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October 2019

ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 8

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’s some more interesting music from little known and very well known composers.

EVARISTO DALL'ABACO was born in Verona in the final quarter of the seventeenth century.


His dad was a renowned guitarist and he taught him the rudiments of music. Ev later had lessons in violin and cello from Giuseppe Torelli. He worked in Modena for a bit until he became a bigwig in the orchestra of Maximilian II of Bavaria.

That didn’t last very long as old Max was beaten in one of the interminable battles at the time, and Ev fled to Brussels. He also spent time in France and Holland.

Max eventually regained his throne, seat or whatever and Ev returned to play and compose music for him. Some of the things he composed were released under the title Concerti a più Istrumenti (Concertos with several instruments). One of those is Concerto a più Istrumenti Op 5 No 6 in D major, the first movement.

♫ Dall'Abaco - Concerto a più Istrumenti op.5 No.6 in D major (1)

Many of the compositions of JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH are ripe for reinterpreting, using other instruments rather than the original ones. Indeed, Jo himself did that quite often.


An example of this is his set of six English Suites that he originally composed for harpsichord. These are often reinterpreted and today is no exception. We have one of them played on two guitars by the Montenegrin Guitar Duo. It’s the English Suite No 4 in F Major BWV 809, the second movement.

♫ Bach JS - English Suite No 4 In F Major Bwv 809 (2)

DOMENICO SCARLATTI is probably the best known of a family of composers that included his father, Alessandro, and brother, Pietro.


Dom’s keyboard sonatas are timeless and they sound as if they could have been written by Bach or Haydn or Beethoven or Chopin or even Phillip Glass. Except for Bach, he preceded all of these.

He would have written these sonatas for the harpsichord but I think they sound better played on a modern piano. A lot of pianists think the same way as many of them record and perform these works. It was a tough decision which to include as they all sounded fine, but in the end I settled on his Sonata in D Minor, K.9.

♫ Scarlatti - Keyboard Sonata in D Minor K.9L.413P.65

MADDALENA SIRMEN was born in Venice to a poverty-stricken family in the middle of the 18th century. She was born Maddalena Lombardini.


Maddy started studying violin at an orphanage that taught music to poverty stricken girls and one of her teachers, the famous composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini, noticed her talents and took her under his wing.

He continued with his lessons when she got older. She later toured with the noted violinist Ludovico Sirmen whom she married. Maddy was a much better composer than Ludo, and reports from the time suggest she was a better violinist too.

Most of her compositions feature the violin prominently, including the Concerto No. 3 in A major. This is the first movement.

♫ Sirmen - Concerto No. 3 in A major (1)

Giovanni Battista Draghi was born in 1710 in Jesi in what were then the Papal States. If that name isn’t familiar to you I’m not surprised as he was more commonly known as GIOVANNI PERGOLESI.


He wrote a vast amount of music considering his short life – he died at the age of 26 of tuberculosis. He wrote operas, sacred works, concertos, symphonies, keyboard works, chamber music and so on. It’s as if he realised he wasn’t long for this world and decided to write as much as possible while he could.

One of his more famous works is his Stabat Mater, and we have the duet from that called Sancta mater, istud agas. It’s sung by Mirella Freni and Teresa Berganza.

♫ Pergolesi - Stabat Mater ~ Duet

ANTON ARENSKY is best known today, or only known, for his “Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovsky for String Orchestra”, and even that isn’t played very often.


Ant was born in Russia in the middle of the 19th century and, apart from touring, spent his life in St Petersburg. He was better known at the time for his piano playing and conducting than his compositions. He wrote a lot of music in all genres – opera, ballet, symphonies and concertos, chamber and choral works and quite a bit for solo piano.

As mentioned above, you’d be hard pressed to hear any of them these days. I’ll do something about that. Here is the third movement of his Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32.

♫ Arensky - Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor Op. 32 (3)

I bet this was top of the pops when it was released round about 1610. The gentleman who wrote it is GASPAR FERNANDES.

Gaspar Fernandes

Gasp was born in Portugal in 1566 and was a singer (and perhaps an organist) in the cathedral in Évora. He was hired as an organist (and organ tuner, that’d be some job) in what is now Antigua, Guatemala.

He was later head-hunted by the bigwigs of Puebla, Mexico to do the same job. He remained there for the rest of his life. The tune I mentioned at the beginning is Tleycantimo choquiliya (Hush, little child). It might even make the charts now if someone promoted it.

♫ Fernandes Gaspar - Tleycantimo choquiliya (Hush little child) for chorus

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS was a 19th and early 20th century French composer.


A number of his works are still played and are popular today – The Carnival of the Animals, his Organ Symphony, Dance Macabre and the opera Samson and Delilah.

It’s this last composition that interests me today, especially the aria Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix, and even more especially as it’s sung by the splendid ELĪNA GARANČA.

Elina Garanca

GasparSaint-Saens - Samson et Dalila ~ Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix

GIOVANNI GIORNOVICHI or IVAN JARNOVIC was certainly a citizen of Europe.


His family was from what is now Croatia, but Gio was born on a ship traveling between Dubrovnik and Palermo. He lived in Italy for a while (apparently – everything is “apparent” about him as there are few written records of his life), and later was hugely successful in Paris, and he became a French citizen.

He decided that England was a better bet when the revolution took place, where he met and performed with Joseph Haydn. He also turned up in Prussia playing for Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm II and ended up in St Petersburg in Russia where he eventually died.

He was quite the wiz on the violin and wrote quite a few violin concertos. The first of those was the Violin Concerto No 1 in A major, the first movement.

GasparGiornovichi - Violin Concerto No 1 in A major (1)

FRANZ BERWALD was a Swedish orthopaedic surgeon, who later was the manager of a saw mill and a glass factory.


He also wrote music, but little of it was heard during his lifetime and he had to wait till he was dead before the musical public starting appreciating what he had written.

Franz must have had a bunch of his friends from the orchestra around one day when he decided to write his septet, because it consists of clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello and double bass. Indeed that’s the title of the piece: Septet for clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello & double-bass in B-flat major, the 'Grand'. This is the third movement.

GasparBerwald - Septet for clarinet bassoon horn violin viola cello & double-bass in B-flat major (3)

INTERESTING STUFF – 16 November 2019


The headline on tomorrow's cover story in the Sunday New York Times Magazine is titled “So the Internet Didn’t Turn Out the Way We Hoped. Now What?”

Has there ever be a more perfect mashup of subject, title and image?



TGB reader NYPup sent this this video from Stephen Colbert's Late Show. I think it may be the best cold open the show has ever produced.


According to this story, L-triptophan has nothing to do with causing the naps people take after Thanksgiving dinner. That's a myth, explains Mental Floss.

”It’s more about heaps of potatoes, mountains of stuffing, and generous globs of gravy—and that, along with alcohol, is more likely the reason you collapse into a spectacular food coma after your meal.

“Overeating (especially of foods high in fat) means your body has to work extra hard to digest everything. To get the job done, it redirects blood to the digestive system, leaving little energy for anything else.”

You can read more at Mental Floss.


Channel or network IDs, idents, identifications are very short animations to remind viewers what channel their TV is tuned to. The NBC peacock is probably the most recognizable one in the U.S.

In France over the past few years, France 3 has produced a series of IDs starring some animated marmots. The latest take a shot at mocking cult films and they are as charming as they are funny. Take a look:

You can see some marmot IDs from previous years here.


Every year or so Boston Dynamics releases their latest robots and I usually publish a video. I've never found out what the robots are for and mostly, I don't rally care. I just think they're kind of cute and move in an interesting manner.

These newest ones - nine, 20-pound Mini-Cheetah robots - are showing their stuff with some students from MIT:

”The hope,” reports Mother Nature Network (MNN), “is that students and researchers will develop machines that can help people in situations where human intervention may be too dangerous or risky.”

More at MNN.


TGB reader Mary sent this item. Hospice Buffalo has been studying end-of-life dreams of their patients for many years.

”In the final days of life, dreams seem to bring comfort and tie up loose ends, according to Dr. [Christopher] Kerr, [CEO of Hospice Buffalo]. “The thing you have to realize is the time for therapy and analysis is over. They’re nearing the end of their lives and people aren’t emerging from these experiences with questions; ‘what happened to me?’ They’re coming out of this with answers and meaning.”

Here is a video from local TV station WIVB about the Hospice Buffalo dream studies:

The print story at the WIVB website is a close transcript of the video.


Via email from Hank Berez.



Wait until you see this - 15-year-old Kyra Poh's amazing wind-tunnel dance - a gold medal winning performance at the Wind Games 2018.

Flixxy explains that

"...'wind tunnel' is a facility where thanks to the latest technology and 4 high-power turbines continuous adjustable vertical air flow is generated. This allows anyone to recreate the feeling of freefall in a safe space, supervised by qualified instructors.”

I sure would like to try that wind tunnel. I'm not as limber and flexible as that 15-year-old (I once was) but it would still be fun.


The person who shot this video imagines the otter is getting ready to party. Or, maybe he's got a hangover from too much party the night before. Either way or something else, he's (she?) so damned cute.

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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.

Some Satisfactory Health News

Satisfactory? Did I say that in the headline? Well, yes I did. It is a long way from earth-shattering but good nonetheless.

Here's the news: On Monday, I had a CT scan to see what the cancer has been doing. On Wednesday, the oncologist said the scan shows the lesions in my lung and peritoneum have grown a small amount, something just over a centimeter.

Given my diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, that is good news. I've had no chemotherapy since the last CT scan three months ago and the cancer hasn't changed much in that time. Plus, no cancer is evident in other organs.

I'm not too proud to admit that I wept in relief - just a little bit but not until I was in the car. And that heavy, dark cloud I had been dragging around with me early this week lifted.

Those two days between the CT scan every three months and learning the results are a bear to get through emotionally.

It's not that I don't believe the cancer will kill me eventually or that I don't know I've already beaten the odds by surviving a year-and-a-half beyond average after diagnosis.

But if you don't count the COPD breathing problem and low energy it causes, I feel like a normal, non-sick person.

In fact, without intention I have put on enough extra weight in the past month or so that I need to diet off some of it.

Almost all pancreatic cancer patients can barely maintain their weight which was true of me until recently. The doctor has no idea why that changed but suggested I count my blessings. No kidding.

And that's all I have to say today. I have had appointments away from home every day this week that will continue into next week and I'm worn out already. I need some unscheduled, quiet time.

No need to comment on this post. Mainly, I just wanted to fill up the page so I can read or nap or whatever else I want for a couple of days without anyone thinking something terrible has happened.

What It's Like to be Dying

A friend emailed about his grandson. “What's it like,” the nine-year-old asked, “to be dying?”

(Dear god, is this what happens when kids are done with dinosaurs? I would have guessed that at least a couple more years would go by before this kind of serious question comes up.)

The short answer is that it's not much different from living. I eat and sleep and read and watch TV or movies, see friends, write this blog as I have done for years along with cleaning house, grocery shopping, cooking, the laundry, etc. You know, the everyday necessities and pleasures of life.

The longer answer is that each one of those ordinary tasks takes longer now than before the cancer diagnosis and the surgery that took several months of recovery.

Now, since the additional diagnosis of COPD, they all take even longer and require more rest periods while I'm doing each one.

Getting that stuff done has become the framework of my life – the measure of my days – so that I can be free to spend time on whatever catches my fancy and, regularly, what it means to stop living. To die.

That weighs on my shoulders, it's there all the time although not always at the forefront.

Simple pleasures are greater now. For several weeks, I've been carrying on about this year's fall colors to anyone who will listen. I don't recall them lasting so long or so stunningly in the past.

On Monday, driving a road through a woods to a doctor appointment, the brilliant yellows of last week had become a deep, burnt orange. I've never seen that. Or, rather, not so much of it. It makes me happy.

Sometimes I read what others have written about being terminally ill. They are all more erudite and thoughtful than I although they usually are nearer to death than I am yet (well, one doesn't really know that). Maybe I will magically become more wise as my time gets shorter. Hmmmph.

Other times I hope that when it is my turn, I will have let go enough of earthly life so to be eager for (or at least, accepting of) what comes – or doesn't come – next.

I watched this happen to my mother and to my great aunt. They gradually lost interest in the world around them. I believe I've noticed hints of this phenomenon in me recently. Just a few days ago, I deleted saved videos of two television shows I have watched regularly for many years. That evening, they just seemed dumb. They offered nothing that engaged my mind.

Although my “trip” last December with magic mushrooms (psilocybin) went a long way toward easing my bone-chilling fear of death, it is not a total relief.

Facing oblivion, the wiping away of one's unique self doesn't stop being unimaginable, and when those thoughts come to mind (they have a habit of creeping up from behind me when I'm not expecting them), I purposely dwell on them. I breathe deeply and try to make myself believe it will be all right.

You could say at this point that death and I are dating. I think we've made it to the holding hands stage. We're open to each other. We want to know more although if I'm going to anthropomorphize death, it's probably a good idea to assume that he/she already knows me well enough.

So living while dying is not all that different from living without a deadline (so to speak) which is how I think I like it. I can't be sure because I've never done this before and – damn, there are no rehearsals.

My god, this blog post is so much less than I wanted it to be. Maybe I'll give it another try down the road.

A TGB READER STORY: My Season of “Not Quite”

By Carole Leskin

There is something about late August that makes me uneasy. A kind of sadness mixed with a desire to just get it over with and move on to September.

When I was a little girl, I loved the summer. August meant wearing as few clothes as possible, riding my bike all day, swimming, fishing and crabbing with my father, boating on the bay, playing hide and seek at nightfall, the magic show of fireflies in the darkness and just being free!

Today, I stepped out on to my balcony and was almost overcome by the humidity and a sense of lethargy. The garden is beginning to close for the season. Many of the flowers and plants are limp and struggling to live just a bit longer. There are already rust and brown leaves on the ground, looking out of place in what is still predominantly green, but a reminder of things to come.

The birds have raised their young, the nests empty, the fighting for places at the feeders over. The sun casts its shadows earlier and displays a different color on the water - a yellowish green, an artist finding a way to convey the mixture of life and death.

I remember my childhood August and wonder. Is it me? Have I lost something somewhere along the way of growing old? Why do I struggle to just go with the flow - lazy, unhurried and content? Why do I want this month to end and September to begin?

I yearn for the clarity and crispness of autumn - warm sweaters and cozy blankets, mugs of hot chocolate, the colors of turning leaves, the harvest crops, scarecrows and a fire in the fireplace.

Perhaps this is what being 74 is about. Learning to live in the season of "not quite". Letting go of what was, beautiful as it might have been, and finding a way to embrace what is - undefined, different, yellowish green - with an end in sight. But not yet.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]

This is Wrong and I am Exhausted

It is Saturday as I type out these words and with coffee at hand, my intention is to spend the morning writing Monday's blog post – something about growing old.

But. But. First, there is the day's news – if not familiar in precise detail, it has certainly become ad nauseam in its never-ending repetition.

ITEM: The president announced that on the same day public impeachment hearings begin in the U.S. Congress this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodğan will visit the White House. Really? The man who just recently sicced his armed forces on U.S.-allied Kurds in northern Syria?

ITEM: The president dangled a White House visit in front of the president of Ukraine but made clear it would be forthcoming only if said president would dig up dirt on Trump's possible election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

ITEM: The president was fined $2 million this week for using his charitable foundation over several decades as his and his children's personal piggy bank.

ITEM: On Friday, the president said he doesn't know Gordon Sondland. You know, the man who gave Trump a million-dollar campaign contribution to purchase an ambassadorship? Is anyone counting the number of people Trump has thrown under the bus so far?

ITEM: It was revealed that for two years the Trump re-election campaign has been running fraudulent fundraising contests in which at least 16 winners were promised a meal with the president that never materialized.

Look at that list, a quick compilation of some of one day's main headlines and all of it, every item, is petty, chintzy or corrupt. Trump is such a small, vulgar, little man, a two-bit grifter, a chiseler who never met a person he didn't want to cheat.

He makes me feel grubby, embarrassed and ashamed. Ashamed to be an American.

Angry too. To go with the above headline news, the president began the paperwork last week to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement – just when the scientists are telling us it is more dire than anyone had thought.

And don't get me started on Congressional Republicans. Are they the clowns they show us every day or are they playing every person who voted for them for fools?

Not to mention Republicans appointed to high positions by the president who have refused Congressional subpoenas. Isn't there a penalty for that? But before it even gets that far, it must be asked where their principles are. Their patriotism. Do they even believe in the Constitution, in the rule of law?

Apparently not, which if true, makes the mess President Trump has made of the American government even worse than any of us could have imagined.

Nearly every move the president and his henchmen (there is no other word for them now) make has been and continues to be a disaster for our country and for the world.

It didn't have to be this way and as bad as you may think it is, it's worse. Even if we could replace Trump today with a president of known integrity, it would be decades until the ship of state is on an even keel again.

We all have our personal list of presidents we didn't like, but none shook the foundations of our country as this one has.

I'm angry but I'm more exhausted. I want this to end. Please, I am calling on all the gods who ever lived, make this stop.

(Thank you, dear readers, for indulging this tirade today.)

ELDER MUSIC: 1952 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.

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1952 was still in the sway of pop music, but there were hints of things to come. This was not rock and roll as such, but there was music pointing in that direction. You'll hear all of that and more today.

FRANKIE LAINE and DORIS DAY team up for the first song.

Frankie Laine & Doris Day

That one is Sugarbush, based on a traditional South African song and written down by Fred Michel. It was translated into English and first recorded in 1930. Frankie and Doris have by far the best version that I’ve heard, though.

♫ Frankie Laine & Doris Day - Sugarbush

The next song lies somewhere between big band jazz and small group rhythm and blues. The performer, as well as the songwriter, is PERCY MAYFIELD.

Percy Mayfield

It was this year that he was returning from a performance and the car in which he as traveling hit a truck. He was pronounced dead at the crash site. This pronunciation was somewhat premature. He lived for more than thirty more years. He didn’t perform again, but he made a living as a songwriter of great skill. Before all this he had a hit with Cry Baby.

♫ Percy Mayfield - Cry Baby

Here is a song that would not sound out of place any time from the thirties to the eighties. I was originally going to say the present day, but it’s a bit too musical for the last few decades. The performers are LES PAUL & MARY FORD.

Les Paul and Mary Ford

This one has the beautiful voice of Mary and some not too over the top guitar playing from Les. The song is My Baby's Comin' Home.

♫ Les Paul & Mary Ford - My Baby's Comin' Home

Josef Marais was born in South Africa and early on played violin and viola. He left that country for England and he studied violin and composition in London, Paris, Prague, and Budapest and he played in several orchestras in those cities.

He later turned his hand to folk music and amongst many other songs, he wrote Ay-Round the Corner. This was a hit for both The Weavers and JO STAFFORD in 1952.

Jo Stafford

It was really a toss of the coin which to include and Jo came up heads.

♫ Jo Stafford - Ay-Round The Corner

ROSCO GORDON was best known as a blues singer and songwriter. He also played piano.

Rosco Gordon

Rosco was associated with B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Johnny Ace and others of that ilk. He’s included because this year he had a big hit with one of his songs, No More Doggin'. I didn’t hear this at the time. I wish I had. Oh well.

♫ Rosco Gordon - No More Doggin'

It was always hard to categorise JOHNNIE RAY.

Johnnie Ray

He was definitely a pop singer of the old school; he’d sing show tunes and others like that. However, he also seemed to pointing in the direction of rock and roll, even if his songs weren’t quite that. He was a particular favorite of my sister and me at the time.

His song is Here I Am Broken Hearted, one of the old school songs, but sounding a bit doowop. A couple of decades later Big Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker recorded a fabulous blues version of the song.

♫ Johnnie Ray - Here I Am Broken Hearted

MARIE ADAMS was a gospel and rhythm and blues singer, mostly associated with Johnny Otis.

Marie Adams

Like Rosco above, she also performed with Bobby Bland, B.B. and Johnny Ace. Her first record hit the charts, and it’s this one, I'm Gonna Play the Honky Tonks.

♫ Marie Adams - I'm Gonna Play The Honky Tonks

FATS DOMINO always performed rock and roll, even before it was called that. A lot of musicians from New Orleans did so as well.

Fats Domino

By this year he was already well established with a number of hits under his belt. He sings a tale of woe, but anything by Fats will bring a smile to my face. Poor Me.

♫ Fats Domino - Poor Me

Oh my, I wish that my local radio station at the time (3LK) played RUTH BROWN back in 1952, but living 250 miles from Melbourne and 250 mile from Adelaide that was not on the cards.

Ruth Brown

My musical education might have been accelerated by several years had I heard such music. Fortunately I’ve caught up since. Not just Ruth, but several of the performers I’ve already mentioned weren’t on that station. Anyway, here’s Ruth with Daddy Daddy.

♫ Ruth Brown - Daddy Daddy

PERRY COMO was synonymous with the music of this year.

Perry Como

There are a number of songs of his I could have included, so it was a bit of a tossup. Finally, I went for one I remember (well, I remember most of them) Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.

♫ Perry Como - Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes

A bonus track from the JACKSON BROTHERS that’s a pointer to what’s going to happen to music in a few short years.

Jackson Brothers

It’s still a little rhythm and blues but the rock and roll sounds are already in place in We're Gonna Rock This Joint.

♫ Jackson Brothers - We're Gonna Rock This Joint

INTERESTING STUFF – 9 November 2019


This video is old, posted to the web 12 years ago, but the Youtube page tells us it's even older:

”...from the show Øystein og jeg on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) in 2001. With Øystein Backe (helper) and Rune Gokstad (desperate monk). Written by Knut Nærum.”

Funny how it doesn't seem all that dated.


Remember last week when I featured a story about a guy who wanted to legally shave 20 years off his age? My internet friend Chuck Nyren took issue with the man:

”How stupid is that? wrote Chuck. “Even if you look pretty good for being in your late sixties, you’ll automatically look like shit if you smile and tell people you’re forty-two.

“They’ll feel sorry for you, think how pathetic. You’ll be the most wizened, creepy, broken-down forty-two-year-old in the world. They’ll run away, maybe be sick the rest of the day just thinking about it.

But - what if you legally changed your age to ninety-two? That would actually make sense. People will be in shock, admire you, ask how you do it, want your secret. They’ll walk away amazed, in awe.

There is more of Chuck's rebuttal at Mediium.


Says palliative care physician and author Kathryn Mannix. Her description of a person's last hours or minutes closely matches what I saw in my mother as I sat with her when she died.


Certainly you've seen the photos and videos of plastic-clogged oceans that are killing marine life and adding to climate change.

Just last year, my town banned plastic grocery bags. I'm not sure how much that helps when plastic bags are still in the produce department and deli items are packed in plastic containers but I guess it is a start.

There are 10 countries in the world, however, where single-use plastics are all but gone or getting there on a fast track. France leads the way:

”The country took its first step toward a plastic-free future in 2015 by giving plastic bags the boot. The following year, it became the first nation to outlaw plastic cups, plates, and cutlery.

“By 2020, French folks will say au revoir to plastic straws, coffee stirrers, and cotton swabs, too. France’s progress has even inspired the entire EU to propose legislation that would ban single-use plastics across the union by 2021, and make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030.”

Zimbabwe, Australia, Tunisia, Peru, Rwanda and the U.K. among other countries all have regulations in place to rid themselves of single-use plastics within a few years from now.

The U.S. has a long way to go to catch up. Read more at Great Big Story including links to shop for alternatives to single use plastics.


They keep coming and coming and coming and coming. Watch for the few grownups waddling along among the baby geese.


In April 1953, Pacific Telephone and Telegraph president, Mark R. Sullivan, predicted the coming of the mobile phone.

Snopes confirmed the story which appeared in at least four newspapers. He was remarkably accurate as this newspaper clipping shows:


More at Snopes.


The & is much older than I thought and was once included as part of the British alphabet. Take a look:


On 29 October, when House Democrats issued the rules that will be used to manage the public impeachment inquiry, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), a member of House Democratic leadership, told VICE News,

"If they want to make it into a goat rodeo, we’re not going to give them the rope to do that.”

Goat rodeo? Ha! I've waited a lifetime for such a great phrase. It will be so useful in such sentences as, “The goat rodeo that spends its time trying to make the president's lies seem true.”


Monday 11 November is Veterans Day. Mother Nature Network (MNN) tells us about a new documentary film featuring military members and their service dogs:

To Be of Service follows several American veterans of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam and the dogs that help them cope with PTSD. The film was directed by Josh Aronson, known for the Oscar-nominated documentary Sound and Fury about deaf families.

Here is the trailer:

You can read more at MNN and check for screenings of the documentary at the film's webpage.

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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.

Among Generations

It has been longer than it feels like to me since President Donald Trump announced he is pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change – 1 June 2017 – proving yet again that he is dumber than I thought he was.

He followed through on that threat (yes, it is an actual threat to the survival of planet Earth) on Monday by sending paperwork to the United Nations that begins the year-long process of U.S. withdrawal from the Agreement.


As reported in the Washington Post, on Tuesday while speaking about the dire need for a stricter climate change policy, 25-year-old member of the New Zealand Parliament, Chlöe Swarbrick, reacted to a jeer about her youth with an insolent aside, “OK boomer,” before smoothly continuing her speech.

It comes so quickly at :16 seconds into this video that you can barely hear it:

Just this week, I've run into that epithet about a dozen times. As befits someone even older than the boomer generation, I am apparently way behind the curve on the slang term. In fact, as Molly Roberts writes in the Washington Post,

“OK, boomer” was fun and funny, so we said it about a million times on Twitter in the space of one day, and now it has become unfunny and lame.”

Before that happened, a conservative radio personality, Bob Lonsberry who at age 60 is a member of the Gen X generation, denounced the word “boomer” as “the n-word of ageism.”

A bit over the top, don't you think, and it misses the point but I still wondered what “OK, boomer” means. The WaPo's Molly Roberts tells us that young people use the phrase to mock their elders:

”The all-purpose reply is designed to disarm oldish people who dispense condescension dressed up as wisdom,” she writes.

“Your mom tells you that your peers’ phones are rotting their brains, and that they should spend some time outside mowing the lawn. 'OK, boomer.' “Your grandpa tells you that kids these days have lost all sense of civility because they yelled at Ellen DeGeneres for going to a football game with George W. Bush. 'OK, boomer.'

“Some random grump in your replies on Twitter tells you Greta Thunberg should go to school back in Sweden instead of gallivanting across the 50 states spreading the green gospel. 'OK, boomer.'”

To put a button on the definition, Ms. Roberts further tells us that that young people use the slogan

”...because they’re inheriting a collapsing climate, an unequal economy and endless battles overseas that they didn’t start. They’re saying a lot with very little, and by saying very little they end up saying even more.

“'OK, boomer' sends the message that the grown-ups have screwed up so totally, and are veering so speedily into irrelevance, that convincing them of anything is a waste of keyboard characters.”

So what they are saying, it seems, is that some young adults can be just as thick-headed and intolerant as some old people. (Thick-headedness is not a generation-specific trait.)

While I was tracking all this down, I recalled a video that's been around the internet in one form or another for a long time. I'm sure I must have posted before but it's relevant in a different way now:

Once again it is a matter of people - generations in this case - talking past one another when in reality they have everything in common on the subject of saving the planet. Old folks have a lifetime of experience and the young ones have the energy and stamina to do what is necessary.

Although “OK, Boomer” is clever and it may be effective (among the young people who understand its meaning) in raising awareness, it is also divisive at a time when we all need one another as never before in the history of Planet Earth.

The Alex and Ronni Show Plus Fear of Phone Conversations

In the summer of 2018, Brigid Delaney, writing in The Guardian complained that talking with a friend on the telephone was a “time suck” - too tedious to be bothered with.

Instead, we should all be using WhatsApp or texting, she says. When her phone rings,

”I feel such a wave of animus and fear that I am unsettled for the rest of the day. Usually I don’t answer it.”

Amimus? Fear? A couple of weeks ago, a different Guardian writer, Melanie Tait, at first confesses to a similar response:

”There are lots of things to panic about with a phone call,” she writes, “chief among them being: what if we run out of things to say, and there’s, God forbid, silence?

But Ms. Tait has now discovered the joys of phone chats and her goal is to explain their attraction and benefits to the likes of Ms. Delaney which apparently means most of the younger generation. Discussing a friend who calls her in the evening, Ms. Tait writes,

”We’ll spend a lot of these conversations trying to make each other laugh, but I’ve also noticed we’re both able to share a little more in this telephonic friendship than we do in real life (our real-life friendship also being a very robust one).

“The lack of eye contact means some questions are easier to ask and some things are easier to reveal.

“It’s like being transported back to high school in the 90s, where you’d be at school all day, and at night, extension chord dragged into the pantry while the rest of the house slept.

“Phone D&Ms (“deep and meaningfuls”) were one of the great emotional releases in pre-mobile teen life, a chance to talk away the existential drama of the school day.”

Of course, people of our age have always known that and personally, it's how I keep my far-flung friends close – with long, sometimes two or three hours at a time, phone conversations where we solve all the problems of the world together. Until next time.

Tait winds up her essay as a thoroughly convinced convert:

”Tonight, headphones in, a phone call or two means I’ll discover something new about someone I care about, laugh at least three times, reveal something I wouldn’t tell anyone else and maybe even discover a new Liza Minnelli impersonator I’d never heard of.”

* * *

My former husband, Alex Bennett, and I had our biweekly Skype chat yesterday. I think we spent way too much time on my health predicament, but he doesn't agree.


By Ann Burack-Weiss

It is 1946 and I am 10 years old. The first night home after my tonsils come out, I begin to cough. Scabs and blood fill the yellow enamel pail with the green rim. Doctor and ambulance follow.

My nose is packed with cotton. Sirens scream. Outside the hospital are bright lights; nurses wearing big white hats hold out their arms to me.

I am flat on a table, more bright lights. I want to sleep but they keep slapping me awake, calling my name.

The next thing I remember must have been a day or two later. I am in bed and two young nurses enter. They carry scissors and speak in a soft Irish brogue. My hair is matted with dried blood. They must cut it all off.

I am a tall, skinny girl with a curved back. “What beautiful hair! ” is the only compliment on my looks I have ever received. My hair is long, thick, dark and carries a miraculous wave. With it you can shape corkscrew curls that rival those of Shirley Temple.

You cannot cut my hair! I cry and shout. Perhaps they take pity on me or fear that I will begin to cough again, but they soon agree.

They leave and return with a bottle of oil and thick-toothed combs. It is long, rough going. The oil needs time to soak in, it hurts as the comb is dragged through, the washing reveals missed areas, back to the oil, the combs, the washing. Finally, they are done.

I am handed a mirror. It is hard to take in who I am looking at. This chalk white face cannot be me. But, of course, it is. And when they leave, I go to sit by the window.

I am in the Floating Hospital for Children in Boston – recently re-established on land – and the window faces a deserted block by the harbor.

I look out at the dilapidated buildings (as clear in my mind’s eye today as the view I see each day from my bedroom window). And I say to myself in an adult voice that I don’t recognize, “You were going to die. Now you are going to live.“

* * *

I am seated in a small room, conducting an intake interview. I face a young, black woman who is telling me about her descent into crack addiction and the day she decided she had to quit. It is a harrowing story. I am listening hard. She has just said that she looked in the mirror and couldn’t recognize herself. I am there with her.

Then - we are rising, rising, swept up and swirling in a vortex. I am no longer the social worker with the degrees. She is no longer the client with the problem. Our identities have been stripped away. We are pure spirits – disembodied beings passing each other in the same swirling pattern, tiny molecules up there in outer space.

Then - we are back in the office, returned to ourselves. She is talking, I am listening. She is still speaking of the mirror. How much time could have passed – not as long as a minute. Seconds, perhaps?

* * *

One transcendent experience in a long life does not a mystic make. And it is totally possible that the image of an unfamiliar face in a mirror performed some neurological voodoo.

Yet, whenever I think of the hereafter, I picture myself and my beloved dead as spirits whirling around in the vortex.

The vortex contains all the souls who ever lived – those blessed with the riches of life, those who had the hardest of fates, those who died at birth, those who lived on to a ripe old age – all now equal parts of the same whole: together awhirling, atwirling, aswirling in the vortex.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]

Celebrating Día de Muertos

”...Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is such an important occasion. It holds that dying and living are not opposites but rather two parts of one process, with just a breath in between.

“Through this lens, death isn’t an antagonist, a horrifying thing we must look away from. Death is festooned with flowers, candles and brightly colored papel picado because Día de Muertos wants us to look squarely at the way things end.

“It wants us to accept it, laugh at it and revere it. The only thing it asks us to not do is ignore it.

“I’ve come to understand that this holiday isn’t about romanticizing the past or about wishing we could bring those who’ve died back to life. Día de Muertos instead asks us to consider that we exist in conversation with the people who came before us and the people who will come after us.

“It says the border between life and death — and every border we encounter in between — is porous. It asserts the joyful fluidity of being alive.”

To repeat: “With just a breath in between.”

In this lovely and eloquent essay in the Washington Post last week, John Paul Brammer walks us through how he and his family, thoroughly assimilated into American culture since his grandparents emigrated from Mexico, came to understand and celebrate Día de Muertos.

If you've been hanging around this blog during the past two-and-a-half years, you know we sometimes talk about death and dying. Ever since I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I have been working to make my own death acceptable to me or, at least, to find ways to reduce the paralyzing fear that rattled me every time I thought about dying from this terrible disease.

One way took place last Christmas. With the help of an experienced guide, I spent five or six hours under the influence of “magic mushrooms” or psilocybin. Like most others before me, I have never found words to adequately express what transpired that afternoon but it did change me.

The closest I can manage to explain is that I came to see that life and death were two sides of the same door. Not such a dramatic transition after all and it is not far off, is it, from Brammer's “two parts of one process, with just a breath in between?”

(You can read about my “trip” in two parts here and here.)

From the time of my childhood until recently, hardly anyone talked about death or even referenced it much beyond religion-specific rituals. Apparently that is no longer so.

In our weekly Sunday phone visit, my friend Autumn told me that her six-year-old daughter, Catherine, had learned about Día de Muertos this year in her Spanish-language class.

She told her mother all about how it is celebrated by building an alter and decorating it with flowers and photographs of beloved relatives who have died along with, as Brammer explains too, “sugar skulls and marigolds and offerings of food.”

And so Catherine built a Día de Muertos alter at home to honor her grandfather. Here is a photo of Catherine at her alter.


Maybe the holiday will become as important to Catherine as it has become for John Paul Brammer who writes,

”I still look forward to every October, when the bakeries fill with pan de muerto and sugar skulls. I look forward to the first days of November, when the wall between life and death comes tumbling down, and we, no matter who we are or how far away we’ve traveled, find our way home.”

You can read Brammer's entire essay at the Washington Post. If you do not subscribe to this newspaper or have used up your monthly number of free articles, let me know via the “Contact” link at the top of this page.

ELDER MUSIC: Country Performers Who Should be Better Known

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.

* * *

In every genre of music there are performers who are as good as, and occasionally better than, the big names. Today I’m featuring some country performers who I like a lot and wonder why they are not better known.

I hope to remedy that just a little bit in our little corner of the world. Fans of country may know some (or even all) of these; it’s for the other people who like good music, but are perhaps not fans of country music, for whom I feature them today.

Although ostensibly country, LACY J DALTON has elements of blues, folk and rock in her performances.

Lacy J Dalton

She may not be the only person in this column where that applies. Lacy has said that her influences are more along the lines of Leadbelly, Billie Holiday, Karen Dalton and Bob Dylan than any country performer. See what you think with Crazy Blue Eyes.

♫ Lacy J Dalton - Crazy Blue Eyes

I had several albums of RUSTY WIER before I saw him in Albuquerque; he was opening for Bonnie Raitt.

Rusty Wier

Everyone was there to see Bonnie as was I, but I was also there to see Rusty. From the response of the audience I think I was the only one. I don’t know if he won them over but I thought he was great.

Alas, he’s no longer with us but he was one of the unsung country performers. He performs The Coast of Colorado.

♫ Rusty Wier - The Coast Of Colorado

DAVID ALLAN COE is not really a mainstream performer.

David Allan Coe

He is best known as a songwriter – many country (and other) singers have had hits with his songs. He’s also somewhat of a cult performer and you can find influences of Lightnin’ Hopkins and Bo Diddley in his music to go alongside the Charlie Rich and Jerry Lee Lewis.

He’s one of a kind, and that’s probably a good thing. This is If Only Your Eyes Could Lie.

♫ David Allan Coe - If Only Your Eyes Could Lie

I have my friend Tony to thank for turning me on to WILLIS ALAN RAMSEY.

Willis Alan Ramsey

Tony has good taste in music so I always listen to what he has to say. This was back in the seventies and Willis’s eponymous album was terrific. It still is.

Willis is still out there performing, but, and this is a real surprise given the quality of that original album, he has not recorded another. From that one here is Muskrat Love (Muskrat Candlelight).

♫ Willis Alan Ramsey - Muskrat Love (Muskrat Candlelight)

Often I think I’m the only one who knows about certain artists, but writing these columns has really put that thought to bed. Once, I thought nobody else knew about DARDEN SMITH. There’s a blogger and occasional commenter who put me in my place. You know who you are.

Darden Smith

I really had trouble deciding which song of his to include. It was a matter of drinking quite a bit of wine and playing the songs over and over again. Finally I settled on Two Dollar Novels. Darden has the help of another fine singer, Nanci Griffith, singing along with him.

♫ Darden Smith - Two Dollar Novels

I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing the AMAZING RHYTHM ACES several times. They are my favorite southern rock band.

Amazing RhythmAces

They also play country, blues, soul and anything else they set their minds and instruments to. Their one constant throughout their long existence has been their lead singer and songwriter, Russell Smith.

From their first album “Too Stuffed to Jump” here is The End Is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Tune).

♫ Amazing Rhythm Aces - The End Is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Tune)

I stumbled on a country music station when I was in San Francisco once while I was searching for the classical music station. That station was playing ROBIN LEE at the time.

Robin Lee

“That’s not bad”, I thought and left it there until the song ended. I went out and bought the CD called “This Old Flame” which turned out to be a good buy. From that album here is the title track, This Old Flame.

♫ Robin Lee - This Old Flame

I first encountered HERB PEDERSEN as a member of The Dillards.

Herb Pedersen

He later went solo and recorded several fine solo albums. Later still he was a founding member of The Desert Rose Band with Chris Hillman from The Byrds (and the Flying Burrito Brothers).

Later still, and this is the way I’ve seen him most recently, he and Chris perform as an acoustic duo. From his first solo album (“Southwest”) here is Wait a Minute.

♫ Herb Pedersen - Wait A Minute

R.B. MORRIS is difficult to categorise, which is fine by me. The only problem is this particular column is a particular genre, so I’ll have to put him in this bag.

R. B. Morris

R.B. started out as a poet and a playwright. Even with his songs, the influence of Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti shine through. This isn’t the standard stuff from which country songs are crafted, but R.B. isn’t like the other kiddies.

However, the song They Say There's a Time stays close to the country norm. Carmella Ramsey gives him some vocal assistance on this one.

♫ RB Morris - They Say There's A Time

I found LEE ANN WOMACK on the same station where I found Robin Lee.

Lee Ann Womack

I would flip back when the classical station was playing Wagner or Brahms or some such. They played this track and I also bought the CD. The album, and it’s another good one, is “Some Things I Know”. The track is I'll Think of a Reason Later.

♫ Lee Ann Womack - I'll Think Of A Reason Later

I’m including a bonus track, just because I can. It’s another from the AMAZING RHYTHM ACES. It’s included as a tribute to Russell Smith, who died recently.

Amazing Rhythm Aces

Here, from the Aces’ eponymous album, is Rodrigo, Rita and Elaine. We have Russell singing Rodrigo (or the narrator, it’s unclear), Joan Baez and Tracy Nelson (the singer, not the actress) as Rita and Elaine.

♫ Amazing Rhythm Aces - Rodrigo Rita and Elaine

INTERESTING STUFF – 2 November 2019



In case you forgot – I almost did – Daylight Savings Time ends tonight when you should turn back your clocks one hour. TURN BACK not forward.

Your computer, smart phone and maybe some other appliances will adjust themselves. If you're like me, you have way too many analogue clocks that need to be changed by hand.


TGB reader, Tom Delmore, sent this story from Aeon written by Joona Räsänen, a bioethicist from the University of Norway. He posits that people should be able to legally change their age.

One example he gave is of a man who thought taking 20 years off his age would help him out on dating websites.

”Age change should be allowed when the following three conditions are met,” explains Räsänen. First, the person is at risk of being discriminated against because of age. Second, the person’s body and mind are in better shape than would be expected based on the person’s chronological age (that is, the person is biologically younger than he is chronologically). Third, the person does not feel that his legal age is befitting.”

There is more to Räsänen's argument than what I have quoted. You can read it here.

For the record, I think there is more than enough ad hoc jiggering around with age by people who believe they look younger than they are. They rarely do and we don't need anymore confusion in our world.


Did you know that “Central Park is home to 23 statues of real men (and one real dog), but there are no sculptures of important women from history?” that there are statues of only fictional women like Juliet from Shakespeare's play?

That will end next year when a new statue of suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and abolitionist/women's rights activist Sojourner Truth will be installed in the park. Take a look:


And it doesn't end there. According to Michele Debczak writing in Mental Floss, activists are pushing for more women's statues.

This year, Virginia unveiled a monument consisting of 12 historic women, and in 2020, construction will begin of a statue of journalist Nellie Bly on New York City's Roosevelt Island.”

Read more at Mental Floss and at The Guardian.


As you know from past mentions here, Jeopardy! host, Alex Trebek, is being treated for pancreatic cancer. In a PSA (public service announcement) recently recorded, Trebek is raising awareness of early symptoms:

“I wished I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced prior to my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer,” he says in the PSA.”

Here is the video but be aware that his list of additional symptoms is not definitive. Mine were mostly different from his. Here's the PSA:

Read more at USA Today.


As the YouTube page explains:

”Allan Brauner is a Holocaust researcher. His late mother Margaret Brauner, who lived from 1924 to 2017, was a Holocaust survivor. He discovered her name, the number tattooed on her arm and her signature on a list of female prisoners held at Auschwitz by the Nazis.

“There are 227 names on the list, and Brauner has made it his personal journey to uncover the stories of all those who experienced the Holocaust alongside his mother.

“The largest archives in the world on the victims of Nazi persecution, the [Arolsen Archives] houses 30 million documents. Ancestry formed a partnership with the Arolsen Archives to make these records widely available and searchable online, for free.“

Here's the video.

The searchable archive is at


Most of what is printed about scams in relation to age is that old people are more susceptible to them than younger people. Well, not so fast.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released it's annual report, “Protecting Older Consumers 2018-2019.” Here is the news:

”People 60 and older are the least likely to report losing money to scams. But when they do, their losses are larger than younger people's. 'What’s more, consumers in that age group spotted fraud and reported it before losing any money at nearly twice the rate of people between 20 and 59.'”

So I guess we are not as dumb as some people want to portray us. Read more at the FTC.


In the past, I have posted a different video of Coober Pedy, Australia, a town where most of the people work in opal mining and most of them live underground.

It's a mystery to me why I'm so fascinated with this town but I am and maybe you are too. Take a look:

There are a lot of video about Coober Pedy. Just type the name into youtube and you'll get a long list.


It's called Centralia. It once held a thousand people but now, only five remain.

”An underground coal fire turned Centralia, Pennsylvania into a ghost town. Centralia, Pennsylvania was nearly entirely evacuated following a coal mine fire, burning beneath the town since 1962. And it still burns. Take a look at the town with some before and after views.


A whole bunch of cats trying to figure out a new phenomenon in their midst.

* * *

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.

Too Young We're Old, Too Old We're Wise

A search around the web for the phrase that is today's headline got me nowhere. (Well, I didn't try all that hard but still.)

Now I wonder if I shouldn't just credit my mother who uttered it so frequently in my childhood that I thought it was a universal truism carved in stone somewhere for all to see.

What has happened in my old age is that finally, at last and after all these 78 years of life, I realize that for all those previous decades I made life harder on myself than it needed to be.

It's not like I hadn't heard advice similar to the list below, or that if I had listened to that little voice in my head I would have known what I was doing was probably futile. But I did it anyway.

It has taken cancer, a months-long recovery from surgery and recent new limitations due to COPD for me to see there is an easier way.

So here is a partial list of good advice I ignored for too many years. I know some of them sound like platitudes but that doesn't make them wrong or unhelpful.

⏺ When things aren't going well, remember: This too shall pass.
⏺ Don't spend time worrying. It never changes outcomes.
⏺ Trust your instincts. (Unless your life has proved you shouldn't.)
⏺ Enjoy what you can do; ignore what you can't.
⏺ Remember: Most of the time things work out or, at least, don't fail catastrophically.
⏺ Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer is always good to keep in mind:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

⏺ Laugh long, loudly and often.

These “rules” (suggestions? advice?) are unique to me and as you undoubtedly noticed, relate mostly to control – the fact that a whole lot of what happens in life is not under my control. Which took me a lifetime to learn.

“Too young we're old, too old we're wise.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, Mom. I got it now.

Feel free to add your own life lessons, especially those you learned late in life.