166 posts categorized "Blogging"

Me and My Elderblog

Ever since Facebook launched in 2004, and even moreso following Twitter's online birth two years later, people who think they are in the know have been predicting the death of blogging – translation: long-form writing.

The prognosticators often include the news and magazine media. The future of written communication, they have been telling us, is in 140 characters or thereabouts.

If that turns out to be true, I'm glad I'm old and will die before long. Outside of “Fire, run,” “Dinner's ready” and “I love you,” there isn't much I care about that can be said in one sentence.

In the past couple of years, apparently in backlash, some young entrepreneurs have founded websites specifically to promote longform reporting and other kinds of writing. Vox is one, also Longreads, The Verge and Matter among them.

They and others are fine antidotes to an internet world overflowing with Buzzfeed-style listicles.

A week so ago, Curbed founder Lockhart Steele wrote a (longform) piece at The Verge rethinking the future of blogging which he had forsaken a few years ago:

”I loved those days: writing post after post after post, day after day, forces a different mindset as a writer,” he said. “You loosen up; you get conversational.”

No kidding. I know all about that as do many of you who regularly comment here and those who keep your own blogs.

So strong is the pull of that “old-fashioned” style of daily writing for Steele, whose successful Curbed website was sold to Vox Media not long ago, that he announced the resurrection of his old blog:

”Thinking about all this has stoked my desire to get back in the game myself. So, today, I'm raising my personal blog, lockhartsteele.com, from the dead.

“Over there, on a daily basis, I'll be blogging about Vox Media editorial, as well as things that have nothing to do with our company, such as restaurants and — indulge me here — the Red Sox.

“Part of my goal is to offer a clearer window into what's going on in the Vox Media world; the other, simply, is to regain the practice of daily blogging.”

Lockhart Steele is much younger than I am and still in the career game so to a degree, blogging is a sideline but he's convinced me of his love for the form and its day-to-day nature. That is a large part of how blogging became my raison d'etre.

It didn't start out that way but in the decade I've been publishing timegoesby.com, it gives me reason to get out of bed each day, has fueled my interest in new-ish elder issues such as the Village movement I am now part of, provides the space to hold forth on the main mission here, aging in general, and more.

Steele and I have a lot of in common. As blog topics, he has Vox, I have aging. We each indulge some of our other interests – his Red Sox, my politics. We both like the daily practice of writing in the peculiarly bloggy manner that he correctly identifies as conversational.

Not to mention the actual conversation, the back and forth among readers. There is no such thing on Twitter or Facebook where there is no space – read: length – for actual thought or, with so many unrelated interruptions, any reasonably cogent exchange of thought among the people who post comments.

So I was happy to see Lockhart Steele's disquisition on blogging. I'm sticking with it whether longform writing succeeds elsewhere or not.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Bettijane Eisenpreis: Witnesses to History

Rewind the Week – 6 June 2014

Compared to many blogs, TGB has a consistently compelling comment section. In addition, I needed to carve out time away from the the computer so I've invented Rewind the Week, a weekly (or so) compendium of some of the provocative, informative and stand-out responses to posts from the previous week.

For the time being, this is an experiment and we'll see how it goes. If you enjoy it or don't or have suggestions for it, let me know and I will place it in consideration.

There was a range of meaty topics this week. My exhortation for us all to make exercise a regular habit got us a spectrum of responses. Here are a handful of them.

Lauren of perPETuity is just getting started and I think she's smart to make a small commitment to begin with:

”Lest you think I'm a self-righteous braggart, I only started this daily devotion [to exercise] two weeks ago when I realized I was sitting more than I cared to and getting depressed about it. I only committed for a month and will take stock of whether there have been any benefits. Anyone care to place a bet?”

I couldn't get through my three-day-a-week gym workout without being plugged into my MP3 player and victoria explained how much that can help:

”Four years ago I began collecting songs that I loved and ones that I can move and dance to and ended up with 16 hours of my greatest hits.

“I try to walk 45 minutes a day - inside, outside, all around the house. What ever works for me that day. With my greatest hits music on an MP3 player--sometimes I walk more than I need because I just want to hear the next song.”

It's a mite late for most of us at this blog to take up serious exercise in our youth, but any younger people reading here, pay attention to Nancy Wick:

“I am 66, still weigh the same as I did when I was 26, have low blood pressure and am not on any prescription medications. I credit much of my good health to my consistent exercise program and am so grateful.”

And then there is janinsanfran of Can It Happen Here? Although I've come to appreciate the mild high I have at the end of an exercise session, I wish I could feel as naturally good about exercise as she does.

“I'm incredibly lucky when it comes to exercise: I like it, it feels like me.”

If the number of comments is an indication, Crabby Old Lady's story about the supposed pending demise of email was widely popular. Here are a few responses:

SusanG of Hillsorough NJ Journal:
“I am always baffled when elders comment that they have to Twitter (or whatever)to their grandchildren or they would lose contact as the grandchildren don't do email. So if grandma 'didn't do Twitter' the grandchildren would just cut off communication?

“This suggests that the grandchildren have no interest at all in staying in contact with their grandparents and that the effort is only being put forth by the grandparents. How sad.”

In that regard, Ruth-Ellen B. Joeres tells us:

”I have succumbed to texting, aside from hating yet another noun being turned into a verb. It is the only way that I can rapidly catch the attention of my daughter and two granddaughters. But what I write consists always of CHECK YOUR EMAIL. Otherwise, they don't. Ever.”

Meg name-checked Ruth-Ellen and added a good laugh on this issue:

”I'm with Ruth-Ellen who uses texting to tell people to 'open your email, dammit'...I think we elders need to insist on email 'letters' from our children and grandchildren. This works quite well for my 21 year old grandson, who always sends me a nice, long newsy email right after I send him a $200 check.”

I had such a good time re-reading the wide variety of comments on this topic, you might enjoy it too.

Lots of thoughtful response to the phenomenon of time's fleeting passage in old age but the entire purpose (purpose: see yesterday's post) of this Friday Rewind is to give me more time. So check it out if you missed the commentary – I'm off to catch up on some other work.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary Mack: Mr. Green's Dandelions

Rewind the Week – 30 May 2014

Yesterday I gave you an update on the development of Three Rivers Village. Working on that project is taking more of my time now and the need is growing.

With that, I have been struggling to figure out how to better apportion my time – for the Village, to keep up this blog and also get my bottom out of this desk chair now and then.

Today's post is an experiment in that direction.

As you can see above, it is titled Rewind the Week. What I intend to do is scour comments from the previous six or seven days and re-publish some that I think are compelling, provocative, informative, stand out in some other manner or seem to be worth more conversation by us.

Of course, the writers quoted will be credited. It's important to know who's saying what.

Some weeks, there might be only one strong idea. Other weeks there may be several. Some serious, others not so much. I don't know yet; I'm making this up as I go along.

If I can do this well, I hope to inspire and encourage further thought and new ideas among us while giving me a way to publish something new that doesn't take much research, brain power and, particularly, time on my part.

As I said, it is an experiment and even if we all like it, it may not appear every week. Or maybe it will. For now, let's see how it goes.

There was a lot of strong, angry, even enraged response from you to the Not One More post about the shootings last week in Isla Vista. For that reason and the fact that the media has already lost interest, it is worth our further attention.

Not a few readers are discouraged, tired of writing Washington about serious issues that are never addressed:

“I also contacted them shortly after the Sandy Hook shootings and you see what good that did,” wrote Nancy Leitz. “But, I will keep trying and will not get discouraged until they GET RID OF GUNS!”
“I will add my cards to this effort,” said Cathy Johnson, “though I am not particularly optimistic about the effects.”

Darlene feels similarly:

“Although I am discouraged, I think we have no recourse but to fight back with our limited weapons. So proclaim 'NOT ONE MORE' to one and all.”

Those three women and the rest of us who are dispirited by lack of leadership in Congress are, of course, correct that it appears no one listens to the citizenry. Most particularly, no one with the power to change gun policy pays attention.

Here is graphic of The Columbine Effect from the knowyourmeme website that perfectly depicts the life cycle of the gun debate (larger, more readable image at the website):


Too true, too true.

This comment from Priscilla was echoed by several others whose Congressional representatives appear to follow her senator's lead in their disinterest in guns and crime:

“As a Florida resident, possible 2016 presidential contender Marco Rubio is my U.S. Senator. Unlike my other representatives including the White House, neither 'gun control,' 'firearms' nor 'crime' are among the listed topics on his online email form. The closest was 'social issues' or perhaps 'other.' Telling.”

And, I had no idea there are a bunch of revolutionaries reading this blog. I'm with you but how to rally the country?

“The oligarchy is owned by the NRA and will make all kinds of statements for the press, but will do nothing to change the status quo,” wrote classof65. “We need a revolution. Soon.”

Annie picked up classof65's song and added her voice:

“I read our comments, and have to agree that we have been writing and making our feelings known to no avail. And it's disheartening. Then, I see Classof65 again about the revolution.

You know, Class is right,” continued Annie. “I don't mean and would hope not violent and bloody, but what really important reforms have been accomplished without people going to the streets to demonstrate, sit in, protest and generally make a very big noise? Votes for women? Civil Rights of all kinds? Vietnam?

“It took a long time in each case and the courage and determination of many to get out in public saying things similar to 'Not One More.'"

Writing from Canada, Vera has a different take on the need for gun control:

“Actually it's naive to think that banning guns will solve your problems. Up here in Canada we just had 5 college students stabbed to death by another crazy student. We had a guy on a Greyhound bus get decapitated by a schizophrenic guy, another 50+ woman stabbed and killed the toddler next door, she says.

“The root cause of many of these crimes is actually untreated mental illness not guns and that's what needs fixing.”

I don't disagree about mental health issues but I don't believe that is a reason not to change our nearly unrestricted laws on guns that in one go can kill so many more (and do in the U.S.) than a knife.

All right. Now it's up to you. Have your say and don't forget that on the internet there is no space restriction.

Just, please, break up comments longer than half a dozen lines into paragraphs with a space between them. I don't read long chunks of unbroken text nor do most people.

And if you are so inclined, let us know what you think of this experiment in Rewind the Week.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Chlele Gummer: Rufus and the Games

Blog Blackout

Since Thursday 17 April, Time Goes By and The Elder Storytelling Place have been offline. For the first day or two, the outages were intermittent and the two blogs were sometimes available. By Saturday or Sunday, nothing appeared when anyone visited the blogs except a notice of “unknown domain.”

This is due to a criminal and malicious DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack on Typepad, the blog host I use. All Typepad blogs have been affected.

It is odd for a blog hosting business to be targeted for such a vicious take-down. Usually they are aimed at banks, credit card companies, other kinds of large businesses and they are common in online gaming.

Beyond that, if you are interested in technical details, you're on your own. I'm not going to do the work necessary to explain it.

When this happened, I was already on a personal hiatus from blogging, posting only small items to have a page each day on which to link to new stories at The Elder Storytelling Place. So before we get back to business as usual here, let's play catchup.

This page and the links below are being posted at both Time Goes By and The Elder Storytelling Place so you can easily choose what you want to read from the blackout period. If some seem familiar, that's because the first two or three days of the attack resulted in only intermittent outages so some of you may have been able to read some of these.

Thank you for all your messages of concern via email while the two sites were down. I was able to respond to some of you but when the volume moved into dozens and then hundreds, I had to give up.

Mental Health Day No. 5

Mental Health Day No. 4 – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Elder Music - Triskaidekaphilia

Interesting Stuff – 19 April 2014

Mental Health Day No. 3 - Hand Wave

Vladberry Pie by Steve Kemp

Water Witching Science and Voodoo in Bib Overalls by Dan Gogerty

Oh, No! Not Grandmom by Nancy Leitz

How to Make Your Own Luck by Clifford Rothband

If Typepad has been able to lock down everything in normal mode, regularly scheduled blog posts will resume tomorrow. If there are additional outages, please be patient. This was a horrendous attack.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Riding the Rails to Mexico

How to Post Blog Comments

Last week's post asking where TimeGoesBy readers live got an amazing response. There are 231 comments as of early this morning.

In ten years of this blog, that many comments on one story has never happened and I had not coded the template to display such a high number which mean many were not visible.

I fixed that on Saturday and now there are an unlimited number of comments allowed broken into pages of 100 with links at the bottom of each page for Next and Previous so all the comments are now posted.

It was fun to see where everyone lives, particularly names of regular commenters I recognize. I was surprised to see at least ten people signed in from Australia (as of Saturday). There were four each from Paris and from Canada. I didn't check to see if every U.S. state was represented but there were a lot of different ones.

In no way is this a scientific count of readers. It's just those who took the time to leave the name of their city or town.

Of course I counted comments from my own state, Oregon, and there were 11 including a reader from Troutdale who wrote of that town, “Gateway to the Columbia River Gorge.”

Yeah, I know that all too well. I always, ALWAYS get lost in Troutdale trying to find the old highway to Multnomah Falls. Maybe next time you can direct me.

Although 231 comments is impressive, there were three or four DOZEN more that you can't read because they did not show up due to user error.

Which brings me to the title of today's post: How to Post Blog Comments.

Those additional 30 or 40 or so comments were not published because they were not submitted to the blog in the online form. That happens when readers who subscribe to TimeGoesBy via an RSS feed or email click “Reply” to leave a comment.

When you “reply” to a blog post you have received in that manner or in any aggregator you may use, it is no different from replying to an email.

Your “comment” arrives in my email inbox (the email address from which each day's blog post is sent out to subscribers) and cannot be posted to the website any more than any other email would automatically post to a website.

Depending on how busy I am, I sometimes send a return email with instructions on how to post comments to the blog but as far as I can tell – over many years of doing this – hardly anyone pays attention and the “reply” comments keep landing in my inbox.

Also, it leaves me to wonder if people who “reply” to TGB blog posts perhaps have no idea, because they don't visit the website, that many readers carry on fascinating conversations in the comments section that are often more compelling that the blog post itself.

All this is too bad because so many of the misdirected comments are excellent, thoughtful, funny and add good information to the day's conversation.

So today, I am going to teach people who don't know how, to post comments so other readers can read them. Here goes.

If you have something you want to say, click the name of the blog at the top of your email or rss. The TimeGoesBy website/blog will open in your browser.

Scroll to the bottom of the story where you will find the “footer.” It looks like this:

Comments Footer

The number in parentheses to the right of the word “Comments” indicates the number of comments already posted. Click on the word “Comments.” The page will reload with all the comments showing.

At the bottom of the last comment, you will see the comment form. It looks like this:

Comment Form

Because I took a screenshot on my computer, you see my name, email address (blurred to help foil scrapers) and the URL of my blog. On your computer screen, those fields will be blank if you are commenting for the first time. After you have posted comments a few times, you may see your own information there.

First, write your comment. This is the internet with unlimited space so you can write as much as you want. However, do yourself and the rest us a favor by leaving an empty line space between short paragraphs. I don't read long chunks of unbroken text and most other people don't either.

When you are done with your comment, fill in your name. Then fill in your email address. Both are required to help keep spam to a minimum.

Your email address is never published. You do not need to use your real name. You can make up any name you want but the email must be a functioning address correctly typed.

If you have a blog of your own, enter the URL and then, when your comment is published, your name in the comment footer magically becomes a link to your blog. You may link only to a personal blog. Links to commercial websites of any kind are deleted.

(That's not an internet rule; that's my rule for this advertising-free blog.)

When you are finished writing your comment and filling in the rest of the form, it will look like this:

Comment Form Filled In

Notice that the words at the bottom, “Preview” and “Post,” are now hot – that is, clickable. You can click Preview to see how your comment will look and make changes if you want before posting, or just post your comment by clicking “Post.”

Within a few seconds, your comment will be appended at the bottom of the other comments. Don't panic if it takes a bit longer. Internet technology is not an exact science and sometimes there is a glitch that slows things down for awhile.

With only minor variations, this is how comments work on all blogs and websites that allow comments.

It is immensely gratifying when one's blog traffic keeps increasing as it does at TGB. But there is a downside too: much more housekeeping. So as of today, I will no longer be able to respond to blog comments that arrive in my inbox via the email or RSS “reply” button. They will be automatically deleted.

I hope you understand and I look forward to continuing to read the fine commentary that has always been hallmark of TimeGoesBy - just in its proper place.

A few days ago, someone expressed surprise that I read all TGB comments. I really do. They are of equal importance with the day's story.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, William Weatherstone: The Greaet White Hunter

Where Do TGB Readers Live?

Yesterday, I received a note from long-time TGB reader, Laura Gordon, with whom I've exchanged email now and then over quite a few years. I was surprised to learn that she lives in Florence. Florence, Italy, that is.

I had just assumed she lives in the United States and she never said otherwise. (I've now discovered that Laura and I did discuss her location in the past which tells you something about my old-lady memory.)

Even though I can tell from the stats that there are regular readers from several dozen countries, this is mostly a U.S.-centric blog. Still, I was surprised to see, when I checked yesterday, that only about 80 percent are American. Last time I looked – admittedly more than a year ago – it was more than 90 percent U.S.

The other top countries represented are U.K., Canada, Australia and France with a few readers each from Italy, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa too.

So, because I booked way too many appointments yesterday, I was in need of a quick-and-easy blog post for today and thanks to Laura of Florence, Italy, I have a simple little assignment for you today:

Tell us where you live: city, state or province and country.

Since respondents are self-selected, it won't mean anything in terms of real numbers in each country or city but it will be nice to see where the people with names we recognize from the comments live.

Me? I'm in Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: The Miracle Dog

Crabby Old Lady, Books and Blog Spam

When this blog started up a decade ago, nobody cared about or wanted to know anything about old people.

As Crabby Old Lady has often explained, back then pretty much everything about aging in the popular press, academia, television and movies was, when it was mentioned at all, devoted to disease, debility and decline.

The amount, if not the theme, changed in what felt like an instant when the media realized in 2006 that the oldest baby boomers were turning 60 that year and they had a new (to them), vast, untapped audience for information about getting old.

Well, “information” - if you define the word as useful – is a overstatement. In Crabby's experience, about 95 percent of everything written about elders and aging - especially the Niagara of new book titles that clutter Crabby's inbox - is drek.

What has happened, as far as Crabby can tell, is that anyone who is age 40 or so and older seems to believe that he or she is an expert on aging and therefore has a right to be paid for those observations.

To make that bad news worse, the few newbie writers who might have something interesting to add to the conversation about getting old are mostly hampered by poor writing skills. Crabby would be embarrassed to recommend most of their books to you.

Then there are the professional writers who, although they can write more engagingly, have little to add about what it's like to get old that we don't already know. Too often, their books are quickies meant to cash in on the aging boomer phenomenon.

And all that is not to mention the endless stream of books about how to stay young forever. (Regular readers know how Crabby Old Lady feels about that subgenre.)

All of the above is the reason you see only half a dozen books a year mentioned on this blog. Crabby does not “review” books. She sees no point in telling you, dear readers, why you should not spend money on a book and it saves her from finishing the truly awful ones.

But that is only prelude to what Crabby is here to say today. The real reason is that it's been a bad couple of weeks at Time Goes By for comment spam of a specific type. It eats up too much of Crabby's time. It makes her not want to read email in the morning. It makes her want to walk away from the computer and ignore her blog. It is a terrible thing to ruin someone's pleasure.

Many of you will recall that too often in past months, your legitimate comments have not posted. The cause was a difficulty with spam filters at the blog host, Typepad, and it took them nearly a year to repair the problem. It has now been a month of smooth sailing with only real spam caught in the filters. Hurray.

In its place, however, TGB is being plagued with a different sort of spam – book authors who leave what could otherwise be deemed a legitimate comment but then they append the name of their book, sometimes a sentence or two of promotional language and link to the purchase page.

Now in case you have not noticed, Time Goes By is an advertising-free zone. Deliberately so.

Many years ago, she tried advertising but it was more work than the low revenue justified. Unless a website gets half a million or more page views a day, nobody pays much for ads and although TGB traffic is, gratifyingly, several thousand page views a day and growing - quite successful for a personal blog - it is miles away from enough to make the work of carrying ads worth the administrative effort.

So Crabby absorbs the cost of running Time Goes By which amounts to a few hundred dollars a year – cheap enough for the pleasure she gets from the writing and the terrific community that has developed here.

Back to the book spammers. For no reason Crabby can discern, there has been an annoying upsurge in their number this month – the professionals and the amateurs. Crabby reads every comment left on Time Goes By and as soon she sees a spam comment, she kills it.

In the case of the book spammers (not one of whom has ever commented before), Crabby has taken to emailing them a terse but polite explanation of the reason their comment, or part of it, has been deleted.

About half the spammers write back to say, “oh my, I didn't realize that you would object. I am so sorry. I just wanted people to know about my wonderful book,” etc. etc.

Crabby's calling bullshit on that. Would the same people have the nerve to paste an advertising poster on the front of Crabby's home? On the windows of the local supermarket or Walmart?

That is what they are doing by trying to sneak a free ad for their book in the comments. In any other form it is called theft and it infuriates Crabby Old Lady.

What makes it sad is that if any of these writers had emailed to tell Crabby about the book and ask if she were interested, it's possible that it would become a TGB selection. Unlikely but possible and anyway, it is the right thing to do instead of trashing up Crabby's website.

Okay, Crabby's had her say and if you stuck around to the end, she is flabbergasted since it is not a stretch to label this post itself a kind of spam. Crabby's excuse is that there has been so much awful writer spam it cast out any other thoughts from her head.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: Before Nail Guns Were Invented

TimeGoesBy Takes a Break

Beginning today, Time Goes By is taking its first-ever-in-ten-years hiatus as is the companion blog, The Elder Storytelling Place.

The reason is that I am in Providence, Rhode Island today for a conference about “connected aging” at the Business Innovation Factory. Three thousand miles is a long way to travel for a one-day meeting, but this invitation was particularly intriguing to me.

”At the Business Innovation Factory (BIF),” wrote one of the organizers, “we believe that we need to look at aging differently, that by framing the aging through the lens of care and increasing weakness, we’re missing whole opportunities to facilitate healthy aging – ones that support optimal personal choice in how we age...”

No kidding. Anyone who has been hanging around this blog for even a short length of time knows that I could have written that myself. The invitation continues:

”We believe that the future of aging can be characterized by how we contribute to our communities, families and professional environments.

“Additionally, we believe that by focusing here, we also can improve general health as we age. By framing the 'connected aging experience,' we believe we can influence everything – from a sense of well being to meaningful contributions to independence, social connection can open up opportunities for living a fulfilling life at all ages.”

That's as close to the guiding principles of this blog as anything I have seen.

In the main, conferences are about sitting in a large room or auditorium while “experts” deliver presentations to the attendees. There's nothing wrong with that format; over the years, I've learned a lot in such settings.

But the people at BIF have a different idea – not to mention that I'm as susceptible to kind words as anyone else. They also wrote:

”It will be a day-long session with an intimate group (around 12 participants) including a mix of elders, people working with elders and folks in other areas that could impact the aging experience. We would love to harness your deep expertise on aging as we try to transform this space.”

So that's where I am today, flying home tomorrow and, undoubtedly, prostrate with fatigue on Wednesday although I have every expectation of being equally energized from a productive day of stimulating work with a group of like-minded people interested and concerned about the future of aging.

The Elder Storytelling Place is on hiatus for this entire week, returning with new stories next Monday 11 November. Time Goes By will return on Thursday or – maybe on Friday.

See you then.

Elders and Their Money

So as of late last night the U.S. government is back in business - at least until 15 January 2014 and a world economic crisis has been pushed forward to 7 February. Apparently we are supposed to cheer the Democrats for standing fast but all it means is that there will be an identical crisis right after the end-of-year holidays.

This is the new normal. It will happen again and again due to a few deeply stupid members of Congress – all Republicans.

Because I spent a large part of my time advocating for old people, what worried me these past three weeks and worries me still for early next year, is how awful this is for elders – whether retired or near retirement.

Certainly you recall the crash of 2008. I lost more than 30 percent of my already small savings and I heard from readers who lost up to 60 percent of everything they had.

I've earned back just 25 percent of what I lost mainly because I now have no stomach for the slightest amount of risk and have as-safe-as-possible investments that earn hardly anything more than bank interest (.01%). I'm probably not the only old person too terrified still, five years later, to try for anything more.

Two readers emailed this week about financial issues. One asked if I might write about an online class from a well-known professor at a renowned university about retirement financing – pensions, savings, investments, etc.

Another, Lia who blogs at Yum Yum Cafe, in responding to an email from me, agreed with my less-than-unique assessment that life seems to be getting progressively worse for all but the richest people in the world. This set her off on an epic rant.

Since I believe Lia speaks for many, it's worth quoting her at length:

”Like you,” she wrote, “I lost a major portion of my meagre savings. A few years later I lost my employment and was more or less forced to become self-employed since there were no other alternatives.

“It has made for many bleak hours of worry. On the outside, I would say I am optimistic about the future, but the endless nights of sleeplessness attest to some deep rooted fears...

“There is a whole horse's tail of citizens from 40 upwards whose savings and retirement plans were shattered...

“We have to figure out short term how to put food on the table and how to keep a roof over our heads. On top of that, it is not just this month or this year, but for the rest of our lives...

“In some ways I was fortunate to have a few very good conversations 20 years ago with a friend of mine who is an economist.

“She did not predict the particulars and extent of the economic madness. Yet, she did say the numbers, even then, did not add up and our generation (we are both now in our mid-50s) might be the first generation since WWII that will not have the option to retire.

“She suggested finding work in a matter where, if we were granted relatively good health, we could continue working a long, long time.

“This is what I am striving to do. Find business customers I can work with a long time. It would be interesting to know what some of your readers who are working are doing in this way.”

I strive here at Time Goes By to increase useful knowledge about what being old is like. I want this blog to be a storehouse of experience, thought and ideas about honest, real, everyday aging – not what the culture and age deniers prefer old people to be.

That means nothing, no topic is, as Washington politicians say, off the table.

Nevertheless, from the first I have avoided discussion of financial information, advice, websites or “experts.” As I explained via email to the first reader I mentioned above, a large majority of retirees and near-retirees have no investments nor will they ever have money for investing.

Investing a rich person's game – for people who can afford to lose. What everyone else has is savings, very little of it, and the rich already have plenty of resources for manipulating their money. Nothing this blog can say would have any meaning for them.

An equally important reason to refrain from financial talk is that all – make that ALL in capital letters - financial consultants, teachers, advisors, etc. contradict one another so there is no way to know whose advice is good or useful.

(Preparing this post, I visited three online retirement finance experts - a large institution, an academic, a self-appointed well-known guru - each of whom has a calculator for determining how much savings one needs to retire. I input my numbers as they were when I stopped working in 2004 and got three different answers ranging from $550,000 to $1,895,000. That's a big spread - who should I trust?)

For as many readers as I heard from after the 2008 crash who lost 30, 40, 50 even 60 percent of their savings and small investments, not a single person wrote to say their advisor/banker/etc. saved them from loss.

So because money is too important and too personal (far more personal than sex) and because, inevitably, some readers take what I say as advice, I never discuss personal finance at TGB. I'm obviously not qualified and further, I'm not qualified to decide which of the gazillion people who call themselves financial experts is qualified (if any are).

Here we are, then, most of us at this blog who – even if we don't literally count pennies - need to be careful with the money we have while bankers, Wall Street, Congress members and their counterparts in other countries continue to manipulate the economies of the world to the benefit only of the already rich.

So we - for today let's call ourselves elders of the 99 percent - are mostly on our own and given how the U.S. government behaves, are in for a bumpy ride to the grave. Lia again from the end of her email rant:

”What options do we have when the financially structures crumble? If corporate practices, responsibilities and ethics are thrown to the wayside, it really is every man for them self. I can't even stand to read about follies going on in Washington.”

I know just how she feels. Your thoughts?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: Kaleidoscopes, Penny Candy and Dancing with the Dishtowel

Important Blog Comment Problem

As they say, shit happens and for the past month or so, many of your comments at this blog and, to a lesser degree at The Elder Storytelling Place, have been relegated to the spam folder instead of being published.

I dislike taking up an entire post to discuss this kind of blog housekeeping but it has been going on for so long now I think you need an explanation.

Since it began on 23 May, I have been working with the Typepad (my blogging service) help desk to fix the comment system. The problem is that some comments, including my own and those of readers who have been publishing comments for years in some cases, are tagged as spam.

I can go into that folder and post the wrongly-categorized spam comments but I cannot spend all day checking for them and sometimes I forget to do it for two or three days.

The help desk at Typepad tells me they are working on this and I spend a great deal of time publishing the “spam” comments and then sending the URLs of those comments to Typepad so they have something to work with. So far, no solution.

A special note to Colette, Linda Skupien, Ann Shaw, Madeleine Kolb, Pamela (Lady Luz) and Lynne Spreen:

Over the weekend, the six of you left excellent comments on our terrific conversation last week about elders and the need to be touched that ended up in the spam folder.

When I tried to publish them on Sunday morning, they disappeared. My apologies but, as this note explains, I can't do anything about it; I must wait for Typepad to find a fix.

UPDATE: Reader Lyn Burnstine just let me know that Colette's, Linda's, Ann's, Madeleine's, Pamela's and Lynne's comments ARE posted on that story. They weren't there on Sunday morning after I published so something got better since then.

That was an important conversation about something that is almost never spoken of in public (anyone who missed it should definitely read it and all comments).

So if the six of you whose comments got lost would like to try to rewrite and republish them for the record, I'll keep watch to be certain they are published. I'm sure I'll return to this subject in time and your thoughts will be important to have.

For everyone, I'll try to remember to check the spam folder at least twice a day and publish any missed comments.

My apologies for this but undoubtedly you have personal experience too with how technology just screws up sometimes for no good reason and how terribly frustrating it is when it's not within your ability to fix.

In addition to the comment problem, I lost six or seven hours (!) over the weekend trying to figure out why my printer suddenly tried to fax everything I wanted only to print. It's finally fixed but I had different plans for those hours. Grrrrrrr.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jan Adams: Do You See Rabbits?

Time Goes By Commenting Policies

Readers arrive here (and elsewhere on the web) with varying levels of computer and internet expertise. Because this blog appeals primarily to elders, many of whom have taught themselves this stuff (and hurray to all of you who have done so), inevitably there are gaps in their knowledge.

(I was lucky enough to spend the last decade of my working life employed at websites where lots of smart 20-somethings taught me amazing computer and internet skills that I sometimes wonder if I could have figured out on my own.)

So today, as I do about once a year, I am going to explain a couple of basics – technical and policies specific to Time Goes By - to catch everyone up to the speed.

There is no shame in not knowing – everybody was once a newbie - but I must tell you that this is equally for my benefit so that I can stop writing the several dozen emails I feel obliged to send each week to individual readers.

Commenting From Email
Certainly everyone here knows that to respond to any email, you click the word “Reply” and a form appears where you can write your message, click “Send” and be done.

However, if you receive Time Goes By via email, this is not true. Think about it: TGB arrives from my email address so if you click Reply, what you write is sent only to me. No one else sees it. And believe me, some of those emails only I see are so good, smart, funny or compelling in other ways, everyone should be able to read them.

It has come to my attention via these private emails that some of you are unaware that there even are comments and that if you read TGB (or any blog, newsletter, etc.) only in your email program without visiting it online, you are missing a large – and often the best - part of the conversation: all the comments from other readers.

So here are instructions on how to read others' comments and how to leave your own comment if you like:

  1. Click on the words “Time Goes By” at the top of the email
  2. The story will open on the TGB blog in your browser
  3. Scroll down to the end of the story where you will see the word “Comments” in the footer, sometimes with a number [e.g. (3)] following it. That is the number of comments already posted.
  4. Click on the word “Comments” to open the comments section
  5. At the bottom of the list of comments already posted is a form where you can write your own comment
  6. Do so, finish filling in the form, click Preview or Post and your comment will be added

If you do not keep a blog, you can leave the URL box empty. If you include ablog URL, your name below your comment will link to your blog.

You must enter a name (it does not need to be your real name). You must also enter a working email address which is never published.

If this is a new process for you, may I suggest that you print out the instructions because after today, I will no longer respond to comments sent only to me via the Reply button. As much as many of them are enjoyable and I wish others could read them, I don't have the time to answer so many messages reiterating these instructions.

I have deliberately made Time Goes By an advertising-free internet zone. At this blog there are never any annoying popups, no screeching audio when the page opens, no video wiggling around in your peripheral vision, nothing advancing across the screen covering the words you are reading, no Google Adsense links interrupting you in the middle of a story.

And so, also, no advertising is allowed in the comments. I know it annoys some of you that I remove references to almost all products, brands and services along with links to their websites.

I do that because I cannot spend my time working out whether such a mention is innocently meant to be helpful or is someone being paid to slip in advertising masquerading as a real comment. Happens everywhere online so I remove them all.

In particular (but not exclusively), I remove any kind of health and/or medical product, advice or service as soon as I see it for other reasons. What works medically for one person does not, necessarily, work for another and should never be used without consulting one's personal physician.

You would think people know that, but half a century of working in radio, television, commercial websites and this blog have shown me thousands of times that there are many idiots wandering around out there who would try eating what's on the bottom of a bird cage if someone even jokes about doing so.

Therefore, this prohibition also applies to all medical/health remedies of any kind. All such references are deleted.

If you've ever been enjoying reading responses to news story, blog post or anything else online and it suddenly goes off the rails from the subject, you know how irritating it is.

Long term or short term, nothing kills participation in a forum or blog faster than off-topic comments and the more there are, the more people leave, never to return.

As with brand names and such, I remove these as soon as I see them. Sometimes there can be disagreements about what is off-topic or not, but it's my blog, my decision and just so you know, I usually err on the side of strict adherence to topic.

That may or may not sit well with you but a lot of my choices have to do with saving or returning time to myself that I've allowed the blog to take away from me.

I hope this clears up a few items. One of the good things about Time Goes By is that there is a larger sense of community among regulars here than at many other blogs. I keenly appreciate this which is what has led me to spend as much as an hour, sometimes two, a day answering reader emails.

But I do need to cut way back on that as I'm sure you understand. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments - I'll get to them as soon as is possible.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: Socks

Elder Meetup?

As noted yesterday, I'm on hiatus until Saturday to get some blog housekeeping done.

As filler today, I'm repeating a story from 2010 about a blog meetup here at my home. It was loads of fun to spend the day with online friends old and new that I had met through Time Goes By.

I'm thinking it might be fun to do it again this year and although I don't have a count, I think there are quite a number of relatively local people – bloggers and readers – who I would, perhaps, like to meet one another.

So here's the story from the 2010 meetup that was then titled, Ollie the Cat's Nightmare Elder Meetup Day. Let us all know what you think about a repeat this year.


For a cat who, aside from the human who feeds him, is a misanthrope, Saturday was his worst nightmare.

Beginning at 10AM people continued to arrive for a couple of hours until there were 18 of them between Ollie, under the bed, and his food bowl in the kitchen. And so it remained - to his utter disgust - until way past dark, a giant interruption in his routine.

Too bad for him because for the rest of us, it was a most entertaining and companionable eight-plus hours.

I had thought we could walk over to the park together along the Willamette River in the afternoon, but the day dawned so rainy and wet that it nearly killed the helium balloons I used to mark the path from the parking area to my home.

Dead Ballons

We have remarked here in the past how comfortable it is to meet a blogger we have previously known only online. Mostly, it feels like seeing an old friend who hasn't been around for awhile, but I wasn't certain that would hold for a large group. I needn't have worried – it was like a bunch of old friends.

Aside from my brother Paul and his wife, Isa, the only guest I had met in person before was Raines Cohen when we both attended the Gnomedex conference in Seattle in 2007. Raines – more about him here - is an expert in co-housing and intentional communities, and wears a wonderful Mad Hatter hat everywhere he goes.

I felt like I knew Marion - who drove with her husband Duke all the way from Reno, Nevada - because we had spoken at length on the telephone about a year ago when she interviewed me for her Marion's Blog.

There are hardly any photos of my own from the meetup because I was having too much fun to take many and the few I have are mostly fuzzy, out of focus and awful. But Marion posted a terrific bunch at her Flicker site.

And Rain, of Rainy Day Thoughts who lives with her husband, Paul, on a farm about 50 miles south of me, brought a camera too so there is another excellent collection of photos on her Picasa page.

I had considered doing the cooking for us and ditched that idea as soon as it came to mind. There was a time when I could prepare all the food for 20-30 people or more while holding down a full-time job but these days, my body says no.

Lucky for me, there is a nice little catering place in town, Gourmet Productions, that supplied the chicken with apricot sauce, roast pork loin in tarragon sauce, raviolini along with a rice, arugula and corn salad. We did a lot of eating.


Here is the table as we were beginning to dig into the beautiful patisserie from St. Honore Boulangerie in Lake Oswego.


In the past, when I was younger, there always seemed to be a couple of wallflowers at parties who needed to be helped along to join the conversation, but not with our meetup group. For me, it was a lively, joyous, fascinating day. I can't begin to cover all the connections, interests and ideas shared among us.

I'm going to list first names of guests I haven't mentioned elsewhere in this post, but I'm concerned I'll leave off blog links. So please fill them in for us in the comments.

Celia of Celia's Blue Cottage
Jami and Dorothy

One of the cool things I had forgotten about giving a party (which I hadn't done in six or seven years) is that people bring gifts so there was wine, cider, candy, tea, candles, a book from Raines, Audacious Aging, with a chapter written by him – a book that Gaea Yudron lists prominently on her blog, Sage's Play.

Gaea also treated us to a reading from the musical play, A New Wrinkle, that she is writing.

Kathe, who lives near me here in Lake Oswego, brought Ollie the cat a pot of live catnip. True to all toddlers and pets, he prefers the ribbon that was attached with cat toy at the end.


Except for Ollie, who is much happier now that everyone has gone home, the meetup was a spectacularly good time and I think it would be good to do this again in the not too distant future.

NOTE TO SOMEONE: One of you here on Saturday left this hat behind – and a fine one it is. Let me know who you are and I'll arrange to get it to you.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: The U.S. Grant Hotel and a Leather Coat

Open Thread – 8 February 2013

This, today, is an attempt at something new, a test post to see if it works for times when I need to be away from the blog but instead of leaving a blank page, want to give readers something to chat about - maybe we could think of as it a one-day forum.

Other blogs, particularly some big-time political ones, regularly use open threads over holidays or weekends so let's see how it works for Time Goes By today.

Here's one topic suggestion to consider: TGB reader Joan left this comment a couple of days ago:

“Sorry, this doesn't have to do with today's posting from Ronni. Last night my brother phoned with the news that he's being laid off. He's 58. At any age this is devastating but the people here know just how tragic the event is at this time in a person's life.”

We sure do know. It happened to me (although I was lucky enough to get four years more than Joan's brother before the workforce executioners decided my time was up).

And I know there are plenty of you who have been there, done that and know how awful it is. And who might have something to say about it.

Or not. The comment thread is yours today as long as it relates generally to age and aging.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: Name Calling

An Update: The Best Books on Aging

blogging bug image It's hard for me to keep up with the housekeeping around this blog, but four-and-a-half years is a bit much even for my lazy ass. Imagine if I hadn't dusted the house in that long?

But that's what it's been since I last updated the Best Books on Aging section over there at the top of TGB Features on the right sidebar.

Actually, it's worse that that. Today's is the first update ever as I haven't touched the page since it was first posted in August of 2008. Oh well. Better now than never.

The prompt to do this arrived as a result over the past weeks of a succession of “comments” from several writers on the book page linking to their books as if Time Goes By is an advertising and marketing website free to one and all.

It is not. They have been removed along with all other comments that have accumulated since the section was launched and I have now permanently shut down comments on that page.

By their generally accepted nature, best-of lists are selective. (What good are they if they're not?) And by my personal nature, I'm an extremely tough critic so this list – chosen from several hundred books about aging I've read in the past 20 years – totals just 17, including the newly added ones.

As noted, readers will no longer be able to add books in the comments. Everyone is always welcome to suggest additional books via email (click “contact” in the upper left corner of all pages) but since it has been so long since the last update, I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. And, of course, I reserve the right to reject suggestions that don't meet my standards for best.

So, you can click on the title of the section in the right sidebar or click here to see the update with some notes from me and quotations. Here is a list of the newly added books:

The Art of Aging, A Doctor's Prescription for Well-Being by Sherwin B. Nuland

The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life by Gene D. Cohen, M.D.

The Long History of Old Age edited by Pat Thane

My Twice-Lived Life by Donald M. Murray

Old Age by Simone de Beauvoir

Old Age: Journey into Simplicity by Helen M Luke

Somewhere Toward the End, A Memoir by Diana Athill

Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying by Ram Dass

Travels with Epicurus, A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life by Daniel Klein

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dolores Banerd: Shock and Awe

Blog Housekeeping – Email Moving Day

blogging bug image Well, yes, for the third damned day in a row, I'm doing a post about the back-end mechanics of blogging. Don't blame me; it's all Google's fault.

In 2007, they bought FeedBurner, a feed management service which had been around since 2004. With Google's squid-like reach on the internet, it quickly became the most popular service of its kind. Like almost everyone with a blog, I succumbed.

Subscriptions to my blog hummed along for several years until a month ago, when I read rumors that Google is shutting down Feedburner. Well, not quite. As my favorite tech guru, Webteacher Virginia DeBolt, explained:

”Feedburner’s API will be deprecated. That API is what allows you to interact with Feedburner stats and other info.”

Given past experience with companies Google has bought and then shut down, I don't have much hope that Feedburner will remain viable over time, particularly since Google has – wait for it: a new Google solution for feeds.

Of course, they do.

Google has handled this quasi-shutdown in a really shitty fashion: without an announcement directly to its customers nor in any online venue where non-techie types (LIKE MOST OF FEEDBURNER'S USERS!!) would find it.

It was mere accident that I saw a small reference to the change a few weeks ago buried in some newsletter I rarely read.

Until further notice, subscribers to TGB and The Elder Storytelling Place who use the RSS feed will see no change and need do nothing.

Email subscriptions, however, will be migrated today.

Today is moving day for Time Goes By and The Elder Storytelling Place subscribers.

Sometime after this post is emailed to subscribers – which usually happens at about 8AM Pacific time – I will migrate all subscription email addresses from Feedburner to the new service, FeedBlitz.

If everything goes correctly, you will receive tomorrow's – that is, Thursday's – mailing without any glitches. But, well, you know Murphy's Law as well as I do. I have every reason to believe the move will be fine, but until I know that for certain...

As a reminder and for those who missed it, I'm going to repeat what I told you yesterday about the migration:

  1. Please add feedblitz@mail.feedblitz.com to your address book or email whitelist today so that the new blog delivery won't end up in your junk/spam folder
  2. Watch for a message from FeedBlitz advising you that the change has taken place
  3. If Time Goes By stops arriving at your inbox, let me know via email (use the "contact" link in the upper left corner of any page) and I'll figure it out.

There are about 85 TGB subscribers and a dozen or so ESP subscribers who are already subscribed via FeedBlitz. Nothing will change for you.

Sometime not too far in the future, I will migrate RSS feed subscribers but that is more difficult so I want to give myself some time to work up the nerve, energy and determination. My old teeth can take only so much clenching.

I am so sorry to burden you all with this but if things go screwy, I want to you know what has happened and that I am here to help. Plus, it would break my heart to lose any of you, dear readers.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ross Middleton: Knowing the Cosmos

Do You Use Feedburner for Your Blog's Subscriptions?

blogging bug image Time Goes By and The Elder Storytelling Place do and according to Google, which owns Feedburner, it will soon shut down. Well, not quite shut down; here's how our old tech guru friend, Web Teacher Virginia DeBolt, explains it:

”On October 20, Feedburner will end its run. Or, to put it in Google terms, Feedburner's API will be deprecated. That API is what allows you to interact with Feedburner stats and other info.”

If you use Feedburner for your blog's subscription service, do visit Virginia's post about this as she has good explanations for alternatives to Feedburner – paid and free.

Long before I began using Feedburner, I used Feedblitz for subscriptions to this blog and to The Elder Storytelling Place. In fact, some subscribers still receive these two blogs via Feedblitz.

With a great deal of consideration and hand-wringing after first hearing about Feedburner's demise a few weeks ago, I have decided to stay with Feedblitz. “Stay” is a misnomer because making it my subscription service involves migrating all the rss and email subscriptions from Google's Feedburner to Feedblitz and that's not simple.

Feedblitz, seizing the opportunity, has made a big deal about how easy the transition is even providing a 30-odd page pdf manual (30 pages!). But it's not as clear as I would have written it leaving me with many puzzling steps including how to follow the instructions if one already has an account and is not starting anew.

But that's not your problem. Since I sent Feedblitz my email queries over the weekend, I assume they'll get to answering me today and perhaps I can move forward with the migration then.

Meanwhile, I have made a few small changes you may or may not notice on TGB and at The Elder Storytelling Place.

  • The email subscription box in the upper right corner now goes to Feedblitz. This should not affect anyone except new subscribers.

  • For readers already subscribed via Feedblitz, you will now receive email with full posts rather than just the headline and a tease.

  • The “sender” line in your email inbox should now have my name, Ronni Bennett.

  • I've changed the distribution time to more closely conform with the time the story is posted online – 5:30AM Pacific time.

In the coming days, if there is anything you need to know to continue receiving your subscriptions via email and rss, I'll let you know here.

Good god, this is tedious. As a reward for those of you who have made it this far, here's an interesting new study from Hiroshima University as reported in London's The Independent:

”Seeing pictures of cute animals may boost workers' performance in jobs that require concentration, a team at Hiroshima University has shown.

“The study, which involved 130 college students, showed that looking at pictures of baby animals could improve your concentration by a tenth.

“Researchers also found that people who looked at pictures of baby animals performed better than those who looked at adult animals.”

Now we all have a legitimate reason to spent time watching those cute baby animal videos. Here's one to get you started – yes, that's Bing Crosby singing.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Loved to Death

Time Goes By, Facebook and Twitter

blogging bug image Several newer readers have emailed about following or subscribing to Time Goes By on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Although there is a long list of posts I want to write that are actually related to being old, I also had two rather lengthy meetings Thursday on local elder issues, city and county, taking up the morning and afternoon and not much time to write.

So this is what you get today, Friday – something that takes no reading or research on my part but may need some explaining and could be useful to some readers.

I have had a Facebook account (ronni.bennett1) and a Twitter account (ronni7) for several years. As far as I can recall, I have never tweeted except perhaps when I created the account to test it.

However, this blog (and The Elder Storytelling Place blog) are set up to automatically post a link at Twitter to each day's story at the time it is published. So if you follow ronni7 on Twitter, that's one way to read either or both blogs.

I pay about the same amount of attention to my Facebook account. I never write anything there but both blogs are set up to automatically post each day's story at FB.

What came to light in some of the email from readers is the fact that there is no way to know here on this page that it is available on Facebook and/or Twitter.

You just have to pity me, I guess: I am so removed and so disinterested in those two worlds that it had not occurred to me to tell you about subscription options beyond email and rss. When I have some extra moments sometime, I might add those links.

Facebook and Twitter aficionados tell me now and then that I am hopelessly out of touch and that I should be tweeting and facebooking throughout the day.

Really? Is that so? When is it I should be doing that? During three-plus hours I'm reading several dozen alerts and newsletters and following their links to stories on aspects of aging, in addition the news in general throughout the day?

Or how about during the two to six hours (depending on complexity) it takes to write a blog post? Could I ask for input, do you think, about the right phrasing or whether a certain paragraph is necessary?

Maybe I should be T-ing and FB-ing while I'm trying to spend enough time exercising each day (not always successfully) or grocery shopping or playing with the cat or vacuuming or cooking or cleaning the bathrooms or speaking with friends on the telephone or answering the couple dozen emails a day from TGB readers. Should I tweet you about that?

I suppose I could cut back on pleasure reading or movies or music listening or the several TV shows I like and fill that time tweeting about what I would be doing if I were not tweeting.

Or maybe – now, here's a thought: whenever I catch myself being still for awhile so as to think seriously about something and maybe gain some insight or new understanding, I could tweet about what I'm pondering. Unless you think tweeting defeats the purpose of thought.

Yes, I'm being deliberately snarky and you may think I'm exaggerating but I honestly do not know where in my day I could fit Twitter and Facebook even if I thought I had anything useful to say. I hear a lot from elders that they follow their grandchildren on FB and I think that's good and fine. But I have no grandchildren.

A couple of other things Facebook/Twitter users should know about my interaction with those two media:

  • I accept all friend invitations – even the names I don't recognize; I just assume they are TGB readers.

  • I reject all other types of invitations on Facebook.

Basically, I have the two accounts to accommodate people who want to read TGB and ESP via Twitter or Facebook.

A couple of days ago, someone said on my FB page that he or she could not find the subscribe button there. As I think this post pretty well acknowledges, I am ignorant of how Facebook works. I do know that it tells me on the settings page that subscribing is implemented. Beyond that, I know nothing and I don't see the button either.

But wait – it just occurred to me: why “subscribe” on Facebook? Don't you receive friends' postings on your own Facebook page automatically so all that's needed is to friend the person you want to read regularly?

On the other hand, what do I know. As I said, I'm a Facebook ignoramus and worse (or better, depending on your point of view), with no interest in being further enlightened about it.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Precious Memories of Pet – My Pet Squirrel

How This Blog Operates

blogging bug image Because there have lately been a lot of new subscribers, I thought it might be useful (maybe for long-time readers, too) to know the “rules” I use to produce Time Goes By and, where applicable, its sister blog, The Elder Storytelling Place.

“Rules” in quotation marks because sometimes I break them and they are subject to change for reasons ranging from fairness to personal whim.

So maybe these should be called guidelines or guiding principles - the conventions and standards I use to help keep Time Goes By on track.

Every possible effort is made to follow copyright and fair use regulations. You will not see entire articles or stories copied here. When a newspaper, magazine, website, blog, etc., is quoted, it is the shortest portion possible to make the point with a link to the source.

That's not to say I don't screw up, but I correct as quickly as possible when errors are pointed out and unlike some “rules” below, this one is not changeable.

There are publications and writers who are trustworthy and there are those who are not but generally, I trust no one and seek out at least two sources for any fact I publish.

One of my most useful talents is having excellent radar for questionable facts; they jump off pages at me as though they are printed in 48-point, red type. Sure, I make mistakes. If you find one, let me know and it will fixed.

The most successful blogs in terms of traffic are almost entirely about politics, celebrities or technology so given such an un-sexy topic as aging, Time Goes By does well and has never stopped growing.

Nevertheless, it gets nowhere near the half million and more page views a day needed to make the hassle of carrying advertising worth the effort. I tried for a while in the early years of TGB; the return was too small for the attention required and it junked up the pages.

So Time Goes By is delivered to you ad-free. Relatedly, for those who subscribe via email and rss, you get the entire story instead of the first paragraph or two with a link to the online webpage as many feeds supply. If I did the latter, I could probably double the blog's page views. Many sites do this and it is irritating as hell.

Please, please note however – all who subscribe via rss and email - that you cannot see comments or leave a comment without going to the website which you do by clicking the title of the story in the feed. When, instead, you click “reply” in your feed reader or email program, your comment goes only to me via email.

I explain this to half a dozen readers via email every day. It would free up some of my time if you would take a moment to understand how this works.

These days, Time Goes By receives about 50 or 60 requests per week to write about commercial (and non-profit) products and services. I reject each of them.

That does not mean they are all of the late-night, infomercial variety. Some appear to be valuable to elders, but I would never recommend anything to you that I have not tried myself and I do not have time to test-drive all this stuff.

One exception is books. Ever since the media realized the gigantic baby boom generation is getting old, the number of new books on aging, anti-aging and everything related has exploded – thousands per year.

About 98 percent are awful, looking to make a quick buck with a clever title and no useful content. But a few are worth the the time and money. I do write about some of those.

With increasing frequency, publicists for commercial products and services offer to have their “experts” write columns for Time Goes By – for free, they tell me, if I will link to their website. They get a polite rejection letter too, as do authors who want to promote their books by adapting them into a TGB post.

For many years, I refused to hold contests. I have forgotten the reason. Lately, I have loosened up on that and there will be the occasional contest but with this caveat:

The contest must be exclusive to Time Goes By which gives a reasonable chance of a regular TGB reader winning.

I consider comments the lifeblood of a blog. They are where the important conversation goes on and my post is meant to be the day's jumping off point.

I ride the comment flow as carefully as I have time for each day. Spam is removed as quickly as possible and I am particularly adamant about deleting those who think they are oh so clever by leaving a complimentary note then linking to a retail website. For some reason, Vuitton (undoubtedly knock-offs) shows up frequently.

On a few occasions, legitimate commenters taking part in the discussion leave links to their sites that sell products or services. Those comments remain, but I remove the link. That's just the way it is here; you don't get to use the comments at TGB for free advertising.

I also monitor for personal attacks on me or commenters but it has rarely been a problem. Everyone here is quite good at making their points, disagreeing, arguing and more without crossing the line. I'm pretty sure I don't really need to say that when it does happen, the entire comment is deleted.

Oh, and comments too far off topic are deleted too. Outside links in comments are allowed as long as they are related to the day's topics but I sure would appreciate it if you would learn to make a proper html link and not just copy in an endless (or even bit.ly) string of letters.

Finally, language. Lots of four-letter words not only muck up blogs and sometimes offend, they detract from reasonable conversation. But we are all grownups here and god knows sometimes it take an f-bomb or a “horseshit” to make a point forcefully. Just be judicious.

One of the things that sets off a blog from many other types of publication is personal information about the blogger in the about page and in posts. Bloggers and blog readers can become mightily offended when they discover someone is not who they say they are.

(Do not paint all pseudonyms with this brush. There are some very good reasons not to use one's real name.)

Here, I use my real name and any stories I tell about myself and my life are true to the best of my knowledge and – ahem – memory (we all know how that goes at our ages).

When I use readers' or friends' names, it is only with their permission; otherwise you get “a friend” and “a reader.” And since ownership of the content in email (like physical letters) remains with the writer, I never use quotations from email without permission.

Whew! This is wordier than I intended but I think covers some recent email questions I've received and some other information that is related. You can leave any questions in the comments.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson Phillips: Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Book