ELDER MUSIC: 1962 Yet 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.

* * *

Perhaps I've been doing this too long because I'm about to quote myself. The first time through for 1962 I said, "1962, what a dreary old year you were musically. This year could be considered the nadir of the sixties.”

Now I'm going to see if I can prove myself wrong without using any of the songs I've used previously and remember, there have already been two columns devoted to 1962. Quite a challenge I know.

I don't know if I succeeded but I found enough so I wasn't disappointed. Let's see if they are worth including.

Over the years there have often been "the next" when it come to popular music – the next Elvis, the next Bob Dylan, the next Beatles and so on. I'll start with one of those, the next Buddy Holly, BOBBY VEE.

That's not too surprising as Bobby was quickly substituted on the tour after Buddy was killed in the plane crash. Fortunately, Bobby evolved into a decent artist in his own right.

Bobby Vee

He was already established by 1962, and the song The Night Has a Thousand Eyes was probably the biggest of his career. He was one of the most underrated performers of this era.

♫ Bobby Vee - The Night Has A Thousand Eyes


THE CRYSTALS were a real group who had a number of hits.

The Crystals

However, their producer was Phil Spector and he really didn't care about the personnel of his various groups as long as they sounded good. That means that on a number of their records, it was actually Darlene Love and/or The Blossoms singing.

Not on this one though. It's the actual Crystals with one of their hits written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Uptown.

♫ The Crystals - Uptown


DEL SHANNON was one of the few bright lights who turned up between fifties rock & roll and sixties rock.

Del Shannon

Del had a bunch of fine songs during his career. This wasn't his best but it was the one from this year and we can't have everything. Little Town Flirt.

♫ Del Shannon - Little Town Flirt


BARBARA LYNN wrote and recorded You'll Lose a Good Thing, and took it up to the pointy end of the charts.

Barbara Lynn

It was later covered by Aretha Franklin and Freddy Fender who both had success with the song. Others have performed it too.

Barbara started out playing piano but later switched to electric guitar – it was unusual at the time for a woman to be out front playing lead. We hope things have changed but they may not have progressed to the point where this isn't remarked upon.

♫ Barbara Lynn - You'll Lose a Good Thing


MARY WELLS had a huge hit with the song My Guy, but that was in 1964.

Mary Wells

As she was on Motown Records, that song and most of her other hits were written by Smokey Robinson, including the one from this year, You Beat Me to the Punch.

♫ Mary Wells - You Beat Me to the Punch


Any year with the EVERLY BROTHERS having a hit can't be a complete write-off.

Everly Brothers

Most of their big hits were behind them by this year but they were still bringing out good music in spite of barely tolerating each other. This, alas, continued for the rest of their lives. Here is Crying in the Rain.

♫ Everly Brothers - Crying In The Rain


JOANIE SOMMERS made a singing career (she was also an actress) singing jazz and standards.

Joanie Sommers

However, she'll always be remembered (at least by me, and probably others around my age) for singing her only number one hit, Johnny Get Angry. Sorry, Joannie.

♫ Joanie Sommers - Johnny Get Angry


ETTA JAMES can be pretty much guaranteed to shake things up, and she does so today.

Etta James

Something's Got A Hold On Me was written by Etta along with Leroy Kirkland and Pearl Woods. It was recorded at the home of the blues, Chess records. It's been covered by many others but Etta did it first and did it best.

♫ Etta James - Something's Got A Hold On Me


As they always did, New Orleans musicians were guaranteed to produce good music, and they did it this year as well. One of those was BARBARA GEORGE.

Barbara George

Barbara wrote the song, I Know (You Don't Love Me No More) and it became quite a hit for her. It's been covered by quite a few others over the years.

Barbara wasn't able to match that song's success and she faded somewhat and retired from the music biz.

♫ Barbara George - I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)


There were no better singers this year than HELEN SHAPIRO.

Helen Shapiro

Actually, there have been few better singers than she in the history of popular music. The song I've chosen wasn't one of her biggest hits but I like it as I liked most of hers from around this time (before she became an "all round entertainer").

It is Little Miss Lonely.

♫ Helen Shapiro - Little miss lonely

Thank heavens for the women, they made this year acceptable.


INTERESTING STUFF – 24 September 2016

THIS 90-YEAR-OLD PROVES I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT DEDICATION

From the Youtube page:

”For 53 years, Justo Gallego has been building a cathedral by hand on the outskirts of Madrid almost entirely by himself. Gallego has no formal architecture or construction training, but that hasn't stopped him from toiling on this herculean task.

“At 90 years old, Gallego knows that he will not be able to finish the project in his lifetime. But he keeps at it anyway, day after day, driven by his faith.”

WHAT IN THE WORLD TEST

Most newspapers and many news websites have weekly quizzes where we can test our knowledge of what happened during the week. I'm not much interested in those but this one intrigued me. As The New York Times explains the latest update:

”A few months ago, we started a new feature of short, surprising items from all corners of the globe. We've now published 100 of these items, and we hope they have made you smile and maybe even taught you something about another culture.

“To celebrate, we offer this quiz, where you can test your new knowledge of peculiar facts about faraway places — or learn some new ones.”

Of the 10 multiple choice questions, I got only three right, she said with chagrin. You can check how you do here.

THE NEW AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM

You have probably seen news stories about the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington D.C. Most of us will probably not get there but this week, the Washington Post published images of some fascinating artifacts. Here are two:




Slaveholders could earn money by hiring their slaves out as workers. A slave badge identified the slave by his or her profession and the date.


During the segregation era, caricatures of African Americans were an ubiquitous part of American life that ornamented household items, from candleholders to coin banks to these salt and pepper shakers, made in the 1950s.

The variety of items, from slave collars and leg irons to Michael Jackson's fedora and much more, is remarkable. You can see more in the Post story here.

And you can explore the entire museum “through an African American lens” at the museum website.

JOHN OLIVER TAKES HIS EMMY TO JIMMY KIMMEL'S SHOW

The night after John Oliver's HBO program, Last Week Tonight won an Emmy for outstanding variety series last week, he and his Emmy dropped by the Jimmy Kimmel Live late night show. Take a look:

This was the first Emmy for Oliver and his HBO show. He has three others for his work on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. Also this week, Oliver appeared on CBS This Morning. The Emmy was mentioned but he also discussed his Edward Snowden interview in Moscow and the "dispiriting" presidential campaign.

At last, Oliver and his HBO show return from hiatus tomorrow night.

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY LIVE EVENTS

TGB reader Amanda reminded me about the live events of the New York Public Library that are then available to watch for free online. The range of guests is wide – from Nicholson Baker recently to Alan Cumming, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Helen Mirren. Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and many more.

Tickets to attend an event at the Library can be as much as $40. But after the live events, usually by the next day, you can stream them on your PC, tablet, phone or download them as podcasts. All for free. Find them here.

AN AMAZING IDEA – SOLAR ROADWAYS

All you have to do to understand this idea is hear or read the name: solar roadways. It solves an enormous number of important problems and if anyone in charge is smart, we'll move forward with this immediately. Take a look – you will be impressed.

Find out more here:

MADELINE'S GINORMOUS TEDDY BEAR

Madeline Gonzales is only five months old. Her grandfather, who works at Costco, couldn't resist buying one for her when a load of humungously large teddy bears arrived at the store. Take a look at Madeline with her new plush toy:

Bigteddybear

There are more photos with the whole story here at Buzzfeed. I'm pretty sure this is the cutest thing you will see all day today.

A GAY LATINO COVERS AN ALT-RIGHT NEWS CONFERENCE

During this presidential election campaign, a certain candidate's dog whistles have made him a darling the white supremacy/neo-Nazi movement which, renamed the "alt-right," is having its moment in the media sun.”

Here is a report about their recent conference from a gay Latino reporter:

PILLSBURY DOUGHBOY OBITUARY

This has been floating around the webisphere for several years but I was reminded of it this week after a long while and it's as much fun to read again, especially for pun lovers, as the first time around.

Chi-pillsbury-dough-boy-creator-dead-20150402

”Sad news today, so please join me in remembering yet another great icon of the entertainment community. The Pillsbury Dough Boy died yesterday of a yeast infection and traumatic complications from repeatedly being poked in his belly during his lifetime.

“The veteran Pillsbury spokesman was 71. Dough Boy is survived by his wife, Play Dough; three children, John Dough, Jane Dough, and Dill Dough; plus they also had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart. Services were held yesterday at 350 for about 20 minutes.

“Dough Boy (DB) was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.

“Longtime friend, Aunt Jemima, delivered the eulogy, describing DB as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. DB rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers.

“He was not considered a very 'smart' cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, but was thought of as a roll model for millions. Toward the end, it was thought he would rise again, but alas, he remained unleavened.”

* * *

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.


Welcome to Fall - And to Falls Prevention

Besides being the official first day of fall, yesterday, 22 September, was National Falls Prevention Awareness Day – as it has been for the past nine years.

Wait. Let me back up a bit first.

For readers who have been coming around here for a year and more, this will look familiar. I publish a falls prevention story every year at this time and maybe, like me, you feel that you have read it recently.

That's the age-old problem for old people of time passing so quickly as the birthdays pile up. In my case, I have no idea anymore how long ago any given thing happened. I've taken to telling people, when I use the word “recently,” that it could mean anything from six months ago to ten years ago.

However, in the case of falls prevention, familiarity and repetition are a good thing. If you don't think so, take a look at just a few of the statistics about falls in regard to people who are 65 and older. From the National Council on Aging (NCOA):

One third of all people 65 and older fall each year

Every 11 minutes, an old person is admitted to an emergency room for treatment for a fall

Every 19 minutes, an old person dies as the result of a fall

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal, trauma-related hospital admissions among people 65 and older

Every year, the NCOA holds a competition for short videos from amateurs about falls prevention. Here is the first place winner of the 2015 Falls Free® video contest:

There are more Falls Free® contest videos here.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has an excellent page about what you can do personally to keep yourself from falling, along with a list of items for fall-proofing your home. It's a good reminder to check your home for falling and tripping hazards at least once a year.

This infographic (below and online here) is from the NCOA about falls prevention programs you may be able to find in your community:

Falls-Prevention-Programs-Saving-Lives-Saving-Money_NCOA-Infographic

There are so many medical and physical problems over which we have little or no control – unexpected diseases and conditions that seem to choose victims randomly. Falling is one thing in life we can go a long way toward preventing.

So don't forget, be careful out there.


Vote as If It Matters

Over the past couple of weeks, Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump has not only gained on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the polls, he has surpassed her in some of them and Democrats are beginning to panic.

I'm not a Democrat but I'm also not immune to running around like a chicken with my head cut off over this.

My friend Jim Stone sent me the link to a posting at Balloon Juice where a Facebook entry about voting for Clinton is reposted (Sourcing on the internet can be complicated.). The Facebook entry is the point but first, you should read the Balloon Juice lead-in:

”I’m with respected blog colleague Kay in thinking that it makes little sense to blame the Youngs for the horrifying possibility that Trump could be elected because of millennials’ insufficient fealty to the Democratic nominee.

“Yes, anyone who is determined to throw a vote away on sentient Caucasian dreadlock Jill Stein (hat tip – Sam Bee) or human bong avatar Gary Johnson deserves a clue-by-four upside the noggin.

“But it’s the Olds — specifically, older white folks — who weaponized the ferret-wearing shit-gibbon. Let’s put the lion’s share of the blame where it truly belongs.

“I think I’ve talked all the millennials in my purview into backing Clinton. (Or possibly they’re lying to me to shut me the hell up.) That said, this piece from Tooney of the Twitters might be good Facebook fodder for the young idealists in your feed who’ve bought into the purity brigade’s anti-Clinton smears.”

Not just for the the young idealists, but the old troglodytes too. They may not be among the rabid Trumpsters we see at his rallies but too many of them have become knee-jerk Republican voters who haven't noticed that their party has become the home of racists, mysogynists and xenophobes.

Up until the turn of the century, voters 65 and older had been reliably Democratic for a long time. In 1996, they voted for Bill Clinton over Bob Dole 50 percent to 44. In 2000, they voted for Al Gore over George Bush 51 percent to 47. And then it changed:

2004: George Bush over John Kerry 52 percent to 47

2008: John McCain over Barack Obama 53 percent to 45

2012: Mitt Romney over Barack Obama 56 percent to 44

Note how the spread has increased from one presidential election year to the next: 5, 8 and 12.

Do I think Hillary Clinton is the ideal Democratic candidate and paragon of political virtue? Hardly. As I emailed my friend Lia who blogs at Yum Yum Cafe recently:

”She's a politician. She's always been a politician. She's done some really stupid things over the years. She is also smart, incredibly well informed, knows how politics and Washington, D.C. work, has relationships with the leaders in most countries of the world...”

And she will work her butt off without letup. That's just how she rolls. Is she my first choice? Of course not. But compared to the other, well...

I'll shut up now and let you read the posting below or at Balloon Juice or where it was first posted. The reasoning of it seems so obvious to me.

ClintonVote

Think about posting this to your blog or Facebook page or any place else where it might help convince someone who thinks Hillary Clinton is not the better choice over the orange-haired, ignorant, racist, verbal bomb thrower. Or that abstaining on 8 November or voting for a third party candidate in protest that will dilute the Clinton vote is a virtuous idea. (Hint: it is not.)

Vote as if it matters.


Crabby and Her Latest Annoying Affliction of Old Age

As if there are not enough well-known ailments of old age, new ones keep creeping up on Crabby Old Lady.

She's not talking about the diseases of age, not the terrible diagnoses no one want to hear. She's talking about the minor irritations - things like fingers too dry to turn book pages, eye floaters, tinnitus, chin wiskers (women), toad spots, short-term memory lapses – for which there is no useful remedy.

Do all these things (and others) happen to all old people? Probably not, but Crabby is pretty sure most of us have our own collection of daily irritations which we can't do much about.

The other day, TGB reader Richard Lombard sent Crabby this email:

”When I saw Tylenol thought Tyvek. Today while watching the crawl on a news show, Tropical Storm Julia drenches Florida...I read Tropical Storm Judi Dench. I could not understand what Dame Judi was doing in Florida.”

“Julia drenches” becomes “Judi Dench.”

Of course it does. It makes perfect sense to Crabby. She's been making similar mis-readings now and then for quite awhile, in books, magazines, online, pretty much anywhere there are words.

It is not uncommon for something like “free checking” to become “free chicken” in Crabby Old Lady's reading, but it is usually enough out of context that she goes back to re-read the sentence and find her error, as Richard obviously did.

Sometimes the mis-readings are funny but Crabby also wonders how often she doesn't catch the error and winds up believing something that is not so.

As far as Crabby can tell (that's a big question), this doesn't happen often. Much more frequently, she types these kinds of mistakes. She knows the word she wants and believes she has typed it and then when she proofs a blog post, there's a weird word where it doesn't belong.

Something like, from the immediately preceding sentence, “...believes she has tripped it and then...”

There is usually some connection between the word Crabby wants and what she types – perhaps that each begins with the same letter. And they usually have the same number of syllables. Verb errors are usually in the desired tense.

Unlike reading errors, typing errors occur several times in one story or email. Yes, email too. It has been many months since Crabby has sent an email, however short, without proofing it and just as often as not, there is this kind of error.

A blog story is much worse than email, usually half a dozen such mistakes and it happens so often that Crabby knows she cannot post anything without two and even three proof readings to catch the errors.

Sometimes Crabby misses them until they've been posted so undoubtedly some of you have seen these along with more usual sorts of typo she doesn't catch. Of course, Crabby has always made typos but nothing to this degree or this kind – substituting similar-looking words that more often than not have no meaningful relationship to what she intends.

Crabby Old Lady is not concerned that these errors are signs of any serious brain problem (yet) but she is really crabby about adding one more irritation to the growing list of old-age related annoyances.

It is a bit of comfort knowing that it happens to Richard too.


ELDER MUSIC: The Late Great Townes Van Zandt

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.

* * *

All the other Texas songwriters claim that Townes Van Zandt was the most influential and best songwriter from that state, and as we have Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith and Lyle Lovett in the mix, that's a big statement. Willie Nelson might have something to say about it, however.

Townes

Michael Hall in the Texas Monthly sums up Townes best:

”He remains today what he was all his wild, heartbreaking life: a cult artist honored by peers and ardent fans but largely unknown in the mainstream.

“He never released an album on a major label. He was never a music business professional and was never much concerned with his career. He was never concerned with much of anything in fact, but writing, touring, and hanging out with friends and family.

“He loved paradox - living it and spreading it. Born into comfort, he preferred the company of the poor and desperate and sometimes gambled away what money he had. He was a lighthearted prankster who wrote some of the saddest songs of the century. He sang about how precious it was to be alive yet spent a good deal of his life killing himself with drugs and alcohol.”

Townes

A man who can name one of his albums "The Late Great Townes Van Zandt" while he was still alive has something strange going on in his brain. When he died in 1997 at age 52, the most surprising thing was that he had lived so long.

On his first album, TOWNES recorded many of his best known songs, but he was dissatisfied with the result such that he rerecorded most of them on subsequent albums.

Having heard both versions of all of them, I agree that was the wise thing to do. One of those songs appeared on his very next album.

Although far from his best known song, it is my favorite of his. It's a really beautiful song with some gorgeous (and simple) guitar playing from Mickey White. His songwriting is so evocative you can picture Maria without any trouble. (Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria.

♫ Townes Van Zandt - (Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria


Many artists have recorded Townes' songs and I'm going to include a few of them. I'll start with one you could have pretty much guaranteed would be present. EMMYLOU HARRIS.

Emmylou Harris

Emmy has the help of Don Williams on If I Needed You.

♫ Emmylou Harris - If I Needed You


Townes once said, "I want to write songs so good that nobody understands them, even me". He succeeded with this next one.

Townes

Pancho and Lefty is certainly his best known song. He said it came through the window of a seedy hotel room to settle in his brain. "I was just tapped on the shoulder from above and told to write these songs, as opposed to wanting to be a success in the music business,” he said.

It's a mythical song that no one knows what it's about, but who cares? Bob Dylan would have been proud to own this one.

♫ Townes Van Zandt - Pancho & Lefty


NANCI GRIFFITH recorded a couple of interesting albums where she got a whole bunch of people to perform duets (and trios and on and on) with her.

Nanci is a fine songwriter but on these she performed songs written by others, I suspect mostly her favorites or those who have influenced her over the years. Naturally, there was a Townes song in the mix. On that one she had the help of ARLO GUTHRIE.

Nanci Griffith & Arlo Griffith

The song they performed is Tecumseh Valley, one of the most interesting songs that Townes wrote.

♫ Nanci Griffith and Arlo Guthrie - Tecumseh Valley


Townes

I imagine that people who haven't been there think of New Mexico as hot and dry. It is that, but they probably don't think of snow. I have been there when it snowed and it gets damn cold.

Raton is in the northeast of the state, nearly in Colorado and that's a state that is associated with snow. Put all that together and you have Snowin' on Raton.

♫ Townes Van Zandt - Snowin' on Raton


GUY CLARK was a close friend of Townes' and they occasionally shared a small glass of sherry together (well, that's the politically correct version of what they did).

Guy Clark

Guy rivals Townes in the Texan singer/songwriter department and since Townes' demise, Guy has always included one of his songs on each new album (as well as in concert, of course). Out of several I've chosen To Live is to Fly.

♫ Guy Clark - To Live's to Fly


Don't You Take It Too Bad has been recorded by many of Townes' friends and others as well. None did it better than Townes though.

Townes

This is his version of the song.

♫ Townes Van Zandt - Don't You Take It Too Bad


Townes wrote songs that were deceptively simple - not for him the epic stories of Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen. Now and then, however, he showed that he could match those two at their own game. This is one that either of those writers would be happy to call their own, Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel.

Townes

♫ Townes Van Zandt - Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel


As mentioned at the beginning, Townes wrote the saddest songs anyone ever committed to paper and disk, and the general consensus is that the saddest of the lot is Marie. This is a five hankie or full Kleenex box affair. WILLIE NELSON's stark approach to the song highlights this.

Willie Nelson

It's just Willie and guitar and that's all that's needed for it.

♫ Willie Nelson - Marie


I'll finish with a song that could have easily fitted into my "Seasons" columns. Townes sings Come Tomorrow.

Townes

I could say this is another sad song but that would be redundant.

♫ Townes Van Zandt - Come Tomorrow


INTERESTING STUFF – 17 September 2016

WHY RULINE IS WITH HILLARY

Now don't go getting all up about this being a list of women's firsts or tell us that it's not right to vote for Hillary just because she's a woman.

Forget that for a moment and just look at this campaign video. Being a woman is part of who Hillary is too.

Thank Jim Stone for sending this.

SAMANTHA BEE IS BACK

She and her TBS show returned from hiatus this week in top form. Here is her opening survey of what happened in politics during the time she was gone from the TV screen.

Remember – Samantha is not always safe for work and small children. But she sure is funny.

VOCAL FRY

In our discussion of hearing loss and hearing aids this week, reader Wendl Kornfeld left a comment about how difficult it is to understand young women who practice “vocal fry” which, believe it or not, is the professional term.

I had never heard the phrase so I tracked down some information on the interwebs. Here a video from CBS Sunday Morning about it:

The affectation seems to be closely associated with the Kardashians about whom I know almost nothing. If you are interested, click here for many more videos about vocal fry.

COVERING THE CAMERA ON YOUR COMPUTER

Remember when it was revealed that Mark Zuckerberg, who made his billions collecting personal information about Facebook users, taped over the camera on his desktop computer.

Zuckerbergwebcamtape

Now we learn that FBI director, James Comey, does the same thing. As reported in The Hill:

“Comey was pilloried online earlier this year, after he revealed that he puts a piece of tap over his laptop camera to keep away prying eyes. The precaution is a common one among security advocates, given the relative ease of hacking laptop cameras...

“Comey was 'much mocked for that,' he acknowledged on Wednesday. But he still uses the tape on his laptop.

“'I hope people lock their cars,' he said. 'Lock your doors at night… if you have an alarm system, you should use it.'”

Not that I believe anyone is interested in hacking into the webcam of an old woman but just to be safe, I tape over the camera on my computer too, as you can see in this photo.

MyTapedWebcam

LIGHT POLLUTION AND THE NIGHT SKY

According to this video, 88 percent of the world's population has never seen the Milky Way due to light pollution.

You and I are old enough that even in most cities when we were kids, we could still see the stars but it's doubtful we've been able to do that for many years. In fact, I remember the last time could see them - in the mid 1970s in upstate New York.

Now, two towns in Colorado have brought back the night sky. Take a look:

THE TRIPLE SPIRAL DOMINOS CASCADE

TGB Sunday music columnist, Peter Tibbles (who just had a birthday), sent this amazing triple spiral. It's gorgeous:

And just for some added fun, here is the same triple spiral in reverse:

ANSWERS ABOUT THE HAJJ

Every Muslim is required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, called The Hajj, at least once in his or her lifetime. This year's Hajj ended last Wednesday.

Diaa Hadid, a New York Times correspondent at the newspaper's Jerusalem bureau, attended the Hajj this year returning several videos of the religious event where two million people show up each year. This one is an excellent story filled with explanations and answers for people like me who are mostly ignorant of it beyond the fact that it exists.

You can read The Times story here and see more of Ms. Hadid's Hajj videos here.

RIDING IN UBER'S SELF-DRIVING CAR

Uber began testing its self-driving car in Pittsburgh this week with real riders.

Washington Post reporter Brian Fung got a demo a few days earlier and says that it works “at least under ideal conditions.” Here's the video:

Read more about it here.

A GUY AND HIS GOOSE

Reader Richard Lombard sent this video. This man and his goose are well known where I live in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and last week they were featured on the CBS Sunday Morning show. It's so cute. Take a look:

* * *

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.


Crabby Old Lady Contemplates Shaving Her Head

A more serious post was planned for today but a story about a generation of young women shaving their heads grabbed Crabby Old Lady's attention and it's been too long since she appeared in these pages.

The New York Times which, keep in mind, is frequently behind the curve in regard to youth culture, reports that there may be a fad of young women shaving their heads – as a fashion statement:

“'I’ve definitely noticed this trend on the streets recently,' said Andrea Donoghue, who owns Laurel, a private studio in the East Village. 'I think it’s a trickle down from what’s been happening in fashion lately.'

“'A client of mine recently came in with a picture of [model] Ruth [Bell] from a Zara campaign,' Ms. Donoghue recalled.”

Reading that, Crabby flashed on her hair cut last week when she told the stylist, an old friend by now, that she not infrequently thinks about shaving off all her hair. It would be so much easier.

As many of you know from past stories here, Crabby was deeply vexed when her hair had become so thin at the crown and front that pink scalp shows through the few wisps that remain. So two or three years ago after weighing several possible solutions, she began always wearing a hat when she leaves the house.

She has a large collection of winter, summer, big, small, smart, beautiful and silly hats now hanging on a wall, including this new addition she bought for an upcoming Halloween party:

Halloween Hat

Isn't it a terrific witch hat? What you can't see are the spiders crawling about on the netting. (Yeah, Crabby knows it's good for only one day a year but what the hell. It didn't cost much and YOLO, as those shaved-headed young women probably say.)

It was nearly eight years ago that Crabby Old Lady first wrote here about going bald and after listing the options (none of which Crabby liked), noted:

”Embracing baldness by shaving her head is a choice Crabby half-seriously considered but it works best on an attractively-shaped head and Crabby has no idea if hers is a pleasingly contoured.

“Besides,” Crabby continued eight years ago, “with every public encounter, it calls attention for a wrong reason, especially on an old woman. The thought of explaining herself to any fool who asks – and many would - makes Crabby tired already.”

But now, Crabby has moved from “half-seriously” considering shaving her head to seriously thinking about it.

The first time Crabby saw a deliberately bald woman was back in the 1970s, model Grace Jones, and she was stunning. Of course, unlike Crabby, she was born with an especially lovely face and beautifully shaped head.

Here she is in her bald look along with some other well-known women who have shaved their heads - left to right, Grace, Demi Moore, Tyra Banks and Cynthia Nixon. After the first bit of shock, they all look great.

GraceDemiTyraCynthiaBald

One of the young women in The Times story about the head shaving fad, 22-year-old Alana Derksen, said she had wanted to shave her head for a long time:

”...but refrained out of fear of how her 'conservative' family would react. Then, late one night last summer during a tense trip home, she finally gave in to the impulse, cutting off her hair in her parents’ bathroom and using a Bic razor to finish the job.

“Now, she said, she’s so used to her bald head, which she maintains with electric clippers, she has nightmares about her hair growing back. Even her parents have come around on the shorn ’do.:

Self image comes into it for Crabby only when thinking about how others would react. She doesn't want having a bald head to be the first thing people think about her. Someone asks, “Who is Crabby Old Lady?” “Oh, you know, the one who flaunts her shaved head.”

There is a whole lot of discussion in that Times story about whether the phenomenon of young women shaving their heads is a cultural response to expanding gender identifications. Crabby will leave that debate to them; her concerns are more prosaic.

First, as Crabby mentioned eight years ago, she is not sure she wants to be known for shaving her head. And for sure, she does not want to be thought of as trying to emulate women young enough to be her great granddaughters.

On the other hand, it would lift a small burden from her life to not think about thinning hair and hats anymore - as much fun as the hats are – or to blow dry what's left of her hair every other day. And, anyway, Crabby could still wear hats on her shaved head.

Which leaves this remaining question: Is the shape of Crabby's head reasonably nice looking? And that can be answered only one way - trust Crabby, plastering wet hair down on your head doesn't do it.

Crabby Old Lady is pretty certain this is just silliness for a Friday post after a week of serious issues. But then again, maybe not.


Hearing Loss Treatment and Medicare

Hearing

Hearing loss is one of the least attended health problems in the United States. That's just my opinion but take a look at the statistics. According to The New York Times:

Hearing loss affects 45 percent of people age 70-74

Hearing loss affects 80 percent of people who are 85 and older

Fewer than 20 percent of people with hearing loss use hearing aids

Some of the 80 percent who do not use hearing devices are concerned about the stigma that still attaches. There are other, more serious reasons people do not seek help for their hearing difficulty:

  1. Medicare, by deliberate legislation when it was created in 1965, does not cover hearing loss examination, treatment or devices

  2. The hearing aid business has an anecdotal reputation problem most of us are familiar with. That organizations such as AARP warn [pdf] people to carefully check the credentials of hearing specialists doesn't create a great deal of confidence

  3. Average hearing aid cost is about $2500 per aid, many people need two of them and that is for the devices only, not examinations and other specialist fees

Here is one person's – mine - hearing story.

Although I've had trouble since I was 30-something hearing nearby voices in noisy rooms such as restaurants, I just avoid them. For 10 years or so, I have lived with tinnitus but except that I long for some silence in my life, it doesn't affect hearing in general which is a good thing since there is no treatment for it.

More recently a different hearing problem has developed; it has become hard to hear dialogue on television.

The difficulty is not volume. In fact, I no longer go to movies in theaters because the audio is jacked up so high it hurts my ears. Instead this new-ish issue is that voices at certain timbres or pitches turn into gibberish. I can hear them perfectly well; it is just that the actors could be speaking Martian as far as I can tell.

But not all television audio is unintelligible. I hear news programs, documentaries, talk shows and other kinds of live broadcasts perfectly well (radio too) along with replays of these shows.

My hearing problem is specific to a large percentage of scripted programs, original TV and theatrical movies broadcast on television. I have become an adept lip reader but drama – and comedy – is such that half the time the person speaking has his/her back to the camera.

Two months ago, Consumer Reports published a “Hearing Aid Buying Guide” which is as useful and thorough as we have come to expect from this organization.

There is an overview of the causes of hearing loss, an excellent explanation of types of hearing aids with their various, individual features along with a list of considerations in choosing a hearing aid provider - from a medical doctor to hearing specialists:

”The professionals you might encounter at independent hearing-aid providers could fall into two categories: Audiologists or hearing-aid specialists (also called hearing-instrument specialists). Both types of professionals can evaluate your hearing and fit your hearing aids. But their training varies significantly.

“Audiologists must have a doctoral degree (Au.D.), and more than 1,000 hours of clinical training. Hearing-aid specialists generally have six months to two years of supervised training or a two-year college degree.”

Even if you have no hearing difficulty now this Consumer Reports guide is worth saving for possible future use.

Earlier this week, writing in The New York Times, reporter Paula Span looked at the Personal Sound Amplifiers (PSAPs).

”...many of us with mild to moderate hearing loss may consider a relatively inexpensive alternative: personal sound amplification products, or P.S.A.P.s. They offer some promise — and some perils, too,” she writes.

“Unlike for a hearing aid, you don’t need an audiologist to obtain a P.S.A.P. You see these gizmos advertised on the back pages of magazines or on sale at drugstore chains. You can buy them online.”

As Span notes, PSAPs are unregulated and, in fact, manufacturers are not allowed to label or market them as usable for hearing loss. And, many of them are terrible ripoffs. But some, she says, are not:

”Dr. Reed has tested just 29 participants so far, he cautioned, and real-world results will vary. Still, he and his colleagues were impressed with three P.S.A.P.s.

“The Soundhawk, which operates with a smartphone, performed almost as well as the hearing aid, with a list price of $399. The CS50+, made by Soundworld Solutions, and the Bean T-Coil, from Etymotic, worked nearly as well and list for about $350.”

If that sounds like something you want to look into, be sure to read the entire Times piece and the Consumer Reports guide that, like Span, warns of the shortcomings:

”These over-the-counter products generally have fewer features and less functionality than hearing aids...These are designed for people who want to amplify certain sounds—and they aren't subject to the same safety and effectiveness standards that hearing aids are.”

Probably not coincidentally, this same week Lori Orlov, the marketing expert who publishes the Aging in Place Technology Watch blog, has a short, informative list of five of the latest hearing technology gadgets. No reviews, just information about what is new on the immediate horizon.

As to my hearing? It is a big concern that my problem is gobbledegook, not volume because I suspect that makes it a brain, not ear, issue. So I'll start with my physician. If the outcome is interesting or useful, I'll let you know.

Meanwhile, it is unconscionable that Medicare does not cover hearing loss. Actually, you can think of this failure as cutting off the heads of elders; Medicare also does not cover routine vision and dental care.


Flu Shots and Exercise for Elders

image

When I was young, in my twenties, I came down with a flu every winter, stuck in bed for a week, achy, miserable and barely lucid. By age 30, I got smarter and I was taking the vaccine every year. For me, it has always worked – except for that one year sometime in my forties, the year I forgot to get the flu shot.

For two weeks I was barely conscious, too sick to care if I lived or died. What went on during those 12 or 14 days – phone calls maybe? did I watch TV? maybe a friend dropped by? I have no idea.

When finally the fever lifted, my head cleared and I got out of bed ready to return to the world, I found on the kitchen counter two, empty, one-gallon jugs that had once held water. I had never bought bottled water in my life, not in gallon containers or any other size. But there they were.

In all the years since then, every now and then, I wonder if, in the fog of flu that year, I walked to the corner bodega and bought that water. And, since I sleep naked, if perhaps I did that without putting on clothes, in the fog of flu, and the guys at the bodega colluded with my neighbors to not embarrass me by mentioning it.

Who knows. But I've never skipped the vaccine again.

IT'S ANNUAL FLU SHOT TIME
Last week, I stopped by the pharmacy for that annual innoculation. The pharmacy has my records from years past so it took only about five minutes and cost me nothing.

PRICE
In general, Medicare Part B covers the price if your physician accepts assignment. There are a couple of nuances to that you will find here.

WHO SHOULD GET THE VACCINE
This is serious business for elders.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the flu shot for everyone six months of age and older. But it is especially important for

”...anyone who is 65 years of age or older; nursing home residents; and people with serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, lung disease or HIV. Caregivers for older adults should also get vaccinated to avoid spreading the flu,” explains healthinaging.org [pdf].

WHO SHOULD NOT GET THE VACCINE
People who are allergic to eggs, have had allergic reactions to flu shots in the past, or have been diagnosed with Guillian-Barre Syndrome should not take the flu shot.

Mark you calendar today to get the flu shot. Soon. In my area, pharmacies give it without the need for an appointment. If that's not so where you live or you would rather see your physician, do arrange for it. Influenza can be deadly for old people.

EXERCISE FOR ELDERS
There have now been so many studies proving, confirming and reconfirming that exercise is the best medicine known to mankind, it cannot be questioned. Every one of us should be up and moving around as much as our physical condition allows.

H-15-MINUTE-WALK-BLOOD-SUGAR-628x314

The effectiveness of exercise on physical and cognitive wellbeing is so conclusive that the experts have been left for the past several years arguing not if we should, but what type, duration and intensity of exercise does the most good.

WHAT KIND OF EXERCISE?
Most experts suggest that four kinds are necessary: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. But newer studies are suggesting that for people who cannot and for elders, something as simple as brisk walking can be enough to help.

HOW MUCH EXERCISE?
For the past few years, most experts recommended that all people, including elders, need at least 150 minutes of the four kinds of exercise per week.

For people who have been sedentary for a long while or have conditions that might prevent that much work, that is a lot. But early this summer, WebMD reported on a new study that suggests that less is almost as good:

”'The biggest jump in benefit was achieved at the low level of exercise, with the medium and high levels bringing smaller increments of benefit,' said Dr. David Hupin, of the University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, France.

“The low level of exercise is equivalent to a 15-minute brisk walk each day, according to Hupin.”

You could do that even at home on rainy, cold days. Jack up the volume on some music you like and keep moving for 15 minutes. Time magazine reported further on the same study.

”...there’s growing consensus among some exercise researchers that perhaps people, especially the elderly, can still achieve improved health with less.

“'Fifteen minutes per day of moderate and vigorous physical activity could be a reasonable target dose in older adults,' the study authors conclude. Small increases in physical activity may enable some older adults to incorporate more moderate activity and thus get closer to the current recommendations. If more may be better, ‘Even a little is already good’.”

Note the last sentence of that quotation. I am seeing that again and again in my readings about exercise and old people. Even a little helps and is better than nothing.

Also, if you aim for more than that do only as much as you can. That is, don't be lazy, push yourself as far as is reasonable, but don't rush toward the goals you set.

When I first began my daily home workout routine several years ago, I could not do more than two pushups – only two - before collapsing and we're talking those girly type of pushups on my knees, not toes. I now do 50 without too much effort but it took a year to get there. Do as much as you can but not to much as to injure yourself.

MORE INFORMATION
Here are some online sources to help you think through an exercise program.

CDC Basics of Exercise for Older Adults: Not quite up to date as the study I've quoted above but a good explanation of levels of exercise.
Today's Geriatric Medicine is similar to the CDC page but more detailed.
Physical Activity Guidelines for active older adults from health.gov.