159 posts categorized "Blogging"

Some Respect is Requested

Last Friday, I posted a story about how, even with pancreatic cancer metastasized to a lung and peritoneum, and COPD, my life is still rich but in different ways now to accommodate my health issues.

Wow – did we get reamed for that. By “we” I mean, in addition to me, the TGB readers who commented about how they find ways to enjoy their days despite what might limit them as they grow older.

What happened is that long-time commenter, Cassandra, dropped by. Kaboom!

She made certain we know how awful she thinks we all are because we didn't talk about how terrible life is caring full time for a husband who has Alzheimer's disease. Here is her comment begrudging the rest of us:

”So, you are all enjoying your old age. Absolutely nothing said by anyone here applies to aging dementia patients.

“My Alzheimer's husband has not been able to learn anything for the last six years, and loses more cognitive abilities every week. In addition he has a bad back, is in constant pain, takes pain medications that cause constipation and is gradually losing the ability to walk.

“I have to monitor him 24/7, including his bathroom activities and I can tell you my life is not enjoyable or upbeat.

“So why don't you all stop bragging about how upbeat your aging process is. I have to go now and try to help him walk to the bathroom for the sixth time in five hours and monitor the outcome. So pardon my attitude.”

It's not hard to understand how Cassandra can feel that way. I've been there, having some past experience caring for my mother although only for several months compared to Cassandra's years.

Nevertheless, I feel that our blog has been sullied.

It is a hard and fast rule here that no commenter may attack other commenters or me. Arguing points of view? Fine. Disagreeing with an opinion? No problem. Correcting an assertion? Sure. But do it with respect. Argue or disagree with the issue, not the person(s).

Respect is one of the top values that have kept this blog from falling into nastiness and chaos, as happens at too many websites, and as long as I am here, I will fight to maintain this blog so people are comfortable here.

There is no way to be certain but I think I know how Cassandra was feeling on Friday.

Even with my short tenure as a caregiver, I was sometimes so tired there was nothing to do but weep for a few minutes until my mother needed me again. 24/7 care is hard, exhausting, unrelenting work no matter how much you love the patient.

But even allowing that Friday may have been a particularly bad day for Cassandra, her attack was out of bounds. We don't do that at Time Goes By.

I made it clear in that post that all old people are not capable of taking care of daily needs but on that day, I intended to talk about how good life can be even with limitations. It was obvious that caregiving was not the subject.

Every now and then I post a story that allows all of us to complain for a day – we all need to do that sometimes. Friday, however, was about how, amid the physical difficulties age can rain down on us, there can still be great enjoyment from life, just in different ways.

One of the things I'm pretty good at is working aorund impediments. Another way of saying that is, I have little trouble accepting what is and then jumping ahead to working out how can I make the best of it or find something else to take the place of what's been snatched away.

Others here Friday were writing about similar things.

So no one was “bragging” on Friday about having an upbeat old age. We were just taking some time to talk about where and how we find joy at a time in life when it's not as simple for everyone as when we were young. And, maybe, to remind ourselves to do so.

The problem with nasty or combative comments is that they give new people who stop by permission to behave in that manner. One of the reasons this blog as been a safe place to enjoy a good conversation is that I'm militant about maintaining respect among us.

There is no doubt in my mind that Cassandra was having a really bad day on Friday and that she's not unfamiliar with such days. Even so, on this blog, everyone is required to keep a civil tongue. Respect is a requirement.




Surprise! Nothing to See Here Today

After a busy morning away from home Tuesday, I simply ran out of steam when it was time to finish a blog post I had begun for this space today.

So there you are – nothing here today. Maybe I'll publish that half-finished story tomorrow. Or maybe wait until Friday. Or maybe I'll take time off until after Labor Day. I don't know yet. Right now, I'm heading for a nap.




This Week in TGB Land

I have more obligations than usual over the next several days so I'm taking some time off from the blog.

This, what you are reading now, is today's post. There will be a Tuesday Reader Story and on Wednesday, a short post with more pictures than words.

Publishing will resume to normal beginning with Saturday's Interesting Stuff.

I could just leave the days blank that I don't publish but given my cancer diagnosis that has been going on now for two years, I don't want to scare any readers by just disappearing. So when I do take time off, I'll let you know.

Just so you're not left completely empty-handed on a Monday morning, here is something sweet and comforting to clear your palette of last week's disgusting behavior in certain quarters of the federal government.

Raymond Crowe is an Australian entertainer described as a mime artist, magician and cabaret performer. His act also includes shadow play using only his hands and arms. This one is a tribute to Louis Armstrong from about 10 years ago:




Happy 94 Years, Darlene Costner

Way back in the oughts, sometime not long after I began this blog 15 years ago, two readers became my friends. I'm pretty sure they were my first online friends.

They both were (and still are) my elders. Back then, I thought it would be nice to celebrate birthdays of TGB readers online, and I started with these two “first friends”. Then I realized I couldn't possibly do that without making TimeGoesBy a birthday-only blog, and I surely did not want that.

So I didn't add new birthday celebrations but I kept these two, Millie Garfield and Darlene Costner, celebrating their birthdays each year.

Today is Darlene's 94th birthday. Think of it – 94 years. Earlier this week, I mentioned that I'm getting to be fairly old-ish, 78. Yeah, right. Both Darlene and Millie have always enjoyed pointing out that compared to them (they are the same age), I am just a kid.

Poking around the bookshelves here looking for something to quote that is better than I could write for the birthday of someone who has made it this long, I ran across my collection of books by essayist and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Donald Hall. I know many of you are familiar with his work.

This is a vignette from Hall's 2018 collection, A Carnival of Losses: Notes on Nearing 90 - that Darlene might have written herself. Not the biographical details, of course, but the tone, the attitude and understanding of achieving great age that, according to this excerpt, began in Hall's life before he had reached that point himself.

This is from an essay titled, “Five of Them” - referring to his grandchildren - and recounting his grandmother Lucy's 90th birthday:

”Jane [his wife] and I...arrived as scheduled on April 22, 1993. We had arranged in secret for her grandchildren to bring her great-grandchildren for a visit the next day, a surprise on her birthday.

“Andrew and his wife, Natalie arrived first with two daughters and a son, closely followed by Philippa with two daughters. I preserve the gathering in a huge photograph stuck to my refrigerator.

“Jane posed us squeezed onto a sofa around my mother and her perpetual caftan, babies and children and grown-ups, everyone smiling, my mouth wide open. “We had brought a birthday cake. After a joyous hour, I noticed that Lucy was exhausted, sagging into her seldom-used sofa.

“At my urging the visitors packed up and departed while I steered the ninety-year-old to take a nap on the reclining mechanical chair – where she lived out the late track of her life, where she wrote many letters, where she listened to the radio Red Sox, where she read the same Agatha Christies over and over.”

You can learn a lot from a writer as talented as Donald Hall.

Happy Birthday, Darlene – and let's all the rest of us here today join together in singing the traditional Happy Birthday song:

Darlene Costner 87 years oldMuch love and many hugs, Darlene.





Annual TimeGoesBy Donation Week 2019...

Plus The Alex and Ronni Show. But first:

Here we are again for the fourth year in a row with the TGB Donation Drive. I began this annual fundraiser to help pay for the services I use to keep this blog advertising free.

In particular, I think email subscribers over this past year probably appreciate not having their mailings splattered with ugly ads since I added that service thanks to your donations.

Donations also pay for email and domain name registrations along with the #$%^&* increase twice each year in the price of internet access.

They also allow me to subscribe to the most important news and information publications as even more of them this year have placed their sites behind paid firewalls. This and more help keep the TGB website an ad-free zone on the internet.

You would be right to wonder, given the news of my incurable cancer, if donation week is still necessary – and indeed it will undoubtedly be the last one. Let me explain starting with this quotation from “John” in the comments from last Wednesday's post:

”What's the plan for this blog? Out in time, the farther the better, but when 'the battle ends' will we be able to re-read 'Time Goes By' for some span of time?

“Perhaps there is a designated successor already in the wings for seamless handoff. Or, it is (irreplaceable) Ronni or nothing and TGB will simply just be gone.”

Good questions, John, that I have been sporadically working on for several months. Dozens of readers, like John, have written to ask what happens to TGB when I die and I have decided to pay ahead for each of those services listed above for the five years following my death. When that happens, ownership of the blog, domain ownerships, etc. will pass to my friend, healthcare proxy and heir.

It's not set in stone to happen but I am also looking for a blogging successor. It's tricky. The person needs to be old enough to have some personal experience with ageing – above 60 I would say at the young end up to any age but with a better life expectancy than my current one.

The person should closely share my political and societal opinions on elders and ageing, be a reasonably good writer with a willingness to keep up with news and politics related to ageing in all its aspects, have a passion for ageing issues along with a decent sense of humor about it all.

With the news of my latest CT scan reported here Monday, I'm guessing I might have more time than I thought to find this special person.

I love doing this blog, and I am grateful to all of you, dear readers, for your fine contributions in the comments. It's your smart, thoughtful, and funny conversation that makes TGB special and I want to find a replacement who can continue making this blog one of the best collaborations online between producer and readers.

Which brings us to this week's fourth annual donations drive. As in the previous years, I will make this as unobtrusive as possible – at least a bit less annoying than NPR donation drives, so let's get started.

HOW TO DONATE
The campaign consists of this introductory blog post (including the latest Alex and Ronni Show episode at the end) 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 Monday. 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.

As I said, donation is voluntary. I don't want anyone to feel coerced. 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, when I have shuffled off this mortal coil, setting your account straight.

* * *

As I noted on last year's donation drive kick-off post:

Having cancer certainly does rearrange one's priorities and I have thought hard about this extra time on Earth I have been granted. I've never been interested in a bucket list and unless you count my longing to live again in New York City, nothing I yearn for.

What I like these days is my comfortable apartment while making the main part of my daily life the production of TimeGoesBy. It has become much more to me than a blog; it is a gathering place for like-minded elders to talk about what it's like growing old, and I learn so much from you.

And now, here is this week's Alex and Ronni Show.




How to Run a Comfortable, Friendly Blog with Great Conversation

Last week, my friend janinsanfran, who blogs at Where is the Way Forward, left this comment:

”If you have the energy and the desire, I think your blog friends would greatly appreciate your writing about how you've managed to make this place an oasis of healthy interaction among your readers.

“So many internet spaces have turned out to be such disappointments, but here reading comments is part of the delight.”

Isn't that true, about how good the comments are on this blog. What I write wouldn't be half as interesting without the followup from TGB readers.

janinsanfran is right about how so many other places on the internet become impossible to read, filled with trash talk, personal attacks, generalized hatred, even pornography sometimes.

My first favorite forum for good online conversation, 25 or 30 years ago, succumbed to such trolls and had to be shut down. I vowed I would never let that happen to TGB and I've been successful. Here are some of my self-imposed rules to make that so.

No personal attacks against me or commenters. There are no second chances on this one and no prior notice. If a personal attack appears, I delete it as soon as I see it and I ban anything from that IP address from being posted in the future.

No advertising masquerading as a comment. This happens more than you would think. The message is structured to sort of look like a comment but it is always poorly done and there is always a link to something that is for sale (or pornography).

As with personal attacks, I remove these as soon as I see them and ban the IP addresses forever. No prior notice, no explanation.

No links of any kind in comments. This sounds like a harsh rule but it saves readers and me an enormous amount of time and distraction. First, some are links to commercial products and services. This site accepts no advertising in any form including trying to slide retails sites past me as a comment.

For that and other reasons, it is necessary for me to check all links and there is not time for that in my world even before I was diagnosed with cancer. So I delete all links no matter who they are from, even if I know the person, because, in addition, any links suggest to others that they are allowed to be posted.

And, sorry, but most of you do not know how to do the html to make a proper link so if I allowed them I'd need to spend even more time untangling the html.

These three immutable rules have helped keep Time Goes By an attractive and comfortable place for anyone to hang out without fear of being attacked. Aside from the three rules, anyone is allowed to say whatever they want.

But there is more than just rules.

I always acknowledge sources of facts and information and link to them whenever possible whether they are research sites, media or from TGB readers who have supplied useful information. People can then make their own choice about whether to dig deeper into topics.

It has become part of wallpaper now, hardly noticeable, but many years ago, I made a deliberate decision to share something about my personal experience or observation when it is pertinent to whatever I am writing about.

Humans are uniquely designed to learn through storytelling – we've been doing it for millennia, passing on information and lore from our experiences to the next generations.

When I share something about me, it gives readers permission to do that too and together, every day, we build a rich compendium of stories to add to our knowledge.

Or sometimes, just to laugh with one another. That's important too.

One last thing, in ageing for all these years and now with end-of-life issues, I write about things that other people often don't - the everyday things I've noticed in my life or run across in my reading that don't seem to be part of general literature of growing old or dying.

The first big one that worried me when I posted it was urinary incontinence. I thought readers might run away in droves at such an icky subject. But no. So many people had their own stories and I realized from that experience that there were a lot of things that needed to be discussed in the open. And so it has been ever since.

Most recently, in my current predicament, I find that about 90 percent of the literature about dying that I've read over 15 years is by, for or about caregivers. I may have told you already that I have learned these past 18 months that caregivers of all kinds are different from me and most people I know.

They dedicate their lives to helping people often in the most dire circumstances of their lives and beyond caregivers' expertise, their kindness and love and care is almost beyond reason. They are special people.

But, as much as has been written about them – hundreds of books, thousands of articles and studies – very little is written for, by or about the person doing the dying. Maybe there is a handful.

And so, on that subject, I am trying to do what I've done in the past for the other ignored aspects of ageing. By my documenting one person's end-of-life journey, readers have been leaving many stories from their own and loved ones' end-of-life predicaments, and by that we are all enriched.

So janinsanfran, that's at least some of what I've tried to do to make this a safe and comfortable place for people to have their say and I think it has worked most of the time.




The Great Time Goes By Hook Up

Depending on your age these days, “hook up” can be a loaded term. Here is how the Urban Dictionary defines it:

”To have any form of intamicy with a member of the prefered sex that you don't consider a significant other. Usually, when said by modern youth it means to make out, and when said by people between the ages of 20 and 35 it generally means to have sex, and if a very old person says it, it probbably means to simply spend time with somebody.”

(Yes, those three mis-spellings are as they appear on the Urban Dictionary hook up page.)

But you can't argue with the definitions themselves. They are accurate. Undoubtedly, you have discerned that today I am referring to the “very old person” usage (although what you do in your spare time is up to you).

On Friday, long-time TGB reader, Jean Gogolin, left this comment:

”I can only say I wish I knew everyone in this community of yours personally, Ronni. I wish we could all get together, perhaps a few at a time, and talk and talk, and talk, and then hug. We're doing the next best thing at a distance.”

This isn't the first time a reader has asked about contacting another reader. Not too long ago, Diane emailed to ask about contacting other readers:

”Just wondering if there is any way to get in touch with some of your bloggers,” she wrote. “I contribute occasionally and feel connected to this group. When I read someone is from Austin, Tx, or somewhere in Texas, I have an urge to email them to see if they want to meet for coffee. Is there a way to do that?”

There must have been something in the air because within a couple of days, several other people had made similar requests via email and in the comments.

These folks are on to something. What makes this blog as special and vibrant as it is, is the terrific group of readers – or, at least, those who comment – who carry on thoughtful, useful, informative and funny conversations below my scribblings and it makes sense to me that some would like to get to know one another.

So I have decided to do a one-time-only Great Time Goes By Hook Up. To preserve everyone's privacy, I cannot publish email addresses. In fact, I cannot even pass an email address on to another person without permission. So here is how it will go.

Track down the most recent use of the screen name of the commenter you would like to contact. (If that person's name is a link, meaning you can click on it, it usually opens that person's blog or webpage. You can then probably skip this Hook Up and contact him or her via that page. See Jean Gogolin's link above as an example.)

If it is not a link or there is no contact information on their page, copy the commenter's screen name exactly and also note the date of the blog post below which it appears.

Click on the “Contact” link at the top of any TGB page. An email form pre-addressed to me will open. Tell me the commenter's screen name, the date of the post on which you found it and state that you would like to contact that person.

I will then make contact and ask if he or she would allow me to pass on their email address to you.

[IMPORTANT NOTE: Understand that if you contact me for this purpose, you are giving me permission to send your screen name to the person you want to contact.]

I will then contact the person you wish to hook up with and if he or she agrees, I will send that person's email address to you.

Three other things:

  1. Be patient about a reply. I have no control over how long it takes a person to answer my email.

  2. Please, please, please contact me only via the “Contact” link at the top of TGB pages. This is a time consuming project for me and it will move easier and faster if the initial requests arrive color-coded in my inbox as they are set up to do via that Contact link.

  3. The window for my receiving your requests to contact a commenter is open until 12 midnight on 31 October 2018, Halloween night. And no, this is not a trick, it's a treat.

That mostly covers it except for this: Thousands of people read this blog and it is remarkable that there are next to no trolls so it is unlikely there will be a problem. But if someone you have connected with through TGB becomes abusive or suspicious in any way, cut off communication immediately.

In fact, you might want to use a disposable email address to begin with.

As with anyone you meet online, if the friendship moves from email and/or phone to in-person, be careful before you meet, choose a public place and do not share personal information such as birthday, home address, etc. until you feel secure.

The Great Time Goes By Hook Up has been floating around in the background for a long time, maybe years. I'm happy to finally be doing it.




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Millie Garfield is 93 Years Old

HBMSingleFlower

Actually, Millie's birthday is tomorrow, Saturday, but we are celebrating her 93 years here at Time Goes By today – and what a celebration it is this year.

In early July, Millie was due at Massachusetts General Hospital for surgery but the night before check-in, her wonderful son Steve and his equally terrific wife Carol took her to dinner at Scampo, a fine restaurant in the Liberty Hotel in Boston.

MillieSteveatDinner

After dinner, Steve caught Millie on camera in her hotel room looking much more like a woman having what might have been a mini-vacation with her family instead of facing surgery.

MillieLibertyHotel

As Steve explained to me, Millie had a minimally-invasive procedure called a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR in medical parlance) which is done through tiny openings that leave all chest bones in place.

Millie got through that admirably and I was glad to hear her patented Millie Garfield laugh when we spoke on the telephone only two days later.

Recovery went well and on 13 July, Steve and Carol took Millie to rehab. Throughout the entire “adventure”, hospital and rehab, Steve took a lot a institutional food photos that look pretty good to me. Here's one of them:

Food

And here is a shot of Carol with Millie in rehab:

MillieCarol

Millie didn't linger in rehab and she was home in what seemed to me to be just a few days and she has been doing fine since then.

Steve has posted many more photos at Millie's Facebook page and you might want to check out her blog today too.

As I have mentioned in the past, Millie is my oldest internet friend and we have been phoning and emailing for at least 12, maybe 14 years, even visiting in person once or twice when I still lived on the east coast.

We've shared a lot of laughs together all these years, often about the things that go wrong as we get older. She likes to remind me that compared to her, I'm not really there yet; she's got 16 years on me and says I ain't seen nothin' yet. Oy, I can't wait.

Whatever is to be in the coming years, Millie's taught me the best way to cope, always, is with laughter.

Meanwhile, what's a birthday party without games and for the past couple of years, we have been celebrating Millie's by adding up all our ages in the comments. Here's how I explained it last year, updated for 2018:

"Take the number of Millie's years, 93. Add my years, 77, and we've got 170. Now, the next one of you, in the comments, should add your age to that, then the next of you add to that total and then the next and so on.

"Of course, because more than one person will comment at a time, the total will get all screwed up – but that's part of the fun at birthday parties, just being silly.

Happy Big Deal 93 years, Millie. I so treasure our friendship and I am privileged to know you.

CakeSparklers




You Get to Vote on a New TGB Feature

For eight-and-a-half years, from 2007 to 2015, I published a companion blog to this one called The Elder Storytelling Place [ESP].

On each of five days a week, there was a new story written by a reader and in total during that time, about 300 individuals delighted, entertained and informed us with somewhere in the vicinity of 2200 stories.

They are still online and you can browse them here.

ESP came to an end when I realized I needed to cut back on the seven-day work-week I had maintained since Time Goes By [TGB] launched in 2004. A short time later, I also stopped publishing TGB on Tuesdays and Thursdays to give myself some breathing space.

Nancy Leitz, who died last week at age 89, was a star contributor to ESP and as I scrolled through some of her stories while preparing the announcement for last Saturday's post, it struck me that on a limited basis maybe we could resurrect this feature.

Perhaps, I thought, we could use those two empty days, Tuesdays and Thursdays, for a mini-version of The Elder Storytelling Place – two stories a week.

Here is part of what I wrote at that blog about what ESP was for:

”Everyone loves a good story. Long before there was written language, cavemen told stories by firelight, passing on the lore of their tribes to the next generations. When we elders were children, our parents read stories to us.

“At family gatherings, grandparents and aunts and uncles retold the incidents and events of our family histories. And today, we continue the tradition with our children and grandchildren.

“Among Carl Jung’s seven tasks of aging is to find meaning in one’s life and one way to help in this task is to pull together, piece by piece, one’s memories – great and small – into a coherent storyline.

“In doing so, there is a natural shift of our attention inward, says Jung, leading to the removal of regret and to reconciliation. In telling our stories we not only fulfill Jung’s task for ourselves, we pass on the wisdom we have gained to those who listen or read.”

And here are some of the guidelines we used then and I would use again:

Anyone who is age 50 or older may submit stories.

You do not need to keep a blog or any other kind of website to submit stories.

Stories may be original or may have been previously published in a magazine, other website or blog. To avoid this blog becoming a promotional tool for authors and publishers, stories may not be excerpts from published books.

Of course, all stories must be written by you.

Although Time Goes By is copyright by me, story contributors retain the copyright their their stories.

It seems to me that I should be able to prep two stories a week for publishing without burying myself in extra work. So if you are interested in bringing back ESP on this new, limited basis, let me know in the comments below (in the comments only; no email).

You can just type yes or no. Whichever gets the most votes will determine if I go ahead with this feature.

Because all that is a bit dry, for those of you read this far, here is an amusement for you from our friend Darlene Costner. It is called The Amazing Human Body and I have no idea if these facts are true. But just go with it and you'll be rewarded with a good laugh at the end):

It takes your food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach.

One human hair can support 6.6 pounds.

The average man's penis is two times the length of his thumb.

Human thighbones are stronger than concrete.

A woman's heart beats faster than a man's.

There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.

Women blink twice as often as men.

The average person's skin weighs twice as much as their brain.

Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are standing still.

If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste it.

Women will be finished reading this by now.

Men are still busy checking their thumbs.

Don't forget to vote yes or no in the comments below.




A Time Goes By Manifesto for Our Political Era

We are living in precarious, uncertain and frightening times when new crimes, corruption and lies are revealed nearly every day and no one is held accountable.

It would not be wrong to call this a national emergency - a world (who of us could ever have imagined this in our lifetimes?) where a U.S. president gives himself permission to commit America to god-knows-what with a foreign adversary, does it in secret and never tells anyone – anyone at all – what those commitments are.

At the top of my list of concerns for the moment (it vacillates by the hour) are the baby cages and asylum-seeker jails which more rightly should be called concentration camps with all the shame of 20th century history that attaches to them.

In the greater scheme of things an argument might be made that in service to the longer term, a president who sides politically with our country's greatest enemy and is willing to turn over American citizens to that government for interrogation requires more attention than those kiddie camps.

But do we really want to try to rank what are all deeply evil horrors?

It has become apparent that no one in charge of anything has the power or the will to stop what increasingly looks like a headlong dive into a new American regime of authoritarianism which, of course in everyday usage, is just another word for fascism.

And it's not only the United States. Terrible things are happening almost daily to the ideals of liberty and democracy abroad.

In the latest event to send a chill down the spines of most people, a far-right politician in Austria last week put forth a plan to require Jews to register with the government in order to purchase kosher meat. Some have wondered if registration will soon apply to Muslims who purchase halal food too.

So I think that although for 15 years this blog has been dedicated 100 percent to an ongoing conversation about “what it's really like to get old,” something else too big and too serious to ignore also needs our attention.

It took a lot of pondering to make this decision until I realized that especially during a period when there is a sufficient threat to America's people, our Constitution and to the world order to which my country belongs, it is necessary.

It is necessary, I have come to believe, for this blog by, for and about elders, to make our voices heard even if only among ourselves, even if only to try to understand among ourselves what is happening and what or if we can do anything. Not an easy goal.

Most of all, I have come to believe this because if I continue in these pages to ignore our unprecedented political predicament, I then am complicit with the culture at large I regularly denounce for sidelining old people by ignoring them, dismissing them and removing them from the public stage.

So from time-to-time, I will take a day for us to address these urgent troubles. Certainly not every day and not even every week. But when it feels necessary.

Let's give it a try for awhile.

* * *

Today's Blog Post
At the risk of making this post too long for you to endure, here is the first entry in this experiment.

During the days and weeks I spent working out whether I would run with this idea, I pulled out my copy of a little book of essays published in 1954 that I read in about 1960: Portraits from Memory which I haven't dipped into in at least a decade, maybe two.

It was written by then-80-something Bertrand Russell, the Nobel Prize-winning philosopher, mathematician and peace activist.

Most of the essays are from the years surrounding his 80th birthday and as you might expect, there is a summing up quality to them. What surprises me is how much his thoughts on social and political issues from more than 60 years ago could almost have been written last week.

Perhaps there really is nothing new under the sun, and these short excerpts should give us some perspective on our current difficulties. In reading these, recall that in the mid-1950s, the outcome and meaning of World War II were still being debated.

It is worth keeping President Trump in mind while reading Russell's estimate of what makes a good life and a good community:

”A readiness to adapt oneself to the facts of the real world is often praised as a virtue, and in part it is. It is a bad thing to close one's eyes to fact or to fail to admit them because they are unwelcome.

“But it is also a bad thing to assume that whatever is in the ascendant must be right, that regard for fact demands subservience to evil. Even worse than conscious subservience to evil, is the self-deception which denies that it is evil.”

Keep President Trump in mind again as Russell tells us that the ideals he thought were primary when he was young should still prevail:

”I think I should put first, security against extreme disaster such as that threatened by modern war. I should put second, the abolition of extreme poverty throughout the world.

“Third, as a result of security and economic well being, a general growth of tolerance and kindly feeling. Fourth, the greatest possible opportunity for personal initiative in ways not harmful to the community.

“All these things are possible, and all would come about if men chose.”

Although Russell exhibits an overall optimism for the future (viewed from the mid-1950s), he also has doubts, certainly for the immediate future at that time, and again seems to describe our situation today:

”The last half of my life has been lived in one of those painful epochs of human history during which the world is getting worse, and past victories which had seemed to be definitive have turned out to be only temporary.”
I have had always a certain degree of optimism, although, as I have grown older, the optimism has grown more sober and the happy issue more distant.”
”In the modern world, if communities are unhappy, it is because they choose to be so. Or, to speak more precisely, because they have ignorance, habits, beliefs, and passions, which are dearer to them than happiness or even life...

“To preserve hope in our world makes calls upon our intelligence and our energy. In those who despair it is very frequently the energy that is lacking.”

Again, it is uncanny to me how Russell's words seem almost to be in response to today's daily headlines. A couple more:

”Diversity is essential in spite of the fact that it precludes universal acceptance of a single gospel. But to preach such a doctrine is difficult especially in arduous times. And perhaps it cannot be effective until some bitter lessons have been learned.”
”Communists, Fascists and Nazis have successively challenged all that I thought good, and in defeating them much of what their opponents have sought to preserve is being lost.

“Freedom has come to be thought weakness, and tolerance has been compelled to wear the garb of treachery. Old ideals are judged irrelevant, and no doctrine free from harshness commands respect.”

At the end of the essay titled, “Reflections on My Eightieth Birthday” (1952), Russell retains his hopeful belief that humankind will eventually attain a world of harmony and good:

”I have lived in pursuit of a vision, both personal and social. Personal: to care for what is noble, for what is beautiful, for what is gentle; to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times.

“Social: to see in imagination the society that is to be created, where individuals grow freely, and where hate and greed and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them.

“These things I believe, and the world, for all its horror, has left me unshaken.”

Now it's your turn.




Are You Having Trouble Commenting or Receiving TGB Via Email?

We are here to fix those problems today but first:

EDITORIAL NOTE: Unless you have one or the other or both of this difficulties with using Time Goes By, this post will you put you straight to sleep so I've included a bonus at the end: The latest edition of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded yesterday.

For readers who want or need this housekeeping post, there is still the bonus for you too when you get to the bottom of the page.

* * *

HAS TGB STOPPED ARRIVING IN YOUR INBOX?

If you receive Time Goes By via email from FeedBLITZ or via Facebook, Twitter or just visit the website in your browser), you can skip this part. This is for people who subscribe to TGB via FeedBURNER.

As one techie explained to me a while back, some years ago Google, which owns FeedBURNER, stopped supporting FeedBURNER. Since then, Google has not updated the service, not added or improved features and most important, has not fixed bugs nor replied to support requests.

So sometimes the service works for some people or it doesn't or it eventually breaks and Time Goes By does not arrive or the reader gets an announcement with the FeedBLITZ logo that FeedBURNER has run into a problem.

This means it is time to switch to the FeedBLITZ subscription.

Some back-end adjustments to the feed have now been made that may help, but to be certain of receiving the feeds (which go out in the mornings, Pacific time, each day except Tuesdays and Thursdays), you can resubscribe as follows:

HOW TO RECEIVE TIME GOES BY VIA RELIABLE FEEDBLITZ EMAIL

  1. In the upper right corner of every Time Goes By page is a subscription form.

  2. There are choices for Facebook and for Twitter if you prefer to read the blog on one of those platforms, although I rarely check in at either of them so hardly every see comments.

  3. If, instead, you want to receive blog posts automatically in your inbox, just enter your email address in the form and click the word, Subscribe. FeedBLITZ will send you a confirmation email, follow those instructions and then you are signed up. Nothing more to do. It is that simple.

ARE YOU HAVING TROUBLE LEAVING A COMMENT?
Some readers report difficulties with commenting. This issue is mostly exclusive to people who subscribe via email so let me explain.

The problem always involves the user clicking the word Reply in their email program. That has nothing to do with commenting. It works exactly like any email you answer – it goes to the sender which, in this case, is FeedBLITZ which supplies a copy to my email address.

(Obviously it follows that when you click Reply and write a reponse, no TGB readers can read it – only I receive it just like any other email.)

COMMENTS MAY BE MADE ONLY AT THE WEBSITE, not via email. Here is how to do that:

  1. Click the headline at the top of the day's story in your email. It will open in your browser. Alternately, you can scroll to the bottom of the story in your email program and click the link supplied there to go to the story in your browser.

  2. To comment, scroll to the bottom of the story in your browser and click on the word Comments in the footer.

  3. The story reopens in a page with a form for your comment. (If there are comments left before you got there, you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the list of comments to find the entry box.) Type your comment in the box.

  4. Enter your name or any alias, nickname, etc. you want to use. Enter a functional email address – it is for security purposes only and is not published. If you have a blog (that is not a commercial or retail website), enter the URL and your name will become a link to your site, if you wish. Or you can leave that entry box empty.

  5. You can Preview your comment by clicking that button and/or click Post. The page will refresh and your comment will appear at the bottom of the list of comments.

Remember: DO NOT CLICK REPLY IN YOUR EMAIL TO LEAVE A COMMENT. You must go to the website to have your say.

FYI, I switched the TGB email feed from FeedBURNER to FeedBLITZ a few years ago when Google announced it would no longer support FeedBURNER.

FeedBLITZ is a paid service for which I put out big bucks every year. In fact, they just charged my credit card for 2018.

So please, if necessary, make the switch to FeedBLITZ. It will save me hours answering your emails individually and also, I don't like wasting my money (actually, your money if you participated in the donation drive in February).

FeedBLITZ is good service. In all my years with them, there has not been a glitch and they have always answered my support questions within an hour. They are well worth the expense so please take advantage of it.

* * *

Here is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show.




Thank You. President's Day. The Parody Project.

Thank-You

Yesterday, the annual TGB donation drive ended. I'll bet you're glad to get rid of those notices at the top of last week's posts.

As in the past, I am dismayed at your generosity and there are so many of you, I cannot thank everyone individually so I must do it this way, collectively. It will be easy now to meet the expenses of the blog without having to hold my breath. You are more than kind.

Also, it was terrific to read the personal notes some of you included with your donations and it has been a load of fun seeing so many names from many different places worldwide that are new to me.

So I thank you all - those who donated and every one of you who didn't too. The community we have created here is unique among blogs and you, the readers, do that with your thoughtful responses, generously sharing your information, your knowledge, humor and opinions that make this web spot a special place on the internet.

PRESIDENTS DAY
Today is a holiday, Presidents Day which, if I recall correctly, replaces the two holidays for the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln that we celebrated in February when I was kid.

I choke on the idea of including the current president's name along with those two illustrious forerunners among the people who have held the highest office in the land. It feels particularly ludicrous following drama throughout this past weekend.

President Donald Trump's contemptible responses to the tragic school shooting in Florida and to the grand jury indictments for conspiracy, fraud, identity theft and other crimes in relation to the 2016 U.S. election against 13 Russian nationals make a particularly embarrassing conparison.

So I think it's time for a little parody. I only recently discovered a group that calls itself The Parody Project. It was founded, the YouTube page tells us,

”...in August of 2017 by film-maker/composer Don Caron, as a means of surviving the current political and social mire by laughing and helping others to do the same.”

What the group does is write and sing new lyrics to familiar songs we all know. This one was released in December, titled 12 Months of Trump's Mess (Parody of 12 Days of Christmas). Enjoy.

You can find out more about The Parody Project and see all their previous parodies (political, social, Trump, Christmas) here.




Annual TimeGoesBy Donation Week 2018

Here I am having been annoyed all week by the constant drumbeat of NPR's winter donation drive and now find myself kicking off the annual donation drive for TimeGoesBy.

Inconsistency thy name is Ronni. I'll try to keep the irritation level as low as possible for the next seven days.

This year feels different to me from the two previous donation drives in 2016 and 2017. It may be that this time we have spent a good part of the past eight months discussing my journey through treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Your care, concern, support, good thoughts, personal experiences with frightening diseases, prayers, candle lighting and hard-earned wisdom have cheered me through the bad patches and there is no doubt in my mind that all your energy contributed to the positive medical outcome this week. “Go live your life,” my surgeon said.

The last two donation drives were big successes. Readers were amazingly generous which means I have not needed to sweat the always increasing blog costs.

For example, with a paid email delivery system, subscribers now receive the TGB emails ad-free - no small thing as the ad-supported version had become almost unreadable due to the clutter of advertising. It also pays for the #$%^&* increase twice each year in the price of internet access.

Donations also allow me to subscribe to the most important news and information sites as more of them put up paywalls, and to keep the TGB website itself an ad-free zone on the internet.

Which brings us to the third annual pitch for donations. As in the previous years, I will make this as unobtrusive as possible so let's get started.

How To Donate
The campaign consists of this introductory blog post (including a nice, little surprise at the end) 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.

Although the donation button is a permanent piece of the furniture in the right sidebar, you will need to suffer through this campaign only one week a year in February.

* * *

Having cancer certainly does rearrange one's priorities and I have thought hard about this extra time on Earth I have been granted. I've never been interested in a bucket list and unless you count my longing to live again in New York City, nothing I yearn for.

What I like these days is my quiet life with Ollie the cat in a comfortable apartment while making the main part of my days the production of TimeGoesBy. It has become much more to me than a blog; it is a gathering place for like-minded elders to talk about what it's like growing old, and I learn so much from you.

And now, because you have been so patient throughout this post, here is tiny, little treat for you. Banksy the German Shepherd and his best friend, Prince the prairie dog. TGB reader, Cathy Johnson sent this video so blame her for any cuteness overdose you experience.




Blogging and Privacy

We live in an age of oversharing, of what many consider TMI (Too Much Information), of social media websites that make it easy for millions to bestow upon the world the most mundane aspects of their lives as though the rest of us care what they had for dinner last night.

So widespread is the belief that the world is waiting with bated breath for any given person's (usually misspelled) thoughts on watching paint dry that the president is hardly the only one who can be labeled narcissist.

(You can be forgiven at this point if you're thinking now that I fall into the same category, and move on to some other webpage.)

Today's post was prompted a few days ago when a TGB reader and friend named Ann emailed to ask about how my chemotherapy is going, that I hadn't written lately about any cancer developments. She was quick to note too, however, that she believes

“...I speak for many who understand and respect your need to keep the private, private.”

As chance would have it, I had just finished writing Monday's post with an update on the chemo treatments that had taken me awhile to get around to because there was nothing useful to say: it's going well. Next?

But it did get me thinking about privacy and the choices I make about what and how much personal information to reveal on this blog.

It was easy to decide to write about my diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Such a thing is so shocking to hear, so hard to believe at first, accompanied for awhile by a near certainty someone has made a mistake that there was no room in my brain for anything else.

In that regard. I hardly had a choice. If I hadn't made it public, Time Goes By would have disappeared because I could think of nothing except cancer.

On the other hand, writing about growing old is what I do, it orders my days, and when the initial impact wore off I remembered that cancer is more common in old age than any other time of life. It is one of the "diseases of age", as they say, one of the topics of this blog – or should be - so perhaps my diagnosis and I get to be the guinea pig.

There was more. As I explained to Ann, my silence about the cancer was

”...not about privacy. I don't believe in it. Privacy, that is, although I do believe it is up to each individual to choose how much to say. I long ago learned that if it has happened to me, if I have done it or it has been done to me - so it has been with millions of others.

“And that, for me, pretty well removes any sense of privacy and more, perhaps requires that we DO talk about things many people don't want to mention.

“That thought came to me eight or ten years ago when I wrote about urinary incontinence for the first time. I wrote the blog post and let it sit in the computer for several days because it seemed there was some propriety involved. We just don't discuss such things.

“But it's a common affliction of old age so finally one day, I took a deep breath and hit the publish button. It was hours before I had the nerve to check comments and nearly fell off my chair when I did - dozens and dozens of people talking about their difficulties and/or solutions, pleased that someone had given them permission to talk about it openly.

"So nowadays, I consider privacy only if the subject involves another person whose story or information I have no right to share without permission.”

That doesn't mean my life is an open book. In general, whatever personal information I reveal relates to some aspect of ageing although I've allowed myself to stretch that definition here and there.

The thing about blogs, at least for a former journalist like me, is that they are a hybrid. It is important when I report on Medicare, Social Security, health issues, age-related politics and so on, that it be straightforward, factual and trustworthy.

But TGB is also a personal blog that hardly has a raison d'etre without my opinion of whatever is being discussed which often requires some degree of personal disclosure.

Over the years, finding the balance has been a challenge. In the earliest years, there was hardly anything about me. Nowadays, as in regard to the cancer, my personal experience is sometimes the example from which to expand and explore.

It's not always easy to decide what is or is not going too far with that – I definitely am not writing an autobiography or memoir. The goal here, while still coloring mostly within the lines, is to try to figure out what it's really like to get old.



Crabby Old Lady: Is the Internet Worth It Anymore?

If Crabby Old Lady were not committed to this blog, she is unsure if she would bother with the internet anymore. Every effin' page is filled with annoyances and the amount of it has been growing for years.

NYTpopup

Here's one: it's not enough that Crabby pays real money for what she purchases online. Oh, no. Then, THEN they pester her for weeks to write a review of the product. Really? You want Crabby to critique the poop bags she uses to clean out the cat's litter box twice a day?

Or how about those batteries she buys by the sh*tload for all her electronics. What could she say? They're batteries, for god's sake. They work and after awhile they don't. Crabby could as well review a box of salt for all it would mean.

When they're not whining for a review – or, sometimes, in addition to a review - they want Crabby to fill out a survey about how wonderful their service is. “How great are we? Choose one: special, more special, fabulous, magnificent.”

Annoying as they are, those are relatively easy to ignore. But there are many other ways website developers have invented to fry Crabby's brain.

This oldie is still a goodie for news websites: As soon as the page loads, the audio starts blaring. Sometimes the video is not even visible, being below the fold, so Crabby scurries around to find the frame to shut it down thereby forgetting why she went to that site.

Or, if more than one browser window is open, some other website restarts the audio even after Crabby has shut it down and moved to another page. More brain rattling and lost attention.

Even more insidious, is when the video/audio begins a minute or two into Crabby's read of the print story. The noise destroys her concentration and she loses all understanding of the article.

Comicsnopopups

And just when Crabby thinks these tactics can't get any worse, what appears to be a quiet news story with no video blaring, times a pop-up window to appear at exactly the moment she is reading third or fourth paragraph destroying any retention of what she's read so far. (And, no, pop-up blockers do not block all pop-ups.)

The designers of these disruptions are masters at hiding the damned X that would close the window. Lately, Crabby has noticed, they have resorted to printing them in the faintest-possible font so that they blend into whatever background color they sit upon.

And don't get Crabby started on moving GIFs that repeat every five seconds into eternity. Not to mention the ubiquitous “like us Facebook” popups.

It is hard to know what these websites – and they span everything from the most staid and traditional such as The New York Times to sites like Buzzfeed listicles – believe they accomplish by enraging Crabby and, she is pretty sure, tens of millions of other people.

Do they think we don't notice what websites we're on when these cruel and (Crabby believes) dangerous interruptions occur? Surely, by disrupting thought and focus they are rotting our brains. There are plenty of studies showing how short our attention spans have become. What must all the unnecessary dispruptions do to us?

Then there are the loathsome emails. Crabby was naive enough to think that after the election the political donation solicitations would end. Don't be silly - they only increased and the progressives are no less obnoxious about it than the Republicans.

Some individual organizations send half a dozen emails a day begging for money and look out if you do donate: they'll up that number to a dozen a day.

Crabby supports three progressive organizations she believes do good work but even they won't let up on the emails.

One final aggravation that has become all too common: Popups that appear just as Crabby arrives at a page asking if she will subscribe to the email newsletter.

HULLO, YOU JACKASS – HOW TO YOU THINK CRABBY GOT HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

If a website can track what product Crabby looked at three days ago and make sure a photograph of it follows her to every page she visits for next four weeks, surely they can figure out when she has followed a link from the damned email newsletter she is already subscribed to.

Crabby subscribes to dozens of email newsletters – news, politics, ageing, some other personal interests so you can easily imagine that she suffers dozens of brain freezes each day. She is gradually unsubscribing to the least useful now.

It has become so bad, so painful that Crabby is not reading nearly as much as she once did and she's given up on a lot of research – it just jangles her brain too much when she is trying to learn and understand.

160411.eyeballs

If Crabby Old Lady did not still enjoy producing this blog and especially the information and camaraderie of the comments section, she'd be ready to kick the internet out of her life. It has become a trash heap and it took only 20 years to get there.



Mostly Anecdotal: Stories – Book and Contest


TIME GOES BY 2017 DONATION WEEK REMINDER
The second annual donations drive to help support the increasing costs of maintaining Time Goes By continues today. You can read the details on Monday's post.

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

MOSTLY ANECDOTAL: STORIES - BOOK AND CONTEST
New-ish readers of TGB might not know that for eight-and-a-half years, from 2007 to November 2015, there was a companion blog to Time Goes By called The Elder Storytelling Place.

I didn't write for “ESP”, other people did that and I published their stories. Many wonderful stories, more than 2100 of them over that time. You can still see the blog and all those stories anytime you want – there is a link in the right sidebar under the Features section.

BZCApP2L_400x400Now we have something really special - a book from one of the regular contributors to The Elder Storytelling Place titled Mostly Anecdotal: Stories from author Norm Jenson.

What Norm does in his stories is report his observations of everyday life, reporting the telling details you and I might not have appreciated even as we recognize the incidents he writes about from our own lives.

Norm notices the little things too many people miss – or dismiss – and turns them into charming, funny, insightful short stories.

And I do mean short. Short is his signature style and to show you, I'm going to print a story or two or three from Mostly Anecdotal. This one is titled “Spring.”

”I was sitting on a park bench, a gentle bit of gravity holding me in place, when I heard a robin singing, an American idol.

“He sang his song, hitting all the right notes, and while I saw other birds and heard other songs, it was his that nested in my heart.

“A start. A gentle breeze unaffected by my bit of gravity passed by, and the sun, perched upon my shoulder, shared its warmth.”

They may be short, Norm's stories, but they speak in that small way of our whole world. Here's one of my favorites titled “No Ugly Chicks.”

”He was a shoeshine guy. He was old and wore a baseball cap with 'No Ugly Chicks' embroidered on the front and from below the brim poked his bulbous nose, red and black veins crisscrossing ample sun-scorched terrain.

“His squinting eyes, like tiny black olives with pinpoints of gray, looked satisfied. No chin, no teeth, and Dumbo ears would make anyone wonder why.

“'No Ugly Chicks', I said, raising my eyes to his cap.

“He smiled his toothless grin and said, 'Nope.'”

Lovely, huh?”

Most of the funny stories are too long to quote and snippets don't work well with humor. But we can do one more that shows Norm's shockingly (wonderful) dark humor. Titled “Missed.”

”A rare warbler sits on a branch, noticed by no one. Nearby, wallowing in the dirt, is a bison.

“The arriving birders, chatting but not yet listening, may miss this particular warbler for he is far from home and unexpected. He's singing, 'sweeter, sweeter, sweetest,' but they don't hear him.

“They see a water thrush near the pond. They are attentive now, watching carefully and listening, but the warbler is no long singing.

“John sees the bison, weighing maybe more than a ton, and he sees the unknown warbler, weighing certainly less than an ounce. It is still on the branch, but his view is obscured. He needs to closer.

“Others warn him of the danger, but he sees only the bird.

“By the time John's body is removed, it is dark. The bird has departed, continuing its migration. Both will be missed.”

There are 72 stories in this collection, stories - which Norm defines, in the introduction, as a catchall word for creative non-fiction, flash fiction, prose poetry and memoir.

”I've tried to capture the interesting bits and pieces of life as I see it,” he continues. “I find it's all interesting, if you pay attention.”

In Norm's telling, it IS all interesting. Mostly Anecdotal: Stories is available at Amazon in both Kindle and soft cover editions. But have I got a deal for you: Norm has made three copies available to give away to TGB readers.

As in past giveaway contests, we will do a random drawing. Here's how it goes:

Leave a message in the comments section below (no emails). That's it. If you have something to say about the book, that's good – we like lively discussions here - but not required.

The only requirement is that you state your interest in winning one of the books. “Please enter me in the drawing,” works. Or typing, "Me, me, me" will do it, too. I'm not fussy.

The contest will close tomorrow night, 16 February 2017, at midnight U.S. Pacific standard time. The three winners will be chosen in a random, electronic drawing and their names will be announced on this blog on Friday 17 February 2017.

Meanwhile, Norm can be found online at his blog, also called Mostly Anecdotal, on Twitter and on Facebook.



Second Annual Time Goes By Donation Week

Last year, the first ever Time Goes By donation drive was a big success. Readers were amazingly generous and it has meant that for the past year I have not needed to sweat the always increasing blog costs.

Among other things, last year's drive allowed me to afford a paid account with the email delivery service I had been using so that since then, each day's blog post has arrived in subscribers' inboxes ad-free - no small thing as the free version had become almost unreadable due to the clutter of advertising.

Even before purchasing that ad-free email service last year, Time Goes By online has been a free and advertising-free zone on the internet since it was launched in 2004; that will never change.

When I started this blog before I had retired, I had no idea it would last this long nor that I would last this long doing it. Having been a happy generalist for nearly 50 years in the workforce, I would have bet against my sticking with a single subject for more than a decade. Actually, I would have voted against doing anything for more than a year or two.

But here I am with something that requires at least as much effort and time as any job I had, remains a labor of love after all these years and that while I wasn't looking, turned me into an advocate for elders and our issues.

Neither did I know or expect what a fine gathering place TGB would become – I didn't plan it this way; it happened organically. I would be just one more bloviator taking up space on the internet without the thoughtful, knowledgeable and often funny contributions from the community of readers who post their observations in the comments and send suggestions for future posts and Saturday's Interesting Stuff.

Every day, I appreciate what each of you bring to this vibrant blog. I may write the daily posts and Peter Tibbles may turn out his excellent Sunday music column, but I'm always eager to see what you have to say on the on the subject of the day and I don't ever take this blog and your participation lightly

That said, here I am with the second annual pitch for donations. When I was thinking this through last year, my promise to myself was that I would make it as unobtrusive and unannoying as possible. NPR's frequent drives with all the program interruptions make me nuts; I don't want to drone on at you as they do.

So, the campaign consists of this introductory blog post (including a nice surprise at the end) 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:

First and foremost: 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 will have two choices:

  1. You can donate via credit card or, if you have a Paypal account, by a money transfer - both in any amount you want.

  2. You can make a one-time donation or choose a recurring monthly donation.

All this works in the United States and internationally.

Let me reiterate: 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.

Although the donation button is a permanent piece of the furniture in the right sidebar, you will need to suffer through this campaign only one week a year.

* * *

And now, because you have been so patient throughout this post, here is little gift for you: the main essay from the season opener a few hours ago on Sunday of John Oliver's HBO program, Last Week Tonight. It's about Trump and Truth and Oliver is at the top of his game. The usual warnings about language apply.



TGB Blog Community Housekeeping

Blog4

There is so much to distract us this December - well, me anyway. The holidays (even though I don't do much beyond Hannukah candles), too many rescheduled appointments due to weather recently and most of all the frightful events in Washington, D.C.

I mean Kanye West? Carly Fiorina? Rick Perry? Even Bill Gates has been seduced by *. God help us.

As behind in daily life as I am or feel (I don't know which), there is one issue that you, dear readers, can help with. In recent weeks, there has been a sizeable uptick in the number of TGB readers with dozens of new email subscribers, Facebook followers, LinkedIn connections, etc.

Certainly this is a good problem to have but it means that newcomers don't necessarily know some of the guidelines that old-timers are familiar with. So as I do once every year or so, here is a reminder of the rules of the road at Time Goes By.

Mostly, these involve the Comments section. I've worked hard over the 12-plus years of this blog to make it not just interesting but a safe place for old people and others interested in ageing to hang out.

With the help of people who take part in the conversation, the comment section is often a more compelling read than my posts and has become - without much help from me - a comfortable community where, metaphorically, we can sit around over a cup of tea and have good chat. Here are the customs and practices that help keep it that way:

• No ALL CAPS. On the internet and in email, writing in all caps is considered shouting. It is also difficult to read. So watch your capslock key except when you need to emphasize a word or short phrase.

• No long blocks of text. Leave a line space between short paragraphs. All that takes is hitting the "enter" key twice at the end of the last sentence in a paragraph. No one bothers to read long blocks of uninterrupted text. You put an effort into what you write so make it readable.

Remember – hit the "enter" key twice to make an empty space between paragraphs.

• No links. I spend a great deal of time removing links to retailers, advertisers, even web pornographers and general trolls who write comments they think sound real (they don't) and then link to their store or x-rated material.

I do not have time to check each and every link in the comments and, frankly, legitimate links are often broken anyway, leading nowhere or to 404 error pages.

So, no links. I no longer bother to check them, I just delete them along with the reference to them in the comment.

• No off-topic comments. When comments unrelated to the post's topic appear, it interrupts the conversation. One of the things that makes TGB comments so exceptional is that people respond to one another and it is not uncommon for some to return during the day and follow up again on other people's comments.

In doing this, you all help make the comments at this blog a richer, more compelling conversation than at many other blogs. I know that I learn from you who give me a lot of interesting ideas to think about.

• No personal attacks. If you disagree with what I have written or what a previous commenter has written, by all means let us know.

Explain why you disagree but keep your comment within the bounds of the ideas and thoughts and not a personal attack. You get no second chance at this. If it happens, you are permanently banned from commenting.

• No religious, ethnic, racist, gender, LGBTQ, etc. slurs. Ever. No second chances and no recourse.

• Your comment signature. A name and email address are required information on the comment form. You may use any name you want; it does not need to be your real name. But the email address must be real. It is used for confirmation purposes only and is never published.

The third information box on the comment form is labeled “Web Site URL.” You may insert the URL of your blog if you have one or your Facebook page or Pinterest, etc. Your name (whatever you use) will then become a link to that URL.

However, only personal blogs and pages are allowed. If you have a retail or commercial or product/service promotional website, you may not use that URL. There is already too much online advertising and TGB does not accept any form of advertising.

• How to comment. A lot of the email I get is from people who don't know how to comment. Invariably they read this blog via email and maybe Facebook. You cannot comment directly from those platforms. You must go to the blog post in your browser. To do that, just click the title of the story and it will open in your browser.

Scroll to the bottom of the story and click the word "Comments." The story will reopen with a form at the bottom of the comments that have already been posted. Write your comment, fill in the form as described above and click "Post." It will be published at the bottom of the comments.

• Contacting me. Above the banner at the top of every page here is a “Contact” link. It opens a form to send me a private email that is not published. Mostly, readers use it to send me suggestions for Saturday's Interesting Stuff post or other blog-related information.

For a long time I have tried to respond to every message and have mostly done that. But now, there are so many that I can no longer make that a goal and still have a life.

What will not change is that I read every email from you, dear readers, and when I use the information – in Interesting Stuff or a blog post – I do my best to give proper credit. Undoubtedly, I've screwed that up now and then but I don't think it's happened often.

So, there you are. These are the practices I follow at TGB. They - and you following the guidelines - have kept this blog vital and viable for more than a dozen years. I look forward not just to producing it – and I do enjoy that – but to finding out what you have to say about it every day.

I am so lucky to have discovered this project for my old age. Even better I had no idea when I began that it would give me the opportunity to meet and come to know so many interesting people. You make my day. Every day.

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2016 Top Ten Time Goes By Blog Posts

Not many people can resist lists and this time of year there are dozens, maybe hundreds: best books of 2016, best movies, best TV shows, top ten albums, top ten apps, best new gadgets, etc. Even top ten top ten lists.

A few are based on actual statistics of something but most are someone's subjective idea of what was best over the previous 12 months or so – which doesn't take away from the fun of reading the lists.

On the many “Best Books” lists, I confess that I always compare which new ones I've read to the reporter's choices and sneer at selections that I believe don't live up to my (obviously) discerning tastes.

This year I wondered why I've never done a Time Goes By Top Ten list – never in all these 12 or 13 years. I'm changing that today.

There are dozens of reasons that my “best of” list might be different from each individual reader's best of list so instead, I have made it a popularity list in two forms:

  1. The Top Ten TGB Posts by number of comments
  2. The Top Ten TGB Posts by page views

Comments are a poor indication; there are many reasons people do and do not comment but as you will see, some reasons for a lot of comments are understandable.

Page views are slightly more indicative of popularity although there is no way to know how many people landed on the page and left right away, uninterested in the title.

Also, I've not included Facebook comments, likes, etc. I hardly ever visit my Facebook page; it is primarily a secondary distribution channel for people who don't want an email newsletter or RSS feed or don't want to visit TGB in a browser. The several hundred Twitter followers aren't included either.

So, take a look at these lists, see what you think and at the end, let us all know what you enjoyed here during 2016 whether on the lists or not.

Most Popular TGB Posts by Number of Comments
(In reverse order)

10. Happy Birthday Millie Garfield
I've known Millie for at least 10 years and it was her 91st birthday in August. All of you were sensational attendees at the online party.

9. Old People Talk About the 2016 Presidential Campaign
All the other Republican candidates had withdrawn from the primary race by early May and Donald Trump had just been name the presumptive nominee of the GOP so we had a go at discussing our thoughts and feelings about that. (The Maddow video has been withdrawn since this was published and is now unavailable.)

8. How's Retirement Going For You?
This was an an excellent and instructive conversation about how we came to be retired, what we've been doing since then and how we are getting by. It was a good one.

7. Am I Exhausted from the Campaign Because I'm Old?
It was only February, the day of Iowa Caucuses and I was already tired of the presidential campaign mostly, I think, because * sucks all the oxygen out of the room even through the televion screen. A lot of you agreed.

6. Have You Been Dropping More Things As You Get Older?
Wow. I found out fast that I'm not alone with this phenomenon.

5. One Elder's Notes on the New World Order
This was six days after the election and a large number of us, after nearly a week to think about what a * presidency might be like, had a lot to say.

4. The World is Utterly Changed Now
My first sentence on the day after the election was: “I am stunned, shocked, devastated, horrified and frightened. Nothing good will come of this but beyond that I am speechless.” I didn't have much more to say and with less than a handful of exceptions, neither did you, dear readers, among a huge number of comments. We were in shock.

3. I Will Be in Mourning For Awhile
Three days following the election, we were still mostly paralyzed but had a great deal to say.

2. Lighten Your Life Before You Kick the Bucket - Book and Contest and

1. What We Gain as We Grow Older - Book and Contest
These two, in the number 1 and number 2 positions were book giveaways. I guess I know now how to get you all to speak up. But it's not all that fascinating – mostly what you needed to say was something like, “count me in.”

The second list, as I mentioned, is slightly more indicative of actual interest in given blog posts.

It relies on page views – how many readers actually opened the page in their browser but doesn't include people who read the email, Facebook post or RSS feed without visiting the website – even so, these produced thousands of page views which is heartening for this old blogger.

Most Popular TGB Posts by Page Views
Again, the list is in reverse order.

10. Once Again for the Last Time
A conversation in March about the things we did when we were younger than we don't do anymore.

9. The Theme of an Old Woman's Life
My personal lament last January for the placethat is my spiritual home but where I cannot afford to live anymore.

8. Music Festival Age Discrimination
This was a slap-in-the-face piece of ageism in June. A giant two-weekend concert of our generations' top rock groups – The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, The Who, Bob Dylan, etc. Clearly a concert for old folks and then this notation: ”No chairs or blankets will be allowed in the show."

7. Interesting Stuff – 26 March 2016 and

6. Interesting Stuff – 2 April 2016
Two Saturday Interesting Stuff posts made this list – the first in March, the second in April. The collection of items did not seem better or brighter to me than most Saturdays but they sure drew a lot of page views.

5. “About” Taking a Day Off
I was particularly busy during the first week of May and gave you brief post of a couple of video commercials I liked. I guess you did too. (The second has been pulled from rotation now and can't be viewed.)

4. I'll Be in Mourning for Awhile
In this case, there is a corellation between the number of comments and page views. This was published in November, three days following the election.

3. How Time Flies – Or Not Sometimes
In May, a discussion that comes up regularly about how time appears to slow down as we grow old and what can speed it up. The third most viewed story of the year.

2. The Day After the First Presidential Debate
The was the second most viewed post of 2016, in September. Do you think, perhaps, that we were beginning to feel like it was not impossible for * to be elected?

1. A Century-Old Quilt – Like New
Well, this is a surprise. It was a easy post to write about the quilt my grandmother had made by hand a hundred years ago or so. Nevertheless, thousands of readers made it the number one most viewed post of the year.

I don't know what that means and if anyone is looking for a TGB quilting website – um, the answer is no.

But, it might be interesting for you to leave a comment about what you enjoy reading here, what interests you less or what you would like to see that doesn't show up.