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January 2020

Old People Most at Risk for COVID-19 (Corona Virus)

After a serious nuts-and-bolts post on Wednesday about surviving possible Census fraud, I had intended a lighter, more fun post today but world events have intervened.

As happens with many infectious diseases, the hardest hit, those who suffer the largest number of fatalities, are old people. In the research attending the Corona virus, that is abundantly clear again.

Ian M Mackay is an Australian virologist who keeps a website called Virology Down Under which has the best information I've seen about the Corona virus including general interest and advice.

(Thank you to Jan Adams who blogs at Where is the Way Forward?)

On Tuesday, Mackay published an extensive (and easily understandable) story on this not-yet-pandemic.

Here is the chart – numbers as of 11 February 2020:

CoronaChartElders

People with underlying serious conditions such as heart disease or diabetes (often old people) are more susceptible to the virus than younger people.

According to one health expert, a vaccine is not possible for a year to a year-and-a-half and, some say, it is currently questionable if it would be affordable.

On Thursday, the White House announced that all U.S. government health officials and scientists are required to clear all public appearances and statements with Vice President Mike Pence's office, according to The New York Times which also reported,

”Officials insist the goal is not to control the content of what subject-matter experts and other officials are saying, but to make sure their efforts are being coordinated, after days of confusion with various administration officials showing up on television.”

Uh-huh.

Given the questionable data from China along with the contradictory statements about the spread of the virus from the president, as contrasted with the health experts at Wednesday's press conference, it's obvious we the people are on our own for needed information.

In a situation as fluid and unknown as the future of COVID-19, we each need to take precautions to help keep ourselves healthy along with those we come into contact with.

So I'm going to summarize the crucial behavior we need to practice to stay as safe as possible.

But first, this from the Australian virologist, Ian Mackay:

”REMEMBER: As long as the virus circulates, and as long as you have never been infected, you are susceptible to infection resulting in COVID-19. This will be the case for the rest of your life until you have been infected which should protect you from severe disease.

“COVID-19 is mostly a mild illness but can cause severe pneumonia in approximately 20% of cases, leading to hospitalization for weeks and in a portion of these cases, to death.”

TO REDUCE RISK OF INFECTION:

  • Stay at least three feet (one meter) from obviously sick people
  • Avoid shaking hands
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Or, wash hands with an alcohol-based hand rub and air dry
  • Avoid touching your face

At the grocery store yesterday, I realized that it is a good idea to use the disinfectant wipes some stores supply to clean the shopping cart handle, or bring your own. You might also consider nitrile gloves – you can't know where someone has recently sneezed.

SHOULD YOU WEAR A MASK?
There are mixed messages on the usefulness of face masks. Here is what Mackay says:

”While a mask seems like a good idea, and when used by professionals it does protect from infection, it can actually give inexperienced users a false sense of security.

“There isn’t a lot of good evidence (still!) that shows a mask to reliably prevent infection when worn by the public at large. They are useful to put on a sick person to reduce their spreading of the virus.”

PRESCRIPTION DRUG SUPPLY DISRUPTIONS
A large percentage of U.S. pharmaceuticals are produced in China as are some critical ingredients needed for drugs produced in the U.S. If COVID-19 continues to accelerate, it's not impossible that shortages may appear. However, on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported:

”The FDA [Federal Drug Administration] said that no companies are reporting drug shortages linked to the coronavirus. But in a sign of its efforts to get ahead of any problems, an FDA spokeswoman said the agency has contacted 180 China-based prescription-drug manufacturers asking them to evaluate their supply chains and remind them they’re required to notify FDA of any coming disruptions.”

In anticipation of possible widespread, ongoing transmission of the virus, you might want to contact your physician about an additional supply of critical drugs.

There is more advice which I'll link to for you below, but it is important to know that no one knows what is going to happen. Will COVID-19 become a pandemic? Or will it hit a lower peak and subside? Stock markets worldwide are dropping dramatically day-by-day. For how long? And so on.

We also do not know how other countries' governments are controlling (or not) information as the U.S. government is now doing so it is hard to know what reports about the virus to trust. Read carefully. Use your bullshit detector.

Here are three good links and a Google search will bring up thousands more. Again, choose carefully.

Virology Down Under

How to Prepare for Corona Virus - New York Times

A Guide to Prepare Your Home for the Corona Virus - NPR


Old People, Fraud and the 2020 Census

Not long ago, I mentioned here that although more young people (age 20 to 29) are victims of fraud, older people (50 and older) lose larger amounts of money to fraud, according to an AARP survey.

Now, it seems, the upcoming U.S. Census will be a big opportunity for fraudsters.

The survey, titled The Impostors: Stealing Money, Damaging Lives, focused in part on government imposters who pretend to be from the Census Bureau, Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service or other agency types of scams.

According to the AARP survey, 77 percent of U.S. adults are not familiar with Census scams which, of course, would make them more vulnerable to one. The upcoming Census – as with any public event – is expected to “substantially” raise the number of scams.

First, here is the official Census schedule – what you can expect and when:

March 12 – 20
Households begin received a snailmail notification from the Census Bureau with instructions on how to respond to the 2020 Census via snailmail, telephone or online.

March 30 – April 1
During these three days, the Census Bureau will count homeless people.

April 1
This is Census Day, observed nationwide, by which date every home in the U.S. will have received their Census form. When you respond, tell the Census Bureau where you live on April 1.

The Month of April
Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people.

May – July
Census takers will visit homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.

Now take a look at this short video on five ways to avoid Census scams:

Here are some warning signs that someone is a scammer:

You get an unsolicited email purporting to be from the Census Bureau. For household surveys and the decennial Census, the agency almost always makes contact by snailmail.

A supposed census agent asks you for money or financial data, such as the number of and amount in your bank account.

A supposed census taker threatens you with arrest. Taking part in the Census is required by law, and you can be fined for not doing so, but you can’t be imprisoned.

Here are other important do's and don'ts.

DO check the URL of any supposed Census website. Make sure it has a census.gov domain and is encrypted — look for https:// or a lock symbol in the browser window.

DO NOT give your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, or bank or credit card numbers to someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau. Genuine Census representatives will not ask for this information.

DO NOT reply, click links or open attachments in a suspicious census email. Forward the message to ois.fraud.reporting@census.gov.

DO NOT trust caller ID — scammers can use “spoofing” tools to make it appear they’re calling from a real Census Bureau number. Call the National Processing Center at 800-523-3205, 800-642-0469 or 800-877-8339 (TDD/TTY) to verify that a phone survey is legitimate.

If you keep all this mind you should be safe from scams and scammers. Here are links to further information:

The U.S. Census 2020 Website

AARP Census Scams

Key Findings from the AARP Survey

Have you or someone you know been scammed? If so, what did you learn from the experience?


A TGB READER STORY: What Have They Done to the Dictionary?

By Elizabeth Megyesi

I used to think I had a fairly good understanding of the English language. After all, English is the language I spoke as a child, adding words and their meanings steadily as I grew, first at home, then at school.

Throughout the years the words got longer and meanings more complex, but I kept adding them to my vocabulary. Upon hearing a new word, there was always the dictionary to look up the meaning and probably the definition made sense.

But all of a sudden, as if overnight, someone added dozens of new pages to the dictionary with hundreds of brand new words. When you start looking up their meanings, most of the definitions consist of other brand new words.

OK, It didn’t really happen overnight and I should have paid more attention at the beginning of the computer age. At first I learned enough to get by but apparently that wasn’t enough. Sort of like knowing how to drive a car but without understanding how it works. When something goes wrong you are in big trouble.

So now I am at the bottom of the class when it comes to my technical vocabulary words. Not just computers but phones, TV’s, and even cars are becoming a puzzle.

Calling a help desk only works when you know enough to ask the right questions to get your answer. You are advised to click this button or open that file. At some point you have to admit you haven’t got a clue.

Thank goodness for grandkids who seem to have been born with electronic devices in their hands and these words in their vocabulary.

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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.]


Old Age is Greedy

There sits on my desk a black, seven- by 10-inch, spiral note book filled with about 100 lined pages that I use to jot down notes about potential stories for this blog.

Because old age has robbed me of the ability to remember any “brilliant” thought for longer than few seconds, it is imperative that I immediately scribble down anything useful at the moment it occurs to me, or lose it forever.

Sometimes these notes are baffling, like that headline above. What was I thinking when I wrote that? And why – especially knowing how fleeting these thoughts can be - couldn't I have bothered to write even a handful of additional words to provide a hint or two about the idea?

But I still like the phrase and after spending 10 or 15 minutes trying my best to recall the original thought (to no avail), I've decided to run with it today in relation to time.

Old age is greedy: it wants all my time.

You name it, it takes longer now than even two or three years ago. Walking, because it is our primary mode of transportation, is a big culprit. I'm slower now and when I think, for example, I'll make a quick stop at the market – just a quart of milk and loaf of bread – it takes 30 minutes and that's not counting the drive to and from.

This is a different phenomenon than the one I mentioned not long ago about time disappearing as though I had blacked out for awhile.

In this case, I am aware of time's passage and I suppose it's irritating because I am still unaccustomed to how much I have slowed down, making my time estimates all wrong.

Not to mention that there are things I can't or don't do anymore and so need to find someone to help out. Change a light bulb? Are you kidding? No more ladders for me. But even when someone is here for a visit, I'm as likely as not to forget to ask.

It's perfectly true that finding oneself in the bedroom and wondering why is not an act exclusive to old people but I'm pretty sure the number of occurrences has increased. More time gone to old age.

The experts tell us it is not uncommon for old people to have trouble concentrating and that's another way old age has been greedy with me - my distraction level seems to increase by the day which lengthens any project.

Recently, I was picking up stuff I'd left lying around the living room, found a note to myself about a quotation I wanted to check out so I hopped on the computer to track it down. I couldn't have waited until I finished the task at hand? Apparently not.

That led to another click and another and you how that goes. Next thing I knew it was dinner time and I still hadn't straightened up the living room.

Folding clean laundry is instant distraction territory for me. Once I've wandered on to something else, it might be bedtime before I get it done and then only because I fold laundry on the bed and need space to sleep.

The biggest aid to old age's greed for my time is tiredness which has shortened my days to about eight useful hours. It takes near two hours each morning for me to get enough coffee and news in me to be ready to shower, dress and eat breakfast.

By then, it's 9AM and I know weariness will overtake me by 3PM after which little gets done. It takes careful planning to get all the things I once did in 12-plus hours a day crammed into such a short period of time.

In terms of slowing down, the trick, I think, is to make the effort to adjust to it as a new normal. I have been trying and I make small inroads. Occasionally now, I deliberately shorten the day's to-do list so that I can finish it.

There is no point in lamenting the slowdown in old age and there might be an upside. As much as I worry about what daffodils blooming in February portends for the planet's future, they put a smile on my face last week. At my previous speedy walking pace, I might have missed seeing them.

As with just about everything I have discovered about old age, I doubt I am alone in these changes. If we live long enough, they come to most of us. Is any of this familiar to you?


ELDER MUSIC: Mexico is Different Like the Travel Folder Says

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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Mexican Flag

Mexico has featured in quite a lot of songs. That’s not too surprising considering that the country borders Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, all of which harbor very talented songwriters. Some of those will appear today.

Of course, Belize and Guatemala also border Mexico, but their songwriters are less well known, at least in the English speaking world.

Had the album “Waitress in a Donut Shop” been MARIA MULDAUR’s first solo album everyone would have raved about how good it was. Justifiably so.

However, her first was an eponymous album that is one of the finest ever recorded, so anything that followed that one was certain to be downgraded. It’s time to lift up that second one and give it the kudos it deserves.

Maria Muldaur

From that one we have Gringo en Mexico.

♫ Maria Muldaur - Gringo en Mexico


Here’s just another band from East L.A., as they like to call themselves – LOS LOBOS.

Los Lobos

Much of their music is Mexican in origin or very much influenced by the music of that country. Their song references both their antecedents and the country in which they live: Mexico Americano.

♫ Los Lobos - Mexico Americano


When I was first selecting songs for this column, I chose a bunch and let them roll. When this next one came up, after a single line I knew it had to be present.

The harmony vocals were gorgeous. I wondered who they were and checked it. It was JANN BROWNE, sometime lead singer for Asleep at the Wheel, and EMMYLOU HARRIS (no more needs to be said).

Jann Browne & Emmylou Harris

They perform a song written by Jann along with Pat Gallagher and Roger Stebner. It’s called Mexican Wind.

♫ Emmylou Harris - Mexican Wind


It’s understandable that Americans would write about Mexico, but it’s not so obvious that an Australian would do so. After all, it’s a long way away, and it’s not just a matter of hopping in the car and driving down there.

One of my countrymen, however, seems to be the expert on writing songs about the country, some of the best around really. That person is KEVIN JOHNSON.

Kevin Johnson

I like films (and songs) with an enigmatic ending, and this is one of those: Grab the Money and Run.

♫ Kevin Johnson - Grab The Money And Run


This next song was a really difficult choice for me, not the song itself, it was an automatic inclusion. The choice was which version to include. Normally, I’d go with the writer, and he was one of the two about whom I was tossing and turning.

He is Ian Tyson. However, for once I’ve gone for a cover version. It’s not too surprising that I’ve gone with my musical crush, JENNIFER WARNES.

Jennifer Warnes

If anyone can equal a performance of Ian’s, it’s Jennifer. Here she sings Blue Mountains of Mexico.

♫ Jennifer Warnes - Blue Mountains Of Mexico


Here’s a group I bet you haven’t thought about for some considerable time - KATRINA AND THE WAVES.

Katrina & the Waves

Katrina is an American who found fame in Britain in the eighties, particularly with the song Walking on Sunshine. One song that didn’t get much airplay is simply called Mexico.

♫ Katrina and the Waves - Mexico


It’s not too surprising that MARTY ROBBINS would be present.

Marty Robbins

After all, if you listen to some of his biggest hits they sound as if they were recorded in Mexico. They weren’t of course, but he was really fond of Mariachi trumpets in many of his songs, including this one, Bound for Old Mexico.

♫ Marty Robbins - Bound for Old Mexico


The song Mexican Divorce was written by Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard. It was first recorded by The Drifters who did a fine job of singing it. It was later covered by Ry Cooder and later still by NICOLETTE LARSON.

Nicolette Larson

As good as the other versions are, I really like Nicolette’s and that’s the one we have today.

♫ Nicolette Larson - Mexican Divorce


DELBERT MCCLINTON has a story not too dissimilar to Kevin Johnson’s.

Delbert McClinton

Unfortunately for Delbert, it ended worse than it did for Kev. You can never tell the consequences of a falling out among thieves. Delbert goes (or at least he started to go) Down Into Mexico.

♫ Delbert McClinton - Down Into Mexico


Back in the late seventies, STEVE FORBERT was touted as the next big thing, the new Bob Dylan (there was a bit of that at the time).

Steve Forbert

That didn’t eventuate, not through lack of talent; Steve has that in spades. It was due to management issues and disagreements with his record company that prevented him from recording for many years.

He performed during that time and has been recording again for the last couple of decades. His song is Mexico, a different song from Katrina’s.

♫ Steve Forbert - Mexico


You were probably expecting this one, and I wouldn’t want to disappoint you. I’m talking about the song, rather than the singer. Enough waffle, here is the singing cowboy (or one of them), GENE AUTRY.

Gene Autry

Gene was the first of the famous singing cowboys – there were others before him but they didn’t catch on to any great extent. Of course, there was another who followed him, and he was Roy Rogers. However, here is Gene with South of the Border.

♫ Gene Autry - South Of The Border


INTERESTING STUFF – 21 February 2020

THE ANTI SMARTPHONE

Justine Haupt, an engineer at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, called it a "quick and dirty project" - a rotary cell phone. Here's her photo of it:

Digitalrotaryphone

It doesn't do much except make telephone calls. As Digital Trends explains:

"Some of the physical buttons on the device, for example, can be set up to link to frequently called numbers, eliminating the need for a touchscreen and menu. Just to be clear, the dialer does work, and can be used for other numbers that you don’t save."

There has been enough interest in the rotary cell phone that Haupt has decided to make it available for sale at $240. But there's a catch – at least for me: it comes as a kit you have to put it together and even supply some of the parts:

Rotary-cell-phone-kit-768x768

You can read more here and here. Justine Haupt's website is here and the purchase page is here.

TEEN TRYING TO LEARN A ROTARY PHONE

As long as we're discussing old-fashioned telephones, let's revisit a golden oldie video of two teens trying to figure out how to operate a rotary phone.

(I've never decided if I think this video is a prank – the kids just pretending – or if they really can't figure it out.)

Can you think of other things that are common to our generation that would puzzle young people?

PAPER MAPS ARE POPULAR

Google Maps, USA Today tells us, is now 15 years old. Continuing on a theme here, they also tell us that not everyone has given up paper street maps in favor electronic ones with GPS directions.

State-Side-CA-Road-Map

“'Do they still make, even sell, paper maps?' That question from retired New York marketing executive Michael Lissauer is emblematic of our daily reliance on digital navigation. 'Other than in a history class, Europe before World War II, who needs a paper map?'

“It may surprise Lissauer and others that the answer to the question is yes. They're actually on the rise. U.S. sales of print maps and road atlases had have had a five-year compound annual growth rate of 10%, according to the NPD BookScan. For context, in 2019, the travel maps and atlases category sold 666,000 units, with year-over-year sales up 7%.”

Plus, maps are fun to read. More about this trend at USA Today.

PINK THE BORDER COLLIE COLLECTS THIRD WIN IN A ROW

Pink is amazing. For the third year in a row at the Westminster Dog Show this month in New York, the border collie won her class in the agility competition. In under 30 seconds. Wait till you see this – what an athlete:

NEW TAX FORM JUST FOR OLD PEOPLE

It's called 1040-SR and it is only for people age 65 or older.

1040SRForm

Here is some of what Richard Eisenberg at Next Avenue says about it:

This new 24-line, two-page form was devised by Congress in 2018, with a push from AARP and others, to make tax filing a little easier for older Americans. Those taxpayers couldn’t use the previous simplified 1040-EZ because it lacked lines for Social Security benefits or Individual Retirement Account distributions...

“You can fill out the 1040-SR regardless of your filing status or whether you itemize or claim the standard deduction, as long as you were 65 or older in 2019 — or if you were married filing jointly, at least one of you was.

“If you will itemize and file the 1040-SR, you’ll need to fill out Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.

“Interestingly, the 1040-SR is tied to your age, not whether you’re retired...If you’re over sixty-five and still working, you can use it. And if you’re retired and under sixty-five, you can’t.

Of COURSE it's more complicated than the snippet I've quoted (after all, it's from the IRS) but Next Avenue does a decent job of explaining.

WHAT HAPPENS TO UNCLAIMED AIRLINE BAGGAGE

Unclaimed baggage goes to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. It is the only store in America that buys and resells unclaimed baggage from the airline industry.

Here are some of what happens behind the scenes and some of the strange items that get left behind.

HOW THE AMISH USE TECHNOLOGY

The Washington Post last week published a too-short, interesting story about how the Amish use technology. That they do so at all was a surprise to me (but what do I know).

”When a church member asks to use a new technology, the families discuss the idea and vote to accept or reject. The conversation centers on how a device will strengthen or weaken relationships within the community and within families....

“Friends of mine belonged to an Amish church in Michigan. One of the church members wanted to purchase a hay baler that promised to be more efficient, even as it enabled him to work alone.

“The members discussed the proposal — yes, the new machine might increase productivity, but how would community connections be affected if he began haying without the help of others, and what would happen if his neighbors adopted the same technology?

“The risk to social cohesion, they decided, wasn’t worth the potential gains.”

More at the Washington Post.

OUR STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL PALE BLUE DOT

This short video was published to YouTube on Valentine's Day by National Geographic in celebration of the 30 years since that gorgeous photograph was made.

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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.


Respite Recap Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

It was a surprise - even, perhaps, a shock - to me how many commenters on Wednesday's post (Trying to Make a Respite...) misunderstood me. I am not depressed, I don't feel the need to grieve about anything, I don't want to be young again, I have a reasonable social life for someone of my age and energy-level and so far, one psilocybin trip a year ago has been enough.

In the past when I have occasionally been misunderstood in these pages, I believe it has been my fault for not being clear or clear enough. After re-reading the respite post several times, I don't think that is so this time, although I could be wrong.

I used the word “respite” carefully and deliberately as a comparison to 24/7 caregivers for whom there are programs, important ones, to give them a break from the work and emotional intensity for a few hours once or twice a week.

There is a difference, however: in my case (and I'm sure, many others), I am both patient AND caregiver.

And one of us needs a respite.

I don't dream of having my pre-cancer life returned to me; I have always been too much a realist for any such daydreams.

And (so far), I find this journey toward my death via two serious diseases (and old age itself) to be genuinely interesting both tracking physical changes and keeping a watch on how I respond – to the degree any person can be his or her own observer.

So much for another whack at clarity. That's enough of that. Moving on.

THE ALEX AND RONNI SHOW
When Alex and I recorded our Skype chat on Tuesday, we did some follow up on Monday's post on Successful Ageing.

Looking at the video before preparing today's post, I think perhaps I have now carried on way too long about something that isn't all that important, and it's time to let it go.

We also discussed a few other things. Here's the video.


Trying to Make a Respite From and For Myself

Following a diagnostic procedure the day before, on 1 June 2017, a surgeon stood in my hospital room and told me I had pancreatic cancer.

Oof. I wouldn't wish that moment on anyone.

I had no illusions about the disease. My father had died of it and I knew that although few people get it (compared to breast or lung or prostate cancer), most of them die within a year or so.

A week later in a meeting with that surgeon and an oncologist, I was told that I was a good candidate for surgery because the lesion was located at one end of my pancreas and I was in excellent physical shape despite my 76 years.

They didn't pull any punches about what that surgery – called the Whipple Procedure – involves. In addition to removing a whole lot of one's innards (half the pancreas, the entire duodenum and gall bladder, a portion of the stomach and some other, smaller bits and pieces), all the connectors among organs would be rearranged and after more than 12 hours in surgery, it would be up to six months before I was completely recovered.

However, it would give me more months of life than I would have without the surgery.

A funny thing happens when you hear something like that: I found out how much more deeply I care about being alive than I'd ever thought about before.

As I've mentioned here, I made the choice right away to follow instructions of my surgeon and other physicians as closely as possible and let them run the show because they had so much more experience at this than I did or do.

That strategy has worked well for me. In June it will be three years since the surgery and although I've now also been diagnosed with COPD, pulmonary rehab gave me good tools to use to live as well as possible with that.

Here's why I'm doing this recap today: I've felt good or good enough for so long that I would like to experience – make that RE-experience - normal life, life before cancer. Because for the most part that's how I feel.

Yes, my energy is way below what it was pre-cancer and by mid-afternoon, I'm done for anything much more taxing then a book or movie. Residual pain, mostly minor, and some other physical artifacts get in the way sometimes but they are not debilitating.

Pills, inhalers and diet requirements need daily attention. And when I forget my new circumstance and walk at my previous speed, COPD forcefully reminds me that is no longer possible, as I heave to catch my breath.

Then there are the medical appointments. In person check-ups and check-ins, blood draws, port flushes, scans and more. I know all the doctors, RNs, technicians, schedulers and medical assistants quite well now. I think of them as friends but I wouldn't mind less time dealing with cancer and COPD.

If you've been hanging around here since this journey began, you know how I railed against becoming a “professional patient,” but that's what I've been now for a long time and it's not going to change.

I'm not complaining about the facts of all this which, under the circumstances, keep me rolling along quite well. And with a little practice, as new needs came about, I've folded them into daily routine not too much different from brushing my teeth.

But it's been long time and I'm tired now of accommodating cancer and COPD. I'm tired of so much of what I do every day being related to two deadly diseases. I'm tired of wondering if every twitch is a sign that the end is nigh.

Please don't think that I am wishing to die – far from it. Nor am I slipping into fantasy.

What I want is to figure out a way of being, of carving out a space to live in that doesn't always include disease at the edge – and forefront, too - of my consciousness.

Sometimes the wish comes to me as empty space and time, when cancer and COPD take a nap for awhile and leave me as I was before all this happened. A mini-vacation. Maybe even a whole day of it now and then.

Don't get me wrong. I am acutely aware of how lucky I am. Most people with my cancer are dead long before now. But I wish I could figure out how to make a respite for myself, some time to pretend – nay, forget - for a little while that this didn't happen to me.

Am I asking too much? I think I can't be alone in wanting this and that I can continue to be the realist that I am while taking a little vacation. I just haven't figured out how to do it yet.


A TGB READER STORY: How Can I Help You?

By Ellen Rand

(Note: names have been changed to protect their privacy)

The afternoon that I went for a walk with Linda for the first time was one of the moments I’ve been proudest of as a hospice volunteer, odd though that may seem.

I’d first met Linda a few months prior to that, when the late fall and winter light made her and her husband Joseph’s small and cluttered apartment dark in the early afternoons.

I was there mainly to visit Joseph who was immobile and unspeaking in his hospital bed in the living room following a devastating stroke.

In theory, a volunteer’s role is to keep ill people company and give their caregivers a break. But I’ve found that caregivers often opt to stay home with their loved ones instead. Why? It may be a fear that something awful will happen in their absence, worry that only they know how to best care for their loved one, or a simple desire to have company themselves once a week for a couple of hours.

Whatever the reason, this was the case with Linda too and over several months, I came to understand the fierceness of this diminutive woman’s devotion to her husband.

She made sure that he was always clean, that he was turned often enough to avoid bed sores, that he would eat his favorite foods that she’d cooked and blended so she could feed him one spoonful at a time, however long it took.

At night, she slept, fitfully, in a reclining chair next to his hospital bed.

The standing cliché about volunteering is that the volunteer gets more out of it than the people he or she helps. That’s certainly been true for me. Over a period of months I learned about how limitless love and devotion could be.

It wasn’t just Linda. Their grown children visited regularly, too, always talking with Joseph, being affectionate with him, including him in their conversations.

I wondered how much Joseph understood about what was going on as he lay, locked in his own body without being able to move or speak. I wondered about the strength of the human spirit, about the bonds that connect us to one another. I wondered about how limited we may be in thinking about what it means to be human, or about what constitutes a life worth living.

What seemed clear to me was that Joseph, despite his illness and innumerable, dire complications, was still very much with his family and continued to live, likely thanks to all of Linda’s and their children’s love and care.

But caregiving takes its toll and Linda was exhausted. So when I visited, I would try to persuade her to go out for a while, but she preferred to stay in, and we would talk over tea and the treats she would urge me to indulge in. That was how I got to know the happier contours of their lives, before illness struck.

Then one glorious spring day, it happened. “Let’s go out for a walk,” I said to Linda and she finally said yes. She disappeared into the bathroom for a while and when she came out, she had put makeup on, changed her clothes and fixed her hair.

We linked arms, the way I’d done with my mother when she’d been ill, and we walked slowly around her neighborhood. Maybe a couple of blocks at first, but that increased gradually as we walked several more times that spring and early summer, until Joseph died.

I like to think that offering my friendship and a little respite helped her to continue bearing her burden. I still speak with Linda from time to time. She has said that she still feels lost, which breaks my heart.

She asks me about my family and we say “I love you” at the end of our conversations. I don’t know if she goes out for walks anymore. I hope so.

* * *

[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.]


Successful Aging

DONATION WEEK IS DONE – aren't you glad about that – and I thank each and every one of you for your generous support.

Quite a few of you included nice messages with your donations and I had intended to answer each one. But there are just too many and not enough time. I hope you understand.

Thank you all, you are the best.

* * *

The phrase in that headline always sets my teeth on edge. As popular as it is in newspaper, magazine and online headers, and particularly as a book title (I stopped counting at Amazon when I got to 24), it always makes me wonder this: Successful as opposed to what? Unsuccessful aging? Failed aging?

A percentage of old and retired people live in poverty. Is that failed aging? A lot of old people refuse to acknowledge they are getting old. Does that fall on the success or the failure side of aging? And who sets the criteria?

I'm not even sure it's possible for anyone to fail at aging.

This is not new material to me but it came 'round again when a friend and TGB reader who uses the name doctafil to comment here emailed a link to the Montreal Gazette review of yet another book titled, Successful Aging.

The author, 62-year-old Daniel J. Levitin, a cognitive psychologist, musician and neuroscientist (hence the subtitle, “A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives”) believes current popular writing on old age has not kept up with the science:

“'Part of the societal narrative that I want to push back on,” he told the Gazette, “is that we tend to think of life as comprising these developmental stages — prenatal, infancy, toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and so on, and that after some point — 65, 70, whatever — it’s just decline,' Levitin said. 'And that’s not borne out by the research.

“'(Old age) is a distinct developmental stage,' he continues, 'and as with any other, there are pluses and minuses. So I wanted to write about what science had to say about the course of aging and what happens in the brain, from the womb right up to old age.'”

[STOP RIGHT HERE FOR A MOMENT: I'm not going to tell you what that science is because the review skips that part and I haven't read the book. If that seems unfair to you, I would agree. But the title and review became such a mental “ear worm” (as when you get a tune stuck in your head) that I decided to riff on it and see what happens.]

What the review does give us is a list of the usual suspects about how to grow old such as choose carefully where you live and be sure to get enough sleep:

”Older people tend to get less sleep,” says Levitin, “but they need eight or nine hours just like the rest of us. Many cases of Alzheimer’s are misdiagnosed cases of sleep deprivation.”

I didn't know that about Alzheimer's and sleep. However, a quick trip around the internet tells me that research shows lack of sleep MAY lead to dementia but it is a long way from being proved.

Not surprisingly, Levitin says that too much time online isn't good for a person's well-being and face-to-face conversation is important to help avoid loneliness, a problem for people who are more inclined to introspection and solitude than some others.

“You can’t just will yourself out of that,” Levitin says. “But for many adults, after a certain age neurochemical shifts cause them to be more outgoing.”

That may be true for some but Levitin makes a welcome point that I've not run across much from other writers on successful aging:

“...I would add a distinction that I maybe didn’t make enough of in the book — that loneliness and solitude are not the same. Some people enjoy solitude and don’t feel lonely; other people are lonely in a crowded room.

“Loneliness is the killer, not solitude.”

Ageism in general and in the workplace plays a role in Levitin's idea of successful aging:

“It’s a huge battle,” Levitin concurred. “Even within the neuroscience community it’s not talked about. When you think about all of the different isms or prejudices that face society, whether it’s sexism, racism, prejudice against LGBTQ people...all of these are far from solved, but at least they’re part of the national conversation. They’re on the table. Ageism is not.”

Most of this confirms my personal positions on these issues but it still doesn't explain what “successful aging” is which no one seems to have adequately defined.

Again, I am not critiquing the book – I haven't read it. But you would think I'd have gained a sense of what people who spend a lot of time writing an entire book mean by successful aging. And I don't.

That's what irritates me and undoubtedly caused my mental ear worm. If successful aging is going to be a “thing” for old people, as it has appeared to be for 15 or 20 years, it would be a good idea to know what the failure is that these writers want us to avoid.

Or is it just another way of saying saying, take good care of yourself?

Old folks get plenty of useful information about sleep, nutrition, loneliness, falls prevention, etc. from our physicians, AARP and dozens of other good resources. Until someone tells me how “successful aging“ books are different, I'm done with it (except I'm interested in what new things neuroscience has discovered about old brains).

What do you think?


ELDERMUSIC: Brubeck

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF DONATION WEEK
Yes, finally - this is the final day of the TGB annual donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By. You can read the details on last Monday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing changes here. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for Peter Tibbles's Sunday Elder Music column.

* * *

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.

* * *

Dave Brubeck

DAVE BRUBECK probably did more than any other musician, except Louis Armstrong, to bring jazz to the notice of the general public.

Dave was destined to be a cattle rancher like his father, but his mother, a piano teacher, taught him (and his brothers) to play piano. He went to college to study veterinary science but switched to music.

The war intervened, he was drafted and after hearing him play, the bigwigs in the army ordered him to start a band. Around about then he met his long-time band member Paul Desmond.

There’s a lot more to his background than I have room to cover. He eventually started his famous quartet with Paul on alto sax, Eugene Wright on bass and Joe Morello on drums. Let’s hear them.

I’ll start with something from an album with which you might be familiar. It’s the follow up to his most famous album. When you’re on a good thing, I think was Dave’s thought process.

The album is “Time Further Out”, and the tune is It's a Raggy Waltz, in the not too unusual time signature of 3/4 time.

♫ It's a Raggy Waltz


Brubeck & Desmond

Besides their being half the quartet, Dave and Paul Desmond recorded some albums as a duo. One of those was called, rather unimaginatively, “Dave Brubeck & Paul Desmond ~ The Duets”. From that we have a tune you’ll all know, one of the most recorded ever: Stardust.

♫ Stardust


Dave Brubeck

The quartet went into middle-of-the-road territory with the album “Angel Eyes”. Of course, their middle-of-the-road is far superior to most who perform this style of music.

On this album they play other people’s tunes. I think they should stick to their own as they are far more innovative and interesting. However, this isn’t bad for late night listening in front of the fire (or air conditioner), glass of wine in hand, and other things nearby. Here is Angel Eyes.

♫ Angel Eyes


JIMMY RUSHING was a long time singer in the Count Basie orchestra.

Brubeck & Rushing

He had a wide range in his vocals and could sing tenor all the way down to baritone. He could also sing the blues with the best of them. He teamed up with the Dave Brubeck Quartet to record an album called “Brubeck & Rushing”, and from that one we have the old Fats Waller song Ain't Misbehavin'.

♫ Ain't Misbehavin'


Here is Dave on his own playing his own music from an album prosaically titled “Brubeck Plays Brubeck”. The tune is called When I Was Young.

♫ When I Was Young


Brubeck & Mulligan

The quartet that played at the Berlin Philharmonie in 1970 wasn’t his usual quartet. This one consisted of the great baritone saxophonist GERRY MULLIGAN along with Alan Dawson on drums and Jack Six on bass.

The song I’ve selected from that concert is the old Limehouse Blues. As is obvious, this is a live recording which features Gerry quite prominently. Of course, there’s also quite a bit of fine piano playing by Dave.

♫ Limehouse Blues


Dave Brubeck

The next is included for my friend Ann, it’s her favourite song. It’s another nice gentle-by-the-fire sort of tune - one you all know, Georgia on My Mind.

♫ Georgia on My Mind


Here is another vocal track, there aren’t too many of these, and what a vocalist he has: TONY BENNETT.

Tony Bennett     & Dave Brubeck

Dave and Tony were invited to the White House back in 1962. This was when there was a real president in residence. Their concert was recorded and I decided to go with Tony’s most famous song, I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

♫ Tony Bennett & Dave Brubeck - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (Live)


A further example of when you’re on a good thing, something else from “Time Further Out”. From that album we have Unsquare Dance, in 7/4 time.

♫ Unsquare Dance


Dave Brubeck

Dave and the quartet recorded several albums called Jazz Impressions of… Fill in the dots with various places. One of those places, and the most successful of this series, is “Jazz Impressions of New York”. From that we get Autumn in Washington Square.

♫ Autumn in Washington Square


DaveBrubeck~Time Out

You knew this one had to be present, so I won’t disappoint you. Take Five started as a drum vamp by Joe, but Paul took it on board and the following day came up with the finished tune.

In keeping with the album, his is in 5/4 time, thus the name. In his will, he died in 1977, Paul left the royalties for the tune to the Red Cross and they have received in the region of a hundred grand each year since then.

♫ Take Five


INTERESTING STUFF – 15 February 2020

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
Yes, we are almost finished – this is day six of the TGB annual donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By. You can read the details on last Monday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing changes here. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's Interesting Stuff.

* * *

BUZZ AND THE DANDELIONS

Let's start the list today with a great good laugh. Who can resist a laughing baby.

WAIT TILL YOU SEE THESE BABIES

Meerkats this time, born at the Miami zoo.

Meerkat1

The Bored Panda website tells us:

”Squirrel-sized meerkats are mongooses, widely known for their upright posture. They often stand on their rear legs, scanning the areas over the southern African plains where they live.

Meerkat2

Meerkat3

Many more of the meerkat family at Bored Panda.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX OSCAR ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

There was a time when almost every year at the Oscar ceremonies, several Hollyiwood stars would speak up for political or humanitarian causes in their acceptance speeches.

That doesn't happen much anymore but last Sunday actor Joaquin Phoenix spoke and it is worth a listen.

HEAR CHAUCER IN THE ORIGINAL 14TH CENTURY ENGLISH

As Mental Floss explains, a team of researchers has created an app that reads Geoffrey Chaucer's 14th century masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales in the Middle English in which it was written.

”The app includes a 45-minute narration of the 'General Prologue,' and the researchers have plans for at least two more apps, which will focus on The Miller’s Tale and other stories.

“If you’re not exactly well-versed in Middle English, don’t worry—the app also contains a line-by-line modern translation of the text, so you can follow along as you listen.”

What surprised me is that I can (and you will, too) understand parts of what is being read – parts where the English hasn't changed much.

One of the contributors to the project was Monty Python member Terry Jones who was – surprise to me – a medievalist.

"[His] two books on Chaucer and translation of the 'General Prologue' are featured in the app’s introduction and notes. Jones passed away on January 21, 2020, and this was one of the last academic projects he worked on.”

There is more information at Mental Floss. You can download the app at Google Play and iTunes. Or you can just go listen to it at the online desktop app like I did.

TYPEWRITER ART

The artist, James Cook, tells us on the YouTube page that these are various scenes around the Essex countryside in December 2019.

”The three 'typicitions' were partly-drawn from observation. I spent no more than 3 hours at each location and completed these drawings indoors (where it was nice and warm.) These drawings were typed on my 71" Adler Tippa and 56" Oliver Courier typewriter.

LO-O-O-O-O-O-NG CATS

I once had a really long cat but I think most of these are longer. Take a look:

Longcat1

Longcat2

LongCat3

More at Bored Panda.

”THE DAY DEMOCRACY DIED” SUNG BY THE FOUNDING FATHERS

So many of you sent this video that I almost stopped opening my email program this week. Featured in order of appearance are: George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay – to the tune of American Pie.

HAIR LOVE

This short animated film from Matthew A. Cherry, tells the story of an African American father learning to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.

The film won the Best Animated Short at the Oscars this year. Thank my friend Jim Stone for sending it to us.

* * *

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.


Tender Love and Hair

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day five of the 2020 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By. You can read the details on Monday's post.

It's lovely this week to see so many names that don't turn up in the comments as the donations arrive at Paypal – and the familiar names too.

But, whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's Valentine's Day post.

* * *

Remember when I was bald last year? I had lost my hair to chemo therapy and after I got over the shock, I rather liked having no hair. It saved a lot of time and effort and when it started growing back in, I shaved it a couple of times.

But eventually, I let it grow in and it had become a crazy mess so last Monday I had my first haircut in many months. I feel a whole lot better which is what a haircut should do for us. Keep that in mind.

I was early arriving at the salon so I settled down to peruse a hair industry trade magazine, Beauty Launchpad, where I found this lovely story suitable for Valentine's Day.

Joey Lane had become a certified nursing assistant during high school but moved on to become a hair dresser at a salon in the small town of Brunswick, Georgia where, he says, that high school nursing assistant training stuck with him.

After five years working in the salon, Joey

”...made the decision to combine my two passions...There are so many people who are underrepresented and forgotten about during what can be the scariest time in their lives, so I decided to do something about it.

“I felt the need to reach out to my local hospice facility, the Hospice of the Golden Isles, and that’s how Tender Love & Hair was born.”

Volunteering at local long-term care homes and hospice, Joey has found ways to adapt his hair dressing skills to a different clientele:

”One of the most genius kit items for me at hospice is no-rinse shampoo caps. I warm them up in the microwave, put them on the patient’s head, massage the cap and they’re good to go!

“Another go-to is my mini flat iron. It enables me to create that signature 'bump' on shorter hairstyles while minimizing the risk of burns for patients who may suddenly move during styling.”

But for Joey it's more than helping to keep patients' hair looking good.

”By far, the best part about what I do is interacting with the patients,” he says. “I hear their stories, and we become friends. Being able to bring them any bit of happiness, no matter how small, is a privilege and an honor.”

With his organization, Tender Love and Hair, Joey urges other hair dressers to volunteer their time too. He says it's easy to

”...reach out to your local hospice facility to inquire about volunteering, or donate to existing programs that help serve this population. You may go into a hospice facility expecting to change lives, but you’ll probably realize that you’ll be the one whose life is changed for the better.”

Joey's life has certainly changed as he is delving even deeper into his first passion, studying now for an RN degree. I don't have any doubt he'll be a terrific nurse.

Isn't that an excellent Valentine's Day story? There is more at the Beauty Launchpad website.

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, EVERYONE

Heartsimage


Crabby Old Lady is Schooled in How Not to Act Old

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day three of the 2020 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By. You can read the details on Monday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

Crabby Old Lady remembers it as clearly as when it happened in 1956. During that summer, she and her mother had moved to Marin County, California, where in the fall Crabby started her third year of high school at Tamalpais High.

After school one day, Crabby and her new friend Judy had taken the bus home to Sausalito together and without any thought in her head about it, Crabby grabbed Judy's hand as they ran across the road to the side where they needed to be.

Immediately, Judy pulled her hand away and said, “Don't do that. We're not little kids.”

At first, Crabby was hurt. Afraid, too, that she would lose her new and, so far, only friend. Because it seemed to her that Judy knew more about these things than Crabby did, Crabby tried not to show her feelings and she certainly didn't say anything. (She was shy in those days.)

All her life, Crabby had held someone's hand when she crossed the street. First, of course, with parents, and later, with girl friends who, in Portland, Oregon where she grew up until moving to California, were just as likely to grab Crabby's hand first.

Now Judy had shown her that in this new place she was still learning to navigate, Crabby shouldn't do that.

And here she is now, 64 years later, while the media, advertisers and random internet writers never stop telling Crabby that she shouldn't act like an old person.

The media is overly fond of old people who do things that even young adults avoid like climbing high mountains, jumping out of airplanes and running marathons. When the supply of those stories runs short, a couple who get married in their 90s is a frequent second choice.

Most recently, ads for a new lipstick brand have been following Crabby around the internet and it knows she is old.

Supposedly, it won't bleed into the little, vertical lines above our lip that many get in old age. But lipstick companies have been telling Crabby that certain lipsticks do that all her life and she doubts this one works any better than all the previous claims.

In addition, there is no dearth of young and young-ish people online feeling the need to school old folks on how not to act like they are old. Among the warnings Crabby came across was this downright nasty one:

”Don't fall victim to a scam. Scams are now rampant and many of them are aimed at old people. It's one thing BEING old. You don't have to add to that by ACTING old and being naïve enough to fall for some of these scams that are out there. That not only marks you as old, old, old, but kind of dumb.”

Worse, the writer cracking the whip at old folks doesn't even know what she (they are mostly women) is talking about. Experian reports about a Better Business Bureau survey:

”The BBB report showed that Americans ages 18 to 34 were more susceptible to scams (43.7% were victims) than Americans 55 and older (27.6% were victims).”

It's only fair to note, however, that the older group loses more money in scams than younger victims.

Here's another one, only slightly less rude:

”Don't wait until you get up to the checker at the grocery story to fish around for your wallet or your check book...Your wallet should be out and if you are writing a check, which, I hate to tell you, pegs you as an old person right there because no one writes checks at the grocery story anymore, your checkbook should be in hand.”

Yes, ma'am!

Other admonitions include:
Don’t talk too much or use too many words
Get a tattoo or lie about having one

And this one, billed as a three-fer:
Don’t call when a text will do
Don’t expect an immediate answer to your text
Please don’t leave a message

Don't act young, they said back then. Don't act old, they tell Crabby now. How 'bout they all go eat worms.


A TGB READER STORY: Sleeping With The Enemy

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day two of the 2020 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By. You can read the details on Monday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

By Fritzy Dean

His voice is by turns harsh, commanding, demanding - then smooth, silky, seductive. I am held motionless, captivated, not wanting to miss a word or even a syllable. He voice is close, intimate - next to my ear.

I gently adjust the pillow, not wanting to disturb him or the story he is telling. Oh, good, he didn’t notice my small movement. He continues as I relax more and more into what I have come to think of as “our” bed.

It has taken me some time to get comfortable having this voice, and I admit it, other voices in bed with me. As a book lover, I read myself to sleep for as long as I can remember. Then with age came one of what Shakespeare called “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” I developed macular degeneration and can no longer read in bed. I can barely read at all.

I resisted getting an e-reader for a long time. As a senior citizen, I was slow to embrace technology. I felt fearful and inadequate, but missed reading SO much, I gave in and got a Kindle. While it is not the same as reading an actual book, it keeps me from feeling so deprived of my first and strongest love - reading.

With the Kindle mastered (sort of), I was finally brave enough to get an audio book reader and subscribe to Audible. A tech savvy friend set it up for me.

So now, here I am - in bed with my electronic device and my latest book.

This particular book is being read by an actor, a good one, too. He is able to sound like the different characters do, changing his voice appropriately. He is able to project the changing moods of the plot. He is a superb teller of tales.

Unfortunately, not all of the readers are. Especially disappointing is to learn that some of my favorite writers are AWFUL readers. The first book I downloaded read by the author almost turned me against him. His “writing” voice (the one I heard in my head, was deep and melodious. The voice coming from the device was high pitched and nasal, like a hillbilly with a bad cold.

Oh, PLEASE hire an actor next time!

Of course, some authors ARE good readers and what a treat that is. I remember, in particular, Barbara Kingsolver reading Unsheltered. She knew EXACTLY where to put emphasis, where to pause, where to glide along. She wrote it, after all, and she was a wonderful guide for the listener.

There have been other such lovely surprises. Pride and Prejudice read by NO, NOT Jane Austen, but by a full cast of actors. I smiled the whole way through. Such a lovely bedtime story.

I called this little essay, Sleeping With The Enemy because of my fear of, and reluctance to embrace technology. However, recently I began to encounter a word that must have been coined by the millennials – frenemy.

From the way it is used I assume it means someone or something you love in spite of yourself. Something you would love to hate, but just can’t - so perhaps I should rename this, because I certainly intend to continue sleeping with the frenemy.

* * *

[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.]


Annual TimeGoesBy Donation Week 2020

Last week, while driving to a medical appointment, I tuned in the local NPR radio station landing right in the middle of what – FOUR times a year! - always feels like non-stop hounding me for money. (Didn't they do this last week?)

As always, my thought about the mind-numbing repetition of it remained the same: “Okay, okay. I paid. So please stop now.”

But one thing was different this time - it was not lost on me that I am about to subject you, dear readers, to the internet version. Does that make me a hypocrite? I don't know.

So here we are again for the fifth year of the annual TGB Donation Drive. It helps cover a bunch of expenses like an advertising-free email subscription service, email and domain-name registrations, useful publications about growing old and even the internet service which increases by 10 percent every year.

In this way, Time Goes By remains an ad-free zone on the internet.

As I mentioned not long ago, we are in to year 17 of this blog. Even I'm surprised when that comes to mind. How am I not bored yet? Perhaps because growing old keeps changing for me or, maybe, it's that it reveals itself more fully as the years pass.

On a practical level, TGB gives shape to my days. I would be much lazier than I am if I didn't need to have a post prepared for most days of the week and being active mentally seems also to keep me moving for the physical tasks of life I might otherwise ignore too often.

Whatever it is, I love doing this blog, and I am grateful to all of you, dear readers, for your fine contributions in the comments and your stories on Tuesdays. It's your smart, thoughtful, and funny conversation that makes TGB special.

So here is the information you need if you want to donate.

HOW TO DONATE
The campaign consists of this introductory blog post with a link to the Paypal donation page and a MUCH shorter version of this invitation to contribute at the top of each post through next Sunday. The “rules” are these:

  • No one is required to donate. Nothing about TGB will change if you do not. This is entirely voluntary.

  • If you do choose to donate, no amount is too small. Whatever is comfortable for you is all that matters.

  • You do not need a Paypal account to donate. When you click on the link below, the Paypal donation page will open (it's a little slow sometimes) where you can donate via credit card, debit card or, if you have a Paypal account, by a money transfer - each in any amount you want.

  • The Paypal site works in the United States and internationally.

To repeat: Donations are voluntary. Nothing changes if you do not donate. Here is the Paypal link which you will also find near the top of the right sidebar.

For those of you who have set up a recurring donation, you might want to cancel that and if you are still inclined to donate, do it as a one-time. It will save you some scrambling, perhaps, in setting your account straight when I have shuffled off this mortal coil.

Not that I think I'm out of here anytime soon. For an old woman with cancer and taking the limitations of having COPD too into consideration, I'm feeling remarkably well these days. But who knows.

Remember how I used to say I wanted to live to see the Mueller Report? Now I want to see the November election results.

Here's a treat for anyone who reads this far – the excellent feel-good song from Disney's The Jungle Book, released in 1967, The Bare Necessities. Of course, people our age know that it is the marvelous and charming Phil Harris doing the singing.


ELDER MUSIC: Songs About Cities - Rome

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.

* * *

Rome

All roads lead to Rome; when in Rome do as the Romans do; Rome wasn’t built in a day (but it was burned down in one – sorry that’s my own addition).

There are so many sayings about the Eternal City that I could keep spouting them, but you’d be bored and turn away. So, let’s just have some songs about Rome.

Probably due to the film Three Coins in a Fountain, the fountains of Rome, particularly the Trevi fountain which is the focus of the film, have amassed a considerable amount of loot. This is good for the local kids and others who like to grab all those coins.

The song was sung (uncredited) in the film by Frank Sinatra who had a big hit with it. For something different I’ve decided to use the instrumental version by the VINCE GUARALDI TRIO.

Vince Guaraldi

Vince was a jazz pianist who had a few mainstream hits in the sixties most notably, as far as I’m concerned, was Cast Your Fate to the Wind. We’ll leave that one for another day, and play Three Coins in a Fountain.

♫ Vince Guaraldi Trio - Three Coins In A Fountain


You probably expected DEAN MARTIN to be present, so I won’t disappoint you.

Dean Martin

There were several contenders for him, but it was a matter of who else had recorded them so we could have a variety of artists. With that in mind I chose On an Evening in Roma (Sott'er Celo de Roma).

♫ Dean Martin - On an Evening in Roma (Sott'er Celo de Roma)


Another likely suspect is MARIO LANZA.

Mario Lanza

He performs the definitely-must-be-present song, Arrivederci Roma. There were many choices for this one, mostly by the artists who are present today singing something else. Mario gives it the full treatment.

♫ Mario Lanza - Arrivederci Roma


Now we have several songs by people who obviously read my opening remarks. The first of these is SAM COOKE.

Sam Cooke

Sam tells us that Rome (Wasn't Built in a Day). I don’t know why he used the parentheses, but it was quite the thing to do back when he was recording. It doesn’t matter; this is Sam who could make anything sound good.

♫ Sam Cooke - Rome (Wasn't Built in a Day)


GLENN CARDIER decided to take the same tack – same title, different song.

Glenn Cardier

He eschews the parentheses and calls it Rome Wasn't Built in a Day. This is an unusual version from Glenn who usually plays guitar, often a National steel one. Indeed, he reminds me somewhat of Tom Waits on this.

♫ Glenn Cardier - Rome Wasn't Built In A Day


As if we didn’t know by now, we have NICK LOWE to belabor the point.

Nick Lowe

Yet another song with the same name. There could be a column in that (light bulb moment). Nick sounds as if he’s just sitting in the room with us playing his guitar. A very intimate version of Rome Wasn't Built in a Day.

♫ Nick Lowe - Rome Wasn't Built In A Day


From late in his career, here is ELVIS in full operatic mode. There must be something about Rome that causes singers to do that (Nick Lowe excluded).

Elvis Presley

The song of his, and it’s not one I was familiar with until it came up on my search, is Heart of Rome.

♫ Elvis Presley - Heart Of Rome


It’s not too surprising that TONY BENNETT is present, as he’s sung a lot of songs in his career.

Tony Bennett & Bill Evans

He has the help of the great BILL EVANS playing piano. I prefer Tony with a stripped back arrangement as we have here and he became an automatic inclusive when I heard this fine version. The song is When in Rome, another of our opening clichés.

♫ Tony Bennett & Bill Evans - When In Rome


Autumn in Rome was another popular song, yet another selection process. This time it is JOHNNY MATHIS who got the nod.

Johnny Mathis

There are several good versions of this song, the one that nearly made the cut is by Peggy Lee. However, on reflection, I liked Johnny’s just a bit more.

♫ Johnny Mathis - Autumn in Rome


Bob Dylan wrote one of the finest songs about the city, and THE BAND improved on Bob’s version.

The Band

Some might say that that’s not too surprising. The song is from what critics called a lesser album for the group. Of course, a lesser Band album is the equal of most others’ best work. From the album “Cahoots”, here is When I Paint My Masterpiece.

♫ The Band - When I Paint My Masterpiece


Among classical composers, OTTORINO RESPIGHI stands out as one who really loved Rome.

Respigh

Although he was from Bologna, Otto seemed to have an inordinate fondness for the city (he's probably not alone in that), witness his tone poems The Fountains of Rome, The Pines of Rome and Roman Festival.

I’ll go with the fountains, and the composition Fountains of Rome - The Fountain of Valle Giulia at Dawn.

Respighi - Fountains of Rome - The Fountain of Valle Giulia at Dawn


INTERESTING STUFF – 8 February 2020

IAN McLELLAN IMPRESSION OF MAGGIE SMITH

This is Oscars weekend and I managed to dig up this marvelously funny Oscar-related clip from The Graham Norton Show in 2017.

Patrick Stewart (check out his socks) and Ian McLellan are the guests. McLellan, who played Gandolf in the Lord of the Rings films, does a pitch-perfect impression of Maggie Smith (Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies) when he ran into her at an Oscar ceremony.

This year's Oscar show will air on ABC-TV on Sunday at 8PM eastern U.S. time.

WHAT THE PRESIDENT TWEETED AFTER THE ACQUITTAL VOTE IN THE SENATE

Terrifying that a president does this:

MANUFACTURING HUGE PAPER LANTERNS IN CHINA

Due to the virus outbreak, China canceled a lot of lunar New Year celebrations. Here's a story about the traditional lanterns – huge ones – made in a small Chinese Village.

WHAT IF BEING AN OLDER CUSTOMER...

...were as hard as finding a job after age 40?

More at AARP.

DOOMSDAY CLOCK MOVES CLOSER TO MIDNIGHT

Actually, not just closer, but closer than it has ever been – moved up 20 seconds to 100 seconds to midnight from two minutes to midnight.

"The decision was made by the group’s science and security board, in consultations with its board of sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates...

"In a statement accompanying the clock’s advance, the organization said the nuclear and climate dangers 'are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare that undercuts society’s ability to respond.'

"'The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode,' it said."

There is more to read at AP.

FRESH GUACAMOLE

This short film was a 2013 Oscar nominee and has been viewed on YouTube more than 180,000,000 times. It's the shortest film ever nominated. Produced by PES.

(There are two other short films in the same vein – sequels - linked at the end of the video. They are clever too but this one, the original, is the best.)

REAL ID

Beginning 1 October, 2020, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or license to fly within the United States, make sure it is REAL ID compliant. If you are not sure if your ID complies with REAL ID, check with your state department of motor vehicles.

Here is a video about it.

There is more information at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) webpage and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website.

SLANG FROM THE AMERICAN COLONIAL PERIOD

That period in U.S. history ran from 1607 when America was just a group of British colonies to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The settlers brought the English language with them and Mental Floss provides us with 15 slang terms from that period.

Here are three to get you started.

KEDGE
When someone asked how you were doing, you might have replied, “I’m pretty kedge.” It’s a bizarre but wonderful term that essentially means being in good health.

CIRCUMBENDIBUS
From 1681 something unnecessarily roundabout - like someone telling a rambling story or taking a weird road when driving somewhere,

TWISTICAL
Unfair or immoral – primarily used in New England.

There are 12 more at Mental Floss.

KITTENS IN THE BOOK SHOP

Kittens! And lots of them! Playing around and napping among the books. And probably reading Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat when no one’s looking.

The best part is, you can adopt any of the cats in the bookstore and give them the forever home they deserve. Cats, coffee, and books. Does it get any better than that?

The kitties are at Otis & Clementine’s Books and Coffee, Halifax, Nova Scotia and so far, there is a 100 percent adoption rate. Here are three of them. Well, three photos, but more cats than that.

OtisClementsBooksCat3

OtisClementsBooksCat1

OtisClementsBooksCat2

More kitty book shop photos at Bored Panda.

* * *

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.


Pancreatic Cancer. Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

Even in a jam-packed political week in the United States when the Iowa caucuses took place on Monday, the State of the Union address by the president on Tuesday and the impeachment vote in the Senate on Wednesday, I spent a lot of time being distracted by pancreatic cancer.

Because I've been living with it since 2017, that shouldn't be notable. But I have felt unusually healthy in the past few months and I was thinking about well-known people who live with the same disease.

This came to mind on Monday when Wayne State University bestowed its Walter P. Reuther Humanitarian Award to Georgia Representative John Lewis “in recognition of Lewis’s decades-long history of political leadership and grassroots advocacy.”

First noting that he voted to impeach President Donald Trump, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) recently summarized Lewis's distinguished life and career:

”Before he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Lewis was and remains a key figure in America’s civil rights movement. A key ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, representing the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, of which he was the chairman.

“In 1961, as one of the original Freedom Riders, he was beaten and bloodied as they rode through the South addressing laws prohibiting black and white riders from sitting next to each other on public transportation.

“The 1965 attack in Selma, where Lewis has said, 'I thought I saw death. I thought I was going to die,' sparked nationwide support, sympathy and horror and spurred Congress to move on what became the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

Lewis was unable to attend the presentation of the award at Wayne State because he is undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

In a 1 January interview, Representative Lewis told an AJC reporter,

“'As you well know, I will be going through something that I have never been through before,' Lewis said. 'I have had friends and colleagues who have gone through similar situations. I will be talking and learning from them and obeying my physicians.'”

Me too - obeying my physicians which has worked our pretty well. And I wish with all my might that it will do the same for Representative Lewis. We need people like him in Congress, and more like him.

I don't know Lewis. I've never met him and I've never lived in 5th Congressional District in Georgia so he has not been my representative.

But if I had lived there, I surely would have voted for him in every one of the 17 elections he has won and I would vote for him again in November this year. There are not many in public life these days who are as decent and good and honorable as Lewis.

Pancreatic cancer is way down the list of cancers in terms of prevalence. Number 12 behind much more common cancers as breast, lung and prostate – the top three. But it is one of the top three deadliest.

Is that the reason, I sometimes wonder, that I feel a kinship with anyone who is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Even people I don't know. Maybe that is how Jeopardy! host, Alex Trebek – who has been treated for pancreatic cancer since early last year – felt when he was quoted on the website of radio station WABE in Atlanta:

“We’re starting a new year, and let’s see if we can’t both complete the year as pancreatic cancer survivors,” Trebek said when asked what he would tell Lewis. He noted they’re the same age, 79.”

At his announcement of the diagnosis, Representative Lewis told the AJC,

“'I’ve been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life,' he said. 'I have never faced a fight quite like this one.'

“He added, in a message to constituents, that he might miss a few upcoming votes as he undergoes treatment, 'but with God’s grace I will be back on the front lines soon.'”

Yes. Please. Here's is a photo of Lewis at the Pride Parade in Atlanta in October 2019 posted on the AJC website.

LewisPrideParade2019

* * *

Amidst all the political hullaballoo this week, my former husband and I recorded a new episode of The Alex and Ronni Show on Tuesday.

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


Precautions to Help Old People Avoid the Coronavirus

As with seasonal flu, the most vulnerable to the coronavirus are old people and others with compromised immune systems which applies directly to most of us who hang out at this blog.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) this week, so far the good old fashioned seasonal flu is more dangerous to Americans than the new caronavirus from China. That will be true until it's not anymore but the precautions work for both illnesses.

There is so much to say about the coronavirus let's get to the most important information first - how to protect ourselves – and then I will pass on some of the peripheral information.

WHAT IS THE CORONAVIRUS?
There are other coronaviruses. This one has never been seen before and it has jumped species from animals to humans – most likely from seafood. The first to be infected were workers and customers at the Wuhan wholesale seafood market.

Human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed in China, in the United States and in Germany. Tests elsewhere are ongoing.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS?
The Guardian online newspaper has been doing excellent “explainers” of the illness. Here is their information on symptoms:

”The virus causes pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure.

“As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work. If people are admitted to hospital, they may get support for their lungs and other organs as well as fluids. Recovery will depend on the strength of their immune system. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.”

To state the obvious, this year's seasonal flu vaccine is not effective for the c0ronavirus.

PREVENTION
As of Tuesday when I am writing this, there are only 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. That doesn't mean it won't change. Here are the recommended prevention measures. We all know them but we don't always follow them.

• Avoid close contact with people who are infected

• If you're sick, avoid interacting with other people - stay home

• Do not go to work if you're sick

• When you sneeze, cover your nose and mouth

• Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth

• Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that could be contaminated with germs (like your phone)

• Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer with 60% alcohol or higher if you can't get to a sink.

WHAT ABOUT FACE MASKS?
China is reporting that face masks are sold out all around China, as they are in other countries as well. However, face masks are not as effective protection as the list above, according to the CDC, and health experts mostly advise against using them.

Last week, David Heymann, who led WHO's [World Health Organization] infectious disease unit at the time of the SARS epidemic in 2002-2003, told CNBC that wearing masks can be useful if you’re sick in order to prevent you from sneezing or coughing into somebody’s face.

“But, 'a mask that is used to stop getting an infection is sometimes not very effective because people take it off to eat, many times they are worn improperly (and) if they get wet and somebody sneezes on that mask it could pass through. So, there is really not a lot of evidence (to support wearing masks).'”

Except that masks are recommended for health care workers treating coronavirus patients.

IS THE U.S. PREPARED FOR A WIDESPREAD OUTBREAK?
Not according to a variety of news outlets. Reuters reported on Sunday that President Donald Trump seemed to downplay the impact on the United States,

”...telling Fox television in an interview, 'We’re gonna see what happens, but we did shut it down, yes.'”

We shut it down?

In an announcement on the Health and Human Services (HHS) website last Friday, Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared the coronavirus a public health emergency which allows states, tribal and local health departments to temporarily reassign some personnel under certain circumstances.

QUARANTINE
Americans in China have been scrambling to return to the U.S. before a two-week quarantine goes into effect. According to The New York Times,

”The Trump administration ordered that as of Sunday afternoon, any American citizen who in the last two weeks had visited the Hubei province, whose capital city is Wuhan, was subject to a quarantine of up to 14 days after arriving in the United States.”

As is too often the case with this administration, facts and details about the extent of the quarantine and who it applies to vary. One person returning from China tried to avoid quarantine by leaving the military base where his private plane landed. (What is the matter with people.)

There may be other impediments to a swift government response. According to Laurie Garrett writing in Foreign Policy magazine last Friday,

”For the United States, the answers are especially worrying because the government has intentionally rendered itself incapable. In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure.

“In numerous phone calls and emails with key agencies across the U.S. government, the only consistent response I encountered was distressed confusion.

“If the United States still has a clear chain of command for pandemic response, the White House urgently needs to clarify what it is.”

INSTANT HOSPITAL
Meanwhile, back in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus first appeared, a 1,000-bed hospital was build in 10 days and is open for business. Here is a time lapse of the construction which involved 7,000 workers:

A second instant hospital for coronavirus patients is currently under construction.

The important thing here today is that list above of how to help prevent infection. Let's all follow it carefully and diligently.