166 posts categorized "Blogging"

Some More Blog Housekeeping

On Friday evening, the air quality where I live returned to “good”, the best ranking on the scale. It creeped up a few points on Saturday but still in the “good” range, remained there on Sunday and is there this morning.

That doesn't mean our terrifying air is done for the year. Some fires are still burning, there might be more, the wind can change. We live – all of us - on so many levels nowadays holding our breath. I haven't unpacked my go-bag.

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Just over a week ago, I posted some blog housekeeping notes about disruptive comments a drive-by reader had left and explained why I banned that person from future commenting.

There will be no banning today. This housekeeping is of a more personal nature – all of you and me.

First: some readers have commented that they are amazed that given my diagnosis of cancer and COPD and that I am now in hospice, I still publish this blog on a regular schedule.

Well, yes, and that is because it is what I do. It is what I have been doing for more than 16 years. It gives shape and form to my days. I love writing this blog. I love trying to say just what it is I mean as truthfully and artfully as I can. And, sometimes I succeed.

It has been interesting these past three years making the style transition from mostly reporting on issues of interest and importance to elders, to a much more personal blog about what it is like to be dying, a topic that is all but taboo in our culture generally so it's not like there is anyone much I can crib from.

It took awhile to find my way but I think it's working fairly well now. I learn more about myself and this final journey during the effort to be as clear as I can be for you, TGB readers, but also from your responses and support.

You make me stronger, more resilient and therefore more capable of dealing with this ultimate fate of every living thing. Just so you know, I'm not nearly as brave as some of you have said. I just wake up each day and go forward within the limitations of this diseased, old body. I have no other answer for what to do than that.

Next: The number of reader emails has increased a lot over the past two or three months. As in the past, I try to answer each one if only, sometimes, with a thank you but it has now gone beyond my capability to keep up.

My stamina wanes week by week now so there is a decreasing number of useful hours in each day. You say the loveliest things but I wear out so easily even just sitting at the computer sometimes that I must cut back the time I spend here.

If you do not receive a return email, please understand that it is only the disease stealing my energy, not that I am dismissing or ignoring you. I read every note I receive.

Not infrequently, emails sound like they are meant for the comments section. I think this happens when subscribers click “reply” in the email they receive with the day's blog post, but those returns go only to me via email.

To comment for everyone to read, click the title of the story in the email. It will open in your browser where you can scroll down, click the word “comments” and add your message to the conversation in the box provided.

Next: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Some things happen at an awkward time for blog publication. Usually, I write blog stories the day before they are to be posted and in doing so, I can miss late-breaking news items.

Last Friday evening was one of those times. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death was announced after I had shut down the computer for the day.

I thought for a few moments I should rewrite Saturday's Interesting Stuff to include that news. But it was the end of my day, I was tired and decided it was such big news that no one needed to hear it from me.

Almost everyone who commented on Saturday mentioned Justice Ginsburg briefly. It is an enormous political event and to some of us, a personal one too.

So let's make some space here today for anyone or everyone who wants to, to talk about Ginsburg in the comments - the ramifications of an “instant” nomination from the president, how that might affect the election and whether anyone besides me doesn't believe a word Senator Susan Collins says about how she will vote about anything. And, of course, the wonderful Notorious RBG herself.

Blog Housekeeping: What's Not Allowed Here

Several readers have asked how I am doing in regard to the Oregon wildfires. Short answer? I'm freaking out.

Longer answer: The air here is awful and the sky is some ugly color for which there is no name.

In Lake Oswego, we are at a level 1 evacuation order which is the lowest and means pack up while you've got the time. (Level 2 means to pack up and be ready to leave at a moment's notice. Level 3 is leave now, no foolin' around.)

Did I mention I'm freaking out? Well, as much as a person who can't climb a single flight of stairs without stopping three times to catch her breath can freak out.

I'm half packed and as soon as I finish this blog note I'll get back to it. My wonderful neighbor Judy will drive and she has it all planned about where we will go. There is no expressing how grateful I am to her.

Here is the thing – if I had any doubts, I know for sure that I am old now and big surprises all but paralyze me. Yesterday, Judy dropped off a list of what to pack in such a situation as ours that she had printed off the internet and she did it just when I was trying to sort out that particular question.

I perfectly well know how to search the internet for such information. I've been doing that every day for 40 years. But while I dithered yesterday before she arrived, it hadn't occurred to me. I consider that the sign that I am officially old now in every way, dependent on others to think for me - at least in new situations.

Have I mentioned that I am freaked out? If my home burns down, I have nowhere to go. Worse, my mind simply will not pay attention to that question. Just call me Scarlett O'Hara on this point.

* * *

Am I really expected to tolerate a certain type of Christian who feels entitled to publicly hector, lecture and threaten with damnation everyone who does not believe in his or her god?

I think not.

Before I go further, let me congratulate the TGB readers who either responded with restraint to or ignored the recent comment intruder spewing irate Bible talk at what she perceives as heresy. You did better than I would have, or will today.

What is it about some kinds of Christians? You know the type: they are always angry, usually snide and seem eager for those who do not toe their particular line of religiosity to roast in hell.

They talk a lot about love but show not an iota of it to those who believe differently from them.

This one, Sue by name, jumped in on 2 September's story about Canada's ruling on psylocybin use, advocating scripture instead of mushrooms because “psycho-drugs are known to open portals - that need to stay shut.”

Oh lordy, look out for those open portals because – what? Monsters will crawl out? That is what she implied in a response that same day to Celia Andrews, some nonsense about “the use of these to open the third eye portal? Yikes.”

What is in that portal, do you think, that is so terrible and why don't those of us who have used psychedelics know what it is or been dragged down into the primordial swamp?

Sue had something to say, too, on Tuesday's Reader Story by Carole Leskin about faith in a time of horrific, worldwide upheaval.

I had argued with myself about publishing it. There have been troubles with a few religious comment trolls here in the past and I have always had to shut them down.

But Carole's story is not overtly religious, she does not solicit belief in whatever her god is and leaves plenty of room for non-believers or other-believers to think about faith without defining it by her values.

Nevertheless, there was Sue:

”Faith. And i thought there'd be atleast a phrase about whatever happens, the Lord is sovereign and or something along the lines that it's the grace of the Lord Jesus that's getting me through the drama. Shoulda realized the posts would be all about (temporal) salvation by ones own works.”

Besides being offensive, Sue appears to be unaware there are other definitions of faith beyond the religious.

On Wednesday's post about the two lovely children's books, Sue was back to warning of the godly wrath to be rained down upon anyone who does not believe in Jesus.

And with that, Time Goes By is done with Sue. Without notice or recourse, she has been permanently banned.

It makes no difference to me what religious beliefs people hold as long as they do not impinge on anyone else's freedoms and in the case of this blog, they do not disrupt the conversation.

You see, the thing about Time Goes By is that there is a great, good group of smart, interesting, knowledgeable people who take the time and make the effort to comment on the day's topic with original thoughts and ideas that I always look forward to reading.

So I'll be damned (yes, I chose that word purposefully) if I'll let a disruptive, little pissant spew her religious venom. That's not allowed here.

Questions, We Have Questions

BLOG HOUSEKEEPING REMINDER: As announced last Monday, beginning tomorrow (20 July 2020), Time Goes By will no longer be published on Facebook. If you want to continue to read TGB, you can subscribe in the right sidebar of the website for email delivery.

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Sometimes in the comments on these pages, there are questions. I have always been too cavalier with them – answering some that seemed pertinent to enough readers to require a response and setting aside others to use as the basis for a blog post which I have done less frequently than I should have.

So today, I will answer two or three questions that came up in Wednesday's comments. Here is one from Lola:

”I'm curious about the 'presence' and wonder whether it is a physical sensation or a sort of 'knowing'. Like the inchoate not-quite-thought that becomes a poem.”

It's physical sensation, Lola. Until these pains began (I assume this applies to most people), I didn't notice my body much. It just did what I needed it to do and I didn't feel anything out of place unless a mosquito bite itched, I pulled a muscle or over-ate at Thanksgiving.

These “presences” are an awareness of various places on my torso, scattered front and back, an extremely mild ache - not something I would, in the past, pay attention to. But I've learned the hard way that they are precursors to the real pain they always become in an hour or so.

I now think of them as an early warning system: take the pain pills NOW before it gets worse. I still forget to notice now and then and suffer for it, but I'm getting better at responding to the presence.

Melinda Applegate left a long story in two parts in the comments – too long to summarize but you can read it here and here.

It is about Melinda's father, a piano player whose favorite song was The Entertainer, and the music box he owned that played the tune. A few days after he died, her mother was wakened at night by the sound of the music box that had not been played in years.

”I didn’t get much sleep that night,” Melinda writes, “as I was completely astonished by the story my mother had just told me. But I was also in awe of it and somehow comforted to know that my dad’s spirit, his energy, was still here before going onto another plane of existence.

“Several other unusual occurrences happened in the next few days and even later; one in particular that also involved the sudden playing of “The Entertainer” (this time on a jukebox)...

“All I know is that since the 'spiritual' visits by my dad to me and my mom, I strongly believe that somehow, in someway our existence continues after our physical body dies. There is another plane of or type of existence that is unexplainable to us as humans.”

Melinda then writes, “I sure wonder what you think about it.”

Well, Melinda, that, as they say, is above my pay grade. I've not had such an experience and as to whether our consciousness - our self - exists beyond the grave, it's not something I believe.

However, many people do believe and I'm perfectly happy to be proven wrong when I get there. (And no, I don't think you're loony.)

Another reader, Betty, also has a story of an encounter with dead loved ones. You can read that here. But she has a different kind of question:

”...how will we, your audience get along without you to lead the way. Will we carry on with our own stories or will this site die too. What do you want us to do and how do you want us to do it? Do others have this question?”

Arrangements are being made for this blog to remain just where it is online for at least five years after I've died. If anything is different, my friend Autumn, who is handling everything following my death, will let you know via this blog. So when she posts information, it will show up in your email subscription just as you receive it now.

I know we come to feel that others we read in the comments are our friends and in a way, that's real and true. I wish there were a way readers could safely contact one another but I've never sorted that out and I'm now running short of time.

If anyone knows of an online service that might facilitate that, do let me know – not in the comments, but via the “Contact” link at the top of the page.

Now it's your turn again. Feel free to ask questions in the comments and I'll follow up with answers to those one day soon.

BLOG HOUSEKEEPING: Time Goes By and Facebook

After a period of requests from readers, I began publishing each day's Time Goes By blog post to Facebook. That was many years ago. Maybe more than 10. Now the time has come for Facebook and me to part company.

Before I go any further, let me say I have never been a fan of Facebook. Okay, I'll admit I never took the time to figure out how it works but really, should anyone need to? Shouldn't it be obvious?

On the rare occasion I look closely enough to see that people leave comments or ask a question, I have no idea how to reply. What's public, what isn't? Don't answer that – I don't need to know now.

And the advertising. The Time Goes By website/blog is purposely an advertising-free zone on the internet but I have no say about that on Facebook. And when on rare occasions I scroll down through the – um, is it called a feed? - some obnoxious ad turns up after about every third legitimate posting.

Also, there's something about website's herky-jerky character that I dislike. One person posts a selfie, half a dozen people respond with a heart emoji but don't write anything, then there is a rant about some politician or whatever else people have in mind to write, but nothing sustains on Facebook. It all feels ephemeral and, therefore, unimportant.

For years, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has blithely allowed anyone to attack or threaten or defame any other person(s), and defended that policy as free speech. I never thought that was a good enough answer and now, in a time of Black Lives Matter, it has become a serious problem.

Some are saying Black Lives Matter may be the biggest protest movement in the history of the United States. Even if that's not so, it's big enough and organized well enough now that it feels like real change – real change this time – just might happen.

And now, the advertiser boycott of Facebook, organized by the Stop Hate for Profit organization to rid Facebook of hate speech, may also be the biggest boycott in history having so far gathered more than 1,000 companies under its umbrella. Something is happening here, folks.

Last week, the results of a two-year audit commissioned by Facebook to assess its impact on the world were published. Reports Alex Hern in TheGuardian,

”The final report, which focuses primarily on decisions made since June 2019, praises Facebook’s move to ban American advertisers from using its tools for housing and employment discrimination, and the company’s belated decision to ban explicit support for white nationalism.

“But, the auditors say, many of the changes were offset by Facebook’s decision, beginning with a speech from Mark Zuckerberg last September, to 'elevate a selective view of free expression as Facebook’s most cherished value'”.

Further on in the final report, according to Hern,

“Specifically, we have grave concerns that the combination of the company’s decision to exempt politicians from fact-checking and the precedents set by its recent decisions on President Trump’s posts, leaves the door open for the platform to be used by other politicians to interfere with voting.”

Dear god, as if there were not already enough people trying to cheat or game the November election.

It was a long time ago but I like to think my participation in the 1960's civil rights and women's rights marches and the anti-Vietnam War protests along with the radio and later, television shows I produced with movement spokespersons helped a little.

Now it's time to step up again. I am too old and sick to march this time but I can stop supporting organizations that are not aligned with my values. So, Time Goes By's daily appearance on Facebook will end next Sunday – that is, as of Monday 20 July, no more Time Goes By posts on Facebook.

According to the latest numbers from June this year, Facebook has 2.6 billion users. My absence obviously doesn't matter a hoot but it leaves me believing I did the right thing.

For the 600 or so people who follow Time Goes By on Facebook and still want to read it, you can subscribe to email notifications of postings by going to the website, entering your email address under the “Subscribe” header in the right sidebar and clicking the word “subscribe.”

Of course, your email address is never used for any other purpose but to deliver TGB.

Questions. Time Goes By Gets Questions

TGB reader Kath left this comment about reader stories:

”All the readers' stories you feature are of such a high quality and so lovely - could a selection of them be made into a book as a charity fundraiser?”

This is a good idea but my answer hasn't changed since, in years past, readers often asked about collecting some of my blog posts into something like a best of TGB book:

I'm old. I have two life-threatening diseases due to which I barely keep day-to-day life together. I have about six or seven productive hours a day during which I must do everything – EVERYTHING – I once did during a full 16-hour day including a job.

Not to mention the copyright issues. Readers retain the copyright to their stories and it would be a lot of time-consuming work to get clearances.

So this isn't going to happen. My only suggestion is that you could save stories you like to your computer or print them.

Longtime TGB reader Nana Royer had this suggestion on Wednesday's post:

”What about a zoom meeting for Ronni's fans? The idea occurred to me when watching Millie Garfield's show. I've been using zoom for my book club, Great Decisions meetings, committee meetings, cocktail hour, and it works great.

“I have a paid account, which many of you may have, which allows more than 40 [minutes] viewing, and up to 100 guests. If we go without a password requirement, then it would be easy to sign in as the info could be posted here...It might be fun to meet and greet all of you who comment and follow Ronni.”

I think it could be fun too but my answer is the same as for the first question: I don't have time to manage this and probably not time to attend.

And there is one other crucial thing about Zoom: the program apparently has and still can install malware on users' computers. You can read about it here and here and many other places around the web.

The company says it is fixing the problems but three months has been mentioned as a time frame. I used it once this week, but when I'm done writing this blog post, I will delete it. Some say the Zoom warning is overblown but with all else that is going on, I don't see the point of taking chances.

There is a story at Medium debunking the Zoom naysayers but even it has a 12-point list of instructions how how to make a Zoom meeting secure.

If anyone wants to create a Zoom meeting for TGB readers, let me know when and how and I will publish an announcement on Saturday's Interesting Stuff post.

A reader in Italy along with a few other readers who, like me, live with COPD asked about what exercises I do. I developed my daily workout from the exercises I learned from the registered nurses at pulmonary rehab. I won't give you specifics because I'm not an RN and I have no idea how such exercises might be different for people with COPD or asthma or other lung problems that may also be combined with other health issues.

Generally, however, it goes like this: I'm careful to do warm-up and cool-down stretches – standing and on the floor – at the beginning of my 40-minute workout and at the end. In between there is a combination of all four types of exercise: aerobic, strength, flexibility and balance.

Some of my routine is adapted from the workout I did daily for many years before I was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 but I'm not capable of working at it as hard or as long as I did back then. That does not mean, however, there is no value to my health in what I do now.

As I did during the three months of pulmonary rehab, I use oxygen during my exercise routine. The nurses explained that being able to breath more easily during exertion gives me a more productive workout than without oxygen when I would need to stop frequently to catch my breath.

Speaking of breath, using “pursed-lip breathing” at the end of each series of exercises and throughout the day has helped my breathing a lot. Here is a video I found on how to do it:

Diaphragmatic breathing is also useful. There are instructions from WebMD.

Including three months in rehab where I learned these techniques, I've been working out five days a week for more than five months. I dislike it as much as I ever did and many mornings my lesser self tries to talk me out of doing it.

But somehow I get myself in gear for it because - here's the kicker: No matter how much I want to not do it, about halfway through the routine I already feel much better.

It works psychologically too: if I've wakened in a bad mood (not hard in these virus days), exercise changes that. I even start smiling a bit. So I doggedly get it done each day and it makes a big difference in my ease of breathing.

If you have lung disease and/or have not been exercising regularly, I recommend it but please, don't start without talking with your physician or pulmonologist.

Okay, now I am turning the tables on you to ask a question instead of answering them.

Among all the lovely birthday greetings I received this week was a snailmail card that included – wait for it – a face mask. Is there anything more precious these days? I have an order in for a batch of them from China but it will be a few weeks until they arrive. So this is amazing; I almost cried.

Here is the problem. I don't know who sent it; the charming card has no signature. There is no return address except “Knoxville, TN”. So 'fess up, my Tennessee benefactor and let me thank you by name.

Annual TimeGoesBy Donation Week 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 Blog Housekeeping

On the first day of this new year, I was poking around the internet while making some notes about potential future blog posts when I landed on a column from one of my favorite New York Times columnists, Farhad Manjoo. It was right on point with one of the stories I was doodling around with.

”I enter the new decade with a feeling of overwhelming dread,” wrote Manjoo. “There’s a good chance the internet will help break the world this year, and I’m not confident we have the tools to stop it.”

He enumerated some of the many things that can make the internet a horror and offered some suggestions about how we – ordinary users - can avoid a personal run-in with them. I'll get back to that in a moment but first:

I've been doing this blog for nearly 16 years. You, dear readers who comment, make it a joy. But every six months or so it becomes necessary for me to repeat some of the rules of the road. It's a short list and then you'll see why I've dragged Mr. Manjoo in to this.

At the top of every page just under the banner are four links of which one is Contact. That is how you can send a private message directly to me that is not a comment on the topic of the day.

This is useful if you have suggestions for blog posts or have items that might be good for Saturday's Interesting Stuff post, etc.

Through the years, I have tried to answer all those messages but the number has increased in recent years at the same time that living with cancer and COPD have cut my energy and increased the maintenance time they require leaving me with fewer useful hours in a day.

So sometimes I just run out of steam and can't sit at the keyboard for one more moment in a day. I usually leave the unanswered email in my inbox thinking I will get to it tomorrow. Yeah, right.

So when the inbox items number more than a thousand (including many messages unrelated to TGB) and I can't stand seeing them all anymore, I just hit delete. I'm sorry about that but it happens.

If you receive this blog via email, you cannot comment by clicking “reply.” That just sends your comment to me, personally. It arrives by email in my inbox.

To comment, you must go to the blog online. You do that by clicking the title of the story (in the email you received) that you want to comment on. Then scroll to the bottom of the story online, click the word “comments” and a new page will open where you can write your comment.

Hitting the reply button to comment suggests that perhaps some people don't know there are comments. If that is you, you are often missing the best part of this blog: what readers have to say.

Some of you follow TGB on Facebook. Some of you leave comments on Facebook. Some of you send me notes, links and such on Facebook.

The thing is, I don't use Facebook, I never look at it except to be sure the day's blog post is there for readers who use the service. I accept “friend” invitations only to clean up the page. That's all I do there. I do not read anything on Facebook.

If you read TGB on Facebook and leave comments there, know that the number of readers at the website vastly out-numbers Facebook readers and is much more of a community where commenters relate to one another.

Plus, for a variety of reasons, I am considering closing the Facebook page. I haven't decided yet and I'm slow at that sort of thing, but it may happen relatively soon.

You are not allowed to include links in your comments. I delete all of them. Reason: people who do not read this blog leave comments that are meant to sound flattering about the blog but exist only to leave a link to their commercial website. It's just advertising.

I don't have time (nor inclination) to check each and every link so I delete them all. Occasionally, if I recognize a name on the comment, I will remove only the link. But it's time consuming and I don't always feel generous so I delete the whole comment for sanity's sake.

If you want to direct people to somewhere else online (not a personal, commercial or retail website), just tell us within your comment what to google to find it. (You can link to your own blog by including the URL in the footer of a comment where there is a line for it.)

See, that wasn't too bad – just four items. Here is the nut of what Farhad Manjoo has to say about avoiding the dystopia that large swaths of the internet have become.

”It can sometimes seem as if all the internet is deep fakes and culture wars, Trump tweets and influencer scams. It’s not, of course,” he writes.

“The internet still abounds in lovely, wholesome niches — the fantasy sports circles, the YouTube and Instagram communities devoted to any kind of craft, the many subreddits where strangers come together to help one another out of real problems in life.

What distinguishes the productive online communities from the disturbing ones? Often it’s something simple: content moderation. The best places online are bounded by clear, well-enforced community guidelines for participation.

“Twitter and Facebook are toxic because there are few rules and few penalties for flouting them. A Reddit community like r/relationships, meanwhile, is a haven of incredible, empathetic discussion because its hosts spend a lot of effort policing the discussion toward productive dialogue.”

Thank you, Mr. Manjoo. I've been saying that for almost 16 years. It works.

You can read Farhad Manjoo's entire story at The New York Times.

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.

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


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.


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.


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:


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


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.


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.

* * *


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:


  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.

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.


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.

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.