INTERESTING STUFF – 21 March 2020

THIS MOVIE HAS BEEN RUNNING NON-STOP FOR 24 YEARS

If you ask someone in India if they’ve seen Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge or DDLJ for short, chances are you’ll get a yes. The movie is an iconic part of Indian cinema, and it’s so beloved that it has screened every day, for the past 24 years, at the Maratha Mandir theater in Mumbai.

CAN FARTS SPREAD COVID-19?

Don't laugh. I almost did but it's not necessarily a joke. As the Global Times reported:

”In a lengthy and seemingly humorous yet serious article on its WeChat account, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of Tongzhou district in Beijing clarified that farts, normally, do not constitute another transmission route of COVID-19, unless someone takes a good and rather close sniff of gas from a pantless patient.”

So as long as someone farting is wearing pants, there is no danger of transmitting the COVID-19, they say. I'm pretty sure this is not a joke. More at Mental Floss and Global Times.

TELEMEDICINE NOW PAID FOR BY MEDICARE

President Donald J. Trump announced on Tuesday that Medicare will now pay for telephone or video conferences with any physician including using such services as Skype and FaceTime.

Until now, this service had been restricted to Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas. Now, as STAT reported,

“'Medicare beneficiaries across the nation, no matter where they live, will now be able to receive a wide range of services via telehealth without ever having to leave home,' said Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“'And these services can also be provided in a variety of settings, including nursing homes, hospital outpatient departments, and more.'”

You can read more at STAT and at TechCrunch. I am having my first telemedicine visit on Monday.

THE LAST BOOKSTORE

This is a terrific short documentary (12 minutes) by filmmaker Chad Howitt about The Last Book Store in Los Angeles and its owner, Josh Spencer.

CATS SLEEPING IN WEIRD PLACES

It's what they do. Here are some examples:

Cats-sleeping-strange-places2

Cats-sleeping-strange-places3

There are 38 more images of cats sleeping in odd places at Bored Panda.

SUNDAY ELDER MUSIC

With tomorrow's Elder Music column, Peter Tibbles begins a three-part series about home – in Sunday's case, “Home is Where the Heart Is” with music from Nina Simone, Maria Muldaur, Sam Cooke and a bunch of others. Do tune in.

REALISTIC CAKE

This is simply amazing food artistry from pastry chef Luke Vincentini. Thank TGB reader Joan McMullen for it. (If you dislike the music as much as I do, just turn down your speakers, you'll still get all the information in the captions.)

There are more videos of Vincentini's creations at YouTube.

THE MYSTERY OF RABBIT ISLAND

As the Youtube page explains:

”Okunoshima is a small island in Japan’s Inland Sea. It's called 'Rabbit Island' because of the thousands of feral rabbits that roam the land. No one knows exactly how they got there, but since the end of World War II, the rabbits have been doing what they do best...”

ONE FINE MORNING

We live in frightening times these days but I've found a small respite. With this video, we can let go of our hyper-vigilance for a few minutes, breathe deeply and relax to the magnificence of nature.

This was shot at a cyprus swamp in Florida in early January 2020.

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Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog.


Falls Prevention – March 2020

Long-time readers of TGB probably yawn when they see this headline about falls prevention. I do it twice a year because falls are so serious for elders but at the same time, relatively easy to prevent. It's that time of year again so here goes. Please take a moment or two to refresh your knowledge.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us, via caring.com,

”...falls among older adults are extremely common with an estimated 2.5 million older adults treated for fall injuries in the U.S. every year.

“An estimated 25,000 of those fall injuries result in death. Justifiably so, our research showed that 8 out of 10 caregivers are worried about fall prevention for their loved ones.”

Now that many of us are stuck at home due to COVID-19, we can make good use of some of that time be sure our homes are, as much as possible, fall-proof.

I'll repeat some of my usual suggestions and ideas below but first, here is a new item - a reliable, well-researched, up-to-date guide to the best medical alert systems for 2020 from caring.com. As explained on the website,

”Medical alert systems allow seniors to retain their independence at home and in their communities, while minimizing the risk of further injury or death from falling [and] being unable to receive immediate help.

“While there are many quality, above-board companies in the home medical alert industry, there are also those that are overpriced, misleading or profiting from hidden fees.

“We’ve created this review to shed light on the top home medical alert options so that seniors and their loved ones can easily choose a reputable and affordable home medical alert company that works for them.”

Here are caring.com's top eight choices with reasons for their recommendation:

Medical Guardian – Best for Premium Features
MobileHelp – Best for Those Without a Landline
LifeFone – Best Standalone Mobile App
Life Alert – Best for Industry Experience and At Saving Lives
Bay Alarm Medical – Best for Low Monitoring Costs
Medical Care Alert – Best for EMT/EMD Certified Monitoring
QMedic – Best for Compliance and Activity Monitoring
BoomerAlert – Best For Advanced Fall Detection

It's not just a list at caring.com. They provide initial prices for each service and monthly cost for monitoring, how and why they chose each service, pros and cons of each service and more.

So if you or someone you know is considering a falls monitoring service (or should), certainly check out caring.com.

In last September's falls prevention story, several people mentioned the risk of falling that pets and small children can cause. I don't know a solution for people who have pets, but I have had a personal run-in with a kid running at top speed at the entrance to a hospital.

He nearly knocked over a man in wheelchair and almost crashed into me. But his mother did nothing to slow him down or stop him.

It's been about two years since that happened but when I'm in public, I am still warily watching for and nervous about free-range children especially since parents seem to take no heed of their kids' behavior in crowds. (I am well aware that I sound like a “get-off-my-lawn” old man, but I'm only reporting what is, in my experience.)

So, here is a general overview of the things you can do to help fall-proof your home.

There is an excellent website about fall prevention that I had not seen before last fall: Health in Aging.org. It is extraordinarily clear, concise and useful. Here are links to the main sections:

Basic Facts

Causes

Diagnosis and Tests

Care and Treatment

Lifestyle and Management

Unique to Older Adults

That is not the only good site on this subject - there is an abundance of information online about falls prevention. We should make good use of it because unlike cancer, dementia, COPD, heart disease and other conditions that affect so many elders, we can each have a direct effect on preventing falls.


Becoming More Emotional in Old Age

TGB reader Doug M., who blogs at ApacheDug's Teepee, left this comment on Saturday's Interesting Stuff post:

”I think the older I get, the more emotional I become. The video of the storks & that kind man tending to them and giving him a reason for living, left me a bit teary-eyed. Such kindness here.”

In another item in Saturday's potpourri, reader Kate Gilpin told us about how the musical flash mob similarly affects her:

”I have always found that [this flash mob] actually brings me to tears,” she wrote, “because of the amazing sense of community it illustrates.”

It is something that, like Doug, I have noticed about myself in recent years – that I become weepy easily at sad stories, inspiring stories or any other kind of story, it sometime seems.

There doesn't appear to be much research or information on this phenomenon (if it is one) and when there is, too often the undocumented assumption is that it is a medical problem. In addition, the few articles are mostly about men becoming more weepy in old age, but not women.

Do you think that might be due to the fact that most of our lives we have lived in a macho culture that discourages men from crying in public but allows women to do so? I don't know. But I immediately related to both Doug M. and Kate Gilpin when I read their comments.

In one article at the website, A Place for Mom, five of six given reasons for why old men cry are ones that are not unlikely to require medical attention:

Hormonal changes
Previous trauma
Depression, anxiety or mental illness due to aging
Social isolation
Health issues and medications

Since no one with any kind of expertise is cited in that story, let's ignore it and move on.

In an ambivalent piece in Psychology Today from 2011, the writer suggests that outsized reactions to important life events may increase with age:

”In circumstances in which strong emotions are aroused, older adults (of either gender) may not be able to regulate their emotions as well as younger people.”

Does the writer mean, do you think, that feeling strong emotions more frequently in old age is somehow a personal failure? Phooey.

Moving on.

Have you ever been so happy that you cried? I have. There seemed no other adequate response at the time and I think that is partly what Doug M. is getting at and Kate Gilpin too.

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, writing in Huffpost in 2015, says that the older we get, the more complex our emotions become and the more we are willing to live with mixed emotions.

”There’s no reason, then, to worry if you have those feelings in which joy and sadness become intermingled,” she wrote. “It doesn’t mean that you’re getting more depressed or losing control of your emotions.

“Take pride in your capacity to appreciate the subtleties of your emotional life, a feeling that should only add to your happiness and fulfillment.”

Now we're getting somewhere.

Five years ago, psychiatrist James S. Gordon, writing in the Washington Post admitted that he sometimes starts the day weeping. It just happens, he said, maybe while reading the morning paper. He went on:

”Almost 40 years ago, anthropologist Gregory Bateson — a pioneer in cybernetics and architect of the double bind theory of schizophrenia — wondered aloud to me if he were becoming more sensitive and affectionate as he moved into old age, more prone to tears.

“A few years later, playwright William Alfred, my former Harvard tutor and long-time friend, said something similar: poems which had once touched him now brought him to tears...”

For all the less-than-edifying copy I waded through to write this post. James S. Gordon is the most thoughtful and interesting. Even though he is writing about men, much of what he says feels right for me. Let's allow him to continue:

”Gregory, gifted observer of patterns, may have put his finger on it. Men may, as they age, indeed become more sensitive. I’ve noticed the changes in classmates at high school, college and medical school reunions, and in the e-mails we sometimes exchange, as well as in myself.

“The competitiveness, the real or assumed toughness of our youth is, as we age, being balanced; our Yang tempered by Yin.

“Perhaps social scientists will eventually find a way to exhaustively quantify the changes. Right now, though, it’s important simply to know what I and other men are seeing and feeling.

“We are more willing to admit to and feel the terrible pain of our losses; to weep in celebration of our own and other’s loving connections; to know and feel the threat that individual and collective greed and selfishness, and the fear that feeds them, pose to all of us and to generations beyond us.

“That our tender emotions are hopeful signs, not of weakness or pathology, but of a necessary and welcome growth — in our compassion, wholeness and, perhaps, our wisdom.”

Although it is clearly a question that could use more research, I think Gordon and Bateson are on to something. What do you think? Do you relate to any of this?


A TGB READER STORY: A Pandemic in the Time of Pay Phones

By Trudi Kappel

In the fall of 1957, my senior year in high school, the Hong Kong flu became pandemic. At the small boarding school I attended, the infirmary was overwhelmed with sick students. Satellite infirmary rooms were set up in the dorms.

Healthy students ferried supplies between buildings. Nobody used masks or any other protective gear. More students got sick.

Then the school was quarantined - on MY BIRTHDAY!!! Bummer! In previous years, my parents would visit and take me out for a celebratory restaurant meal. This year, I was not allowed to leave campus.

As consolation, Mom baked me a big double-decker birthday cake and they delivered it in the afternoon. We lived 30 country road miles away from the school. My parents decided to take advantage of the trip so before returning home they went out for dinner (boo-hoo, without me) and then saw a movie.

At dinner that evening, school officials announced a meeting of all healthy students at 7PM. School would close for two weeks and everybody should go home as quickly as possible. Do-at-home assignments were handed out.

I raced to the pay phone hoping to locate my parents before they left the area. No luck. There was a long line behind me at the phone so I went to share out my cake.

The theater had paged my parents but mangled the pronunciation of our name so badly that they didn't respond. After the movie, Dad asked at the box office if anybody had responded to that page. No. And the girl who was calling seemed anxious.

Dad thought, could it be? With difficulty he managed to get a call through to that very busy pay phone, and said he would pick me up in an hour.

It was a very busy hour. I distributed the cake and packed books and clothes for two weeks and left. I spent those two weeks at home without so much as a sniffle.

One of my assignments was to read the Russian novel, The Brothers Karamazov. I put it off and put it off. Long Russian novels were and are not my thing.

The day before we were to return, I skimmed the first 50 pages. I figured when my English teacher started discussing the book, I would be able to keep ahead of her.

Ahem. I never read another page. She didn't mentioned it when classes resumed. I didn't ask.

Life returned to normal as I hope that it will soon for us now. Current status: I am not so bored to resume reading the Brothers but it could happen.


ON MY MIND: An Anniversary and the Virus

The anniversary in the headline is that of this blog. It was born on this date 16 years ago. In that first post, I answered a reader's question about the difference between being 40 and 62.

If you check it out, fotolog mentioned in the story was an early social media website although I don't think the phrase, “social media” had yet been coined. Way back when, I posted photographs there. As the captions got longer and I had read about a then-new platform called a weblog, I started Time Goes By.

If anyone had asked back then, I would never have believed it would still be going 16 years later.

VIRUS
It was Friday morning last week that the full impact of the Corona virus finally hit me. Before then, I thought I could wash my hands a lot, leave home as infrequently as possible and when I must go out, wear nitrile gloves while keeping a distance from others. Inconvenient, but not difficult.

Then an email arrived suspending my twice-monthly current affairs discussion group until further notice. Shortly after that, a friend canceled our upcoming lunch date and I read a news story online that grocery shelves are being emptied and not always restocked.

My freezer suddenly looked chillingly empty.

So I got serious about thinking through how the virus will affect me and by extension, those I come into contact with.

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Here is an additional measure I have added to the list in Friday's post to help me try to avoid becoming infected.

On Saturday, I ordered a supply of four prescription drugs that are essential to my well-being. An unknown percentage of U.S. drugs and/or their ingredients are manufactured in China (and some other countries), much of which has been shut down for many weeks so I am concerned about a shortage.

Vox reported a week ago that due to the spread of the virus, manufacturing in China has been disrupted,

”...taking factories offline that are only now slowly ramping back up. That’s all increased fears of potential drug shortages in the United States.

“But how worried should we be? Experts say the answer largely depends on how long these disruptions continue in China and whether the outbreak becomes widespread in other countries critical to the drug supply chain, including India.

On the other hand, reports Vox, many drug companies have backups in place and the U.S. keeps a Strategic National Stockpile of some critical drugs and medical supplies.

I am not deeply worried (yet) but have ordered my drugs in an abundance of caution. Read the Vox story, which is excellently reported, to see what you think.

GROCERY SHOPPING AND CREDIT CARDS
I made Saturday grocery day and, suited up in my nitrile gloves, went early hoping to avoid crowds. The first issue was missing carts – none in the usual storage area so I tracked down one in the parking lot. What was that about? Did someone tweet that the carts cure the virus?

Traffic inside the store was light. Still, it was hard to keep six feet of distance between me and other people. Repeatedly, other shoppers sidled up near me – within a foot or two – perusing the shelves. I moved on and if the item was important to me, I checked back when the aisle was empty.

Frozen vegetables were entirely sold out, freezer cases empty except for the veggies everybody hates like lima beans. I grabbed the last bag of broccoli and cauliflower and another of green beans.

The meat counter was empty. Nothing. There were no cooked chickens either. Fresh produce was hit and miss. Three cucumbers remained on the shelf but no blackberries and only four containers of raspberries. I checked four cartons of eggs before I found one without broken eggs.

Checking out, I used my new rule for payment: credit card only. I like to pay cash for most daily purchases because a quick glance at my wallet lets me know whether I'm on budget for the week. But now it's a card so I don't need to touch money which, even without a virus floating free, is one of the dirtiest things we handle.

HAND SANITIZER
There has been a lot of confusion about whether hand sanitizer is helpful against the virus with many false claims that it is not. The Centers for Disease Control says that if the sanitizer is at least 60 percent alcohol, it can be useful against contracting or spreading the virus.

You can read more about hand sanitizers at FactCheck.org.

DEPENDING ON ONE ANOTHER

Few of us have any experience at this and in the U.S., confusion and negligence within the federal government make it clear that we do not have a trustworthy leader.

The governors of individual states and mayors of cities seem to be stepping up well, however. Even so, to a large degree we are each on our own.

Oddly, at a time when we must separate ourselves from one another to help ensure the health of everyone as much as possible, we need one another more than ever. To protect ourselves is to help protect everyone and for the foreseeable future, we each have a moral duty to live by the recommended precautions while holding one another in our hearts.

Let us know in the comments how your community is coping and what you are thinking about this unnerving cataclysm.


ELDER MUSIC: Playing For Change

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

* * *

Something a little different today.

PLAYING FOR CHANGE is a movement designed to connect people all over the world through the medium of music. They have organised dozens, maybe hundreds, of people throughout the world to perform, and have filmed and recorded them and put the results on Youtube and their own website.

These are wonderful and I have some of the ones I like best for you today. After seeing the results, I marvel at the editing job someone has done to create these videos.

I had originally selected twice as many as finally made the cut. Any of the omitted ones would have been worthy of inclusion, but I had to be brutal. The whole series is worth searching out – it’s quite easy, and I have included links for you at the bottom of this post.

There are several artists who appear in quite a few of these songs: Roberto, Grandpa, Chaz, Keiko, Mermans. I had fun looking out for the regulars.

My goodness, these are terrific.

RIPPLE
Ripple was the first of the Playing for Change songs I discovered. I was a little apprehensive before I played it as I thought the song was the finest moment for the Grateful Dead on record (they weren’t much of a recording band, only two studio albums that are worth more than one or two listens. They were an excellent live band, however).

I was pleasantly surprised at its quality when I played it. There are a few famous musicians along for the ride – it was fun spotting them all. The song was written by regular Dead songwriters, Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter.

LA BAMBA
La Bamba is a Mexican folk song, originally from Veracruz. It was made famous in the English speaking world when Ritchie Valens had a (posthumous) hit with the song. Many have recorded it over the years, including Los Lobos, a couple of whose members are featured.

RIVERS OF BABYLON
Rivers of Babylon is a little different from the other songs today, as there are only three players (Rocky Dawuni, Mermans Mosengo and Jason Tamba with some unseen backup musicians).

It was written and performed originally by the Jamaican group The Melodians, and it was featured prominently in the fine film The Harder They Come.

IMAGINE
I imagine you all know this one (sorry about that). It was John Lennon’s most famous and popular song he wrote and performed as a solo performer. John gets a piece of the action in this video.

AHOULANGUINE AKALINE
Bombino (Omara Moctar) is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Niger. His song translates to “I greet my country”, and he wrote it after being exiled from his country for years after extremists and the country’s leaders (they overlap) tried to ban the guitar (and probably music as well).

Bombino features prominently in the clip which will certainly get your toes a’tapping.

DOCK OF THE BAY
Dock of the Bay was the last song Otis Redding recorded and was a big hit for him, alas, after he died. He wrote the song with his guitarist Steve Cropper, also a member of Booker T and the MGs.

Today’s version was recorded to celebrate 50 years since the original (50 years! Where does the time go?) Included in the clip are Otis’s two sons.

WHAT’S GOING ON
What’s Going On was the name of a song from the album of the same name. It was recorded by Marvin Gaye and was written by Al Cleveland who first sent it to The Four Tops, but they turned it down.

The album turned into a concept album, a song cycle, the first of its kind on Motown Records. Berry Gordy, head of Motown, hated it and didn’t want to release it. It eventually saw light of day and was an immediate critical and popular success that eventually sold squillions.

CONGO TO THE MISSISSIPPI
The song Congo to the Mississippi probably sums up what Playing for Change is all about better than any. It was written by Mermans Mosengo and Greg Johnson. The song is aptly named, as you’ll see.

DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY
This isn’t the rather sappy Bobby McFerrin song that was a huge hit some time ago. This one was written by Pierre Minetti especially for the Playing for Change project. Pierre kicks the song off in fine form.

EVERYDAY PEOPLE
Everyday People was written by Sly Stone and first recorded by Sly and the Family Stone. It’s been covered by a whole bunch of people over the years. Its message fits perfectly with the aims of Playing for Change.

You will notice several famous musicians along the way as well as a few famous non-musicians.

REDEMPTION SONG
Redemption Song, written by Bob Marley, was released on his album “Uprising”. Bob wrote it after he’d been diagnosed with the cancer that eventually killed him. On the original, Bob sang and played with just an acoustic guitar. He appears in this clip as does as one of his sons, Stephen.

THE WEIGHT
Robbie Robertson wrote The Weight and it was on The Band’s first album “Music From Big Pink”. It was his most Bob Dylan-like song. Robbie is present on this video along with a drummer who looks vaguely familiar.

If you want to find out more about Playing For Change, you can do that at their website. They also have all the videos, although some are blocked unless you become a member. If you prefer to go through Facebook, you can find them here.


INTERESTING STUFF – 14 March 2020

PHOTOGRAPH OF REVOLUTIONARY WAR VETERAN

ConradHeyer1
This is Conrad Heyer. He was born in 1749 and served in the American Revolutionary War. It is believed, according to Snopes, that he is the earliest born American to be photographed.

The photograph was taken when he was 103 in 1852. You can read more at Snopes and at the Smithsonian magazine website.

CENSUS FORMS STARTED ARRIVING IN HOMES THIS WEEK

The 2020 Census in the U.S. has begun. Forms started arriving in people's mailboxes this week.

Here is how Sesame Street is explaining the Census to their young audience. A reminder for all of us.

As the YouTube page tell us: It only takes 10 minutes to support kids for the next 10 years. Call, return your form by mail, or go to the Census website.

A RESCUED STORK, HER RESCUER AND HER MATE

My friend Barbara Fisher sent this video of a relationship among two storks and a man that has lasted for more than a quarter of a century. Take a look:

Last August, Total Croatia News posted this sad update:

”Retired janitor Stjepan Vokić, who has been caring for Malena for thirty years, explained that his ''Klepo'' returned to the nest and his beloved Malena for the last time looking old, tired, and very unwell.

"'Four of them (birds) came and began making some very sad noises. I knew then that Klepo had gone, he had died. You know how they say that birds die singing,' Vokić sadly said.”

SINGING TOGETHER THROUGH A PANDEMIC

As you probably know, the entire country of Italy is in lockdown at home - no one is allowed out in the streets. In the past couple of days, quarantined Italians have been singing with one another across those empty streets and some people caught it on video. As one said, beautiful and haunting.

A SPECIAL ELDER MUSIC TOMORROW

Peter Tibbles, who has been writing the TGB Sunday music column, Elder Music, for about 10 years, has put together a different kind of post for tomorrow, Sunday.

His choices are, as always, impeccable. All selections – all in video this time - are from a worldwide organization dedicated to inspire and connect the people of the world. A whole lot of musicians – famous and not – are involved. Don't miss it.

THE LAST SETH MEYERS SHOW FOR HOW LONG?

On Thursday, Late Night with Seth Meyers made the decision - along with The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Show with Stephen Colbert - to suspend production of their shows until at least March 30th.

In Meyers' case, he and the staff had already written Thursday's “A Closer Look” segment and so they went ahead and recorded it, and posted it to YouTube. Here it is:

KAKISTOCRACY

There is no reason for this item except that I ran across the word this week. I had forgotten about it since I first saw it a year or two ago. It's fun to say: KAK-is-TOC-ra-see.

It is a term that describes rule by the stupid, ignorant, lazy and profoundly incompetent. Sound familiar?

COPENHAGEN FLASH MOB – BOLERO

People don't seem to do musical flash mobs much anymore – or any kind of flash mobs. I miss them – not that I ever saw one in person.

TGB reader Kate Gilpin sent in this one from nine years ago. I might not have posted it today except her description in the email she sent makes it a must see:

”I have always found that [this flash mob] actually brings me to tears because of the amazing sense of community it illustrates - I mean, primarily, the orchestra members and the conductor, but also the observers, who sense something remarkable happening, and stop to experience it.

“They all gradually come together, start playing their part, while the conductor modifies his movements to accommodate the growing number of players surrounding him. The drummer begins, the flute comes in, a platform appears, a baton. Just a FABULOUS experience in cooperation and love—of the music, of each other, of the project at hand.”

Now how could you resist watching after that description.

THE DECORAH EAGLES LIVE CAM

I posted this live cam about a year ago, last time the two bald eagles were awaiting the birth of their brood. There are three eggs this year. So take a peek inside this massive eagle nest in Decorah, Iowa.

You can find out more about the Decorah eagles at explore.org along with a whole lot of other live wildlife cameras from around the world.

* * *

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog.


The COVID-19 Pandemic

This is a longer post than I would usually do but I also think that we should not stop talking about COVID-19 and keep reminding one another what we must do to stay healthy.

So, here are some of those reminders from me, a poem about our predicament and the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show which is also about the virus this time. I know, it's a lot. Choose what you want and leave the rest.

But let's do talk about this below in the comments.

It's a pandemic now, says the World Health Organization (WHO). That doesn't change anything - it just means that the virus has been formally declared to be a worldwide problem.

Whatever the president says, this Corona virus is not a small thing. It will not, as he told us on television, fade away next week. It is here for the long haul. No one knows when it ends.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified in Congress on Wednesday in stark terms: “Bottom line,” he said, “it’s going to get worse.”

GO WASH YOUR HANDS

Every person must do their part to try to keep the virus at bay. But particularly if you are old or your immune system is suppressed or you have an underlying condition such as heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure, you are at greater risk of dying from the virus than children and younger adults.

Because the U.S. government has so badly botched testing for the virus, all statistics are dubious but according to Fauci on Wednesday,

“The [seasonal] flu has a mortality rate of 0.1 percent. This [COVID-19] has a mortality rate of 10 times that. That’s the reason I want to emphasize we have to stay ahead of the game in preventing this.”

GO WASH YOUR HANDS

Here's another important thing Dr. Fauci has said: “Every infected person will, on average, infect two-to-three more people who each will infect two-to-three more people and so on.”

So you see how this goes and how quickly the number of infections multiplies.

Because I am 78 years old and have two serious conditions – cancer and lung disease – that make COVID-19 more dangerous to me than if I didn't have those conditions, I've gone full-tilt boogie on prevention.

Washing my hands constantly.
Close to succeeding at not touching my face.
Using hand sanitizer whenever, wherever it's available.
Not going to crowded places.
Not shaking hands.
Not hugging.
Keeping six feet away from other people, if possible.
Mostly staying home.

GO WASH YOUR HANDS

Doing all this is tricky. I am down to one travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer and can't find any (I trust) to buy online or off.

At the market one day this week, the sanitizer dispenser was empty so now I keep nitrile gloves in my car so I will have something between my hands and whatever I'm buying that an unknown number of people may have touched.

GO WASH YOUR HANDS

In his Oval Office speech Wednesday evening, Trump's big announcement was a ban on travel from a bunch of European countries. However, the U.K., where Trump owns three golf resorts, is exempt. There are other loopholes too.

But, really, what is the point of the travel ban even without loopholes and exceptions? The virus is already in the United States and most other countries with the number of infections growing daily from community transmission.

The most important thing the U.S. needs to do is test, test thousands of people as other countries do to give us an informed look at what we are up against. But Trump did not mention testing in his speech on Wednesday and the next morning, Vice President Mike Pence could not say how many tests have been done or what any results are.

I don't know about you, but I am now officially terrified.

GO WASH YOUR HANDS

Yesterday, both remaining Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, delivered addresses to the nation covering the policy proposals they would institute if they were president. Both behaved as a steady, normal leader would do facing such a pandemic.

My god I wish one of them were president.

It's hard to live without hugging or touching the people we love but we are stuck with that for the foreseeable future during which we will not be congregating at ball parks, theaters, museums and all the other places in the public square we like to go.

Daily life is dramatically changed now and, probably, for a long time to come.

What to me is obvious as we live through this virus is to help one another with all the care and love for one another we have within us.

TGB reader, Ann Burack-Weiss, who contributes to Reader Stories now and then, sent this yesterday from poet, Lynn Unger. It is titled, Pandemic.

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love-
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

As Ann said to me in her email, I find this comforting.

Now, here is the latest installment of The Alex and Ronni Show – also about the Corona virus. (I keep asking if he can't find a better still shot for the static image; he says he can't. Oh well.)

GO WASH YOUR HANDS


Study: Single Dose of Psilocybin Eased Anxiety Four Years Later

In a follow up to their 2016 study, researchers at New York University Langone Health (NYU Langone) announced in January that

”...cancer patients who were given psilocybin reported reductions in anxiety, depression, hopelessness, demoralization, and death anxiety more than four years after receiving the [single] dose in combination with psychotherapy,” reports CNN.

"'Our findings strongly suggest that psilocybin therapy is a promising means of improving the emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being of patients with life-threatening cancer,' said Dr. Stephen Ross, associate professor of psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health.”

Wow. It was considered a landmark finding when those participants reported continued relief from symptoms at just six months after their psilocybin sessions.

As many of you know, in December 2018, I spent a day on a psylocybin “trip” with a guide. The purpose was directly related to my terminal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. You can read about that session here and here.

In recent years, multiple studies have found benefits of psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”) in treating not only people with terminal cancer but depression,

anxiety, PTSD and other psychological disturbances.

This follow-up study is the first to show long-term positive results.

”Fifteen of the original participants were then followed up 3.2 and 4.5 years later and showed sustained long-term improvements,” reports CNN, “with more than 70% of them further attributing 'positive life changes to the therapy experience, rating it among 'the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives,' according to the study published Tuesday in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.”

To be clear, this is was a small study with 29 original participants in 2016, and 15 of them in the recent follow up.

No one knows how psilocybin works in the brain yet but evidence that it does work is growing.

"'These results may shed light on how the positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin persist for so long,' said Gabby Agin-Liebes, lead investigator and lead author of the long-term follow-up study, and co-author of the 2016 parent study.

"'The drug seems to facilitate a deep, meaningful experience that stays with a person and can fundamentally change his or her mindset and outlook.'"

It has been only 14 months since my psilocybin experience but so far it has worked that way for me. The black, paralyzing fear of dying is no longer with me although I have recently been feeling a profound sadness when I think about leaving our world. But I've had a good life so I think that's appropriate and it's not debilitating.

Psylocybin is illegal, a Schedule 1 controlled substance and researchers must get permission for their studies with it. But a growing number of top institutions are doing so including the University of California, Johns Hopkins and the home of this study, NYU Langone.

People in several states in the U.S. are working to get local measures for decriminalization of psilocybin or its use in medical settings on the ballot in November. My state, Oregon, is among them. The Oregon Psylocybin Society has worked to develop the 2020 Psilocybin Service Initiative:

“The intent of the 2020 Psilocybin Service Initiative of Oregon is to advance a breakthrough therapeutic model currently being perfected in research settings at top universities around the world,” states the Initiative.

“The service model involves a sequence of facilitated sessions, including assessment and preparation, psilocybin administration, and integration afterwards. We envision a community-based framework, where licensed providers, along with licensed producers of psilocybin mushrooms, blaze trails in Oregon in accordance with evolving practice standards.”

You will find more information at the PSI-2020 website.

Here is a video from PSI-2020 of testimonials from people who have undergone psilocybin therapy.


A TGB READER STORY: Petal Memory

By Nancy R.

The petals I picked in the summer
come to life in the cup.

I drink the morning
I first picked these blossoms with her along the road near the creek
I had to cross to reach her house.

I drink the afternoon last summer
with a mantle of blue covering me and
the summer breeze tousling my hair.

Pink, delicate and faint,
Bright and rosy.
I pick carefully, slowly in the mid afternoon
as the bees rush from bush to bush
also harvesting.
Sun still high and hot.

I drink the rose colour of flowers.
Familiar, too the cerulean sky and towering poplars
my first friends.
On a blanket
the sound of rustling leaves overhead
my mother nearby working in the garden.

She wrote that there were several doors
and death was no different than in life.
We pass through a doorway.
Is this the way home?

This morning I choose wild rose petals because I wanted to be near Baba who was a wise, kind and good woman who loved me. I drink this assurance and continue my day.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


A TGB Musical Interlude: Manhattan Tower

Peter Tibbles, who lives in Melbourne, Australia, has been handling the Elder Music section of this blog on Sundays for about 10 years, and doing a spectacular job of it. His knowledge and taste are peerless.

I don't like to interfere with such fine work but now and then, I have a little something to say about music. Today is one of those times.

This came to mind when I first met my new physical therapist who tends exclusively to feet. I wrote about that last Friday. It turns out she had lived, studied and worked in Manhattan for several years and loves it as much as I do.

Our conversation reminded me of a 1946 record album (remember 78s?) about New York City that I last mentioned here way back in 2009 – “Manhattan Tower”. I sent it to her and took a listen myself, which I had not done in several years. I found myself smiling throughout, while feeling all warm and fuzzy.

There is a back story to this.

ManhattanTowerAlbumCoveri

I was a little girl of no more than five or six when my parents obtained the album at its first release. It made such an impression on me that I made it my own. I played those two 78s hundreds of times over many years and I am convinced it is what began my love affair with New York – nothing else explains my yearning, from earliest childhood, to live there.

The album is a love letter to New York City, a suite composed and conducted by Gordon Jenkins with the lead performances sung by Eliot Lewis and Beverly Mahr. Never heard of them? Me neither – except on this album.

There are four parts – Magical City, The Party, New York's My Home and Love in the Tower. The arrangement can sound overblown and schmaltzy nearly 75 years later and maybe it is. But there is something about music from our youth that persists.

In the 1950s, a new version of “Manhattan Tower” was released adding many more songs including what was a big hit for Patti Page back then, Married I Can Always Get.

I don't like all these extra tunes so I never listen to that version. The 16-minute original seems to me to be too perfect to mess with and I discovered that I still know every word of the lyrics.

Music from our youth tends to stick with us as we get old. And we can often recall events from our younger years more easily than what we had to dinner last evening. So maybe you, too, have some early music memories that you still love.

Here is the original ”Manhattan Tower” from 1946, the full 16-minute suite - for those of you who don't find it too treacly.

There is now a Wikipedia page with a background on the album and more recordings of the original and subsequent longer versions at YouTube.


ELDER MUSIC: Classical Whatnot 1

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

* * *

I checked “whatnot” in the Macquarie dictionary, the official dictionary of Australian English. The first definition was shelves for bric-a-brac. That’s not very appropriate. The second: anything; no matter what; what you please. Now we’re getting somewhere. That will do me.

The third I thought I’d gloss over, but in the interest of honesty, it said: an insignificant or unspecified article. People who don’t like my insignificant articles might go with that one.

So, on with the whatnot...

We’ll ease gently into the column with my favourite 12th century nun, HILDEGARD of Bingen.

Hildegard

Hildegard was an author, counsellor, linguist, naturalist, scientist, philosopher, physician, herbalist and poet. She was the head nun at the nun shop where she worked. She also wrote music, quite a lot of it.

A series she wrote called Voice of the Blood documents recounts the legend of the slaughter of Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgin companions (where did they find them all?) by barbarian soldiers.

In spite of the grim topic, the music is gorgeous. From that set here is Cum Vox Sanguinis.

♫ Hildegard - Cum Vox Sanguinis


There are quite a few instances of brothers who are composers; and even some brothers and sisters who both wrote music. Here is a pair of brothers I wasn’t aware of until recently and they are the Jadin brothers.

They were both born in Versailles in the latter end of the 18th century. Their uncle was also a composer and their father played bassoon in the Royal Orchestra. They had three other brothers who were also musical, but none of their compositions survive as far as we know.

LOUIS-EMMANUEL JADIN was the older brother.

Jadin-Louis-Emmanuel

He was a French composer, pianist and harpsichordist, and he wrote about 40 operas, orchestral works and some chamber music. One of those from the last genre is his Sonata for Piano & Flute in G major, Op. 13 No. 1, the first movement.

♫ Jadin L-E - Sonata for Piano & Flute in G major Op. 13 No. 1 (1)


HYACINTHE JADIN was the younger sibling, and in spite of his name, was a bloke.

Hyacinthe Jadin

I find his music more appealing than Louis-Emmanuel’s but they are both worth a listen. Hy wrote a surprising amount of music, some for orchestra, quite a lot for piano in various settings and much chamber music, especially quartets and trios.

I say surprising because he died when he was only 24 (from tuberculosis). In keeping with his penchant for chamber music, here is the fourth movement of his String Quartet in F- Minor, Op. 1, No. 3.

♫ Jadin H - String Quartet in F- Minor Op. 1 No. 3 (4)


Speaking of siblings, MICHAEL HAYDN doesn’t get a lot of airplay these days, almost certainly due to the prevalence of his big brother.

Michael Haydn

Mike spent more than 40 years as Kapellmeister (a fancy word for someone in charge of music making) in Salzburg, which left him free to compose and play music. He was later offered a job by the Esterházy family after his big brother had left that job. He advised him against taking it.

Here is the third movement of his Trombone Concerto in D Major\Trombone Concerto in D Major.

♫ Haydn M - Trombone Concerto in D Major (3)


FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN was Polish by birth and French by inclination.

Chopin

He left Poland at the age of 20 and lived the rest of his life in Paris. That wasn’t all that long as he died at the age of 39. He was always a sickly person and gave few concerts in the last half of his life.

He wrote a bunch of stuff, though, all of which featured the piano in one way or another. One of those is his Prelude in D-flat major Op. 28 No. 15, called 'Raindrop'.

♫ Chopin - Prelude Op. 28 No. 15 in D flat major


Since I’ve been writing these classical columns I have found that a considerable number of composers can be described as polymaths, Hildegard for one. Another was WILLIAM HERSCHEL, originally from Hanover but he spent most of his life in England.

William Herschel

Given my interest in such things, I’ve always associated Will with physics, and in particular astronomy. He was the one who discovered the planet Uranus after all. He was a skillful telescope maker which helped. He also studied biology, and he was the first to determine that coral wasn’t a plant (he made his own microscopes too).

However, and you can see this coming, he was also quite a fine composer as well as playing the oboe, violin, harpsichord and organ. He wrote a couple of dozen symphonies, a dozen or more concertos, sonatas and various other things.

One of those symphonies is his Symphony No. 13 in D major, the first movement. He features flutes in this one.

♫ Herschel - Symphony No. 13 in D major (1)


LUIGI GATTI was born in Lazise, not too far from Verona in what is now Italy.

Luigi Gatti

He was the son of an organist and later was ordained as a priest, although he spent most of his time performing and writing music. He applied for, and received, the job as Kapellmeister in Salzburg, the same position that Michael Haydn held later.

This rather miffed Mozart’s dad, Leopold, as he wanted that job. Later on Luigi healed the rift with the Mozart family and became friends with Nannerl, Wolfgang’s sister, and helped her locate several previously unknown compositions by the great man.

Luigi wrote mostly concertos and chamber works. In that latter category, here is the third movement of his Quartet in C Major for Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello.

♫ Gatti - Quartet in C Major for Oboe Violin Viola and Cello (3)


PIERRE RODE was a French composer and violinist.

Pierre Rode

He was born in Bordeaux and then moved to Paris for lessons from the great teacher (and composer) Giovanni Viotti, who was so taken by Pierre’s playing, he didn’t charge him for the lessons.

Pierre later became Napoleon’s violin soloist (I didn’t realise he had one until I did my research). Later he toured extensively throughout Europe, Britain and Russia. Beethoven was so impressed with his skills he wrote a violin sonata for him.

As you might expect, Pierre wrote a lot of music for the violin, including this one: his Violin Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, Op. 8, the third movement.

♫ Rode - Violin Concerto No. 6 in B flat major Op. 8 (3)


Speaking of siblings, which we were above, here is the big brother of Michal Haydn, JOSEPH HAYDN.

Joseph Haydn

In my opinion, Jo is one of the four most important composers in history; he was instrumental (sorry) in the development of several genres of music, most of which he invented himself.

One such is the keyboard trio, and here is one, the third movement of his Keyboard Trio No. 32 in A major, the third movement.

♫ Haydn J - Keyboard Trio No. 32 in A major (3)


We opened with a nun, it’s only appropriate that we close with a priest, the red priest himself, ANTONIO VIVALDI.

Antonio Vivaldi

He was called that because he had red hair, not for any political leanings. He also didn’t do very much priesting. He claimed to be asthmatic (I can believe that, as I am as well; I also used to be red headed too) so he didn’t like all the incense and other stuff he had to deal with.

That left him with writing music for the girls’ school for which he was employed. Those girls were pretty talented based on the music he wrote for them, and boy did he write a lot of stuff. One of those is the Violin Concerto No. 12 Op. 3 in E major RV265. This is the first movement.

♫ Vivaldi - Concerto No. 12 Op. 3 in E major RV265 (1)


INTERESTING STUFF – 7 March 2020

ALEX TREBEK CANCER UPDATE

It has been a full year now since Jeopardy! host, Alex Trebek was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He took the opportunity to update everyone on his condition. Obviously, I relate.

AN ICE STORM LIKE YOU'VE NEVER SEEN

Last weekend, a mega-ice storm hit homes on the shore of Lake Erie. Take a look:

There is a full story along with a large number of breathtaking still photos of the frozen houses at Huffpost.

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME BEGINS TONIGHT

If it feels like you just turned back your clocks, you are not far off. We just did that in the U.S. on 3 November 2019, and now it's time again to turn them forward one hour tonight.

DaylightSavingsTimeMarch2020

Cell phones, computers, tablets and some other tech toys reset themselves. For some reason I have a lot of analog clocks. Grrrrrrr.

SHORTEST HARLEM GLOBETROTTER

Jahmani Swanson tells us he is 4-foot-5 but he carries himself like he's 6-foot-5.

”This basketball player, who goes by the nickname Hot Shot, plays to win. Born in the Bronx and raised in Harlem, Swanson is the shortest Harlem Globetrotter in the team’s history.

"People typically see height as the ultimate advantage in basketball. But players who underestimate Swanson because he is a little person soon regret it.”

Take a look:

A WHITE PEACOCK SHOWS OFF

TGB reader Joan McMullen sent in this idea. What can I say except Wow.

FOR BOOK LOVERS

The Booksellers is a documentary film about the New York City rare books world. The YouTube page for the trailer tells us:

”Antiquarian booksellers are part scholar, part detective and part businessperson, and their personalities and knowledge are as broad as the material they handle.

“They also play an underappreciated yet essential role in preserving history. The Bookselleers takes viewers inside their small but fascinating world, populated by an assortment of obsessives, intellects, eccentrics and dreamers.”

Here's the trailer:

There is a list of upcoming screenings at the film's website along with a contact form so you can ask when The Booksellers will show up in your town, and there is a good story about the film at The Guardian.

WIDESPREAD SOCIAL SECURITY SCAM

On Wednesday, the Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, issued a warning of a new tactic by government imposters to reach — and victimize — Americans by phone.

”We have received reports of text messages on cell phones that appear to come from Social Security,” said Ennis. “The texts warn about a Social Security number problem. They ask the recipient to call a number back to resolve the problem and avoid legal action.

None of this is real. It is a scam.

”We have received reports of text messages on cell phones that appear to come from Social Security. The texts warn about a Social Security number problem. They ask the recipient to call a number back to resolve the problem and avoid legal action.”

Do not believe it. Do not call the number. Find out all the information you need at the Social Security Website.

BLOOM

Too many old people live alone, don't get out much and are lonely. Some experts say loneliness is epidemic. Here is a lovely, little animated story about that.

Nadine, depressed and alone, has been living her life in the dark. A gift from a friendly neighbor gives Nadine something to live for.

WILD LIFE AT THE LOG BRIDGE

Wait until you see all the different animals that use this log bridge in a Pennsylvania forest over the course of a year. Thank TGB reader Alan Goldsmith for this.

* * *

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog.


A Simple, Surprising Foot Pain Treatment

UPDATE: This blog post is not an endorsement. I'm just explaining a surprising result in my case. I have no idea or any way to know if it would be helpful for anyone else.

Do you know what this is? Or what it is for?

Therabrush2

Stick with me here and I'll tell you.

Until 2017, I spent 76 years being so healthy that I hardly noticed my body. The occasional cold, the even fewer influenzas over decades repeatedly confirmed my long-settled expectation that good health was just how I rolled in life.

I didn't even think my health was particularly remarkable. It just was. Until it wasn't anymore.

Until cancer and, subsequently, COPD too, I thought of medical treatment in terms of big, serious stuff – hospital, surgery, prescription drugs. It turns out (and maybe you already know this) that much more mundane, ordinary remedies do a lot of good.

In January, I told you about my first big surprise in this regard – pulmonary rehab. With simple exercises and breathing techniques, the nurses moved me within a few weeks from being incapable of walking between the bedroom and kitchen without stopping once and sometimes twice to catch my breath, to sailing along the hallway.

Okay, not sailing. But it's been a long time now since I even thought about my breathing in and around the house.

A second problem has been neuropathy pain in my feet – tingling on my soles but worse, huge pain in my heels, particularly when I wake in the morning or get up from a chair after sitting for more than 15 or 20 minutes.

I mean really bad pain. I'd been gritting my teeth while I walked around like a crab for a couple of minutes until the pain subsided a bit and I could almost function.

Two weeks ago I found myself with another rehab therapist who specializes in feet, only feet. In addition to some exercises, she handed me a therabrush, also called a therapressure brush. (See image above)

My new therapist showed me how to use the brush in a circular motion on my heels - while I tried not to laugh out loud. How could what looked like a small, oval shoe brush keep pain at bay, I wondered.

I was just as skeptical at home when I placed the therabrush on the table next to my bed, and tried it for the first time the next morning sitting on the side of my bed.

After a few rounds of pressure on one heel and the other as I moved the brush round and round, I put my feet on the floor and stood up. I took a tentative step. And then another. And another.

And there was no pain. Or, rather, so little that it didn't matter.

Once again, one of those physical therapy folks showed me who's boss. If I had only read about this and not been directed by a therapist, I would never have tried it. Now I use it every day.

Mostly, in the news and on medical television shows, we hear only about the heroic means of healthcare and saving lives. They don't show us what a new way to breathe or 30 minutes of morning exercises or a cute little brush can improve our lives. A whole lot.

It's a good thing for me that these wonderful professionals don't withhold their expertise from non-believers like me, and I am most grateful for that.

A short and shallow trip around the internet shows me that there are other uses for these brushes but you're on your own to track down those. (Just search “therapy brush”.)


Where Do You Want to Die?

Surely you remember movies from childhood and maybe a bit later showing the patriarch of the story dying in his bed as family members hover around?

I sure do. It was such a common scene back then that images of several different ones are stored in my head still, although I can't name the films.

For eons, dying at home was the norm. And then, beginning in the early 1900s, it wasn't anymore.

Now, for the first time since then, more people in the U.S. are dying at home than in hospitals and nursing homes. As CNN reported in December:

”The researchers looked at the number of natural deaths in the United States based on data collected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics.

“They define natural deaths as when a medical condition leads directly to death, meaning people died from heart problems or cancer, among other diseases, rather than dying in a car accident, for example. The authors looked at data from 2003 to 2017.

“They found that hospital deaths are still common, but that number is declining. There were 905,874 hospital deaths in 2003, 39.7% of deaths. And by 2017 there were 764,424 hospital deaths, 29.8% of deaths.”

As veteran science and medicine journalist, Gina Kolata, reported in The New York Times,

”In Boston in 1912, about two-thirds of residents died at home, [Dr. Haider J. Warraich, a cardiologist at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System and a co-author of the new research] said. By the 1950s, the majority of Americans died in hospitals, and by the 1970s, at least two-thirds did.

“Americans have long said that they prefer to die at home, not in an institutional setting. Many are horrified by the prospect of expiring under fluorescent lights, hooked to ventilators, feeding tubes and other devices that only prolong the inevitable.”

But it is not always easy to die at home. Dr. Warraich, writing recently in the Washington Post, notes how difficult it can be for both family caregivers and the dying person.

”...as more people die at home, it also means that much more responsibility falls on the shoulders of patients and their caregivers. Caregiver burden is a growing problem in America. As a doctor tending patients with heart failure, I am keenly aware of how hard managing care can be for both patients and family members.”

He says, too, that many people feel strongly about where at home they want to die, and there are other practical and personal considerations:

“Nearness to a bathroom is key. Sometimes, light remodeling, such as installing handrails in bathrooms or ramps, is helpful.

“A person at the end of life will probably have feelings about who they want to spend time with — or who they don’t want — so it is important to discuss in advance who will provide caregiving, along with who might provide occasional backup for regular caregivers.”

According to the study, there has also been an increase in the number of people who die in hospice facilities.

”In hospice,” explains CNN, “an interdisciplinary team of professionals that specialize in end-of life-care address the whole person. They work to help manage pain and the person's physical needs, as well as their mental and spiritual distress. Hospice also helps the family and coordinates care.”

Medicare (and other insurance) covers hospice care which often takes place at home. Last year, an internet friend had been under home hospice care but was grateful in the last few days of her life to move to a hospice house where she could receive additional care allowing her the time to let go.

A home hospice worker can't do everything the patient and family need and there are other options. Kelly Sanders, who is an RN and end-of-life doula in Michigan, told Healthline,

“'Hospice does a great job taking care of the medical aspect of dying, but due to the changing nature of healthcare compensation, little time was left for the other aspects of dying that are just as important for a peaceful passing,' she said. 'End-of-life doula services fit that need.'

“She said there is a big misconception that hospice provides the same services as a death doula.

“...a death doula can fill a gap in care. People can work with a death doula before they reach a point where they qualify for hospice. And an end-of-life doula is able to devote themselves to a single person, going in without an agenda to fulfill that person’s needs.”

When I started pulling this story together, I intended to give you these new statistics about where people die, and let you know how people – medical professionals, families, those who are dying – deal with the choices. But there's a lot more to it than I had considered for one short blog post.

So. Let's stop here for now and over the next while I will post additional information about such issues as advance directives, hospice at home and at a facility, doulas, etc. that we can discuss individually.

Today, I'm curious about how much thought you have given to where and how you want to die. Do you think it is morbid to talk about? (Most old people don't.) Have you talked with your family about end-of-life issues? And so on.

(I urge you to follow the links within the story above. They have a great deal more good information.)


A TGB READER STORY: Annual Checkup Time

By Barrie N. Levine who blogs at Into the 70s

I customarily schedule my annual physical for January. I take my blood tests a week ahead for my doctor to review, the usual routine. But for this exam, Doctor M. didn’t even take out his stethoscope.

My husband had died on December 4th, after a struggle with a dementia illness that took him down in two years. I felt physically exhausted deep in my bones from caregiving. I reeled from the loss itself.

I had just completed the 30-day period in Jewish tradition in which the mourning family refrains from entertainment and business involvements.

I had no idea where to go from there after 41 years of a beautiful marriage from my twenties to my sixties.

When the doctor asked if I had any concerns, I burst into tears and could barely talk. “My heart is broken...my husband, he’s gone...” The nurse looked in to make herself available for blood pressure, but Doctor M. motioned her to leave and closed the door.

We spoke quietly for nearly an hour, both sitting in chairs, the examination table unused. I don’t remember exactly what he said, or what I said, just the quiet tones of our conversation.

Everywhere I went, even here, grief pursued me. I had to be in shock, still. I remember those unrelenting dark days, and this was one of them.

The doctor listened closely, witnessed my tears and placed his hand briefly over mine in a gesture of warmth. I spoke of my pain, how it burned, how it stayed with me day and night, inside or outside, alone or with others. I went on about how my husband rototilled our vegetable garden and built stone walls with his tractor, performing acts of service for his family as his life’s purpose.

Doctor M.’s compassionate observations comforted me. He spared me a physical examination that would have felt irrelevant, disrespectful - my body was not hurting, just every other part of my being, mind and spirit. My heart was shattered, but not in a way that a medical procedure could detect and set aright. He tended to me, the whole broken me.

He listened intently, expressing his faith in me, in my powers of resilience, in my ability to take in the support so many had generously offered. He advised me in ways that felt important and life-affirming - walk each day in the fresh winter air, be sure to eat nourishing food, seek restorative sleep.

Not able to make sense of my life in ruins, I simply followed his admonitions. That was all I could manage at the time.

The winter moved along, as did the sharply demarcated seasons we experience in New England. A year like no other.

The following January, I again reported for my physical. Before he began, Doctor M. asked how my year had been and how was I now?

First thing, I reminded him of our meeting the year before, when we had a long meeting in which he knew instinctively what would start the healing process for me, his grief-stricken patient.

This new appointment was much shorter than the last one. I climbed onto the examination table without hesitation. The nurse took my blood pressure and the doctor took out his stethoscope. I was ready to resume the annual ritual, a small victory that I recognized as a sign that it was safe to move forward.

No matter how I start my year, I will always include an expression of gratitude to my doctor for being so much more than just a health care provider. He had played a part in my life that I wanted to acknowledge - and praise - with all my heart.

First, he did no harm, his sacred oath. And after that, he honored my humanity.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


Concentration and Focus in Old Age

It usually goes something like this:

There is a whole bunch of stuff piled on a chair in the living room. It's been there too long and it is high time I sort it out to make the chair available again.

There are three or four cloth bags that should be in the car for shopping. That book I've been searching for over the previous week too. A bottle of hand sanitizer. A Theraband that belongs in a box across the room. A teeshirt that has no reason to be in the chair. A whole lot of loose pieces of paper with notes on them...

There's more, but you get the idea. I decide to walk the teeshirt to the laundry room (I can't remember if it was clean when I dropped it in the chair – hell, I don't even recall leaving it in the chair).

The washer is half full but, I figure, if I add what's in the laundry basket, I could get a good-sized wash done and be ahead of the game. I head for the bedroom.

The closet door, behind which is the laundry basket, squeaks – as it always does – so I check the cupboard to see if there is a can of WD40. Nope. Maybe it's in the storage room – I head in that direction.

On the way, as I pass the desk, it pops into my mind to check email – it will take only a couple of minutes - which is where I find myself a hour later at lunch time. That chair is still piled with stuff.

All too often these days, that is how it goes for me.

Relatedly, just a week ago we were talking about how greedy old age is, stealing our time in so many little ways – concentration among them - that I've been checking out what science knows about concentration in old age.

We are not imagining this phenomenon. From Harvard Health:

”...scientists now see the brain as continuously changing and developing across the entire life span. There is no period in life when the brain and its functions just hold steady. Some cognitive functions become weaker with age, while others actually improve.

“Some brain areas, including the hippocampus, shrink in size. The myelin sheath that surrounds and protects nerve fibers wears down, which can slow the speed of communication between neurons.

“Some of the receptors on the surface of neurons that enable them to communicate with one another may not function as well as they once did. These changes can affect your ability to encode new information into your memory and retrieve information that's already in storage.

There have been a few studies targeting distraction itself rather than the brain in general. Psychology Today reported on a study showing that compared to young adults, old people have decreased brain activity in areas that enable concentration.

Other studies reveal that old people tend to have difficulty ignoring distractions and irrelevant stimuli that younger people easily tune out.

There are easy ways to improve concentration most of which we could figure out for ourselves (if we could just focus):

Do not multitask
Try meditating
Exercise regularly
Try caffeine (don't overdo)
Take breaks
Turn off distracting sounds
Get a good night's sleep

One report tells us that about half of the older adults do not have this problem, and Harvard Health reports that as we age,

”...the branching of dendrites increases, and connections between distant brain areas strengthen. These changes enable the aging brain to become better at detecting relationships between diverse sources of information, capturing the big picture, and understanding the global implications of specific issues.

“Perhaps this is the foundation of wisdom. It is as if, with age, your brain becomes better at seeing the entire forest and worse at seeing the leaves.”

Now I'm going to go tackle the mess on that chair again.


ELDER MUSIC: 1949 Again

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

* * *

To my ears, 1949 was a lot more interesting than the few years that followed it. That is because there seems to be quite a lot of rhythm and blues records in the mix, and naturally, I'll feature quite a few of them. Of course, every year is a mixture of styles and this one is no different.

AL MORGAN doesn’t fit in with what I mentioned above but I thought I’d ease you into this year.

Al Morgan

Al was classically trained on violin and voice, but it’s with the piano that he’s best known, and that he taught himself. His first gigs were playing piano with Glenn Miller and Harry James, but the war intervened.

After that he made his name as band leader on riverboats on the Ohio River. Next came radio and television. His best known song is Jealous Heart, which fortuitously comes from this year.

♫ Al Morgan - Jealous Heart


Any year with BILLIE HOLIDAY in it is worth a listen as far as I’m concerned.

Billie Holiday

They went a bit overboard with the strings and things on this one. I’d have preferred just a small jazz combo, as she often had, backing her. Still, it’s Billie right out front of Crazy, He Calls Me.

♫ Billie Holiday - Crazy He Calls Me


Someone completely different, but still important, is HANK WILLIAMS.

Hank Williams

His influence on country music, rock and roll, pop music and probably other genres as well is inestimable. I was surprised how few hits he had in his short recording career considering the huge number of songs of his we know today. One of those that was a hit is I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry.

♫ Hank Williams - I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry


PAUL GAYTEN is one of the under-sung performers of Rhythm and Blues.

Paul Gayten

Rock and roll was having its birth pangs at this time, but this song sounds as if it came out kicking and screaming, a decade or two before its time. To my ears, this sounds as if was recorded in 1959 or even 1969. See what you think of For You My Love. It was the guitar solo that led me to that conclusion.

♫ Paul Gayten - For You My Love


I thought I’d throw in KENNY ROBERTS for a bit of novelty – record companies and radio stations did that sort of thing back then.

Kenny Roberts

Ken was known for jumping while yodeling, but you won’t see him jumping here and you’ll be pleased to know that I selected a track that’s bereft of yodeling. It was his first, and biggest, hit, I Never See Maggie Alone.

♫ Kenny Roberts - I Never See Maggie Alone


We’re going right back in history now, back to the 17th century, around 1670 or so. That’s when the next song first came to public notice. Of course, like all folk songs, the words changed a bit over the years until three centuries later we have a “folk song”, in the modern parlance.

Burl Ives first committed it to record (and film). Since Burl, there were a bunch of versions, including one by DINAH SHORE, not noted as a folk singer, but who cares?

Dinah Shore

After that build up, I’m sure you’re all on tenterhooks (whatever they are) to discover which song it is of which I speak. Wait no more, it’s Lavender Blue.

♫ Dinah Shore - Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly)


Although not the first, Henry (Roy) Byrd is the best known of the “Professors of Piano” in New Orleans. He is known to us as PROFESSOR LONGHAIR.

Professor Longhair

Fess, as he is also known, learned to play on derelict pianos around the city that had various keys missing, such that he developed his distinctive style that way. Others have tried to emulate him, but without a great deal of success. I guess they didn’t practice on old pianos.

Here he is with the classic Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

♫ Professor Longhair - Mardi Gras In New Orleans


It seems that EDDY ARNOLD is throwing rice at his ex.

Eddy Arnold

This rather raises the question: was he invited to the wedding? It’d be a bit awkward if he were. The alternative is that he just crashed the do. That’d be even more awkward. Listening to the words, it seems that the groom was his pal so he probably was invited.

The other thought that occurred to me is: did he take the rice out of the bag or did he throw a couple of two kilogram bags of rice at them? That would cause a little consternation - my brain occasionally works in mysterious ways.

Anyway, I'm Throwing Rice (At the Girl I Love), sings Eddy.

♫ Eddy Arnold - I'm Throwing Rice


Well, here's something ahead of its time. The performer is WILD BILL MOORE.

Wild Bill Moore

Before it was used to describe a musical style, Rock and Roll meant something else entirely. We won’t delve too deeply into that as this is a family blog, however, this sounds more like a standard rhythm and blues tune than Paul’s up above. Anyway, here is Rock and Roll.

♫ Wild Bill Moore - Rock and Roll


I have to admit that I’d never heard of anyone named Elton before a certain piano player made it big. Had I been taking notice in 1949 I might have encountered ELTON BRITT.

Elton Britt

Elton was another yodeler but I’ve spared you once again. He was a country singer and songwriter who also appeared on television and in a couple of films. He suffered a heart attack while driving his car which led to dreadful consequences. Before that, he recorded Candy Kisses.

♫ Elton Britt - Candy Kisses


INTERESTING STUFF – 29 February 2020

GRETA THUNBERG AND MALALA YOUSAFZAI

In 2014, then-17-year-old Mulala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize for her education rights activism.

This year, now-17-year-old Greta Thunberg is nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for her climate change activism.

The two young women met for the first time this week in the U.K. I wonder what amazing things are they going to accomplish in their lives.

GretaAndMalala

Read more at Huffington Post.

TODAY IS LEAP DAY

February 29 happens only every four years. It's easy for Americans to remember when it occurs because it is also always a presidential election year.

Here's astrophysicist Neal DeGrasse Tyson to explain why we add a day to the calendar every fourth year.

HISTORIC FOOTAGE 1945 BATTLE OF IWO JIMA

While one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific Theater of World War II raged on the island of Iwo Jima, 50 Marine combat cameramen operated across the island, the YouTube page tells us.

Curator Greg Wilsbacher at the University of South Carolina Libraries has been working with the U.S. Marine Corps History Division to digitize this footage. In this film, he provides commentary on some of the highlights of this newly digitized footage.

The footage was mainly intended to be used for intelligence and training, but it provides an intimate look at the battle, and also the Marines who were a part of it.

Read a lot more about the battle and film at The Conversation.

BOOKNOOKS

Booknooks are miniature inserts for book shelves that tell a story all their own. They are clever, beautiful and enchanting. Here are three samples:

Bookshelves

ItalyBookNook

JapaneseB ookNookAlley

There are a lot more at Bored Panda where I found these. And people who make booknooks have their own subreddit with a whole lot more.

JIMMY CARTER'S SOLAR PANELS

Mother Nature Network this week reported on former President Jimmy Carter's solar array in his home town of Plains, Georgia.

Carter-solar-power-plains.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart

”Carter, who served as the 39th U.S. president from 1977 to 1981, set aside 10 acres of farmland outside Plains in 2017 for a 1.3-megawatt (MW) solar array. Developed by SolAmerica Energy, the installation was projected to generate over 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy in Plains — more than half the town's annual needs.

“In February 2020, SolAmerica President George Mori confirmed to People magazine that the solar farm still operates 'in its original size' and does in fact provide more than half of the town's electricity.”

Carter is not new to building solar arrays. When he was president, he had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House. Here's the video:

You can read more at Mother Nature Network.

WATER IS WEIRD, REALLY WEIRD

As the YouTube page notes, “Did you know that the water inside you has previously been inside dinosaurs, bacteria, the oceans. Science journalist Alok Jha explains why water is so incredibly weird.”

WE SURE NEED A LOT OF HOPE THESE DAY

And I've got some beautiful hope for you from my friend, Stan James. You've met him before in these pages when I featured some of his previous beach calligraphy.

This time, he did some serif writing on a San Francisco beach making a gift of hope to us all:

Stan also sent me this beach calligraphy from two years ago, done for the wedding of his friends, Kari and Manuel. The video has been recently edited and it has the further virtue of featuring my birth date in 2018:

There is more of Stan's calligraphy work at his Facebook page.

IF ZOO ANIMALS WERE RATED LIKE AMAZON REVIEWS

Recently, Bored Panda explained:

”Back in 2018, there was a glorious weekend in which several zoos took to Twitter and with the hashtag #rateaspecies, zoos, scientists, and academies of sciences all aired their thoughts on their animals in the style of an Amazon review.

“It was a wonderful animal-filled weekend and we felt it was time for it to resurface...”

Here are three examples - it's the captions that make these so much fun:

JoshsFrogs

Parrot

CatSnakeHybrid

More at Bored Panda.

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Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog.


Old People Most at Risk for COVID-19 (Corona Virus)

After a serious nuts-and-bolts post on Wednesday about surviving possible Census fraud, I had intended a lighter, more fun post today but world events have intervened.

As happens with many infectious diseases, the hardest hit, those who suffer the largest number of fatalities, are old people. In the research attending the Corona virus, that is abundantly clear again.

Ian M Mackay is an Australian virologist who keeps a website called Virology Down Under which has the best information I've seen about the Corona virus including general interest and advice.

(Thank you to Jan Adams who blogs at Where is the Way Forward?)

On Tuesday, Mackay published an extensive (and easily understandable) story on this not-yet-pandemic.

Here is the chart – numbers as of 11 February 2020:

CoronaChartElders

People with underlying serious conditions such as heart disease or diabetes (often old people) are more susceptible to the virus than younger people.

According to one health expert, a vaccine is not possible for a year to a year-and-a-half and, some say, it is currently questionable if it would be affordable.

On Thursday, the White House announced that all U.S. government health officials and scientists are required to clear all public appearances and statements with Vice President Mike Pence's office, according to The New York Times which also reported,

”Officials insist the goal is not to control the content of what subject-matter experts and other officials are saying, but to make sure their efforts are being coordinated, after days of confusion with various administration officials showing up on television.”

Uh-huh.

Given the questionable data from China along with the contradictory statements about the spread of the virus from the president, as contrasted with the health experts at Wednesday's press conference, it's obvious we the people are on our own for needed information.

In a situation as fluid and unknown as the future of COVID-19, we each need to take precautions to help keep ourselves healthy along with those we come into contact with.

So I'm going to summarize the crucial behavior we need to practice to stay as safe as possible.

But first, this from the Australian virologist, Ian Mackay:

”REMEMBER: As long as the virus circulates, and as long as you have never been infected, you are susceptible to infection resulting in COVID-19. This will be the case for the rest of your life until you have been infected which should protect you from severe disease.

“COVID-19 is mostly a mild illness but can cause severe pneumonia in approximately 20% of cases, leading to hospitalization for weeks and in a portion of these cases, to death.”

TO REDUCE RISK OF INFECTION:

  • Stay at least three feet (one meter) from obviously sick people
  • Avoid shaking hands
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Or, wash hands with an alcohol-based hand rub and air dry
  • Avoid touching your face

At the grocery store yesterday, I realized that it is a good idea to use the disinfectant wipes some stores supply to clean the shopping cart handle, or bring your own. You might also consider nitrile gloves – you can't know where someone has recently sneezed.

SHOULD YOU WEAR A MASK?
There are mixed messages on the usefulness of face masks. Here is what Mackay says:

”While a mask seems like a good idea, and when used by professionals it does protect from infection, it can actually give inexperienced users a false sense of security.

“There isn’t a lot of good evidence (still!) that shows a mask to reliably prevent infection when worn by the public at large. They are useful to put on a sick person to reduce their spreading of the virus.”

PRESCRIPTION DRUG SUPPLY DISRUPTIONS
A large percentage of U.S. pharmaceuticals are produced in China as are some critical ingredients needed for drugs produced in the U.S. If COVID-19 continues to accelerate, it's not impossible that shortages may appear. However, on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported:

”The FDA [Federal Drug Administration] said that no companies are reporting drug shortages linked to the coronavirus. But in a sign of its efforts to get ahead of any problems, an FDA spokeswoman said the agency has contacted 180 China-based prescription-drug manufacturers asking them to evaluate their supply chains and remind them they’re required to notify FDA of any coming disruptions.”

In anticipation of possible widespread, ongoing transmission of the virus, you might want to contact your physician about an additional supply of critical drugs.

There is more advice which I'll link to for you below, but it is important to know that no one knows what is going to happen. Will COVID-19 become a pandemic? Or will it hit a lower peak and subside? Stock markets worldwide are dropping dramatically day-by-day. For how long? And so on.

We also do not know how other countries' governments are controlling (or not) information as the U.S. government is now doing so it is hard to know what reports about the virus to trust. Read carefully. Use your bullshit detector.

Here are three good links and a Google search will bring up thousands more. Again, choose carefully.

Virology Down Under

How to Prepare for Corona Virus - New York Times

A Guide to Prepare Your Home for the Corona Virus - NPR