153 posts categorized "Blogging"

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.



A Podcast in Which I am Interviewed – Part 1

That is, interviewed for my “wisdom and wit” according to the podcaster. She's very kind but if you believe that...

My vacation continues - made easy as items keep turning up for which others have done the heavy lifting leaving me to just point you toward them.

About a month ago, I received an email asking if I would agree to a Skype interview for a podcast that features only people age 65 and older. Of course, pretty much anyone would be flattered at being asked to talk about herself for an hour, and I agreed.

Now, Part 1 of our conversation is available to listen to but first, here is what Amber Singleton sent when I asked for a short biography so you would know something about her when I posted the interview:

”Amber is a 36-year-old writer and podcaster (who moonlights as a flight attendant). She's based in Chicago, and when she's not flying, she's exploring topics like fear and wisdom through her podcasts at the Rock Your Genius network.

“One of those podcasts is Del Mar Social Club, which started from a simple idea, that the older generation (the 65 and older crowd) has a lot of wisdom and wit to share, which makes for good conversation (and insight, if you're listening).

Amber and I spoke for more than an hour and I had a terrific time. She is smart, articulate, funny and I felt like I had made a new friend.

She has divided our conversation into two parts. You can listen to Part 1 here and she has gone the extra mile by also providing a transcript here.

Part 2 of Amber's interview with me will be available in about a week. I'll let you know.

Meanwhile, you will find previous interviews Amber has done with other elders at the Del Mar Social Club website. Her other podcast, Chicken Shit Conquers the Planet, is at her Rock Your Genius website.



Some TimeGoesBy Blog Housekeeping

Today's is not wildly inspiring post but it is about what we do here – you and me together – and some changes.

They come about as a result of your generosity during the first ever TimeGoesBy donation campaign last month for which I am deeply grateful.

The biggest change so far is the upgrade of the TGB email version thousands of subscribers receive. The advertising that previously muddied it up is gone now and as of Wednesday, the html version of the mailing actually looks like the web page:

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A big thank you to Heather at my email delivery service, Feedblitz, for undertaking that improvement for me. It hadn't occurred to me when I upgraded to the paid version that I could recreate the look and feel of the website so it's a nice surprise to me and I hope for you too.

ATTENTION EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS
There is another improvement for email subscribers but first, some background about it.

Almost every day for as long as this blog has been going, I receive about half a dozen (and often more) emails with comments about the day's blog post which are obviously meant to be shared with all readers.

Although I don't always have time, I try to answer most of them to explain:

  1. When you hit “reply,” only I receive your comment via return email

  2. To comment so that others can read what you have taken time to write:

  3. Click the story title. It will then open in your browser

  4. Scroll to the bottom of the story and click the word “Comments”

  5. The page will reload with a form at the bottom for your comment

  6. Fill in your name (any name you want) and email address (required and it must be real but will not posted)

  7. Write your comment and click “Post”

Believe it or not, your not-so-bright blogger here never, over a decade, saved that list so she could copy it into an email reply. I type it out every damned time and I cannot tell you how tedious and time-consuming that is.

More important, however, is that many of these email-only comments are good, informative, fascinating or funny and worth the light of day.

So now, at the bottom of the new and improved email newsletter is a link that says, “Comment at Time Goes By.”

EmailLinktoComment

All you need to do is click those words – Comment at Time Goes By - and the story will open in your browser already positioned at the bottom of the list of comments left by other readers, ready for your pithy contribution. Please use this.

COMMENT RULES
Because TimeGoesBy has such a high level of smart, thoughtful readers, there are few if any of the troll problems that have caused many commercial news websites to close their comment sections in recent years.

There are, however, two reminders worth making: All off-topic comments and all comments with outbound links are deleted.

For a long time I allowed links within comments to other websites if they were related to the day's topic. But in recent years there are so many fake comments that exist only to link to commercial and retail websites that I just delete any comment with a link. It's too time consuming to check them all.

However, you are allowed to link to a personal blog in your comment signature. There is a space in the form to fill in the URL of your blog which automatically turns your name into a link when the comment is published.

One last comment item: It goes without saying, I hope, to not use all caps in your comments and to leave an empty line space between paragraphs. It's hard enough to read on a screen, let's all make it as easy as possible for everyone.

TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
A few hundred readers subscribe to TGB via Twitter. The link takes them to this page you are now reading.

And some others subscribe via Facebook where there is a short excerpt from the day's blog post and a link to the blog page. A few people leave comments at Facebook (and on very rare occasions at Twitter) which are, of course, never seen by the majority of people who read TGB at the website.

Mostly, I use Twitter and Facebook as secondary distribution channels for people who spend their time on those services - which I generally don't.

I have gone to great lengths over many years to consolidate all my subscriptions, RSS feeds, Google Alerts, etc. in one place - my email/calendar program - so I don't often check those two social media sites.

I have so many subscriptions that they are about all the electronic input I can handle without losing my mind having to check Facebook and Twitter in addition to my email feed.

This may change soon, if only slightly. The wonderful Erin Read who is director of strategic planning at Creating Results and also a friend, spent more than an hour on Go To Meeting with me a couple of weeks ago.

She showed me how I can expand the usefulness of those two social networks for readers of Time Goes By without taking too much more time from my life than I can tolerate.

She also made it easy to understand for someone who has assiduously refused to learn anything about Facebook and Twitter beyond the automatic distribution.

So don't hold your breath but it shouldn't be too long before there are a few social media changes related to Time Goes By. And thank you again, Erin, for the generosity of your time and amazing expertise.

If you have been tolerant enough to read this far through today's housekeeping post, you deserve a reward – or at least a giggle. So for your patience, here is a bit of internet animal silliness: Cats stealing dogs' beds.



Thank You, Time Goes By Readers

When the donation drive began last week, I would have dismissed the idea – if it had occurred to me - that I would be writing about it today. I thought I would email a personal thank you note acknowledging each contribution and get on with publishing Time Goes By.

But you, dear readers, changed that. So many have donated that it would take me weeks to write everyone individually so I have resorted to this public appreciation.

Let me start with this: I know that people all over the internet hold various kinds of fund raisers for many different reasons so no one is unfamiliar with it. Nevertheless, I am dismayed, confounded and abashed (lovely, old-fashioned word that is perfect in this instance) at the generosity of Time Goes By readers.

Some contributors are people I consider friends, others I recognize from comments and email over the years but mostly, amazingly, the majority of donations are from people whose names I have never seen before. I didn't count but I estimate that last group at 75 or 80 percent.

So to those whose names are new to me, hello. I am pleased to “meet” you finally.

Also, it is a load of fun to see how far flung TGB readers are. Again, I didn't count, but I'm pretty sure you cover most if not all 50 U.S. states and quite a few other countries – Australia, Canada, Germany, India, France, Israel and England among them.

A lot of you left the nicest notes with your contributions. They are private so I should not quote them here but there is one from Arnold Sivakoff I hope he will not object to my sharing because it is spot on:

”The donation is worth the upgrade to ad-free email.”

No kidding! Me too. I subscribe to my own email feed to be sure it is delivered properly and on time each day. For many months (years?), it has been a mess of ugly advertising scattered all over the page making it painful to try to read.

No more. The online version of Time Goes By has always been ad-free and as of last Wednesday, thanks to your contributions, the email version is also without advertising. That makes me so happy.

Another note I'm going to take a chance with publishing is from Mary Gerritsen because – well, how could it not make me happy:

”You have helped me in my journey to old age innumerable times,” she wrote.

The feeling is mutual. If not for all of you, I would just be blowing smoke here, writing for myself. Your thoughts and suggestions and jokes and presence and support help educate me too in this late-life journey we all must make. I am grateful for each of you every day.

And now, because of your generosity, I can breathe so much easier when the TGB bills come due during the year. Thank you all.



First Annual Time Goes By Donation Week

I was still working full time when I began developing the idea for Time Goes By. Then, when I unexpectedly withdrew from the workforce in 2004, I simply transferred the energies I had devoted to my (mostly fascinating) jobs over nearly half a century to exploring out loud on this blog, what it's really like to get old.

What I did not know at the start was that TGB would become so much more satisfying than those jobs. Even after all these years, it remains a labor of love that while I wasn't looking, also turned me into an advocate for elders.

Surprising to a woman who had been a paripatetic generalist all her life, this ongoing interest in all things ageing is as enjoyable today as when TGB was new.

That includes not just the work I turn out but the thoughtful, knowledgable and often funny contributions from the community of readers who post their observations in the comments and send suggestions for future posts or Saturday's Interesting Stuff.

All that said, here comes the pitch.

From its debut, Time Goes By has been a free and ad-free zone on the internet. As it will always remain. But now I am asking that if you find value in what is turned out here, you might consider donating to the upkeep of Time Goes By.

It takes at least as many hours per week as a full-time job for me to produce Times Goes By and the costs keep increasing.

The immediate impetus for this new “feature” is that the daily email delivery of the blog has become so cluttered with messy and intrusive advertising that it is nearly impossible to read. That is the free version from the third-party service.

To deliver an ad-free email to the thousands of subscribers costs hundreds of dollars and that is, of course, in addition to the other costs required to maintain TGB.

So today I am instituting an annual donation drive that will take place for one week somewhere near Valentine's Day each year.

The campaign consists of this introductory blog post with a link to the Paypal donation page along with a MUCH shorter version of this invitation at the top of the blog page through next Sunday.

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 reasonable and comfortable for you is good.

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 Unites States and internationally.

Let me reiterate. Except for email subscribers who will begin receiving an ad-free version of Time Goes By as soon as donations reach the price of purchasing it, nothing will change.

Here is the Paypal link which you will also find near the top of the right sidebar.

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

And to not depart from the blog's purpose completely today, here is a lovely little clip from a recent Bruce Springsteen concert proving that no one is ever too old to rock out.

“A woman down in the pit area has a sign asking Bruce to dance with her 88 year old mother, and Bruce happily obliges her.”

Thank you for that clip, Tom Delmore, and thank you all for your interest in Time Goes By.



Two Irrational Beliefs About Old People

Every day alarms are raised about the the burdens old people place on society. The growing “silver tsunami” will make life awful for everyone else we are told.

From government to employment to media and more, the conventional wisdom is that "the elderly" are all in poor health, dependent on others and if that's not so yet for any given individual, it soon will be.

Sick old people will swamp the economy, they say. We can't afford Social Security so we must privatize it. There won't be enough caregivers to go around. The sick old people will suck up all the money with nothing left for anyone else. So they shouldn't retire.

There are many important things to know about those generalities. Today - a couple of them.

ELDER HEALTH
It is true that more old people have health problems than younger people but that does not translate into disability or helplessness nearly as much or as often as many, even most, believe.

One respected study of tens of thousands of participants age 51 and older published in 2013 found that “For a surprisingly large segment of the older population, chronological age is not a relevant marker for understanding, measuring, or experiencing healthy aging.” More specifically,

”The researchers found that among individuals ages 85 and older, 28 percent had excellent or very good self-reported health and 56 percent reported no health-based limitations in work or housework.”

Further, even among the oldest age group, “nearly one-third have not been diagnosed with any of these five major chronic diseases:”

“The proportion of the population with no clinical diagnosis of any of the five major chronic diseases ranges from 75% of the 51–54-year-old population to 32% of the 85+ group.”

Those statistics do not mean that two-thirds of the 85+ group are incapacitated. Most are living on their own managing their diseases. Many other do well with, for example, a cleaning person once a week or Meals on Wheels deliveries or visits from a home health aide or a neighbor, friend or relative who helps.

If you pay too much attention to what is written and said about old people, it's easy to believe that all of them are incapable of caring for themselves. But you would be wrong.

ELDER EMPLOYMENT
It is true that people are living much longer than our parents' and grandparents' generations, that we are healthier than the general population believes we are, and that many elders want or need to work longer than traditional retirement age of 65 or 66.

But not many are allowed to. It's called ageism and it's illegal. But employers have all kinds of excuses the law allows them to get away with to fire or not hire people 50 and older.

Alongside the belief that all old people are disabled, is the growing one that elders should be required to work longer than age 65. Yes, I know that's a contradiction, but there it is in the media every day if you pay attention.

I've been reading these opposing points of views for at least a decade and here's what I think about that: No one gets to demand that people work past Social Security retirement age unless they remove the barriers that exist to keep old workers unemployed. Job seekers who are 50 and older must be allowed to find work as easily as they did when they were 25, 35, and 45.

And not just as Walmart greeters. People who insist old people work must allow them to have the kinds of jobs they are good at, that they are experienced in, that inspire them and allow them to be productive. Just as they have all their lives. Just as young people are allowed to expect.

Of course, this applies also to the any elder who wants or needs to work past traditional retirement age (although we also cannot penalize elders who are not capable of working any longer either but that's for another day).

I understand that the United States – and the world – is experiencing a confusing period when traditional jobs are disappearing, the “gig economy” is obviously not working and no one has an answer.

But as people and governments muddle through, people cannot be treated differently in the workplace based solely on age.

And you cannot, in the same breath, insist old people are all disabled, a drag on the economy and then require them to work past retirement age. That is irrational and gets us nowhere.



Surprise!

Welcome to the Time Goes By redesign. What do you think? It's certainly brighter and shinier around here.

There are bound to be glitches to fix and design decisions I'll rework over the next days and weeks, but this general look-and-feel will remain.

Time Goes By hasn't changed since it shyly dipped its toes in the blog waters in 2004. Because I'm lazy and it's a lot of work to redesign a site, this day might never have arrived. But then the Google blackmail showed up.

The company that still has more than 80 percent of search engine traffic announced that (their definition of) non-mobile friendly websites would henceforth be penalized in search results; that is, as of 21 April 2015, non-mobile-friendly websites would be ranked lower in search results than those that have been redesigned to Google's standards.

The bottom line from Google - make your website look the way WE want it to look, or else. Which is why most websites look alike these days.

Well, I'm too old to fight back on this one so here we are.

Various items have been moved around or, in some cases, discarded. Let me give you a tour.

The main site navigation is at the top of every page above the banner. The Archive is now by category only; nearly 12 years of date archives are not very useful to anyone.

Contact now opens your email program rather than a form if you want to send me a message.

About leads to a page with links to various information about this website. It's messy-looking right now; I'll improve it in time.

As you can see, there is only one sidebar now, on the right. The same Subscribe buttons are at the top and, as before, the Search form is at the bottom. In between, there are changes to several features. What remain are links to:

  • Best Books on Ageing
  • Elderblog List
  • Geezer Flicks
  • A Mother's Last Best Lesson

We all know that the Elderblog List and Geezer Flicks are painfully out of date. I'll get to both of those one of these days soon. I hope. The Photo Biography is now linked from the About section.

May they rest in peace, four features have been permanently removed. Elder Video was not one of my better ideas so it has been ditched. The Where Elders Blog feature has been discontinued. And Reverse Mortgages is no longer available because the federal government has made several rule changes resulting in some information in the series being incorrect. Maybe I'll fix it in time.

Finally, for a variety of reasons, it has been impossible to keep up In Memoriam so instead of that section, we will hold memorial services here as they become necessary. Not often, I hope.

Of course, The Elder Storytelling Place must also be “upgraded” to Google's specifications. I'm going to take a breather and then go to work on that.