Post, the CDC's report is

”...the most detailed picture of the devastating reach of the respiratory virus, which sickened millions of people as overwhelmed hospitals pitched tents to treat patients.”

Get your flu shot this year. Don't blow it off. It's free at any pharmacy. Do it.

You can read the CDC report here.

HAWK RESCUE ON THE DADDYKIRBS FARM

Blake Kirby wrote on the Youtube page of this video:

“When we first saw the wild animal we thought he was a dead chicken floating in the rain tank. Then I noticed he was still alive and NOT a chicken! I knew I needed to help this beautiful bird.”

And so he did.

* * *

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.



Have You Been Dropping More Things as You Get Older? Take Two

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Something came up in the past couple of days that didn't leave me time to get a post written for today. In place, then, of something new, here is the most popular story on TGB since it was published in January 2016.

Most popular, in fact, by a whopping 55 percent which reinforces my belief that the many kinds of changes that accompany growing old are ignored – or don't even exist in the literature - because the experts are, primarily, not yet old and don't yet know.

And that gives me an idea for an upcoming post. Meanwhile, if you have not read this before, see if any of it resonates with you.

* * *

It is hard to be sure but it seems to be so for me. And it is really annoying.

For example, one day last week, I dropped a spoon on the kitchen floor. I picked it up, rinsed it off and as I reached for the towel, I dropped in again. Damn.

A day or two before that, I had dropped the shampoo bottle in the shower – a new, full one that barely missed my toes. Later that day, I dropped the two-quart, plastic box where I store the cat's dry food, scattering it all over the kitchen. Damn again.

Not long ago, I dropped a nine-inch butcher knife – that one could have been disastrous – but on another day I was lucky to be standing on a carpet when I dropped my mobile phone so it didn't break.

None of these occurrences is important individually and probably not even in their proximity to one another. But they made me wonder if dropping stuff is a “thing” with old people. So I took to the internet.

There is a lot of unsourced and untrustworthy health information online and that is always dangerous for “low information viewers,” as it were. The first I found was a large number of forums where people with no expertise were freely offering their uninformed opinions.

In answer to inquiries about dropping things, many instantly went to fear-mongering: Based on nothing at all, they advised people to see a doctor right away because it could be an early symptom of MS, ALS, Huntington's disease and more.

That's nuts. Those were anonymous forums, for god's sake. I hope no one takes them seriously.

Digging deeper at more reputable websites, I found that sometimes dropping things can be among the symptoms of serious disease but only one symptom, a minor one among dozens of others anyone would notice long before worrying about dropping something.

Checking further, I found that dropping things is not a big enough issue with growing old to warrant much notice.

In fact, a webpage of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services for training elder home staff is the only direct mention of elders dropping things I found.

”The sense of touch changes,” they report. “In older adults the sense of touch may decrease as skin loses sensitivity. Pressure, pain, cold and heat do not feel the same as they used to feel. Decreases in touch sensitivity may cause residents to drop things.”

That reference to skin losing sensitivity reminded me that a few years ago, I discovered through personal experience that old people often cannot be fingerprinted, particulalry with electronic scanners, because their fingerprints are worn off.

When I wrote about that here three years ago, I quoted Scientific American magazine:

”...the elasticity of skin decreases with age, so a lot of senior citizens have prints that are difficult to capture. The ridges get thicker; the height between the top of the ridge and the bottom of the furrow gets narrow, so there's less prominence. So if there's any pressure at all [on the scanner], the print just tends to smear.”

That would certainly affect sense of touch and the ability to know if you are holding things tightly enough. A report from Oregon State University [pdf] concurs with Pennsylvania report supplying a bit more medical information:

”With aging, sensations may be reduced or changed. These changes can occur because of decreased blood flow to the nerve endings or to the spinal cord or brain. The spinal cord transmits nerve signals and the brain interprets these signals.

“Health problems, such as a lack of certain nutrients, can also cause sensation changes. Brain surgery, problems in the brain, confusion, and nerve damage from injury or chronic diseases such as diabetes can also result in sensation changes.”

I finally found the most pertinent answer to my question at The New York Times. Noting that fine touch may decrease in old age,

“Many studies have shown that with aging, you may have reduced or changed sensations of pain, vibration, cold, heat, pressure, and touch. It is hard to tell whether these changes are related to aging itself or to the disorders that occur more often in the elderly...”

This Times information is quoted from A.D.A.M., a private source of medical information for health professionals and other paid subscribers.

So what I have deduced from two or three hours on the internet is that barring injury or disease or, perhaps, waning strength that affects one's ability to grip strongly, maybe elders do drop things more frequently.

Maybe a diminishing sense of touch in general means that we cannot effortlessly perceive the appropriate strength of our grasp as automatically as when we were younger. At least, that's what I choose to believe for myself until someone enlightens me further.

Following on that, for the past few days I have been making a conscious effort to be sure I am holding whatever is in my hand tightly enough that it will not slip.

I want that to become second nature because the knife I mentioned was a close call and I certainly don't want to drop a cup of hot coffee on my foot or the cat.

Does any of this ring a bell for you?



Grandkids on Demand Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

Following my cancer surgery last year, it was six or eight weeks before I felt capable of driving to the market, medical checkups and other appointments. I live in the suburbs so there isn't much choice in getting anywhere beyond walking distance except by driving.

I was lucky. Terrific neighbors and friends stepped in to take up that slack while I needed it but not everyone has that choice.

According to the 2016 Older Americans Key Indicators of Well-Being report [pdf], 25 percent of men age 65 and older live alone and 36 percent of women in that age group do. Some have friends and family nearby to help out when needed but tens of millions of us do not.

That's what Andrew Parker realized not long ago that led to his founding Papa, a service that matches elders in need of some assistance with college students who want to help.

Parker had been regularly helping his grandfather – whom he calls Papa – but as his day job workload increased he couldn't always get away to run errands. He hired a woman via Facebook who began assisting Papa in Parker's stead. But as he told TechCrunch:

”The experience made Parker realize there was a gap in the market for seniors who, like his grandfather, were mostly independent and don’t require a caregiver, but still needed occasional help from a trustworthy person.”

That's when he quit his job to create Papa, providing “what he describes as 'pre-care' from college students he named Papa Pals.”

Here's Andrew Parker talking about Papa:

Parker further explained how it works in an interview with Pymnts.com:

“'The first time someone contacts us, they often have a specific idea about what they need, and we catalog that and send it on to the student who will be working with them. Sometimes they want a ride to the doctor, sometimes they are looking for someone to teach them how to use Netflix.

“'We had a member who was on the campaign trail with Ronald Reagan 30 years ago, and her family hired a Papa Pal to help her transcribe her very interesting life story into a digital format for her family.'

“What they often found, however, is that the relationships evolve between the users and the Papa Pals, so that the tasks they end up doing together often range widely from where they started.

The students are carefully screened before being accepted as Papa Pals. Among the requirements, according to the Papa website:

3.0 GPA or higher

Major/Minor in Nursing, Psychology, Pre-med, Health Sciences or other health-related field preferred

Full or part-time student enrolled in a four-year university

Must have a valid .edu email address, a vehicle and a valid drivers license

Must be able to pass a full background check

Clients can pay for services a la carte at about $20 an hour, or use the subscription service. The student Papa Pals earn about $15 per hour.

Beginning in 2019, new rules will make it possible for Medicare Advantage to pay for some of Papa's services, particularly medical appointment transportation.

For now, Papa operates only on Florida but they have plans to expand, first to 10 more states and then beyond.

I think this is an extremely important innovation. Whether we elders like to admit it or not, the time will come when we can't do as much as we once did and may even need to give up our driving privileges.

As I mentioned above, I had a taste of what is to come after my surgery. It was a long time before I could shove the vacuum cleaner around and even pulling the laundry out of washer and into the dryer was difficult.

For people who don't need full-time care but can use some help in other ways, this is a great solution.

You can find out more about Papa at the company's website and the Facebook page.

* * *

Here is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded yesterday. In the second half there is a lot of Judge Brent Kavanaugh chat. I'm not sure we said anything you haven't heard.

If you would like to see Alex's entire two-hour show with other guests following our chat, you can do that at Facebook or Gabnet on Facebook or on YouTube.



A TGB READER STORY: A Story

By Mary Symmes

In 1975, I was studying Arabic at the Foreign Service Institute. The last part of the course was at the American Embassy in Beirut and I duly arrived, age 25, with the rest of the new class of Arabic students.

I had spent a good part of my childhood in the Middle East so I had an idea of what it would be like to live in Beirut. But in August 1975 Beirut was full of unrest and violence and on the verge of civil war. (Fortunately I was immortal at the time).

Shortly after we arrived, old friends of my parents invited me to dinner. I love Arabic food and ate heartily. I knew that uncooked fruits and vegetables would probably make me sick but because these were urban, educated people, I had no qualms in eating whatever was presented to me. Somehow it would be sanitized.

Later that night, I woke up with nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. I walked several blocks to the embassy the next morning so I could see the embassy nurse and prayed with every step that nothing would happen until I was near a toilet. I was lucky.

After another attack, I walked back to the hotel with Paregoric and instructions about what to eat and drink. I really felt ill and weak and I knew the Paregoric would make me sleepy, so I called the wife of one of my fellow students, who was staying in the same hotel, and asked her to call me every day to make sure I was okay.

I spent the next two days mostly asleep, and then arose feeling almost human.

As I was getting dressed to go to the embassy cafeteria, I realized that while I was so sick the maids had cleaned the room and stolen two purse-sized perfume dispensers I had left out of my locked suitcases.

There was nothing I could really do about it so I didn't even tell the management. And I was so lonely and relieved that I was better that I just wanted to be around other people again.

I got to the embassy and was eating dry bread and drinking tea as various people I knew came by, all telling me how awful I looked!

I went back to class that afternoon and eventually moved into my own apartment until all nonessential personnel were evacuated from Beirut that October. But that is another story.

* * *

[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.
]



Prescription Drug Prices Off the Charts

It's almost that time of year again, the annual open enrollment period for Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) that will take place from 15 October to 7 December 2018. We'll have a more detailed discussion of that here in a couple of weeks.

For now, you should know about the most recent annual report from the AARP Public Policy Institute titled (exhaustively), AARP Public Policy Institute Trends in Retail Prices of Brand Name Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans: 2017 Year-End Update.

It was released last week and it is not good news. According to the report, summarized at AARP,

The retail prices of some of the most popular prescription drugs older Americans take to treat everything from diabetes to high blood pressure to asthma increased by an average of 8.4 percent in 2017, far exceeding the 2.1 percent inflation rate for other consumer goods and services...

“The report shows that the annual average retail cost for just one popular brand-name drug among the 267 that AARP studied would have been nearly $6,800 in 2017.

“But had pharmaceutical price increases been limited to the country’s general inflation rate between 2006 and 2017, that cost would have been more than $4,600 lower. Retail prices increased in 2017 for 87 percent of the brand-name drugs studied.”

The report notes that the retail price of one widely used brand-name drug to treat fibromyalgia, Lyrica,

”...increased by 19.3 percent; the price of diabetes drug Januvia increased by 8.2 percent; and the price of Benicar, a widely used medicine for high blood pressure, increased by 17.8 percent.”

Here is a chart from page 12 of the report showing what the average price of the prescription drugs would be if increases had matched overall inflation:

PriceIncreasevInflation

The researchers have sliced and diced their price findings about a dozen different ways but the numbers come out all the same: jaw-dropping increases. Among the highlights (well, I suppose we ought to call them lowlights):

“Brand name drug prices increased four times faster than the 2017 general inflation rate”

“Retail prices in 2017 increased for 87 percent of the 267 brand name drugs studied”

“Retail prices for 113 chronic-use brand name drugs on the market since at least 2006 increased cumulatively over 12 years by an average of 214 percent compared with the cumulative general inflation rate of 25 percent between 2006 to 2017”

After a lifetime of good health requiring no more prescription drugs than an occasional antibiotic, I found out first hand this past year about the cost of drugs. It's frightening.

One of the giant problems with Medicare prescription drug plans is that none of us has any way to predict what drugs we may need in the coming year and the varying providers have different formularies.

Since I am not a fortune teller, until my cancer diagnosis in 2017, I had always chosen the cheapest coverage.

Then, during the Part D enrollment period for 2018 last year, I knew what drugs I would need to continue taking I made an informed choice of which policy would be best for me.

That worked well enough until, in May, I was prescribed an expensive drug not covered by my provider. Oof. That was tough.

Many Medicare beneficiaries who take more than one or two prescription drugs has his/her own story about that kind of sticker shock but we'll discuss that another day.

Among the study's concluding observations are these two strong charges:

”Current market forces do not adequately protect against excessive brand name drug prices and price increases, and the resulting growth in pharmaceutical expenditures is not sustainable.”
“Current pricing practices for brand name pharmaceuticals are a threat to the health and financial security of individual consumers and to taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

“Brand name prescription drugs can provide substantial health benefits including improved health outcomes; however, these benefits are only available to those who can afford to use them.”

You can read the full AARP report here. [pdf]