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INTERESTING STUFF – 30 November 2019


There was some heavy weather in the U.S. over the Thanksgiving holiday. My friend Stan James sent this short, time-lapse, Reddit video of a backyard in Boulder, Colorado, a few days ago.

(Click the image twice to replay.)

from r/boulder



The BBC is reporting that people are dying in disputes over sand. Sand? Are they kidding? Apparently not:

Trivial though it may seem, sand is a critical ingredient of our lives. It is the primary raw material that modern cities are made from,” says the BBC report. “The concrete used to construct shopping malls, offices, and apartment blocks, along with the asphalt we use to build roads connecting them, are largely just sand and gravel glued together.

“The glass in every window, windshield, and smart phone screen is made of melted-down sand. And even the silicon chips inside our phones and computers – along with virtually every other piece of electronic equipment in your home – are made from sand.”

They also explain that desert sand does not work.

”The sand we need is the more angular stuff found in the beds, banks, and floodplains of rivers, as well as in lakes and on the seashore. The demand for that material is so intense that around the world, riverbeds and beaches are being stripped bare, and farmlands and forests torn up to get at the precious grains.”

Read more at the BBC.


TGB reader Joan McMullen sent this video of a construction worker trapped on a fiercely burning building. From 2013:


Coffee is my morning lifeline. Without it, it can be hours before I am fully functional. Here is a survey of how coffee is served in five areas of the world:


Shortly before his death in 2016, singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen spoke with The New Yorker editor David Remnick. This excerpt was published to YouTube by the magazine a couple of weeks ago.


There is a whole bunch of fun and funny cat photos in an article at Bored Panda. Here are two:



There are plenty more at Bored Panda to lighten your day.


A fisherman caught this cotton candy lobster near Casco Bay in Maine recently. Isn't he – she? - beautiful:

You can read more at Mental Floss.


I suspect there are several such museums scattered on the roads of the United States. This one is jampacked with nostalgic items that many TGB readers will recognize from your childhoods.


Thank all 6,000 TGB readers who sent in this commercial. Okay, not 6,000, not even close. But a lot of you, too many to mention.

It pains me to promote this company that has caused me grief with every phone call I've needed to make to them over the years, but wow – what an excellently crafted update of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial 37 years after its original release.

* * *

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.

Happy Thanksgiving 2019


There is a lot in my life to be thankful for this year. First of all, I didn't think I would still be here for what is my third Thanksgiving since they told me I have cancer.

Who could have guessed? Not me. There are not enough words in the English language for me to properly thank the many medical people who have helped keep me going - from the surgeon to that wonderful man Keith who brought me a perfect cup of coffee each day I was in the hospital, and these too – so many:

Nurses, medical assistants, certified nursing assistants, doctors of various specialties, schedulers, phlebotomists, physicians assistants, medical technicians and all the other professionals I have forgotten to list.

To my friends and neighbors and even a former husband who all, living far away and near, keep in regular touch and are always caring and understanding as I navigate through this end-of-life journey.

And last though never least, as they say, you dear readers of Time Goes By. You help give shape and order to my days, you let me bang on about anything that's on my mind and are always politely receptive to (and sometimes even enthusiastic about) my meandering thoughts. Every day I am thankful for your stories, your experience, your advice and your humor.

You fill in useful information I've left out, and you teach me things I doubt I could learn in any other way. For all of you I am thankful and my greatest wish today is that you have as much to be thankful for as I do.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

[I am away for the holiday but will be back here with a new Interesting Stuff on Saturday.]

On Thanksgiving Eve 2019

Thanksgiving week reminds me that quite a long while ago – 12 or 15 years I would guess, or more – I spent a five-hour drive home from visiting a friend for the holiday in the company of a person who had planned each step of his life.

He worked it all out on a gigantic graph he updated as events and plans came to be. It started at graduations from college and law school, then career goals, financial goals, when to marry, when have children and how many, etc. all on a timeline with target dates to be met.

It got more granular than that but I have forgotten the particulars. What I recall is thinking (then and now) what polar opposites we were – his pre-planned, methodical roadmap through life as opposed to my more free-wheeling, lets-see-what-happens, laissez faire, meandering path.

It was always that way for me. Maybe it started when I was a kid, when parents make all the big decisions, and I never outgrew it. Or, perhaps I had a commitment problem. If I don't make a firm choice – my thinking might have been - I can't blame myself or regret what goes wrong.

Never having known what I wanted to do in life, I have mostly just let things happen, leaving necessary choices until timing required them. It's not that I was a ditherer, unable to make up my mind. Never that.

But I am lazy and, for example, when I needed a job as after a TV show I was working on was canceled, I put off doing the legwork until, more often than not, work turned up from out of the blue.

Not every time but frequently enough that you could call it a pattern, someone I knew telephoned: “Hey, Ronni, are you working? I've got a job to talk with you about” or something thereabouts and my problem was solved.

Back then I made light of such occurrences by attributing them to a guardian angel watching out for me even if she or he too often waited to deliver until the wolf was scratching at the door.

That angel probably has had something to do, too, with my personal life going well most of the time. Or smoothly enough to not complain much. (Don't take that statement as gospel, though. Old age seems to have provided me with a sunshine filter on my past that screens out a lot of the bad and bitter stuff.)

But it is hard to fault the angel for this end-of-life journey I have been on since mid-2017. I expected to be dead of cancer before now yet here I am. I expected to be in pain of the debilitating sort. Not so, so far.

I am acutely aware of my great, good fortune and not just in regular and interesting employment. I've been blessed with health, enough money to get by without too much effort and wonderful friends. After that, the smaller stuff is only an annoyance.

Even with my playing it so loose, life has turned out remarkably well and I really ought to remind myself of that more often than just on Thanksgiving.

Enjoy the holiday, my friends.


EDITORIAL NOTE: The queue of reader stories has gotten extremely low. If you are so inclined, this would be a good time to forward your stories for publication. Instructions are at the bottom of this page. I don't like begging for contributions, so if participation continues to decline, I will bring this feature to a close.

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By Jackie Davis

When I was a child in the ‘50’s and early ‘60s, there wasn’t much in the way of children’s programming nor was it necessary. We had many things other than screens to entertain us, particularly on the farm.

However, there were movies on television, old and not so old. By the late 1950s, as most of you may remember, major studios began making movies available to be broadcast on television. Some were older films, some had finished their theatrical release more recently.

In 1961, NBC began broadcasting Saturday Night at the Movies. That was a must-see at our house.

However, the first disturbing movie I watched was an older afternoon movie, shown by one of the local independent stations, The Sullivans. I remember running outside into the yard sobbing at the end it, and my mother so helpfully pointed out, “You know that really happened?” There are no words.

I can’t say just what year it was that I watched The Diary of Anne Frank (made in 1959) on Saturday Night at the Movies but I would have been eight or nine years old.

To say it made an impression on me is an understatement; I clearly remember afterwards asking my parents, “Did that really happen?” I was horrified, though I didn’t understand the extent of the horror at that time.

I read the book as soon as I could get my hands on it. At some later point in my youth, my grandfather told me that our family was German. Again, I was aghast.

The end of WWII was in the recent enough past that I even I had a rudimentary understanding of the implications. But he fixed all that when he told us our family was Jewish before they came over to this country in the late 1800s. That was in junior high.

I began to doubt the veracity of that story when I was in college and had a Jewish boyfriend; he told me it was doubtful as our last name didn’t translate right. (We knew for sure that he made it up when, as an adult, my sister checked out a genealogy book from inter-library loan. They were Lutherans.)

The Time Machine starring Rod Taylor continues to be lodged firmly in my memory. However, when I saw it as a child, what stuck with me was that in that movie, the atomic war occurred in 1964. Every time I heard a sonic boom in 1964 I went running for the cellar, sure the end was nigh.

These days, the scenes that come to mind are when the time machine goes too far into the future, as the earth is winding down and the sunrises and sunsets go back in seconds as time continues to speed up.

The finale on my scariest movie list is Fail Safe. I would have been in the fifth or sixth grade when I watched it at home on a Saturday night. There was no discussion with either of my parents after that one. At least I was able to appreciate more of Dr. Strangelove when I watched it at an age too young to fully understand the satire.

And yet we were not allowed to watch The Twilight Zone as it was deemed too scary. Geesh.

And then there was the fact that my father made me watch some of the historic events that unfolded both live and on the news in the late 50s and early 60s. “It’s history in the making,” he would say. And it was.

And I have been watching and reading those scary stories ever since.

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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.]

How the U.S. Can Survive Trump

Only once before have I done this and only two weeks ago. On 11 November in a post titled This is Wrong and I am Exhausted, I let loose about the frightening, lawless government President Donald Trump and his henchmen have made for us in the past three years.

It was a popular post with both pro and con advocates. An extraordinary number of readers unsubscribed in anger, a few making their point to me (mostly via email instead of publicly) in impolite terms I could not miss understanding.

But what the hell, here I go again. Because it is that important for everyone, even people who don't agree.

This time it is not what I have to say. Instead, in is an interview with the brilliant and estimable Yale University historian, Timothy Snyder – he of two remarkable books about the times we now live in: On Tyranny about how democracies can succumb to authoritarianism and The Road to Unfreedom about how Vladimir Putin is destabilizing western democracies.

Recently, Chauncy DeVega, a staff political writer at Salon magazine, interviewed Snyder about the state of the United States after three years of Trump in the White house. A couple of not-so-random excerpts.

SNYDER: Mr. Trump must be opposed, because if unopposed his administration is capable of doing damage that future generations won’t be able to repair. That structural and moral damage will get in the way of making America a more just country.

SNYDER: What has to be normal instead is an America which can renew itself, because it’s capable of thinking about the future and drawing conclusions from the past. Donald Trump’s specific terrain is that there is no truth and there is no future. If you cannot keep yourself in a world where there is truth and therefore there’s a future, then Trump is actually winning.

SNYDER: But I think the harder question, and the one that I personally worry about most, is what to do when he loses. We need to think about catching up on all this lost time. These last three years are lost time, in terms of our survival as a species. We needed to have climate policy. Instead we just messed around.

SNYDER: I worry that the Democrats will win and not hit the ground running...If the Democrats do not hit the ground running it will seem as though they are not a real alternative to what came before. We’re going to need political leadership which says, “Yes, really good things have to happen really fast right now.”

Professor Snyder is so clear-headed, so clear-thinking, so informed that he should be required reading. Here is a great starter – DeVega's interview below. It is only 20 minutes long and more wide-ranging than my excerpts. Why not give it a whirl.

Or, there is a transcript of most of their conversation at Salon magazine.


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.

* * *

Dionne Warwick sang Trains and Boats and Planes, and I’ve already done columns on trains and planes, so it’s time for the boats.

I’ll begin with LYLE LOVETT.

Lyle Lovett

Tom Rush has said that Lyle isn’t like the other kiddies, and he’s right. His boat has his pony on board. Not just that but Roy Rogers and Trigger as well as the Lone Ranger and Tonto. If you can’t imagine how all that works, have a listen to If I Had a Boat.

♫ Lyle Lovett - If I Had a Boat

Riverboats didn’t just truck up and down the Mississippi River; they were in Australia as well plying their trade along the Murray River. Actually, they’re still there but it’s the tourists who ride them these days, not wool, cotton, wheat and the like. To tell you of the original boats here are STARS.


Stars were a particularly fine, but short lived group – they produced only two albums. That was due to the death from cancer of their main songwriter and lead guitarist. Before that occurred, they recorded Last of the River Boats.

♫ Stars - Last Of The River Boats

Back during the great folk scare of the early sixties, THE HIGHWAYMEN had a big hit with the traditional song Michael Row the Boat Ashore.


This group has no connection to a later bunch who also went by the name The Highwaymen. The more recent mob was Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson.

The folkies were Dave Fischer, Bob Burnett, Steve Butts, Chan Daniels and Steve Trott. Later, some left and others joined, including Gil Robbins, father of the actor Tim.

♫ Highwaymen - Michael Row The Boat Ashore

How many versions are there of On a Slow Boat to China? I’ll tell you: a lot, but none of them floated my boat (sorry) except the version by SONNY ROLLINS and THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET.

Sonny Rollins & MJQ

I hadn’t realised that Sonny had recorded with the MJQ, so I learn from these columns as well (I hope) as you do. I include Sonny as often as I can and the MJQ are always welcome.

♫ Sonny Rollins - On A Slow Boat To China

Here is an unusual song by the INK SPOTS.

Ink Spots

What’s unusual about it is that bass singer, Hoppy Jones, didn’t perform his free form rap in the middle of the song as he did on pretty much all their other songs. I was a little disappointed as I always expect that. It doesn’t matter, here is Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat.

♫ Ink Spots - Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat

SPLIT ENZ were a strange band from New Zealand who were huge in Australia, as well as being a cult success elsewhere.

Split Enz

Actually, all bands from New Zealand were a bit strange except for Max Merritt and the Meteors, who were the best of the lot, but that’s enough of that.

The Enz gave us the talented brothers Tim Finn (who started the Enz) and Neil Finn (later the main man for Crowded House). The group gives us Six Months in a Leaky Boat.

♫ Split Enz - Six Months in a Leaky Boat

I was tempted to include Stan Freberg’s version of The Banana Boat Song, but thought better of it and went with HARRY BELAFONTE instead.

Harry Belafonte

This isn’t Harry’s best song but it certainly is memorable, especially his mentioning the black tarantula, something I normally don’t want to think about. Just try and put it out of your mind (if that’s possible).

Here’s the real version of the song – I suggest you check out Stan Freberg’s version as well.

Harry Belafonte - The Banana Boat Song

Texas has given us many of the finest singer/songwriters around and one of the best of them was GUY CLARK.

Guy Clark

His songs were an interesting blend of poetry and wit and he turned it all into a musical art form that few have matched. From the album of the same name, here is Boats to Build.

Guy Clark - Boats to Build

HOAGY CARMICHAEL name-checks a bunch of jazz musicians from around the time he recorded this song.

Hoagy Carmichael

I had to include a Mississippi riverboat song, at least I think it is, it’s not explicitly stated. I imagine that a song called Riverboat Shuffle sailed on that river.

Hoagy Carmichael - Riverboat Shuffle

From the Mississippi to the Gulf, I’ll let JO STAFFORD tell you about it.

Jo Stafford

Those with long memories will know the song I’m talking about. Her boats are working boats, not luxury tourist ones, and they bring in the shrimps (or prawns as we Australians call them, in spite of that advertisement). The song, of course is Shrimp Boats.

Jo Stafford - Shrimp Boats

I mentioned the DIONNE WARWICK song in the introduction so it’s only fair that I include it.

Dionne Warwick

This was one of the many songs that Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote for Dionne. Most of them became big hits, including this one. Trains and Boats and Planes.

Dionne Warwick - Trains And Boats And Planes

INTERESTING STUFF – 23 November 2019


The movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, currently in theaters stars Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers. Here's a fun, little coincidence from Huffington Post:

”An family tree shared in the Access Hollywood report indicates that Hanks and Rogers are connected through a distant cousin named Johannes Meffert.”

The two men are, according to Ancestry, sixth cousins. Here is a short video of Hanks with his wife Rita Wilson as they find out about the connection:


The headline is all you need to know:


As The New York Times explains, Oxford dictionaries' word of the year is meant to highlight

“...a word or expression shown through usage evidence to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have a lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.”

The 2019 winner is “climate emergency” selected from an all-environment shortlist that included “climate action,” “climate denial,” “eco-anxiety,” “extinction” and “flight shame.”

You can find out much more at the Oxford Dictionaries website.


Because he did such a lovely job of a slight story, I will let the Mother Nature Network (MNN) writer, Christian Cotroneo, tell you what you need to know about this video.

”Have you ever danced with a snowy owl beneath the pale moonlight? Well, this little fox might say he did — and lived to tell the tale.

“In surveillance footage caught at a marina in Cobourg, Ontario, a young fox is locked in a strangely tender tango with a snowy owl [as] the unlikely duo meeting in a serene stretch of snow outside the marina office.

“For a few fleeting moments, the fox twirls and leaps around the owl. But his enthusiasm doesn’t seem to be shared by the owl, who perches all puffed up and menacing in the same spot.

“A moment later, the pair parts ways. The only sign of this strange winter ballet is a series of pirouettes paw-printed into the snow — and that no-nonsense owl print in the middle of it all.”

There is a bit more at MNN.


We in the northern hemisphere – well, maybe it's just me – marvel at the weird and odd animals of Australia. Here is one I never heard of before, the jumping tree snake.

”Thanks to researchers at Virginia Tech,” reports Mental Floss, “we now know these non-venomous snakes of the genus Dendrelaphis can become airborne, propelling themselves around treetops like sentient Silly String.”

Keep your eye on the upper right corner of the video frame:

More at Mental Floss.


There is more to it than sliding a card into a machine to pay for goods just purchased to clicking a button on a computer screen. In my case, a quick glance at the money left in my wallet lets me know how I'm doing on my weekly budget. I've done it that way all my life.

Take a look at some other information about a cashless society.

The video is right – a cashless society with its conveniences and potential horror stories will soon be upon us.


You may have already seen the “unicorn puppy” - he's been everywhere because he's so cute. Mother Nature Network (MNN) tells us:

”The 10-week-old puppy, rescued by Mac's Mission - a nonprofit dog rescue that predominately helps homeless dogs and pups with special needs - has a small tail-like growth on his forehead. Even though the tail makes Narwhal the 'coolest puppy ever,' no, it does not wag...”

Take a look:

You can read more at MNN. And there is a Facebook page.


Last Monday, the U.S. Census Bureau released information on how and when most Americans will be asked to respond to the 2020 Census.

”Nearly every household will be invited to respond online, by phone or by mail to the census starting in mid-March 2020. Most areas—about three of every four households—will receive an invitation to respond online (or by phone), while the other households will receive a paper questionnaire along with an invitation to respond online.

“Regardless of which invitation they receive, all households that have not yet responded will receive a paper questionnaire by mid-April.”

Here is the interactive map to check on your census delivery, and the announcement from the Census Bureau is here.


I may have posted this video when it was first released more than two years ago. It seems vaguely familiar but I enjoyed it this time as much as before (if there was a before).

Here is what the YouTube page says:

”The video comes from a new project called ‘Forestbeat’, launched by photographers Bruno D’Amicis and Umberto Esposito.

“After the discovery of the ancient venerable beech forest within the territory of Italy’s National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise, the team have sought to spread awareness of the area to the general public.”

A camera was left in place for a year.

* * *

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog.

The Alex and Ronni Show – 22 November 2019

Comedians looking for cheap laughs often disparage old people for talking too much (or at all) about their ailments. It's almost true – we do talk about our arthritis, cancer, heart disease, etc. fairly regularly.

Maybe one reason is that compared to our previous lives – that is, younger adult years – we spend a whole lot time in doctors' offices, managing medications and trying to coerce recalcitrant limbs into mobility each day which uses up a lot of time we might otherwise spend on more interesting stuff.

And maybe it is also a way, when elder friends greet one another, to check on whether either will be around for a while longer. Maybe the subtext of “How are you?” at our age really is exactly that, How Are You? in the most literal sense.

It's become that way on The Alex and Ronni Show. Health is the first thing we check on when we record these chats.

In his responses, Alex is more graphic than I'm entirely comfortable with but the pattern is long set now on screen and in life. We settle any health issues before getting on to anything else.

So after that in this week's show, we get into the impeachment hearings, the 1973 Watergate hearings and the Hong Kong demonstrations.

Not that you should take any of this loose conversation as particularly noteworthy. It's just two old friends who happened to have been married for a few years a long time ago keeping in touch in their old age.

You can find Alex's show – Alex Bennett's Ramble – on Facebook and Apple Podcasts.

When Health Professionals Disagree

No sooner had I written here about my diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2017 than people began telling me about cures, usually in other countries but some that involved eating large portions of “good” foods while eliminating “bad” foods.

Even before pancreatic cancer raised its head in my life, I was a firm believer in the view that if there were a miracle cure for any given disease we would all know about it.

And so, within a day or two of the diagnosis, I determined that I would follow the instructions the doctors and nurses gave me. After all, they've been treating cancer patients for a whole lot longer than I had even thought much about it and although there cannot be promises, they know what has worked – and not – over time.

When I was recovered enough from the Whipple surgery two or three weeks later, the chief oncology nurse sat me down for a lesson in how I would need to eat from that point forward. It was my first test in believing what the medical experts tell me.

Until then, I had maintained a simple, healthy diet for a couple of decades: lots of fruit, vegetables, legumes, etc., a hefty portion of fish three or four times a week with a sweet treat (ice cream, a chocolate croissant) now and then.

The nurse explained my new diet that would include four-to-six small meals a day with the kinds of proteins and fats I had not eaten in many years. I objected. She insisted. I tried to explain some more and she cut in: “The cancer will kill you long before the diet will. So do as I say.”

Yes, ma'am. Of course she was right and her instructions, modified to expand my food choices as time passed, have served me well.

Then, this year, along comes COPD. Recently, there was a nutrition lecture in connection with the pulmonary rehab I attend twice a week and guess what? The nutrition advice doesn't match. How to eat to help make living with COPD easier is a lot closer to how I ate before pancreatic cancer than how I eat now.

What to do? What to do?

Well, all right – it's not that difficult. I'm adjusting the conflicts between the two diets and so far it is working well.

But it does reinforce the idea that we – you and I, patients in other words – need to be responsible for our own health practices. It was easy before the COPD was diagnosed and I had just one condition to be aware of. Now I need to balance the two.

Old people are much more likely to have several diseases or conditions that must be managed and one kind of doctor – an oncologist, for example - doesn't know a whole lot about COPD and vice versa.

So it is our job to bring up the questions and conflicts when they occur, and that reminds me:

We old folks are the number one experts on our own bodies. We each know how ours operates, how it feels when it is working well and when something is not right.

We know what kinds of pain or other discomforts occur and we have learned how to treat them with the help of our physicians. And we know when something is wrong enough to require a visit to the doctor.

Some of you undoubtedly think this is all elementary and obvious, that you have always lived this way in regard to your health. But it hasn't been so to me. Let me confess here and now that before the cancer diagnosis, I hardly ever saw a doctor. I often went four or five years, maybe more, between visits.

I was just lucky that hardly anything happened beyond a bad flu now and then.

It is only now, living with two serious diseases, that I have come to see that it is up to me in a much larger sense than I had thought about before, to manage my health, tapping the knowledge and expertise of the appropriate physicians when necessary.

Remember a week or two ago when I wrote about my mother's saying, “Too young we're old, too old we're wise?” This is a perfect example of it and instances of my ignorance are piling up fast recently.

A TGB READER STORY: Eat All Day, Pee All Night

By Fritzy Dean

Recently I spent several miserable days ”in hospital,” as our British friends would say. Even though I was quite uncomfortable and anxious to get home, there were some lighter moments during my stay. Those moments are my focus here.

The very beginning was far from auspicious. The intake nurse was a young black man. He was clearly bored, having asked the same questions over and over all day.

In a monotone he asked, “How tall are you?”

I told him.

“How much do you weigh?”

I told him, adding, “That is my weight this morning in my birthday suit.”

Without a pause, in the same dry monotone, he said, “Thanks for the visual.”

“Oh, you’re welcome! I’m sure that image is burned into your retinas for all eternity!” It was a little funny and I would have laughed if I hadn’t been in so much pain.

Among other indignities, I was told I would be going down to the basement of the hospital to the ultrasound lab for a tesy. AND I was instructed to EAT ALL DAY.”

Now there was a time, not so long ago, when that order would have made me delirious with glee. Eat All Day? NO problem! Now? Not so much.

I got used to be being quizzed by the nursed. Did you order breakfast? What did you have? Have you eaten lunch? You should order a snack, you know.

When I got to the lab, I was so stuffed that the probe used over my abdomen was painful. I felt like the Goodyear blimp, about to blow. But the tech was happy; he got excellent pictures.

One of the discoveries from that lab trip was a small amount of fluid on my left lung. So, in addition to getting Lasix, a powerful diuretic, every morning I was also given the same dose at night. So there was no sleeping. None.

I got a routine down after a short trial period. Get up, drag my IV pole to the bathroom, empty my bladder, go back to bed. Lie down, arrange the sheet and blanket over me. Get up, drag my IV pole and repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Every few hours, someone would come into the room and and ask me to look at the pain chart on the wall. The chart had a series of faces drawn in a line, with a smiley face at zero for no pain and a frowning: face at ten, for a lot of pain.

“The face I need is not on there,” I told them. “The face I’m feeling is a fire-breathing dragon and your numbers don’t go high enough to record it.”

Finally the pain began to subside. I felt as if I had gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. He kicked my butt, too.

One day the nurse, again a young black man, told me that instead of his usual five patients, he had six that day. AND he was the charge nurse so he would be extremely busy. Because of this, he asked if I would confine myself to the room, please?

WHAT? The only time I have left this room is on a gurney. Where do you think I would go? Just stay confined in the room, ma’am. Okay. Sigh. That is how I discovered I was in the maximum security Unit.

Another day, I was desperately trying to nap, while “housekeeping” was clearing the room. The housekeeper was picking up linens and trash and swinging a dust mop, all while speaking seriously into her phone. I was not trying to listen.

In fact, I was trying NOT to listen, when she raised her voice enough to be heard in Galveston. “Listen Here! I hope you don’t think my life is all rainbows and unicorn farts, 'cause it’s not!”

She saw me looking at her with my mouth and my ears wide open. She dropped her voice to a whisper, so I never heard the definition of unicorn farts. I was very disappointed. I’m still wondering if they smell like rainbows. What do rainbows smell like, anyway?

In spite of these light moments of levity, I was grateful to escape. My bed had missed me dreadfully. We were so happy to be reunited. If my prayers are answered, this will be my last visit to the charming, alarming oh-so-grueling eat-all-day, pee-all-night establishment in the Texas Medical Center.

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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.]

What Others Say About Death – Take Two

Barely two months after I was told I have pancreatic cancer and one month after the Whipple surgery, I posted a story of quotations from people ancient and modern about death.

Now that I am coming up on two-and-a-half years since then during which time I have gained even a more up close and personal relationship with my own death, I wondered if my choices of quotations that speak to me have changed.

There are a dozen or so quotations about death in that post and I must say that looking back with newly educated eyes on the subject, I did a pretty good job of selection. But there are a few that take on a stronger resonance now.

This one because death is serious but should not be somber:

”Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.” - George Bernard Shaw

Because I know even better now that this one is so too:

“A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless, to resist.” – Stewart Alsop

Because death is a prerequisite to continued life on Earth:

"It is life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.” - Steve Jobs (who died of pancreatic cancer in 2011, eight years after diagnosis)

I have always liked quotations. I keep running lists of them by topic, adding those that are new (to me) as they turn up. This one, that sits in a small frame on my desk, is from Albus Dumbledore, the head master of Hogwarts school in the Harry Potter series of books:

”Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”

Exactly. It is why, at this blog, we use the word “old” instead of such euphemisms as “golden-ager”, for example, and “death” instead of “passed” or “demise.”

The 29 months since my cancer diagnosis have given me a lot of time to think about the death sentence it puts me under. Dying is no longer an abstract idea I can pretend is far in the future anymore.

So here are a few more quotations about death that have stuck with me since I found them (or they found me).

”While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.” - Leonardo da Vinci
”Death smiles at us all, all a man can do is smile back.” - Marcus Aurelius
”If life must not be taken too seriously, then so neither must death. - Samuel Butler

This next one opens up a world of speculation to ponder and play with about death.

”Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you.” - Welcome to Night Vale (Podcast)
”Death is a law, not a punishment.” - Jean Dubos
”I was discovering that I was not afraid of death; rather, I was in awe of it.” - Kathryn Mannix
”Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment.” - Dag Hammarskjold

The first half of Hammarskjold's quotation is a good lead-in to a story about death that I have liked since I first read it when I was a kid and have posted it here before (all good stories deserve repetition).

From W. Somerset Maugham in 1933, The Appointment in Samarra as told by Death.

”There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. “She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.

“The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went.

“Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?

“That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

Now it is your turn. Do you have any quotations about death and dying you want to post here?

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

[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.

* * *

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.