49 posts categorized "The Alex and Ronni Show"

The Alex and Ronni Show – 30 October 2020

We have come up today on a new episode of The Alex and Ronni Show, recorded on Wednesday.

When I started this blog 16 years ago, I subtitled it (see banner above) “what it's really like to get old” and for a lot of years that's what I tried to do - research, write about and ruminate on how we age.

Then, three years ago, the universe hit me with cancer followed shortly by COPD and I knew from the start where that ends. So I made a course correction in the topic so to write as openly and honestly as I can muster about what it is like to know you are dying – the good, the bad, the whatever else - because that is what interests me these days.

But today's conversation with my former husband, Alex Bennett, seems to be a throwback to those early years of the blog – just a couple elders talking about ordinary old-people stuff, some laments, the compensations we make for our growing list of infirmities – sort of what “it's really like to get old.”

You can check out Alex's online talk show here.

The Alex and Ronni Show -16 October 2020

Not that I set out meaning to avoid the president's name in this episode of The Alex and Ronni Show, but somehow Alex and I got to the end with it coming up only once – and we backed away as fast as we could.

This time we talked quite a bit about this end-of-life journey I'm on, riffing off the story I posted on Wednesday, Choosing a Life or Letting It Happen.

I think with Alex I got a lot closer to what I was trying to write on Wednesday but missed a few points then. See what you think.

You can check out Alex's online talk show here.

Rough Times Personally and Politically, Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

What a conversation you guys had on Wednesday following the so-called debate the night before. I didn't join in but I followed along and you were doing quite well without me.

I gave up the “debate” after the first 25 or 30 minutes. There was no point in going further. Well, there was no point after the first three minutes; we've seen that Donald Trump every day for nearly five years. Nothing changes except that he becomes more monstrous.

Apparently, he is now calling for militia at voting stations. Armed?

Undoubtedly, my patience is stretched because personally, it has been a rough couple of weeks in terms of my diseases. In a previous post I mentioned the lack of sleep – three nights (not quite in a row) without a single moment of shut-eye.

Finally, after a night of sleep for eight, uninterrupted hours, the world felt sunny again. I think that sleep may be a cure-all. Well, maybe not for cancer and COPD but it sure does help my mood.

Daily life has changed quite a bit in a short period of time. Here's what I do best: sit. Or lie down. Oh, I'm capable of personal care. And I cook, minimally but enough to eat. I clean up the kitchen. All of it slowly.

A cleaning services comes now every two weeks along with a food shopping-and-delivery service. I should have done those two things a long time ago but it is hard to give up the life-long routines of living – even when you know you are dying.

Or rather, it is for me – who knows about other people. When I arrived to care for her during her final months, my mother went to bed and assumed I would take care of everything – everything – from then on. And I did.

Back to our annus horribilus of politics for a moment:

What is wrong with people who are sitting on the political fence and say they don't know who to vote for. Come on. The Trumpers are irredeemable so we ignore them to the degree that we do not let them win or force a coup.

But undecided? Really? You can't tell the difference between life under Trump and life under Biden? Then begone with you. You're not fit to call yourself American.

Harsh? You betcha. The United States is fighting for its life.

Biden may not be the ideal candidate for this terrible time we live in but he is decent. He believes in democracy. He will do everything possible with the help of the best and brightest people we have to control the virus and set our poor, troubled, wobbly ship of state on a better course.

Trump, on the other hand, will do everything in his power to stay in office (there is plenty he can do and he has plenty of enablers already in place) and turn himself into dear leader for life. I am terrified for our country and you should be too.

Here is this week's Alex and Ronni Show. I can't recall right now what we talked about but it's not as important as what I just wrote.

You can check out Alex's online talk show here.

The Alex and Ronni Show and a Short Amount of One Other Thing

Thanks to my hospice team – nurse, social worker, spiritual adviser – and my palliative care specialist, I feel safe and well taken care of. Each one of them is dedicated, smart, resourceful, likable and always there when I need them.

But sometimes it's out of their hands.

There is nothing they can do about my horrible night's sleep and today (Thursday as I write this) I am bone-tired, angry, ill-tempered, bilious, cantankerous and ornery.

It's so bad I can't even stand myself.

That's it. That's all I've got for you today. Except for this week's Alex and Ronni Show recorded on Wednesday.

You can check out Alex's online talk show here.

Social Security Payroll Tax Deferral and The Alex and Ronni Show

Perhaps you have seen the news that President Donald Trump declared a Social Security payroll tax deferral through the end of 2020. It went into effect on 1 September which means the 6.2 percent of your pay that is normally withheld will show up in your paycheck.

However, that doesn't mean it is free money. You will be required to pay it back beginning 1 January 2021 when twice the 6.2 percent will be withheld to reimburse Social Security.

The employer half of the withholding remains in effect.

Of course, it is not as simple as I have explained. You see, participation is up to employers, many of whom have complained that it is too complicated to rearrange their systems for the deferral. Some others say they will delay implementing the deferral to take time to ask employees if they want to participate.

This causes additional difficulties, as CNBC explained:

”While it may be easy for a small shop with five employees to determine whether workers would be onboard with a deferral, larger firms with thousands of employees may ask each one whether they want to participate.

“In that sense, it may be easier for larger firms to either skip the deferral altogether or default all workers into it — as opposed to asking each employee what they want to do.”

Federal workers have no choice – they will have their payroll tax deferred.

As CNBC further points out, it would be wise for employees who opt in or whose employers do, to stash away the extra money so that the double-dipping to pay it back in January won't hurt so much.

In that case, obviously, the deferral makes no difference to employees, and it is, of course, useless to the 30-odd million unemployed Americans.

Which leaves one wondering what in the world the president was thinking when he dreamed up the deferral. Some fear his goal is to kill Social Security and according to Nancy Altman, that would be easier than you might think.

Altman, who has a 40-year background in the areas of Social Security and private pensions, is president of Social Security Works and Chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition and campaign, explains in a 1 September 2020 CNN piece how that could happen:

”According to estimates from the independent chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, if all Social Security contributions from payroll tax stopped on Jan. 1, 2021, the nearly 10 million people today getting Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, which averages about $1,125 every month, would see them stop abruptly in the middle of 2021.

“Those 55 million receiving Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance benefits, which average around $1,440 a month, would see them disappear two years later. Social Security would be without money to pay benefits by 2023 (Congress could only stop Trump by enacting veto-proof legislation, a highly unlikely proposition).

“Section 7508A of the Internal Revenue Code allows deferrals for up to one year, long enough to stop the disability insurance payments.

“Killing off the rest of Social Security takes two years longer, but a newly elected President Trump could interpret the statute to permit an additional 12-month deferral with the declaration of a new disaster.

“All benefits could be stopped with just two new disaster declarations. Concerningly, the Supreme Court has found that President Trump has 'broad discretion' in making findings.”

This is terrifying.

My former husband, Alex Bennett, and I sat down for another cyber-chat from opposite ends of the country. Of course, Trump came up but we also discussed house cleaning, the virus, magic mushrooms and more.

You can check out Alex's online talk show here.

The Alex and Ronni Show – 21 August 2020

Any of you looking for a respite from this week's discussion of medical aid in dying will need to find another website today. My former husband, Alex Bennett, and I discussed it again on Wednesday.

There is one followup I want to make today from the questions and answers we did on Wednesday. At the end of that post, in regard to ageing, death and dying, I wrote that the subject should be less a secret in the culture of the United States and more a part of living.

I ended with, “Keep the conversation going.” TGB reader Shirley Thompson used a much better phrase, “Pay it forward.” If you haven't seen the movie of that name from 20 years ago, you can probably surmise what it means.

Here is this week's Alex and Ronni Show reshuffling some of the same thoughts as the two blog posts on Monday and Wednesday.

You can check out Alex's online talk show here.

The Alex and Ronni Show. And Trump

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Sometimes when I sit down to write a story for TGB, I quite surprise myself with what's on my mind. That's what happened with this one. I intended only a short piece to lead into The Alex and Ronni Show and it turned into a screed. Or maybe it's a plea. I don't know.]

On Wednesday, my former husband and I recorded our bi-weekly Alex and Ronni Show. We spent a great deal of the time talking about Trump but I think what I said is small potatoes compared to what I have been thinking of late.

I have at last arrived at a place where I think I am done with him or, to be more specific, done with the pull to know every day what unspeakable thing he has done now.

Although he has made many catastrophic changes to our way of life, although he is deeply ignorant, ill educated, incurious, willfully stupid, mean, nasty and (among other ignoble traits) evil according to some, he is such a pathetic, little, blowhard of a man.

But that is not to say he is ineffective.

There are as many “expert” explanations for his abhorrent behavior as there are days in his tenure as president, none of them satisfying, and the worst part of his presidency is how many people he has harmed that, with almost any given normal person in his place, would not have happened.

The so-called experts who turn up in the news almost daily are no better at explaining the unmovable 40 percent of Americans who support Trump no matter what than they are at helping us understand the man himself.

But I no longer see that knowing how he got to be the monstrous person he is would help anything. Nor will any of our elected national lawmakers. They have had nearly four years to thwart his worst (and least) undertakings and have done nothing.

Now that Trump has stocked the leadership (and, often, the rank-and-file) of every federal agency with grifters, crooks, chiselers and dedicated sycophants, the election looks less likely to be fair with each passing day.

But maybe it doesn't matter. Today, I am reminded of this. It turned turned up and made the internet rounds in the spring:

WORLD: There’s no way we can shut everything down in order to lower emissions, slow climate change and protect the environment.

MOTHER NATURE: Here’s a virus. Practice.

To the degree necessary, we aren't doing anything right about the virus and that is discouraging not only in regard to the people who have and will die. It may lead to the disappearance of humankind from our planet.

So vote as if your life depends on it because it does. Maybe – and only maybe – a better person in the White House can change that.

Here's this week's Alex and Ronni Show.

You can check out Alex's online talk show here.

Living and Dying in Interesting Times Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

There is no doubt that since the day Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the United States in January 2017, we have been living in interesting times. But I don't think even Trump can say we have been living in the best of times.

Well, maybe some Republicans would, but given his incessant whining about perceived slights, not Trump. It may be that he has never had a good day in his entire life.

Me? As much as I have been stunned almost daily by Trump's terrible acts – particularly the environmental ones – I have never been disinterested.

Just when you think he will never do anything more foul than praising white supremacists, neo-Nazis and armed militia groups in Charlottesville as “very fine people,” he surpasses that by miles speculating that a 75-year-old protester, who was seriously injured by Buffalo police, deliberately provoked the officers and faked his injuries.

With Trump, it is always a case of his saying things so awful that we cannot look away. The huge demonstrations and inept (at best) White House responses over the death of George Floyd give me hope that something big is happening and that this year's election will be way too interesting to miss, however it turns out.

Alas. I want to be here for it but I don't have a lot of confidence that I will make it that long. Do me a favor, please. If I'm not here on 3 November, have a celebratory drink for me. Or a bit of cry if that is what is called for instead.

Look at what I found hanging around on the web. It is a screen shot from a previous Alex and Ronni Show in the summer of 2019 when my hair had not yet grown in after I lost it to chemotherapy. I had forgotten that I looked pretty good with a bald head.


In this week's episode, recorded on Tuesday, what you'll see is a couple of old folks talking to themselves as though no one would be watching. A little of this and that and some mention of these extraordinary times we are living in.

The Alex and Ronni Show 7 April 2020

But before we get to that...

Yesterday was my birthday. Several weeks ago, I had made plans for a birthday lunch with my friend, Kirsten Jacobs, but you all know what happened to that idea. We have vowed to do it whenever the time comes for it to be safe to visit a restaurant – and each other – again.

Thank all of you who knew my birthdate from past years and who sent e-cards, paper cards, email messages and blog comments with wishes for a happy day. It was happy thanks, in part, to you.

Yesterday was a Tuesday, the day of the week when I publish a reader story, and I decided not to disrupt that schedule just for my 79th birthday.

It seems to me that 79 isn't a particularly notable birthday. However, I am surprised to be here for it. Doctors told me in June 2017, that I had (have still) pancreatic cancer. Two years later, they said I also have COPD.

Pancreatic cancer kills almost 90 percent of its victims within a year and back in 2017, I just wanted to live long enough to read the Mueller Report. Well, that didn't change much, and now I want to live to see the November election.

It's birthdays and other kinds of anniversaries that always make me wonder if I'll be be among the living for the next one. Maybe. Maybe.

Two other things happened yesterday. I attended my first Zoom meeting, Ask Millie, with my east coast friend Millie Garfield, her son Steve Garfield and half a dozen other people.

That was fun and I may need to explore how I can use it. Steve posted the video of us all at Millie's blog.

Also, my former husband and I recorded our biweekly Alex and Ronni Show. Mostly he and I talked about – what else? - the virus. Here it is.

The Alex and Ronni Show

A week ago day, I felt kind of funny. Not quite well, but not sick either. The next day, I knew something was definitely wrong. I checked the pharmacy and grocery store off my to-do list that morning, and when I got home, I went to bed.

Fatigue, body pains, temperature of 100.x and breathing difficulty. I have a home oxygen concentrator so I used that to help me sleep Thursday night and again on Friday night, a day during which my condition didn't change much.

In the world we live in now, of course, I had only one thing on my mind.

On Saturday, I telephoned my primary care physician's office. After a discussion of my symptoms, it was decided that I should stay home but if my breathing became more difficult, I should call 911 and go to the emergency room.

On Sunday, I felt slightly better and my temperature was almost down to normal but I was still tired and ache-y and mostly stayed in bed. My breathing was not not back to what it should be but it was better.

On Monday, feeling like I was back among the living, I had a previously-scheduled telehealth meeting with my palliative care provider. Of course, no one can be certain without a test, but he doesn't think I had/have COVID-19 and pointed out that beyond the seasonal flu, there are plenty of other bugs floating around.

At my instigation, we had a come to Jesus discussion about how I could expect to die if I did have COVID-19. It's not pleasant with lungs as deeply compromised as mine but there are drugs to help. The key point for me was that we didn't talk about IF I would die if I contract the virus, only how.

It's Tuesday as I write this. I did the Skype call this morning with Alex to record today's Alex and Ronni Show and was surprised how tired I was afterwards. But of course that makes sense after four or five days in bed.

Mostly, this interruption to my routine left me considering my personal end of days more closely than I have done for quite awhile and I'll bring that up another time.

The reason for this intro to The Alex and Ronni Show is that I was still tired, quite crabby and it shows in the video. So I'm making a public apology to Alex for my bad behavior.

And now that I've written this, I'm going to go take a nap.

Pancreatic Cancer. Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

Even in a jam-packed political week in the United States when the Iowa caucuses took place on Monday, the State of the Union address by the president on Tuesday and the impeachment vote in the Senate on Wednesday, I spent a lot of time being distracted by pancreatic cancer.

Because I've been living with it since 2017, that shouldn't be notable. But I have felt unusually healthy in the past few months and I was thinking about well-known people who live with the same disease.

This came to mind on Monday when Wayne State University bestowed its Walter P. Reuther Humanitarian Award to Georgia Representative John Lewis “in recognition of Lewis’s decades-long history of political leadership and grassroots advocacy.”

First noting that he voted to impeach President Donald Trump, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) recently summarized Lewis's distinguished life and career:

”Before he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Lewis was and remains a key figure in America’s civil rights movement. A key ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, representing the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, of which he was the chairman.

“In 1961, as one of the original Freedom Riders, he was beaten and bloodied as they rode through the South addressing laws prohibiting black and white riders from sitting next to each other on public transportation.

“The 1965 attack in Selma, where Lewis has said, 'I thought I saw death. I thought I was going to die,' sparked nationwide support, sympathy and horror and spurred Congress to move on what became the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

Lewis was unable to attend the presentation of the award at Wayne State because he is undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

In a 1 January interview, Representative Lewis told an AJC reporter,

“'As you well know, I will be going through something that I have never been through before,' Lewis said. 'I have had friends and colleagues who have gone through similar situations. I will be talking and learning from them and obeying my physicians.'”

Me too - obeying my physicians which has worked our pretty well. And I wish with all my might that it will do the same for Representative Lewis. We need people like him in Congress, and more like him.

I don't know Lewis. I've never met him and I've never lived in 5th Congressional District in Georgia so he has not been my representative.

But if I had lived there, I surely would have voted for him in every one of the 17 elections he has won and I would vote for him again in November this year. There are not many in public life these days who are as decent and good and honorable as Lewis.

Pancreatic cancer is way down the list of cancers in terms of prevalence. Number 12 behind much more common cancers as breast, lung and prostate – the top three. But it is one of the top three deadliest.

Is that the reason, I sometimes wonder, that I feel a kinship with anyone who is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Even people I don't know. Maybe that is how Jeopardy! host, Alex Trebek – who has been treated for pancreatic cancer since early last year – felt when he was quoted on the website of radio station WABE in Atlanta:

“We’re starting a new year, and let’s see if we can’t both complete the year as pancreatic cancer survivors,” Trebek said when asked what he would tell Lewis. He noted they’re the same age, 79.”

At his announcement of the diagnosis, Representative Lewis told the AJC,

“'I’ve been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life,' he said. 'I have never faced a fight quite like this one.'

“He added, in a message to constituents, that he might miss a few upcoming votes as he undergoes treatment, 'but with God’s grace I will be back on the front lines soon.'”

Yes. Please. Here's is a photo of Lewis at the Pride Parade in Atlanta in October 2019 posted on the AJC website.


* * *

Amidst all the political hullaballoo this week, my former husband and I recorded a new episode of The Alex and Ronni Show on Tuesday.

You can find Alex's show – Alex Bennett's Ramble – on Facebook and Apple Podcasts.

Internet Friends Redux and The A & R Show

To my surprise, Friday's post about disappearing internet friends drew a lot more comment that I would have expected. It appears to be a common problem, losing track of web friends.

It was lovely to hear from so many readers who are still here but who don't comment. There is nothing wrong with that; no one should feel obligated to leave a comment. Here are some notes after re-reading through the comments starting with

Some people mentioned they do not like entering their information every time they want to comment; some others don't have the problem. That is because autofill (or not) is a function of your browser. Plus, new privacy restrictions have recently gone into effect which may have removed your autofill.

Every browser handles privacy issues differently. You can find out how to change your autofill settings by searching “how to enable autofill in firefox”. Substitute the name of your browser (chrome, safari, etc.) for firefox.

I am surprised to find out how many of you have been reading Time Goes By since I lived in Manhattan, followed along when I moved to Portland, Maine, and then to Oregon in 2010. That is so nice to hear.

A few who have not commented in a long while wondered if I would remember their names and in every case, I do – it is terrific to see you here again.

I was pleased to be able to put one reader together with another to find out what had happened to a third person they both know.

Regarding my demise, I have a blog post written titled, If You're Reading This, I'm Dead. When I first wrote it, I meant to update it every year but I think I've fallen behind on that and I'll put it on my to-do list.

My good friend, healthcare proxy and executor, Autumn, will post that entry when I die. You might recall her keeping you updated in June of 2017 when I'd had the Whipple surgery and was out of commission for a week or so.

People who have blogs, Facebook pages or some other social media presence can set up something similar. It's everyone else – the people who comment but don't have an online space of their own that we lose track of and I don't have a solution for that.

Thank you to everyone who finds this online place to be worth your time. After all these years, I still enjoy doing it and even more, reading each day what you have to say.

THE ALEX AND RONNI SHOW – 25 January 2020
Alex and I recorded this episode on Saturday, the only day we were both available at the same time. (I thought retirement means you aren't so busy anymore...)

We covered more territory that we usually do: pockets (or lack thereof) in clothing, health (typical old people talk), racism, Alex's beard, hair loss, the impeachment trial and so on.

Here it is:

You can find Alex's show – Alex Bennett's Ramble – on Facebook and Apple Podcasts.


It's that time of the month again – The Alex and Ronni Show wherein the proprietor of Time Goes By and her former husband chitchat about old folks stuff.

One of the subjects that came up on Wednesday when we recorded this episode was the TV game show, Jeopardy!

Most Americans, I think, have watched the venerable program, hosted by Alex Trebek, at least now and then. I certainly have but it had been a long time since I had tuned in. Years, in fact, until last week.

The show brought back the three highest-earning winners to compete with one another for a GOAT show – the Greatest Of All Time game. I watched. It was fun and, if you're not a fan or didn't watch, Ken Jennings won.

Over the evenings of the tournament, as the well-known theme song played, a coziness settled over me. Through the shows, which were twice as long as the regular one, I felt comfort in the familiar format and in the formality of it.

The rules, which are sensible, are absolute and no one breaks them, arguments do not happen, the judges are meticulous and no one lies.

When was the last time that was true in U.S. politics? Or even in the daily news? It's hard to recall.

So it struck me that Jeopardy! is like a little island of sanity in a world of horrible chaos, of daily outrages that don't have time to run their course until the next one – or two or three – land in our laps.

Maybe I'll become a regular viewer of the show for awhile just to help maintain my sanity in an insane world.

There. Now you can fast forward through that part of The Alex and Ronni Show which is near the top of the video.

You can find Alex's show – Alex Bennett's Ramble – on Facebook and Apple Podcasts.

The Alex and Ronni Show – The First One of 2020

Here we all are having wound down the holiday season and starting a bright, shiny new year with nothing too awful yet to spoil it.

My former husband, Alex Bennett, and I recorded our bi-weekly Skype show on Wednesday, the first day of 2020.

Fair warning, the video is out of sync by about a second. If that annoys you - as it does me – you could just listen and not look at the screen. It's mostly a radio show with pictures anyway so no loss.

Alex and I got through a lot of material this time. Reacting to the media end-of-year compilations of events over the past 12 months, we talked about the sense that our individual worlds are shrinking as the touchstones of our generation die. Our world becomes less recognizable without them until we don't feel as much a part of the culture or the zeitgeist as we once did.

We moved on to how Alex's prostate cancer is being treated and how, also, after his lifetime of hypochondria over make-believe ailments, somehow it has been easier for him to come to terms with a real health threat than all those imaginary ones.

We segued from there into my little show-and-tell for Alex of the variety of edible cannabis products I use to be able to sleep a full night. Alex is a bit jealous that it's not yet legal in New York where he lives.

We followed that with some inevitable political/election chat. It appears that Alex doesn't think any of the Democratic contenders can beat President Trump.

And we finished up when Alex gave a shout-out to Time Goes By and especially to TGB's readers and their comments.

Here it is. Not the most flattering static shot but that happens sometimes.

You can find Alex's show – Alex Bennett's Ramble – on Facebook and Apple Podcasts.

The Alex and Ronni Show: A Birthday, Software Update and a Lot of Laughs

It was a big day Wednesday when Alex and I recorded this week's episode of The Alex and Ronni Show - it was Alex's 80th birthday. That's no small thing.

We had a good laugh about how, in our old age, the medical community wants to update us regularly, like a software update. It sure does seem that way sometimes.

Then we laughed some more about being one another's oldest living friend – oldest, that is, in terms of how many years we have known each other.

Actually, we laughed pretty much all the way through this video. About new year resolutions, technology, politics, old age, how childhood has changed and we also talked a little about the new-ish opening Alex cut for his online show.

It's just beautiful – a montage of gorgeously shot New York City scenes that, for me, catches the essence of the city, and it made me a bit weepy missing it. Take a look:

Later in the day I wondered how long we've been doing The Alex and Ronni Show. When I checked, I was surprised to see that Alex did an interview with me for his show way back in September 2017. That's only three months after my cancer diagnosis.

We began the bi-weekly show we do now in February 2018. I had no idea it had been that long – it is true about how the passage of time seems to go faster and faster the older we get.

Anyway, below is the latest episode. You will find Alex's show on Youtube. Or, it is also on Gabnet or on Facebook.

You can find Alex's show – Alex Bennett's Ramble – on Facebook and Apple Podcasts.

The Alex and Ronni Show – 4 December 2019

Here we are again, my former husband Alex and I in another Skype chat recorded on Wednesday.

We covered a whole lot of territory this week. Thanksgiving. Meeting the son this late in life that I gave up for adoption 50-odd years ago. My sometime resemblance to the actor Shirley MacLaine and a funny story about that.

Then there's Alex's hypochondria which, he says, has driven all his wives nuts. (I'll confirm that – at last in my case.) Of course we got round to cancer, Medicare, some thing stuff and Alex's upcoming 80th birthday.

Some of you are kind enough to tell me you enjoy these chats. I think they are maybe a bit much. But hey, we live in the age of the internet where everyone is center stage.

You can find Alex's show – Alex Bennett's Ramble – on Facebook and Apple Podcasts.

The Alex and Ronni Show – 22 November 2019

Comedians looking for cheap laughs often disparage old people for talking too much (or at all) about their ailments. It's almost true – we do talk about our arthritis, cancer, heart disease, etc. fairly regularly.

Maybe one reason is that compared to our previous lives – that is, younger adult years – we spend a whole lot time in doctors' offices, managing medications and trying to coerce recalcitrant limbs into mobility each day which uses up a lot of time we might otherwise spend on more interesting stuff.

And maybe it is also a way, when elder friends greet one another, to check on whether either will be around for a while longer. Maybe the subtext of “How are you?” at our age really is exactly that, How Are You? in the most literal sense.

It's become that way on The Alex and Ronni Show. Health is the first thing we check on when we record these chats.

In his responses, Alex is more graphic than I'm entirely comfortable with but the pattern is long set now on screen and in life. We settle any health issues before getting on to anything else.

So after that in this week's show, we get into the impeachment hearings, the 1973 Watergate hearings and the Hong Kong demonstrations.

Not that you should take any of this loose conversation as particularly noteworthy. It's just two old friends who happened to have been married for a few years a long time ago keeping in touch in their old age.

You can find Alex's show – Alex Bennett's Ramble – on Facebook and Apple Podcasts.

The Alex and Ronni Show Plus Fear of Phone Conversations

In the summer of 2018, Brigid Delaney, writing in The Guardian complained that talking with a friend on the telephone was a “time suck” - too tedious to be bothered with.

Instead, we should all be using WhatsApp or texting, she says. When her phone rings,

”I feel such a wave of animus and fear that I am unsettled for the rest of the day. Usually I don’t answer it.”

Amimus? Fear? A couple of weeks ago, a different Guardian writer, Melanie Tait, at first confesses to a similar response:

”There are lots of things to panic about with a phone call,” she writes, “chief among them being: what if we run out of things to say, and there’s, God forbid, silence?

But Ms. Tait has now discovered the joys of phone chats and her goal is to explain their attraction and benefits to the likes of Ms. Delaney which apparently means most of the younger generation. Discussing a friend who calls her in the evening, Ms. Tait writes,

”We’ll spend a lot of these conversations trying to make each other laugh, but I’ve also noticed we’re both able to share a little more in this telephonic friendship than we do in real life (our real-life friendship also being a very robust one).

“The lack of eye contact means some questions are easier to ask and some things are easier to reveal.

“It’s like being transported back to high school in the 90s, where you’d be at school all day, and at night, extension chord dragged into the pantry while the rest of the house slept.

“Phone D&Ms (“deep and meaningfuls”) were one of the great emotional releases in pre-mobile teen life, a chance to talk away the existential drama of the school day.”

Of course, people of our age have always known that and personally, it's how I keep my far-flung friends close – with long, sometimes two or three hours at a time, phone conversations where we solve all the problems of the world together. Until next time.

Tait winds up her essay as a thoroughly convinced convert:

”Tonight, headphones in, a phone call or two means I’ll discover something new about someone I care about, laugh at least three times, reveal something I wouldn’t tell anyone else and maybe even discover a new Liza Minnelli impersonator I’d never heard of.”

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My former husband, Alex Bennett, and I had our biweekly Skype chat yesterday. I think we spent way too much time on my health predicament, but he doesn't agree.

The Alex and Ronni Show – 23 October 2019

It's happened again that my life got busier than I had planned and I have come up empty for a blog post today. There was just no time left.

One of the issues has already eaten up too much of two days and it will take more telephone calls and callbacks than humans should be required to endure before it is resolved.

You might even have been here: according to the online Medicare Plan Finder, the new 2020 price for two of my prescription drugs comes to around $17,000 per month.

Did you get that “per month” part at the end? As I type, I'm still trying to pick myself up off the floor.

This is wrong on so many levels – especially that I currently pay about $200 for both per month.

Oh never mind. It's not a talent I'm proud of, but I'm good at this stuff involving long waits and less than well-informed customer service representatives. It will work out eventually and if not, you'll certainly hear about it.

Meanwhile, below is the most recent episode of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded on Monday, 21 October.

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If you would like to see Alex's entire two-hour show with other guests following our chat, you can do that at Facebook or Gabnet on Facebook or on YouTube.