ELDER MUSIC: JAM

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.

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JAM

JAM was an occasional conglomeration of three musicians: KEVIN JOHNSON,

Kevin Johnson

DOUG ASHDOWN and

Doug Ashdown

MIKE MCCLELLAN.

Mike McClellan

These three are probably the finest singer/songwriters Australia has produced (if you discount Paul Kelly and Glenn Cardier, which I am only for the purpose of this exercise).

They all began their serious performing and recording careers from the sixties to the early seventies and have continued to the present day, although Doug is pretty much retired and doesn't perform often these days.

Mike and Kev, however, are better than ever: it's the decades of performances that hone the skills. The three of them got together for some gigs around about 2001, and were a great combination.

As I mentioned, JAM really was only an occasional thing, they were all mostly solo performers. I've seen them in both categories although in his early days Kev usually had a full band with him.

So, let's run though them in order of their collective name, starting with KEVIN JOHNSON.

Kevin Johnson

Kev's biggest hit, one that has set him up for life because many people have recorded this song and most have sold pretty well, was Rock & Roll I Gave You the Best Years of my Life. I've used that song in a couple of columns, so I'll go with another one from the same album.

This one is Bonnie Please Don't Go. This is about people leaving on ships rather than planes. Remember when people did that?

♫ Kevin Johnson - Bonnie Please Don't Go


DOUG ASHDOWN started as a rocker in Adelaide but became better known as part of the folkie scene in the sixties.

Doug Ashdown

He decided to become a professional songwriter and moved to Nashville with his co-writer and producer Jim Stewart. It was there they wrote Doug's most famous song, Leave Love Enough Alone, generally known as Winter in America, which he decided to record himself.

It was a considerable hit in his native country, to which he returned after the success of the song.

♫ Doug Ashdown - Winter In America


MIKE MCCLELLAN has been performing since the sixties and there's no sign of him slowing down.

Mike McClellan

He released his first album in the early seventies but his second "Ask Any Dancer" is the one that really established him. That one is a classic and contains so many great songs that he didn't need to release any more. Of course, he did.

From the album we have the story of Mike in song: Song and Danceman.

♫ Mike McClellan - Song and Danceman


KEVIN JOHNSON may be a Man Of The 20th Century, as his song posits.

Kevin Johnson

The sentiments are equally applicable to the current century. For most of the song he seems to be on a plane, that's something Australians take for granted, especially if they want to go somewhere else. People from other countries seem to grumble if it's suggested that they might want to come and visit us.

♫ Kevin Johnson - Man Of The 20th Century


I've seen all three performers many times and they mostly play solo with just an acoustic guitar. Late in the evening at some gigs DOUG ASHDOWN has been known to strap on a Fender Telecaster and play full tilt rock and roll.

Doug Ashdown

That's not what we have here. He usually performs the song Marianne without adornment. I prefer it that way, however, the only version I have is from his album from the seventies that has a band with added extras. They weren't needed.

♫ Doug Ashdown - Marianne


My favorite MIKE MCCLELLAN song, and that's really a hard call, would be Saturday Dance.

Mike McClellan

I originally had in this spot the version from his album mentioned above which had strings and heavenly choruses, the whole gamut. Just after I finished writing the column I bought a DVD of Mike playing at The Basement in Sydney with just an acoustic guitar.

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I watched it over lunch and we both spontaneously applauded when this song finished. There might have been some Kleenex involved as well as some wine.

I hope you like it as much as we did. Here is that version, rather than the one from the album.

♫ Mike McClellan - Saturday Dance


If you listen to the words of KEVIN JOHNSON's song Grab the Money and Run, it seems to me that it would make a great film. It would be far from the first one made from a song.

Kevin Johnson

As far as I know no one has done that but you can imagine it as you listen carefully.

♫ Kevin Johnson - Grab The Money And Run


There are two songs that DOUG ASHDOWN has to sing whenever he performs.

Doug Ashdown

The first is the one featured at the top, the second is Willie's Shades. This is a version from one of his concerts, with Kirk Lorange playing lead guitar.

♫ Doug Ashdown - Willie's Shades


MIKE MCCLELLAN is still performing and recording. Indeed he's recently released a fine new album called "No Intermission".

Mike McClellan

His song isn't from that one, I thought I'd let you know in case you want to search for these albums. The song is Lovers Never Wind up Friends from earlier in his career.

♫ Mike McClellan - Lovers Never Wind Up Friends


JAM didn't ever record together but a couple of their performances were captured at the Troubadour Weekend back in 2001. This is Kevin with the others singing harmony and Kirk Lorange playing lead guitar. The song is Night Rider.

♫ Kevin Johnson (with Mike Doug & Kirk) - Night Rider


But wait there's more. When I mentioned to my friend Ann I was writing about JAM she sent me this track. It was also recorded at The Basement and it had the A.M. and me a'hoppin' and a'boppin' to it and we thought it should be included as a bonus track. Taking the Long Road Home.

♫ JAM - Taking The Long Road Home



INTERESTING STUFF – 23 September 2017

SAFETY FEATURES FOR ELDERS IN NEW CARS

Writing in The New York Times, long-time health reporter Jane Brody tells us that contrary to popular belief, elders are generally safe drivers:

”When a crash occurs involving an older driver, it tends to garner media attention, whereas the same accident with a younger driver would not. 'That’s unfair to the general population of older adults, who are among the safest drivers on the road,' said Jacob Nelson, the director of traffic safety advocacy and research at AAA.'”

That doesn't mean old drivers can't use some helpful safety features and these days Brody, now arrived at elderhood, often writes about our issues. Like me, she sometimes takes her cues from what is happening in her life.

Recently, she bought a new car:

”...driving home from the Subaru dealer with the lane departure feature activated, I immediately saw one benefit: The car beeped me and displayed a visual image every time I got too close to either side of my lane when I wasn’t signaling a turn.

“Backing out of a parking lot, the dashboard backup camera assured me that I wasn’t about to hit another car or pedestrian, though I also used my eyes and mirrors as added insurance.

“...As someone with arthritic hands (among other body parts), I’m aided by power seats that can be preset two ways: one for my best driving position and the other to ease entry and exit from the car.

“Other useful features include power windows and mirrors, a thicker steering wheel that is easier to grip, keyless entry, an automatic tailgate closer and a push-button to start (and stop) the engine.”

I would like to remind us all that safety features of any kind originally meant with elders in mind are always, ALWAYS equally good for younger people.

JIMMY KIMMEL ON THE LATEST REPEAL OBAMACARE BILL

You've undoubtedly heard all the back-and-forth on the Republicans' latest attempt to repeal Obamacare - you know, the Graham-Cassidy bill that will strip coverage from millions of ordinary folks so that rich people can have the huge tax cut candidate Trump promised them during the election campaign..

The Graham-Cassidy bill which Republicans want Congress to vote on without debate or discussion just might repeal Obamacare this time.

Late night host Jimmy Kimmel this week revealed Cassidy's horrendous hypocrisy on the subject. The video is a little longer that I usually post but it is important:

As the week has gone by, more terrible details from Graham-Cassidy have been released - or leaked. Such as this:

Graham

Much more information, including a larger version of that graph, about Graham-Cassidy at Esquire. (Thank you John Starbuck.)

MORE JIMMY KIMMEL

I usually record the monologues of a couple of the late night hosts to watch the next day and it is recently becoming obvious that I have not paid enough attention to Jimmy Kimmel.

He's not always as serious as in the clip above. Sometimes he's pretty funny and in this one, Kimmel identified what he calls “The most uncomfortable display of affection between a husband and wife this year.” It is good to lighten our mood in the midst of Congress's ongoing determination to leave a vast swath of Americans with health coverage.

IT'S JUST A TV COMMERCIAL BUT WOW

It is an eye drops commercial from Germany. You would think, no big deal. Not a word is spoken but you won't miss the amazing point at the end of the 45 seconds. Really clever.

GIVING INJURED STRAYS A SECOND CHANCE

For many years when I lived in Greenwich Village, I regularly saw a man walking his dog who got around in a wheelchair to support his paralyzed back legs. Nicely done, I thought.

Then, a week or two ago I found this video about a man in a town on Taiwan, Pan Chieh, who makes similar wheelchairs for injured stray dogs. Take a look at his inspiring story.

AMAZING 15 THOUSAND DOMINO LINE

It's been awhile since I've posted a domino line. This is not the longest one I've ever seen but I like it anyway. And it has garnered more than 40 million views in one year on YouTube.

NEW DICTIONARY WORDS FOR 2018

Every year, the Merriam-Webster people announce the latest words they have found worthy to be included in their dictionaries. There are 250 new ones this year including:

bibimbap, a Korean dish of rice with cooked vegetables, usually meat, and often an egg, either raw or fried

sriracha, the pungent hot pepper sauce now appearing on even diner counters

Some words get additional meanings. Front is now also used informally to mean "to assume a fake or false personality to conceal one's true identity and character."

Terms like alt-right and dog whistle are from the world of politics. The latter began, of course, as something only for canines, but in political contexts it now refers to an expression or statement with a secondary meaning that only a particular group of people is intended to understand.

You can find out all 250 new words at the Merriam-Webster website. (Warning: a man starts talking as soon as you land there so you might want to turn off your audio.)

THE TRUMP SONATA

TGB friend, Chuck Nyren, who blogs at Advertising for Baby Boomers, sent this item that

”...makes use of Trump as 'raw material' and portrays him from an artistic perspective. The only considerations made by [composer and artis Avnere Hanani] were musical and aesthetic, with a touch of humor.

“Important to notice that no manipulation was made to Trump's speech. I did not touch the pitch or rhythm of his speech (just to make him suit the piano more easily), but rather left Trump's talk natural - "let Trump be Trump".

RARE WHITE GIRAFFE AND HER BABY IN KENYA

You may have seen this – it's been all over the feature news this week but these two exotic animals are so elegant looking that it's worth a repeat here.

They are two rare white giraffes — a mother and a baby — filmed in early August in Kenya after being spotted repeatedly since June in the Garissa County area.

They are white because of a genetic condition called leucism, which causes a loss of pigmentation. Leucism is different than albinism because multiple types of pigment are reduced rather than just melanin.

There is a detailed story about them at The New York Times.

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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 IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


Too Old to Fall

Are you age 65 or older and live at home? If so, in any given year, you have almost a one in three chance of falling. If you live in a care home, you have a 50 percent chance.

This is not to be taken lightly. Little kids fall all the time and bounce right up - their bones are still pliable. Old people's? Not so much and a broken bone, even a bad bruise, can lead to disability. Here are some statistics about elders and falls (emphasis is mine):

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall

Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults

Today, the first day of autumn, is the annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day and as we do here every year at this time, we remind ourselves to take stock of how to protect ourselves from this particular danger.

For elders who live independently, most falls happen at home.

Before I get rolling on this topic, here is a short video from the National Council on Aging about preventing falls. It's a little too cutesy for me, but it has the basic information you need to keep in mind to help you stay safe from falls:

For such a short piece, that video covers the preventable causes of falls quite well and the beginning of this new season is a good reminder to correct the problems in your home that might trip you up.

Two unexpected things changed after my Whipple procedure surgery in June: I lost my taste for sweet things (not that I don't eat them but they are no longer something I crave) and my balance, which had always been good, has become shakier.

For the first time, I now have a mat in the tub so not to slip while showering and I have taught myself, especially when I get up from a chair or bed, to hang on to something for a few moments until I feel steady on my feet.

You might like to take a mental inventory to see if such things may have changed for you.

Here is a list of websites about most of the hazards and preventions we should check for and correct once a year:

National Institute on Aging

AARP – Preventing Fall in the Elderly

Mayo Clinic

WebMD

National Institute on Aging

Few of these and other well-meaning instructions mention an important hazard we discussed in August – running children.

”Suddenly, two boys – maybe seven, eight or nine – ran full tilt down the hallway, brushing the old man's cane arm as they scooted by and then, making a course correction, nearly bumped into my wheelchair.

“I don't recall any previous time when I was frightened in just that way. I immediately pictured myself and the wheelchair tipped over on the floor of the hallway, my incision ripped open with blood pouring forth.”

This post drew a lot of comment and several of you mentioned the additional problem of adults looking at cell phones while walking and bumping into people. Here's my free advice about that:

If you use a cane, a walker or a quarterstaff, take it with you every time you leave the house. One reader commented in August that they also work well as defensive devices when out and about.

Another useful device is a medical alert system that will notify a response team if you have fallen and can't get up. (Yes, I agree, those TV commercials are awful.) There are many different systems to choose from and some may not be as reliable as anyone would want or need.

One place you can check is the reviews.com page about these devices. They say they have carefully checked and tested many systems and give reasons for their recommendations so you might want to consult them. Just so you know, their About page notes:

"If you buy our picks, we'll often make money on that purchase. That is how we can stay in business...We pledge that we'll never name a top pick that's not truly great even it'd mean a bigger payout for us."

As always, be careful where you shop online.

Most of us at this blog are too old to risk falling so let's all be safe out there, just as Sergeant Phil Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) used to say every week on Hill Street Blues.


A Question of Organ Recitals

Friends

A few days ago in a comment, a reader made an approving reference to a friend who refused to take part in groups of old people who indulge in “organ recitals” - that supposedly clever but disparaging phrase for discussion of medical problems.

(It is always applied to elders. Young people who talk about their health are never accused of being boring but we'll save discussion of that kind of ageism for another day.)

Certainly we have all known people who carry on at mind-numbing length or go through the details of their surgery at inappropriate moments – Thanksgiving dinner comes to mind. But there is another side to this issue.

A couple of weeks ago, on a post here in which Crabby Old Lady was writing about her cancer, reader Rina Rosselson who blogs at age, ageing and feature films, left this note in the comments:

”Thanks for your crabby post. At 82 I still have not heard what my friends had been going through when struck by a serious illness. There is such reluctance and fear to communicate and share these feelings. Your posts make it easier to talk about these changes.”

Rina is right. As much as some organ recitals can be excessive, plenty of other people go too far in their silence about serious medical issues. It helped me a lot, eased my mind to a degree, especially when I was first diagnosed, that people I know – in “real life” and on this blog – passed on what they had experienced during cancer treatment.

Conversation

Even if it would not closely match my experience, it helped me understand how difficult or easy my treatment might be and, most important, that those people had got through it - a real question when facing so much that is frightening and new.

Here is another thing that happened – to me, anyway – after the surgery and during recovery from it; even as I desperately wanted to not become a “professional patient” and wanted to hang on to my pre-diagnosis life, cancer is insidious in at least one additional way beyond the physical attack on the body:

Over time, and not all that long a period, it creeps into every cell of your brain. Trying to read a newspaper or a book? The mind strays to cancer. Watching a movie on TV? Next thing you know you're wondering if the chemo will actually work, and you've lost the thread of the film story.

Even washing dishes or making the bed, you suddenly worry that you forgot to take your pre-meal pill at lunch.

But perhaps the worst? Those ubiquitous commercials for various cancer treatment centers scattered in cities around the U.S. that always imply that they can cure cancer.

They enrage me. As much as I suspect a generally positive attitude is helpful in treating cancer, I resent being lied to as though I'm incompetent. And although, if you listen carefully to every word, they don't promise a cure, few of us pay that kind of close attention and it sounds like that's what they are saying.

Either way, there you go down the cancer rabbit hole again.

One thing I've noticed is that too often when I've told people about my diagnosis, they don't know what to say – they are stunned - understandable - and I think part of that is our general reluctance to discuss such things at all.

So I'm with Rina. I think discussing details of our serious diseases and conditions (appropriately, for sure) is a big help in reducing fear in everyone involved – friends and family as well as patients. Talking about these dramatic changes, when they hit us, with loved ones goes a long way to finding a way to live with them.

I am reminded of the large number of doctors and nurses I have been dealing with through these months. They answer every question with the truth, even the hard truths, with compassion, understanding and a good deal of humor. The rest of us should be doing that too.

Friends Having Lunch


What Medigap Changes Mean For Elders

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Today's post is a bit wonkier than I usually publish but it is important for U.S. readers who will become eligible for Medicare in the next two years, and for current beneficiaries too. It shouldn't be hard to follow.]

Since my pancreatic cancer diagnosis three months ago, I have blessed President Lyndon B. Johnson every day for his part in creating Medicare. With the price tag for my surgery and ongoing care already into high six figures, without Medicare I would be doomed – as many old people were before Medicare.

Now, there are some changes coming to Medicare that will make it more expensive for elders while also reducing coverage. This involves changes that Congress passed in 2015 to the supplementary (or “Medigap”) coverage.

(We are talking about traditional Medicare today, not Medicare Advantage plans.)

Medicap policies pay most of the 20 percent or so of doctor and hospital costs that Parts A and B of Medicare do not cover. The choices of Medigap insurance plans are labeled by letters: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, N. As the Chicago Tribune explained the coming changes recently,

”In 2020, people who are on Medicare and don't already have what's known as Plan F or Plan C Medigap insurance won't be able to buy it because the federal government will close those plans to new participants.

“That means that when people go onto Medicare at 65, or if they switch Medicare-related insurance during the next couple of years, they are going to have to be diligent about scrutinizing insurance possibilities before some of those doors start to close.”

Plans C and F are, according to The Trib, the most popular Medigap choices for good reason. Plan F, which I chose when I signed up for Medicare in 2006,

”...is the most comprehensive. It doesn't cover dental, vision, or medicine [no Medigap plans do], but if retirees pay their monthly premiums they shouldn't have to pay anything else for doctors, tests or hospitals. Even medical care overseas is partially covered.

“In other words, at a time in life when medical issues can pop up suddenly and cost a fortune, Plan F is predictable. Plan C is popular for the same reason, although it isn't as comprehensive as Plan F.”

When Congress enacted this coming change, the goal was to save money on Medicare. So as of 2020, the Part B deductible will no longer be covered by existing Medicap policies and Plans C and F will no longer be available to new enrollees.

People currently on Plan C or F, like me, will still

”...be able to shop your coverage. If another insurance company offers it at a better price down the road, you can apply to change to that insurance company’s Plan F policy...” reports Forbes.

“However, over time we can probably expect Plan F premiums to slowly rise, since the total number of people enrolled will be shrinking annually.”

Meanwhile, it is not clear that this change will reduce Medicare costs. As Reuters reported when the legislation was passed in 2015,

”Numerous studies show that exposure to higher out-of-pocket costs results in people using fewer services, [Tricia Neuman, senior vice president and director of the Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation] says.

“If seniors forego care because of the deductible, Medicare would achieve some savings. 'The hope is people will be more sensitive to costs and go without unnecessary care,' she says.

“'But if instead, some forego medical care that they need, they may require expensive care down the road, potentially raising costs for Medicare over time.'”

There is more detailed information at all the links I've provided above.

FIRST LOOK AT NEW MEDICARE CARDS
You can be forgiven if, thanks to the Experian Equifax data breach affecting 143 million Americans, you think this is too little too late. Also, the theft is so large, just assume you are affected.

Next year, all Medicare beneficiaries will receive new Medicare cards with a new kind of numbering system – no more Social Security numbers. Last week, Medicare released a first look at the new card:

Medicare_Cards_Identity_Theft680

There are all kinds of things to know about this change you can find at cms.gov.

And if you haven't done anything to secure your stolen data from being used nefariously, here is a good instruction piece from The New York Times. It will cost you $20 or $30 to set up credit freezes and fraud alerts. And here is a later report from The Times answering reader questions about the data breach.


ELDER MUSIC: 1925

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.

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No introductory notes for 1925 as it was 20 years before I was born so I don't remember anything from that year.

FRANK CRUMIT was the first person to play the ukulele in a musical on Broadway.

Frank Crumit

Frank was originally going to be a doctor but switched to electrical engineering. That career didn't last long as he discovered music along the way. He thought of going into opera but that didn't work out. Somewhere he discovered the uke.

Here is probably the best known song about the instrument, Ukulele Lady.

♫ Frank Crumit - Ukulele Lady


From the ridiculous to the sublime, the great BESSIE SMITH.

Bessie Smith

Oh my goodness, this is superb: Careless Love Blues, a song that's been performed by countless people but none better than this.

♫ Bessie Smith - Careless Love Blues


There have been many really good versions of the Rodgers and Hart song Manhattan. This isn't one of them. It's by BEN SELVIN & THE KNICKERBOCKERS.

Ben Selvin

I can't think of anything positive to say about Ben's version except that it came from 1925.

♫ Ben Selvin & the Knickerbockers - Manhattan 1925


ETHEL WATERS was the first person, but far from the last, to record the song Dinah.

Ethel Waters

Apparently Ethel had a horrible childhood (she said she didn't have one really), and was married at 13 to an abusive husband. She got out of that and joined a vaudeville troupe.

After a bit she was performing with Bessie Smith who insisted that Ethel must not sing blues (we wouldn't want to upstage her), so she sang mostly pop songs and the like.

Eventually she found herself in New York and was a leading light in the Harlem Renaissance at the time. There's a lot more to her story, but we'll have to wait for another day.

♫ Ethel Waters - Dinah


THE HAPPINESS BOYS was a radio program in the early twenties that featured Billy Jones & Ernest Hare.

The Happiness Boys

They also recorded under that name which is why they are present today. Billy and Ernie were both trained opera singers and they would occasionally sing opera in a burlesque manner on their program. Their group name is from the fact that they were sponsored by the chain of Happiness Candy stores.

The song they sing today is still quite well known, it's Don't Bring Lulu.

♫ The Happiness Boys (Billy Jones & Ernest Hare) - Don't Bring Lulu


MARIAN ANDERSON recorded Nobody Knows the Trouble I Seen in this week's year.

Marian Anderson

However, for once I'm going against my policy of only using songs that were recorded, or released, in the particular year. I have that version but it's really scratchy.

This was another Marian made some time later and she is such an important musician, and person if it comes to that, that I feel you should hear how the song really should sound.

Marian Anderson - Nobody Knows the Trouble I See


JOHN MCCORMACK died the day I was born and obviously his singing talent passed on to me.

John McCormack

People who know me are now rolling around the floor laughing about that (including me, I hasten to add). John was an Irish tenor who later became an Australian tenor. He was a noted opera singer, but many of his recordings were of popular music, including this one, When You and I Were Seventeen.

John McCormack - When You and I Were Seventeen


VERNON DALHART was born Marion Try Slaughter. No wonder he changed his name.

Vernon Dalhart

Vernon received voice training at the Dallas Conservatory of Music and later he saw an advertisement for singers to record so he decided to check it out. He was auditioned by Thomas Edison himself and got a gig recording light classical pieces and dance band music.

The Prisoner's Song doesn't really fit into either category, so I guess he recorded other stuff as well.

Vernon Dalhart - The Prisoner's Song


We have two hugely important musicians this year, three maybe. The next one is PAUL ROBESON.

Paul Robeson

Paul was one of the most significant people of the 20th century and you don't need me to tell you about him. The only thing I'll say is that he was the first person to sing at the Sydney Opera House. That was when it was still a building site – he sang to the workers.

Today he sings the old spiritual, Steal Away.

Paul Robeson - Steal Away


MARION HARRIS was billed throughout her career as a jazz and blues singer.

Marion Harris

Perhaps things have changed over the years but she doesn't sound to me like either of those. She seems to be more a straight pop singer. Nothing wrong with that, it's just that when we've had Bessie and Ethel, she rather pales.

Anyway, she does a decent job of I'll See You In My Dreams.

♫ Marion Harris - I'll See You In My Dreams



INTERESTING STUFF – 16 September 2017

PETER TIBBLES' BIRTHDAY

Today is the birthday of TimeGoesBy's inimitable Sunday musicologist. I'm not sure which one exactly but it's in the area of early 70s. His musical knowledge is phenominally wide and deep, and he's funny too.

Let's start the celebration singing along with a short version of the standard birthday song sung, in this case, by The Beatles, supposedly before they were well known.

Peter and I have known one another now for at least nine years; he and his assistant musicologist, Norma, have visited me twice. In between internet chitchat about his columns, Peter is wont to send me funny or messed up news stories from his local, Australian press.

This is his most recent from the Sydney Morning Herald. It's a serious story about a sex offender but someone screwed up the image beside it big time:

PeterCowSexOffenderStory

I have a fondness for fireworks on birthdays so here, Peter, is a video of one of the most creative and beautiful ones I've ever seen:

But no birthday is right without the obligatory cake and I found one that Peter will defintely approve of:

Birthdaycake

So wish Peter a HAPPY BIRTHDAY and don't forget to visit his music column on Sundays.

PARTHENON OF BANNED BOOKS

In Kassel, Germany, at the very site where Nazis once burned over 2,000 books by Jewish and Marxist writers, one artist has built a colossal tribute to free speech.

“The 'Parthenon of Books', YouTube tells us, is a giant temporary replica of the famous Greek temple in Athens. The installation is covered by more than 100,000 books that have been banned at various stages throughout history.

“Created by Argentine artist Marta Minujín, the exhibit is meant to spark debate over censorship in literature. Once the exhibition is over, these books will be handed out to allow the banned to enter literary circulation once more.

As far as I am concerned, there is no book that should ever be banned. Even the hateful and incorrigible should be retained to impart an understanding of evil and as warnings.

SPYING ON WILDLIFE WITH ANIMAL ROBOTS

As YouTube explains:

”Filmmaker John Downer has spent much of his life capturing footage of wildlife, but it wasn’t until he and his team created robotic animals with built-in spy cameras that he was able to record rare footage of animal behavior in the wild, essentially from the perspective of the animal.”

The robots are so realistic that at first I thought it wasn't nice to fool animals this way but then I changed my mind. Take a look:

UNALASKA BELL RINGERS

Remember when I posted a video about eagles in a tiny town in Alaska called Unalaska a few weeks ago? Apparently, for such a small place, a lot of things of interest go on there.

Here is a video about Unalaska's bell ringers:

TRUE NEW YORKER

It has been 11 years since I left New York City and as I tell anyone who is willing to listen to me, I miss it every day. This week, I ran across a website called Women that held a little quiz titled, “Can You Finish These 16 NYC Phrases West Coasters Just Don't Get?”

Of course, I took the challenge and here's my result:

TrueNewYorker

I'm pleased to know I haven't lost my New York chops. You can try the quiz here.

CAT CAFE ON A MOVING TRAIN IN JAPAN

It has been more than a decade since Japan's first cat cafe opened and they are so popular, many countries have adopted the idea. Just recently, one stationary cafe in Japan expanded to include a cat cafe on a train:

You can read more about this cat train at Atlas Obscura.

THE NEW YORKER COVER IF CLINTON HAD WON

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been all over television this week talking up her just-published book about the 2016 election campaign titled, What Happened. Here is the cover the The New Yorker had ready if she had won the presidency.

NYorkerisClintonhadwon

EXTENT OF OREGON'S EAGLE CREEK FIRE

With all the horrendous hurricane damage thse past two weeks, there has hardly been any reporting on the many large and terrifying wild fires throughout the western United States.

One of them in Oregon, named the Eagel Creek Fire, has taken out much more area than I'd realized from local new reports. As of Thursday, it had been confirmed that the fire was started by kids setting off fireworks. Here's what the YouTube page says:

”This Google Earth flyover integrates infrared scanning data to highlight the Columbia Gorge landmarks threatened by the Eagle Creek fire including the Bull Run watershed, the source of the Portland area's drinking water.

“Areas shaded in orange are inside the fire perimeter; red spots indicate intense wildfire heat. The approximate ignition point has been confirmed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group and eyewitnesses.”

The fire is still raging.

TRIBUTE TO RESCUE DOGS

Last Monday was the 16th anniversary of 9/11 when terrorists (successfully) drove airplanes into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and a field in Pennsylvania killing everyone aboard all three planes.

Here is a tribute to the rescue dogs that helped recover the injured and dead at the Twin Towers.

All working dogs, but especially rescue dogs, awe me with their selflessness and eagerness to help humans.

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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 IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


And Chemo Begins

Chemotherapybags

On Wednesday, my first chemotherapy session took place and I was happy to have a friend do the driving and stay with me because I was more apprehensive than I had been going into surgery three months ago.

Part of the reason, I think, as I told you recently, is that I read the stacks of material the chemo staff gave me (a whole binder of information, and enormous Powerpoint deck and a variety of other printed matter) three times while making and organizing notes to myself because there is so much to remember.

[NOTE: Before I go any further, I must remind readers that what I am telling you is my experience and mine alone. If you are facing chemotherapy, your experience will be different for more reasons than I can count. So take this as only a general overview that might or might not be useful to you.]

THE FIRST CHEMO SESSION
In a pleasant room with lots of windows, I was settled into a lounge chair. My first visitor was the RN who numbed the port that was surgically placed in my upper chest about three weeks ago, then drew blood for immediate testing.

Twenty minutes later, he returned with the chemo infusion bags and set me up. I'm lucky, mine takes only about an hour. And what an hour! I had expected to spend the time chatting with Joseph. But nooooo. I have a lot of team members.

After the RN, the nurse practitioner, who will oversee my chemo treatment during the six-month duration, came by. We had a chat about my treatment and then, because he had studied medicine at NYU in New York, we talked about our neighborhood there. He misses it too.

Almost as soon as he left, the social worker showed up. She's concerned about my emotional and mental wellbeing and I did my best to reassure her. But I'm glad she's there just in case.

Then there was the nutritionist whom I already know. We talk a lot because I dislike my extremely limited diet so much I'm always pressing her to allow more and different foods.

My next visitor was the pharmacist who went over my current drugs with me and added three more so I am making a new chart for myself or I'll never keep up.

By then the infusion was finished and I was free to leave.

REACTION TO FIRST CHEMO SESSION
Apprehension had been growing over several days leading up to the first chemo and by the time Joseph arrived to pick me up, I was in a terrible state. But then he showed me the teeshirt he was wearing and I started feeling better right away:

CancerTeeshirt

And guess what? He had one for me too.

I can't wear it for chemo treatments because it prevents the nurse from getting to my infusion port, but I wore it when I picked up the new medications and the pharmacist commented. He liked it.

By the time my first chemo was finished, I was in a great mood. It helped to have a friend with me and the attention from all MY team members whom I will see each week is as terrific as my surgical team was in the most important way: they make me feel safe.

Every one of them is knowledgeable, concerned, helpful, caring, warm and patient with me. I will get through this to a large extent because of them.

HOW MY LIFE IS DIFFERENT NOW
As it turns out, the chemo infusion is easy compared to what I must do every day for these next six months - most of it is meant, as much as possible, to help reduce the incidence of the nearly two dozen possible side effects:

Rinse mouth with baking soda/salt solution four times a day to try to forestall mouth and tongue sores

Rub a special lotion on feet and hands four times a time to try to forestall hand-and-foot syndrome

Use only luke warm water for baths, showers, hand-washing dishes (winter is coming, folks; this is hard to face)

Wash hands constantly (luke warm water) including each time after touching the cat

Use gloves to clean litter box

Wash fruits and vegetables extra carefully

Stay away from people with colds, coughs and fevers

There's more but you've got the idea. It's not that any of it is hard to do; it's that it's so time consuming along with the need to be constantly checking the clock and keeping track of the schedule. One thing or another is due to be done about every two hours.

But there is no choice for me. All the anxiety and apprehension before the first infusion was directly related to the side effects I had been reading about and I'll go to almost any length to do what I can to avoid them.

So far, there have been no signs of side effects but chemo effect is cumulative so I doubt I'll get through this scott free.

Eventually there will be side effects. But nobody can say which ones, how severe or if they will happen at all. If I'm lucky and I've been diligent with the prevention measures, maybe it will be light.

The best news is that with all the wonderful OHSU people and Joseph being with me, I won't dread my visits to the chemo unit again. Good thing, since this goes on almost every week until March 2018.


Finding New Friends in Old Age

EDITORIAL REMINDER: One of the reasons Time Goes By is such a friendly place to have a conversation is that from day one, no commenter has been allowed to personally attack me or anyone who posts a comment.

Disagree about ideas? Fine. Assail others? Never.

On Monday's post, one reader attacked my research abilities and my thinking skills. That person's comment has been removed and he or she is now permanently banned from commenting here. No recourse.

That's how it's done at TGB. Fortunately, it doesn't happen often.

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Senior-loneliness

A quick search around this blog reveals that about once a year we discuss loneliness among elders including all the terrible statistics related to people who feel lonely.

For example, Medical News Today recently reported that

”Two new meta-analyses from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, UT, reveal that loneliness and social isolation may increase the risk of premature death by up to 50 percent.”

We could discuss that again (and probably will in the future), but last week a new reader, Albert Williams, left a comment on a 2014 post about friends in old age that interests me:

”Whew! I'm glad I found this site,” wrote Williams. “I was beginning to think that I was the only person with such problems, and that, perhaps, there was something wrong with me.

“However, after a bit of introspection, I realize that this is not completely true. (Completely? Try old, ugly, curmudgeonly, short-tempered, cynical, and a few more applicable adjectives...)

“Time has, indeed, taken its toll. I am now an old man. Most of my life-long friends are gone. I've never had any kids; I've outlived two wives; and almost all of my family on both sides have already died.

“I find it very easy to make new acquaintances, but these seem to never develop into the deep, trusting, abiding friendships I had when I was young. Loneliness, apparently, has become a permanent part of my remaining days, and my best friends nowadays are my dogs and my computer.”

That is a familiar thought for me. Most of my “deep, trusting, abiding friendships” of many years have died or live far away and the people I enjoy spending time with where I live now haven't crossed to that special status yet although two or three are heading in that direction.

It's close enough to true to say that all websites aimed at elders repeat the same, facile solutions on this subject: join a senior center, make use of online groups, figure out local transportation options if you don't drive anymore.

But none of that gets to the more ephemeral problem that Albert Williams is talking about and they don't discuss the reasons this happens to so many old people.

Here are a couple of my disjointed thoughts about how this happens:

Disability, health conditions and just plain being more tired than when we were young keep many of us at home. I know that it has been years since I have booked social engagements two days in a row and I sometimes need more days in between.

We no longer have careers and children in common as a starting place for new friendships. In fact, the only thing we can be certain of sharing in old age is our health which, as a reader noted recently, many are reluctant to talk about and too many others are guilty of oversharing.

Social media – texting, Facebook, etc. - have taken a toll on friendly telephone conversations. Remember when the phone would ring at random times and a friend was on the other end seeking to make a dinner appointment or just chat for awhile?

Few people I know do that much anymore. We make appointments – actual appointments – via text or email to chat on the phone. I appreciate that with my far-away old friends but I miss the serendipity of telephone visits with people nearby even as I have become accustomed to making these appointments.

No one can decide to make someone a friend. The thing about friends who fit like an old shoe is that it takes time - and the effort to keep in touch between in-person visits.

Always, a new friendship has surprised me even back in the days when it seemed easier than now. After some period of time, usually several months, I think, I realized one day, “Hmmm. When did Tom, Dick or Mary become a friend? I didn't see it coming but here it is and I am glad for it.”

It happened while we were going to movies together, sharing stories about ourselves, recommending books to one another and becoming comfortable enough together that we came to relax together in ways we can't until we have come to trust.

Those opportunities seem to diminish as we grow older. Albert Williams is not alone and the problem of elder loneliness, according to researchers, is increasing. I'm pretty sure some of you have plenty to say about this.

(There is a new-ish category of friends, online friends we have never met in person or only once or twice that I believe are important to our well-being and expand our lives in important, lovely ways. But that conversation is for another day.)


You and Me and Flu Season

EDITORIAL NOTE: Several readers suggested I replace the far right photo in the banner with a screen grab from the video interview I posted on Saturday. I thought that was a pretty good idea, so I did it. See above.

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Flu vaccine

God knows my memory could be off but I'm guessing I began getting an annual flu shot sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Before then, a week home in bed with the flu was a winter ritual.

Only once in the 30 to 40 years I've taken the vaccine, did I forget to do it – but I will never forget the flu I suffered that year, and I do mean suffered.

It happened about 15 years ago, so let's say I was age 60 or so and I was in bed for two full weeks with all the awful symptoms – fever, muscle aches, headache, chills, sweating, fuzzyheadedness, etc. and it took a month after that before I was at full capacity again.

During those two weeks, I had little sense of time passing, just horrible discomfort and then, finally, the pain and fog lifted. I was well and functional again. But it has puzzled me ever since that in the kitchen that day I found two empty gallon jugs of water.

I had never bought water. There is no need in New York City which regularly wins awards for the best tap water in the United States. Yet there they were, those two empty jugs.

Had I gone to the corner bodega to buy them? If so, why? I didn't remember then, I don't remember now and I don't recall anyone visiting me who might have brought them although there is nothing to say those things didn't happen. It's not a big deal; just one of the small mysteries of life but forever attached to the word “flu” for me.

So here we are at the beginning of the 2017/18 flu season and even though people 65 and older are at high risk for the flu itself and at greater risk for preventable complications than younger adults, nearly one-third of those between the ages of 65 and 74 skipped the flu shot last year.

A couple of other worthwhile statistics: 90 percent of flu-related deaths occur in people 65 and older as do 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations.

Almost all elders should get a flu shot each year and there is a special, high dose vaccine for old people called Fluad. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),

”The 'high dose vaccine' is designed specifically for people 65 and older and contains 4 times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot. It is associated with a stronger immune response following vaccination (higher antibody production).

“Results from a clinical trial of more than 30,000 participants showed that adults 65 years and older who received the high dose vaccine had 24% fewer influenza infections as compared to those who received the standard dose flu vaccine.”

The vaccine is a good health investment and in fact, for most us requires no monetary investment. For those with original Medicare, Part B covers the shot with no copay - that is, free. If you have Medicare Advantage, check with your insurer.

If you have an allergy to eggs, you should consult with your physician about the flu vaccine and here's something new I learned recently: if you are receiving chemotherapy, you should talk with your physician before getting the shot. With approval from my doctor, I got mine, Fluad, two weeks ago, about three weeks before my chemo begins.

In my old age, a bad cold feels too much like the flu so I don't want to even imagine what a flu would feel like to me nowadays.

Oh, and here is one more reason to get the flu shot. It is estimated that people 65 and older who skip the flu immunization increase U.S. health care costs by $4.8 billion a year.

So you can contribute to Medicare's solvency too when you get a flu shot.

Here is the CDC's extensive website section on the flu.