Respite Recap Plus The Alex and Ronni Show
ELDER MUSIC: Mexico is Different Like the Travel Folder Says

INTERESTING STUFF – 21 February 2020


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:


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:


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


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?


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.


“'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 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:


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

* * *

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.


I love paper maps!

You just can't get "the big picture" (not legibly, any way) with Google Maps or MapQuest. And all that zooming in and out usually has me losing my "pin" or focus and then my interest.

I'm currently planning a trip from DC to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Haven't been for 20 years, and want to see it before the ocean takes it all back. I know my way fine, but I ordered a free NC state map via snailmail. Who knows how many more driving trips I'll get to take before my spine says "nope, you're grounded!

I want to see all the other ways possible to get there, little towns for quick side trips along the way for possible lunch and definite rest room break. The little mom-and-pop taco joints, the hardware stores with 100+ year old creaking, hardwood floors, tiny bakeries with 2 cafe tables out front, and visitors centers. I'm a junkie for ANY visitor's center....with more paper maps!

When I have time, I still like to be surprised by what's off the major highways, and just follow my instincts. I have a nice inner compass, but in the event that fails me and the sun won't shine, THEN I'll get back on track with an app on my phone.

Not to mention, paper maps make great reading when you're going to be stuck in the throne room, waiting for things to happen :)

RE: Teens Puzzled by Rotary Phone

Growing up with six siblings in the 1970s, we had an IBM Selectric typewriter.

I explained to my son how we'd have to call nightly dibs on the typewriter for school assignments, just like my 10-year old son & his younger sister had to share the family computer.

My son was totally baffled by the concept of a typewriter. "That makes no sense mom ... where is the screen that show what you've keyed?"

Thanks for the Pale Blue Dot. Carl Sagan is way more than a scientist, perhaps a seer, one who sees. It was he who first informed me that we are, literally, made from star stuff. That was a big one. And now this, showing us in words and images, how ludicrous our violent struggles to control a tiny segment of the "pale blue dot."

I guess that dog wants to do that frenzied routine, so maybe it's okay. We make animals do such ridiculous, harmful stuff that I'm always suspicious, but Border Collies are pretty nutty to begin with.

Yeah for paper maps, love 'em.

Christi, I'm with you... you are my kind of gal! May I ride along?

Christie Fries....
My husband was a map lover very much like you from his earliest days in Scouting.  I still have his wide metal map file cabinet that treats his older quadrangle maps and now my own art supplies with tender care.  

You might enjoy a book we loved in the 70s; "Blue Highways - A Journey into America" by William Least Heat Moon.   A masterpiece of American travel  as he chronicled his year on the secondary highways (blue on most maps). I think it is still in libraries and even available as a PDF file online. Someone else experiencing places we knew and loved was always interesting to us.

And a Thank You to Ronni for the bit about MAPS. Interesting !

Our lovable congresspeople ought to simplify the tax code so that we can all fill out a two or three page form . . . and be done with all the loopholes that prevent people like Trump and Bloomberg from releasing their tax records, that allow family dynasties from the Kennedys to the Waltons to carry on from generation to generation.

That unclaimed luggage video knocked me for a loop! I had no idea it's become such big business?? What's wrong with people?!

Loved the pale blue dot video, it really is a miracle our planet (with it's life sustaining atmosphere) even exists, let alone for billions of years. I'm not a religious man, but can sure understand why so many people are.

Regarding that old phone video, this past Christmas my 15 year old niece (my sister was blessed with a child in her forties) told me I should stop wearing my wristwatch because it made me look like an old person. I had a sudden flashback to when I was a kid, seeing my grandpap pulling out his pocket watch and thinking he looked like a train conductor.

Love Carl Sagan. And to think there are people who truly believe the Earth is flat. But then it should be no surprise considering the mindset some people have in today’s world.

Doug M...

I just bought a wrist watch. There is a specific reason: women's clothing rarely has pockets and when they do, the pockets aren't useful for carrying a cell phone. So whenever I needed to know what time is was when I was away from home, I had to dig around in my handbag to find the phone (really annoying) or, when I forgot and left the phone at home, I'd needed to ask someone when I wanted the time.

Now I can just look at my wrist and I'm perfectly fine looking like an old person - in this case, a smart old person who knows how to solve a problem whatever young people say. There is nothing wrong with being old, you know.

I'm a big map fan. A few years ago I gave most of mine to a son who loves them too. My assortment is growing again. And Carl Sagan is one of my heroes. And Charlene Drewry, "Blue Highways" is one of my all time favorite books too. One of my favorite things to do in Oregon and Washington was to find refurbished railroad hotels and take a drive and stay there. Amazing things to be seen in those little trafficked places.

"Old?" When we hang on the vine a while, like ripening grapes, we get a bit of wisdom, as you already know, Ronni.

My late sister, 10 years older than me was dating a much younger man and they got a bit harassment about it. The dear fellow would always say, "If you only like grapes , you are missing the real sweetness of raisins...don't judge others!!" We raisins can still laugh.

Ronni, good for you. I’ll be honest here, I’m approaching social security & had NO idea women’s clothing was so lacking in decent pocket size—until I heard you talking about it on the Alex & Ronni Show! Well I don’t own a smartphone (still carrying a flip) but even if I did, I’d feel naked if I went out without a watch on my wrist… it’s not like I’m wearing Fred Flintstones’ wrist sun-dial!

But it’s like you said, there’s nothing wrong with being old :-)

I've been fascinated with maps all my life. I had a Rand McNally road atlas that I used for years on my summer trips from Okla City to Estes Park, CO. On it I marked the best rest stops, favorite places to grab a meal, common locations of speed traps, etc. All marked large enough to read while driving alone. Once I got to Estes, I had all the quadrangle topo maps for the area. The big one of Rocky Mountain National Park was matted and hanging on my wall. Google maps on my phone don't evoke that "being there" feeling.

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

Sticking with the theme (and most of Ronni's readers are probably not old enough to have used one), how about a crank telephone?

I frequently see comic panels, showing kids using tin-can telephones, most of which prove to me that their artists are very young. They show tin cans joined by string in a catenary shape. Anyone who ever used a tin-can telephone can tell you that, to work, the string must be kept taut - and cannot go around corners. (And do you remember that either string end was knotted to a button so that the button would "buzz" against the tin can to produce the waves in the string?)

If you want a good giggle, Google "The Ellen Degeneres Show and Can This Teenager Use a Rotary Phone?" Ellen brings a young woman down from the audience to fold a map, find an item in the Yellow Pages, and dial a rotary phone under time pressure. The girl's ineptitude doesn't seem possible, but I guess it's real!

Wow! Loved, loved, loved Pink, the Border Collie! Had to watch the video several times for the sheer joy of it and then send it to all my dog-loving family members.

Border Collies are so smart and so energetic, they need a challenge like this. If they're not herding sheep, agility is the next best thing. You can see on her face that she's having the time of her life.

What an athlete for sure. Thanks Ronni.

I loved "Blue Highways" too. Great book.

Re outmoded technology: not too long ago there was a news item about a car theft foiled because the thieves couldn't figure out how to drive a stick shift car.

I'm wondering if Turbo Tax will use the new 1040-SR. Tax preparation gets more challenging every year, it seems to me. Or maybe my brain just finds it so.

I'm wondering what your niece would have thought about the 60 year old (still working)
self-winding Zodiac watch I still wear. NO batteries, just movement required! I did have to replace the band as I got older and very thin.

Additionally...I went into nursing school (1955)with my Grandfather's old gold pocket watch on a chain. We were required to have a watch with a second hand and my mother didn't have enough money to buy one, thus gave it to me. I loved it and so did my patients for it became a bit of normal conversation that distracted from their fear or pain. It too still works, and a lot better than my 82 y/o body with or without batteries!

So often I hear that things were made better in years past. I often find it is true in my experience.

You outdid yourself with this group of stories. They are ALL my favorite!

Charlene, those 2 time-pieces of yours are some real treasures. I'd love a self-winding watch, particularly a vintage one!

Enjoyed these — recall the old crank phone — 2 shorts and a long ring on Grandma’s party line.

Given so much reliance on batteries these days seems to me we’d be in big trouble if couldn’t get them for extended period of time. I see in search can purchase inexpensive self-winding watches so might be a good idea to have one, or a manual windup watch as backup for an emergency kit along with solar charger I need to get, too.

I still have my husband’s Rand — a welcomed gift we gave him every year. He loved to plan our driving trips, vacations with them — would study map bybthe hour. His mother liked to read maps like a book as she aged though she had long since ceased traveling. I also have several Thomas books I had to get around L.A. when we moved here.

So much for GPS screens in car with the latest in high end friend’s new SUV taking us a poor route for a simple trip to local restaurant. And near my street I repeatedly told Google Maps their directions for a left turn on old Route 66 was posted “no left turn” and would garner $300 fine, but they never changed over several years of my notices to them. They responded to me but never acknowledged being wrong. I stopped checking them finally.

Yeah, the Amish have loosened their strict rules in some ways as think it’s just been impossible to not adjust a bit.

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