Hot Flashes and a Resistance Note

EDITORIAL NOTE: If you are a guy or a woman who's not interested in this topic, scroll down past it for today's Resistance Note.

At first I rejected this topic when a reader suggested it. Most women who read this blog are well past that annoying life event but “Jessie” kept pestering me so I looked into it. Surprise, surprise.

The most common age range, the experts tell us, that women experience the beginning of menopause is between 48 and 55. That it lasts up to ten years or so means a lot of TGB readers may be sweating through this week's east coast blizzard.

It shocked me at age 42 when the doctor told me my period was three weeks late because menopause had begun. My reaction was one part relief that I wasn't pregnant and one part, ”Wha-a-a-a-a-a-a-t? At my age?”

Okay, I was a little young for it but obviously it's not something I could control so I moved on. We've discussed this before but “Jessie” said it was worth redoing, so here goes – on the menopause subtopic of hot flashes.

Hot-flashes1

Here's a piece of useless information about it from medicinenet:

“About 40% to 85% of women experience hot flashes at some point in the menopausal transition.”

With a range 45 percent, that tells us nothing. And i'm probably not the person to consult. I know only three or four things – anecdotes, actually - about hot flashes that may or may not be widely pertinent:

  1. It is AMAZING that your body can go from dry to soaked in under a minute. That's impressive. It frequently happened as I was just finishing my makeup before work while also soaking my hair. So I began my morning routine all over again with the hair dryer.

  2. I learned to keep a beach towel in bed with me so that when night sweats woke me, soaking the sheets, I could roll over onto the towel and go back to sleep on a dry surface.

  3. My mother dyed about 10 pieces of lace, each to match the color of a sweatshirt. She sewed the lace pieces onto the shirts, an elegant solution which became my standard top under suit jackets for work so that when I broke out in a sweat, the shirts soaked it up without showing much. My mom could be quite clever sometimes.

Real_women_dont_have_hot_flashes_they_have_power_surges_sign

During that period of hot flashes, I had a first appointment with a new gynecologist, a highly respected woman who also taught at the one of the top medical schools in New York City.

After the exam, she said she would prescribe HRT (hormone replacement therapy) to ease my hot flashes. I declined, citing a recent, widely-noted study about risks of various cancers connected with HRT.

The doctor argued with me, even raising her voice. I explained I didn't believe a few sudden sweat episodes were worth risking cancer. She argued. As I left her office, she said to me – I have never forgotten: “You'll be sorry when your face gets wrinkled before its time.”

So here I am decades later all wrinkly in the face and elsewhere but (knock wood) cancer free so far. It's a crap shoot what causes cancer in one person and not another but this a tradeoff I would make again in a – well, New York minute.

Maxinehot-flushes-sat

A lot of women complain about hot flashes but fewer are using HRT rhese days. And really – the hot flashes are only an inconvenience, not life-threatening and personally? I found them kind of funny.

The Mayo Clinic has a smart, easy section about hot flashes. (Hint: they don't mention the vinegar, secret herbs, teas, vitamins and supplement “cures” some people suggest.)

What's your experience?

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RESISTANCE NOTES – OLIVER ON TRUMPCARE

(To catch up newcomers, Resistance Notes is an occasional section appended to the main story of the day to help keep track of what happens, these days, at such high speed in Washington. Even large news organizations are having trouble keeping pace so what's a little one-women website supposed to do?

The answer is now and then when the day's topic relates to ageing but I want to pass on some short, resistance-related information, I will post it here at the bottom of the main story. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.)

Today it is the most recent main video essay from John Oliver on his Saturday HBO program, Last Week Tonight, about the American Health Care Act (AHCA) this week.

Colbert doesn't hit a home run every week but it happens more often than not and when he does, it is magnificent. For me, it is a crime to wait seven days to show it to you as I usually do.

So here is the brilliant analysis of Trumpcare from John Oliver and his crew – serious and funny all at once, as they are so good at doing.


Ben Carson's Geezer Surgery (and More)

There is no dearth of reasons to rant, rail and rage against the new president for the disgraceful caliber of people he has placed in positions of power throughout the departments, offices and agencies of the federal government.

Even a few Republicans have been embarrassed by the obvious lack of experience or knowledge of some nominees. Think Betsy DeVos, Rex Tillerson, Rick Perry, Scott Pruitt, among others.

In some cases, however, a person who is given high political office is deeply unqualified in more disturbing ways: ideologically, ethically and morally.

Carson

On Saturday in these pages, I mentioned that Dr. Ben Carson, in his first official speech as the new secretary of the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), equated the men and women who were taken from their homes by force and shipped off to America to become slaves - with “immigrants.”

That is only the most obvious of the offensive moments in Carson's speech a week ago. Here is a short transcript of another, when he spoke about his previous work as a neurosurgeon:

”With a kid, you can operate 10, 12, 18, 20 hours and if you're successful, your reward may be 50, 60, 70, 80 years of life.

“Whereas with an old geezer, you spend all that time operating and they die in five years of something else. So I like to get a big return on my investment.”

I'll pause for a moment to let the potential consequences of that perspective on housing and related civil rights sink in.

Most days, I record the Late Show with Stephen Colbert so I can watch his monologue the next day. One of the “rewards” for my effort is way too many ageist jokes (although no more than the other late-night hosts).

But this time, to his great, grand credit, Colbert called out Carson.

This is that segment with the two parts from the secretary's speech I've highlighted along with two others that deserve equal piles of scorn:

You'll find some of the instant Twitter reaction to Carson's slave/immigrant comment at Huffington Post.

It's not that Secretary Carson is more ideologically or ethically challenged or any less knowledgeable about his new position than some other appointed leaders in this most reprehensible federal administration in my lifetime.

But he does appear to be the most candid about his shortcomings; whether by accident or design is hard to know.

What I do know is that there is so much double-dealing, overreach, hubris, lying, ignorance, secrecy, possible criminality and even treason along with open disdain for the Constitution, the rule of law and the citizenry itself that we must recognize every instance we see.

That isn't easy because there are several new ones every day. But we must not allow the bizarre beliefs of Secretary Carson and those of everyone else in the Trump administration to become so normal and ordinary that we are no longer shocked.

Do not let that happen to you or the people you know.


ELDER MUSIC: Put a Tiger in your Tank

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.

* * *

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake, of course, something we learnt at school, and wondered about rhyming eye with symmetry at the time. Still do.

Tiger

The column on Lions seemed to be pretty popular so naturally when you're on a good thing = thus, tigers today.

I thought of other big cats but there weren't enough songs for any but tigers. In my opinion, the lions' songs were more interesting than these but they're not too bad. I'm sure you'll find something to tickle your fancy.

LEE HAZLEWOOD wrote many, many songs that others have covered but he also recorded quite a few, both on his own and with Nancy Sinatra.

Lee Hazlewood

Lee's on his own today; he wants A House Safe from Tigers. I know that will fit the bill as a song but I wonder where Lee lives if that's what he requires. Actually, I believe there are more tigers in Texas than in all of India so maybe that's what he had in mind.

♫ Lee Hazlewood - A House Safe from Tigers


I haven't featured much DJANGO REINHARDT, a grievous oversight.

Django Reinhardt

I'll make partial amends today because he has a tiger tune. Django, of course, was one of the most influential guitarists in history. He usually played with violinist Stéphane Grappelli, as he does on Django's Tiger.

♫ Django Reinhardt - Django's Tiger


RICHARD CLAPTON (no relation to another musician with the same surname) is an Australian singer, songwriter and guitarist.

Richard Clapton

He had a couple of hits in the seventies and quite a few albums that did well. He's still out there performing and recording. Goodbye Tiger is one of the songs from back then that did okay for him.

♫ Richard Clapton - Goodbye Tiger


Also in Oz, but a bit earlier, from the trad jazz revival of the late fifties, early sixties, FRANK JOHNSON'S FABULOUS DIXIELANDERS were one of the premier performers of that style.

Frank Johnson

When I was looking for tiger songs, I found that this one could have filled two or three columns on its own. You probably don't need me to tell you that it's Tiger Rag.

♫ Frank Johnson's Fabulous Dixielanders - Tiger Rag


MUDDY WATERS has probably performed songs about just about everything under the sun so I wasn't surprised when he turned up here.

Muddy Waters

Indeed, he supplies the title for the column (which of course came from a petrol commercial some time ago – yes, we had it here in Oz too). Muddy wants to put a Tiger In Your Tank. I don't think he's talking about filling up the car.

♫ Muddy Waters - Tiger In Your Tank


APRIL STEVENS had a solo singing career before she teamed up with her brother Nino Tempo. Together they had several really good songs that made the pointy end of the charts. She then went back to singing solo.

April Stevens

One of her hits, which she recorded a couple of times, is Teach Me Tiger.

♫ April Stevens - Teach Me Tiger


Although born in Texas and brought up there and later in Arizona, BUCK OWENS is mostly associated with Bakersfield, California.

Buck Owens

He's credited with creating the "Bakersfield sound", a stripped back form of country music rather akin to honky tonk. Much more interesting than the sausage-factory country music out of Nashville. Buck's song is I've Got A Tiger By The Tail. As long as he keeps away from the other end.

♫ Buck Owens - Ive Got A Tiger By The Tail


Here's one for those of us who grew up in the fifties. There's some dialogue in Stan Freberg's The Old Payola Roll Blues that goes like this when they decided they needed a teenage idol for their record...

"Hey kid."

"Who me?"

"Can you sing?"

"No."

"Good, come with me."

That's Stan's idea of how FABIAN (or someone like him) became a recording artist.

Fabian

He possibly became a film actor the same way, or maybe because he was already a pop idol. Anyway, good luck to him, I say. He had a hit with a song called Tiger.

♫ Fabian - Tiger


Whenever I hear the name RUSTY DRAPER, I always think of the song Freight Train.

Rusty Draper

That song is hardwired into my brain and has been that way since the fifties. Rusty recorded other songs, of course, one of those is Tiger Lilly.

♫ Rusty Draper - Tiger Lilly


JOE HILL LOUIS was a one man band.

Joe Hill Louis

He sang, played guitar, harmonica and drums (and probably other things as well) all at the same time. He recorded for a variety of labels but most notably for Sun Records.

He had a few disks released under his own name and he also played guitar and/or drums on other people's records. One of his songs is Tiger Man which was also covered by Rufus Thomas and Elvis.

♫ Joe Hill Louis - Tiger Man


There's an extra song today and it'll be obvious why. Back in the late fifties and early sixties, answer songs were all the rage. This usually meant putting new words to the previous tune, always a big hit.

As this is an answer column to the Lions one, it's only fair that we have an answer song to one of those from that column. This is provided by THE ROMEOS.

The Romeos

We had The Lion Sleeps Tonight, so now we have The Tiger's Wide Awake. Answer songs were seldom anywhere as good as the original and that is the case today. Oh lordy, this one's bad.

The Romeos - The Tiger's Wide Awake


INTERESTING STUFF – 11 March 2017

FIVE-YEAR-OLD WINS SPELLING BEE

I would have lost to young Edith Fuller, at my age now, on the word she spelled correctly to win. As it is, she is the youngest spelling bee winner ever and she won against some students three times her age.

You can read more at the Washington Post.

CLEVER EXHIBIT OF FICTION GENDER GAP FOR WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH

Loganberry Books in Cleveland, Ohio, made an important statement about the gender of fiction writers by reversing all the novels on their shelves written by men so we cannot see the titles and names. Take a look:

Loganberrybooks

Here's a close up:

Loganberrycloseup

You can read more at Huffington Post and you can visit the Loganberry website where there are more photos.

THE MAN WHO MAKES MAZES

Adrian Fisher is, they say, the world's pre-eminent maze de signer. In his career, he has created more than 700 mazes in 40 countries.

”...like all skillful mystery-makers,” notes the YouTube page, “Fisher's greatest talent in maze-making is knowing how to perfectly blend the intrigue of exploration with the satisfaction that comes from finding your way.”

HUD SECRETARY BEN CARSON SAYS SLAVES WERE IMMIGRANTS

You may have heard that last week, in his first speech to employees of the Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD) where he is now secretary, Dr. Ben Carson announced that slaves were immigrants. Here's the video with some Twitter reaction appended:

You can read more at the Washington Post and I'll have more to say about Dr. Carson's speech in these pages on Monday.

IT'S DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME AGAIN

Why don't we just give up daylight savings time; it's not like it has a purpose anymore and even with computers, WiFi and Bluetooth that do it automatically, I still have way too many clocks to change tonight.

Dst2

Tonight's the night – move your clocks AHEAD one hour. It will be darker when you wake on Sunday.

HOW SMALL ARE WE IN THE SCALE OF THE UNIVERSE

While we're considering the sun and daylight in relation to our clocks, how about this – human size compared to that of the universe. Here's a Ted Talk designed to make us feel deeply insignificant.

DRAGON'S BLOOD

Scientific journals have a penchant for publishing “maybe breakthroughs” that are no doubt of interest to fellow scientists but are not much so to the rest of us since it will usually be years (if ever) before discoveries are translated into useful results.

But sometimes they are just plain interesting. This is a komodo dragon, the largest reptile on earth. (Image from remotelands.com)

Komodo_7B

As an article in The Economist explained last week:

”Komodo dragons, which are native to parts of Indonesia, ambush large animals like water buffalo and deer with a bite to the throat. If their prey does not fall immediately, the dragons rarely continue the fight.

“Instead, they back away and let the mix of mild venom and dozens of pathogenic bacteria found in their saliva finish the job. They track their prey until it succumbs, whereupon they can feast without a struggle.”

As you undoubtedly have read, antibiotics are becoming less and less effective putting humans at risk we haven't encountered for decades. And that is where, perhaps, komodo dragons come in to save the day – as a “promising source of chemicals on which to base new antibiotics.”

Working with fresh komodo blood, a team of scientists in Florida,

”...identified 48 potential [antimicrobial peptides] that had never been seen before. Their initial tests were equally promising.

“Dr Van Hoek exposed two species of pathogenic bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, to eight of the most promising peptides they had identified. The growth of both species of bacteria was severely hampered by seven of the eight; the remaining peptide was effective against only P. aeruginosa.”

A lot of Latin but with apparently good news although it may take years to see results for humans. Still worth knowing if only to read the phrase “dragon's blood” in real life, not a horror movie.

You can read more at The Economist.

A MOST SATISFYING VIDEO

This is a great video to watch when everything seems to be going wrong – in your personal life or in the world at large. It feels so good when things are done amazingly well, just right and, sometimes, even perfectly.

If you liked this here are two more: One. Two.

BALD EAGLES IN DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA

Once almost extinct, bald eagles are back from the brink. So much so that there can be videos like this one of a fisherman sharing his catch with a whole, big flock of eagles.

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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.


Elders and the Republican Healthcare Plan

EDITORIAL NOTE: This is a busy week for me so I'm writing this on Wednesday. God knows what will happen regarding the new healthcare plan by Friday morning when this is posted to TGB. If anything important changes, I'll try to update it but no promises.

* * *

Healthcare introduction

The ACHA, also known as the American Health Care Act (or Ryancare or Trumpcare if you prefer) released on Tuesday hit a firestorm of criticism from everywhere. That includes, according to ABC News,

”...AARP, the House Freedom Caucus, GOP senators including Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, Heritage, the Club for Growth, tea party groups and even, yes, Breitbart News.”

In some circles, it was scorned as Obama Lite and that the “Obamacare cure is worse than the disease.” Other responses as reported in mainstream news media:

”Ryan disappoints his friends with Obamacare replacement bill. Close allies in conservative policies circles found little to love with the GOP's health care proposal.” (Politico)
”The GOP’s plan guts the Medicaid expansion, defunds Planned Parenthood, and sunsets a federal rule that requires that qualified insurance plans cover things like mental health care, maternity care, and pediatric dental and vision care, among other things.” (The Daily Beast)
”If you’re poor, you will not have the money to pay the premium, leaving you without insurance." (Newsweek)

And don't think that if you are 65 or older and a Medicare beneficiary that it doesn't affect you. As Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid expert, Nancy Altman, explains

”Seniors aged 65 and over, as well as people with serious disabilities, rely on Medicare for their basic health insurance. That program will be seriously weakened if the Republican plan to gut the ACA is enacted. It is estimated that Medicare’s revenue will drop by $346 billion.

“The Republican bill to repeal the ACA drains Medicare to gives tax breaks to wealthy Americans and corporations. In fact, even before Republicans pass a so-called 'tax reform bill,' this bill’s giveaway amounts to a whopping $525 billion tax break for the wealthiest among us.”

There is little doubt that the $346 billion drain on Medicare revenue would negatively affect these items that, with the passage of Obamacare, came into being for Medicare:

  • the ongoing reduction of the donut hole in the Part D prescription drug program

  • annual wellness visits without a copay

  • free annual flu shot

  • the extension of Medicare solvency to the year 2029.

The many TGB readers not quite old enough for Medicare would be hit particularly hard if this new healthcare bill is passed. Vox reports:

"In general, the impact of the Republican bill would be particularly severe for older individuals, ages 55 to 64. Their costs [of annual premiums] would increase by $5,269 if the bill went into effect today and by $6,971 in 2020. Individuals with income below 250 percent of the federal poverty line would see their costs increase by $2,945 today and by $4,061 in 2020."

Which brings us to effects of Medicaid changes in the bill. The estimable Nancy Altman again:

”The GOP’s bill, if enacted, will place caps on Medicaid spending, again shifting costs away from the federal balance sheet and to the balance sheets of states and individuals.

“If that is enacted, seniors needing long term care and their families may find themselves out of luck, since nursing home care is extremely expensive. It is estimated that the typical annual cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $80,300. Very few families can afford that huge cost on their own.

“And the impact on seniors not yet 65, and so, not yet on Medicare, will be the harshest of all. They will have more difficulty obtaining insurance and will face higher health care costs if this legislation is enacted and implemented.”

On Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Tom Price, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and a physician,

”...would not commit to reporters that consumers would be able to keep their current doctors if the plan were passed, whether it would provide insurance at a lower cost, or that it would not add to the nation’s deficit. On each point he said simply that those were the administration’s goals.”

Of course not because no one knows, least of all writers of the bill. It was not been submitted to the Congressional Budget office for scoring, as is customary for any new bill.

Republicans, who control both the House and the Senate, expect Congress to vote on the bill by mid-April. President Trump supports it even though, as quoted by the Washington Post, he said in January:

“'We’re going to have insurance for everybody,' Trump said. 'There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.' People covered under the law 'can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.'"

Which, like his other campaign promises so far, is apparently dead. Maybe he never meant it to begin with. It is said that the president will fly here and there across the country to promote the bill. I wonder what he will tell his voters who expected not the lose the coverage they have now.

Let's give Nancy Altman that last word today:

”The truth is that all of these cuts [in the healthcare bill] are entirely unnecessary. In fact, Medicare should be expanded to cover all of us.

“Medicare and Medicaid are more efficient than private insurance. Other nations are able to provide health care as a right, at a fraction of the cost with better health outcomes.

“We should be building on the successes of Medicare and Medicaid and the cost savings measures of the ACA. But instead, Republicans in Congress want to take us backwards.”


Old/Young Friendship

It's hard to keep up these days and it is worrisome how Trump's daily eruptions leave so little time to spend with stories, books, music, ideas and people whose thoughts and ideas help explain the world, expand our minds and give us joy. The best ones also teach us something about ourselves.

But on Monday, I accidentally bumped into one of those - a charming, luminous story (and writer) to believe in and cherish.

It happened while I was driving home from a meeting. The radio station I tuned in was partway through an interview with novelist, poet and playwright, Victor Lodato, with whom I was not familiar. He was discussing his essay on “modern love” that had recently appeared in The New York Times.

When I got home, I tracked down the essay in which Lodato explains that he was in his early 40s when he met 80-something artist, Austin, who lived next door to the house he had rented in a town away from home to finish a new book.

”From the beginning,” he writes, “there was something about our interaction that reminded me of friendships from childhood, in which no question was off limits.

“On religion, she claimed to be an atheist. I admitted to being haunted by the ghosts of a Roman Catholic upbringing. She said her sisters believed in hell and worried about her soul.

“Austin, though, seemed afraid of nothing, least of all death. I said I was still afraid of the dark.

“'Living alone,' she said. 'It can make you funny.'

“I laughed but changed the subject, telling her I would like to see her paintings.”
(I stole this image from The New York Times. It is by Brian Rea and I think he caught the essence and beauty of Lodato's story.)

NYTIMESBrianRea

When Lodato's six-month lease was up, he renewed because he hadn't finished writing his book and more, because he “couldn't imagine a better neighbor” than Austin.

“What was perplexing, I suppose, was not that two people of such different ages had become friends, but that we had essentially become best friends. Others regarded our devotion as either strange or quaint, like one of those unlikely animal friendships: a monkey and a pigeon, perhaps.”

Austin kept painting and Lodato kept writing and they kept hiking and reading and cooking dinners together until three years had passed. One day, Austin showed Lodato a copy of the vows that had been read at a wedding she had attended:

“'I never had anything like that with the men in my life,' she said, pointing to the vows. 'We loved each other, but we didn’t have that.' She was crying now, something she rarely did.

“I took her hand and said, 'Well, you have it with me. Everything but the sex.'

“At which point, the monkey kissed the pigeon.

“That night, I had an odd realization: Some of the greatest romances of my life have been friendships. And these friendships have been, in many ways, more mysterious than erotic love: more subtle, less selfish, more attuned to kindness.”

Lodato's is a compelling essay, not the sort you stop reading until you get to the end but that paragraph did it for me.

“Yes,” I found myself thinking – maybe I even said it aloud sitting alone at home - and I would add one or two adjectives to Lodato's list: comfortable and comforting.

Or maybe, for me, it is mutual old age that makes friendship with men now as special as Lodato explains. Certainly easier than the sexual romances of my past. But there are a couple of friendships in my life where we are separated by almost as many years as Lodato's and Austin's too.

Friendship is a mysterious thing. You can't plan it and although you can put yourself in places where you are more likely to meet people, friendship cannot be forced. It happens. Or not.

But what Victor Losado's essay does is shatter common expectations of with whom we can find it and how magically it can happen so quickly sometimes.

EdgarandLucy200Losado's story is more deliciously complex than I have shown you and you can read it at The Times. His second book, Edgar and Lucy: A Novel was published yesterday and is available at Amazon, among other booksellers.


The Shifting Sands of (My) Ageing

Over the weekend a friend who has been active in elder issues for many years said to me that he had mostly stopped reading about ageing, that everything important has been said.

We had other things to talk about and didn't pursue that line of thought for any distance but I recognized that without having made a deliberate decision, I too have been reading less about growing old for at least a year.

Although I still follow two or three dozen elder issues and topics in the news most days I am, after these 21 or 22 years at age research, a master at knowing from headlines and first sentences if I need to read further.

Books too have become easier to choose. With the exception of a handful of remarkable writers and thinkers, most often the answer is don't bother. There is a lot of repetition going on.

When I started studying growing old in 1995 – in my mid-fifties - there was hardly any popular or even academic writing about it and certainly not in any positive sense. Mostly it was about how awful ageing is and everyone should do anything possible, spend any amount of time and money to avoid it.

It was so widespread, I thought, “Geez, if it's going to be this bad, I may as well shoot myself now,” but I was too curious about how the future would play out for me to take myself seriously. (And I secretly never believed it is so awful.)

In books and magazines and videos and such, during the intervening years, a growing number of people have recognized that growing old has been unnecessarily maligned but nothing has changed in the overall culture:

After age 50, hardly anyone, no matter how qualified, can find a good job. Comedians still build careers with grandpa incontinence jokes. And the soft tyranny of ageist stereotypes in all corners of society continues without letup.

We are so accustomed to ageist representations of old people that even elders themselves don't notice. Here is an example from four or five years ago but if you pay attention, you'll see them every day.

VirginAmerica

This one which is widely used in many north American and European cities helps sustain the belief that old age is synonymous with sick and unhealthy. For the record, it is not.

Elderroadsign

Without having as much external input from others about growing old now that I'm reading less, here are some of the items that have been rattling around in my own head recently; obviously not fully developed (each one could be a blog post) but I think you'll get the point.

My age is only part of who I am but because all people are trained from the cradle to reject old age, it is the first and, most of the time, the only thing others think is important to know about me.

Of course, my age has a influence on how I see the world. At minimum that difference, after living all this time and always being a curious sort, is that I have a lot more knowledge and information to call on in making decisions and forming opinions.

Just because sometimes mine is not the “cool” point of view doesn't make me wrong nor invalidate my ideas. But too often old people are dismissed in what they say merely because they are old. And it is okay, in our culture, to do so with condescending amusement: “Isn't she cute, that old woman.”

Too many old people are in the closet about their age - from extreme cosmetic surgery that is always apparent to being coy about the actual number of their years.

What the deniers need to understand is that every time they pretend to be younger than they are or lie about their age or present themselves as “not like those other old people,” they reinforce tolerance of ageist behavior. They are part of the problem.

Those “get-off-my-lawn” old guys. (I suppose there are also women of this type.) Too often old people are their own worst enemies.

Way too many younger adults are talking about what it's like to be old and how old people should live and arrange their lives. You are free to call me a slow learner but all on my own without help from anyone else, I have learned two – and ONLY two – truths I believe in, in my seven-and-half decades:

  1. With the possible exception of trained medical personnel, no one knows anything about what it's really like to be old until they get there.

  2. The second one doesn't apply today but if you're curious: If it is happening to me, it is happening to millions of other people

It is long past time when people who make decisions about old people, individually and collectively - whether they are scientists, social workers, caregivers or government policy makers – must include one and preferably more old people in forming conclusions and making choices that will affect elders.

On a personal level, I am surprised that I haven't changed as much as I thought I would by now when I was younger.

For all the years I've packed on, I'm still carrying the same baggage from my upbringing as I did when I was 20 or 30 (I just see it more clearly now). The major emotional experiences of my adult years get in the way of my behavior pretty much as they did back then which is to say, not attractively.

But as I wrote a few posts ago, I'm done with self-improvement. Little, if anything, will change about me now. Maybe old people are all like Popeye: “I yam what I yam.”

* * *

RESISTANCE NOTES
There's a lot going on in Washington about meetings between Russian representatives and Trump associates during the election campaign and now in the White House.

Many citizens – even a large number of Republicans – are calling for a special prosecutor (or someone similar) to investigate these issues. The White House and many Congressional Republicans, especially those who head up intelligence committees, are trying to avoid doing this with the usual, "Move along, nothing to see here, folks."

This is just a reminder to keep up your calls to your representatives in Congress. I assume you have your telephone numbers. If not and you have a smartphone, you can download 5 Calls that makes it easy for you. It's available for iPhones and Android phones.

Last week, TGB reader janinsanfran who blogs at Since It Has Happened Here told us about another service she uses called Daily Action. Give them your phone number and Zip Code and they will text you a daily action alert. Obviously, you need a text-messaging phone for this to work but most so-called "dumb phones" can do that.


ELDER MUSIC: Greg Brown and Family

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.

* * *

Greg Brown

GREG BROWN is the best unknown singer/songwriter around at the moment and he's held that status for the last 20 or 30 years now. I will do my best to remedy that situation a little bit.

Greg's recorded more than 30 albums over the years; few, if any, have made a dent on the charts. I have many of them and they are really good, some superb.

I think one of the reasons for his lack of recognition is due to his insistence on living and recording in his native Iowa rather than hanging out at the usual places musicians hang out. Some of you may have heard him as he performed regularly on A Prairie Home Companion.

The songs are in no particular order, except that I'll end with what I consider his best song. There are also a couple from members of his family and a friend. Most of the songs have his long time friend and collaborator BO RAMSEY playing lead guitar.

Bo Ramsey

"44 & 66" is an album from very early in Greg's career and it already points the way that his songwriting would take in later years. That album contains the song Ring Around The Moon and he has the help of Prudence Johnson who was once a singer in the jazz group Rio Nido.

♫ Greg Brown - Ring Around The Moon


Greg Brown

Jumping a couple of decades to the album "Slant 6 Mind". I recount down below how I came across this one, the first of Greg's that I owned. With the song Speaking in Tongues, he really gets into a slow-burning gospel groove.

♫ Greg Brown - Speaking in Tongues


Greg is married to noted singer/songwriter IRIS DEMENT.

Iris Dement

Regular readers of the column will know what a fan I am of Iris's music. She mostly performs her own or (occasionally) traditional music but she has recorded some of Greg's songs. This is one of them, The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home.

♫ Iris DeMent - The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home


Greg Brown

Greg has written a number of songs that reference real people. This one is about the poet Kenneth Rexroth. Well, not him, but his daughter. However, Greg doesn't tell us which one as Ken had two of them.

Anyway, given the subject matter, it's no surprise that the song is called Rexroth's Daughter.

♫ Greg Brown - Rexroth's Daughter


Greg Brown

Another song about real people, well, one real and another for which the evidence is a little shaky. The song is quite tongue in cheek and I always smile when I hear it. Greg sings Jesus and Elvis.

♫ Greg Brown - Jesus and Elvis


Greg has three children, CONSTANCE BROWN, ZOE BROWN, and PIETA BROWN.

Pieta & Constie Brown

That's Pieta and Constie. I couldn't find a picture of Zoe (sorry, Zoe).

All three of them are musicians and Pieta is also a pretty good singer/songwriter. I can recommend her albums (well, the three I own anyway; I can't say about the others). The three of them got together and recorded one of dad's songs, Ella Mae.

♫ Pieta, Zoe & Constie Brown - Ella Mae


Greg Brown

The first song I remember hearing of Greg's, many years ago, is called Mose Allison Played Here. Another song about a real person, alas one who died not too long ago.

My local community radio station played it and mentioned it was from an album called "Slant 6 Mind". I went to my favorite record store and, goodness me, they had it.

They also had a couple more of his CDs which I also bought as I'm a bit compulsive when it comes to music. I wasn't disappointed. Here's that song.

♫ Greg Brown - Mose Allison Played Here


ELIZA GILKYSON is an old friend, so I'm counting her as part of the family.

Eliza is a good singer/songwriter herself. Perhaps it's in the genes, as her father, Terry Gilkyson, was a songwriter in the fifties who also sang as well. Her brother was in a couple of bands and works as a studio guitarist.

Eliza has recorded for Greg's own record label, Red House Records, since 2000 and there are many fine albums out there. Here she covers one of Greg's songs, Sleeper.

Eliza Gilkyson

♫ Eliza Gilkyson - Sleeper


Greg Brown

I kept changing my mind about which song to include in this spot. It depended on my mood. I finally decided to go with You Drive Me Crazy because it was a little different from the other songs, a nice contrast to them. It's more grinding blues than folk music.

♫ Greg Brown - You Drive Me Crazy


Greg Brown

As I said in the introduction, I'll end with the song I consider Greg's best, Poet Game, from the album "The Poet Game". It was recorded in 1994 and is still relevant today. Besides, it's a terrific song.

♫ Greg Brown - Poet Game


INTERESTING STUFF – 4 March 2017

THIS GIRL (OF ALL AGES) CAN VIDEO

Sport England just released a new video for the This Girl Can campaign which, they explain,

”...encourages women to challenge cultural assumptions about femininity that prevent them engaging in sport and exercise. The ad uses extracts from Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Women poem alongside real women taking part in sport

Including, please note, old women too.

Thank lilalia who blogs at Yum Yum Cafe for this.

HEALTH CARE IS COMPLICATED

Apparently, President Donald Trump was surprised to find out early last week that healthcare and coverage for healthcare is not easy. Take a look:

Here's a response to Trump's surprise, a haiku by Michael Belodeau posted at Kaiser Health News:

Health care policy
Complicated. Huh, who knew?
I did. Didn’t you?

JOHN OLIVER ON OBAMACARE

To create a theme, here is the main essay from John Oliver on his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight” last Saturday. God, I missed him while the show was on hiatus. Here he is at his funniest while being deeply serious too.

TURNING CREMATED ASHES INTO VINYL RECORDINGS

I've been known to write, from time to time, about burial innovations from simple shrouds to mushroom suits, green cremations to biomass pods that let a decomposing body power lights. You can read about those here.

Now, a company in the United Kingdom can turn your loved one's cremated remains into a vinyl recording:

”Ask Studio is an offering of British company Andvinyl that involves pressing your cremains into a series of musical discs...

“Each record has 24 minutes of audio (12 per side) and a single person’s cremated remains can be turned into up to 30 such discs...

“Music is not the only option, either — the user supplies the sound, so it can be a song or simply a message to a family member, spouse, friend or other loved one.”

Find out more at Gajitz.

LEONARD COHEN'S DEMOCRACY

When poet/musician Leonard Cohen died last year, most people had his Hallelujah on repeat for days.

But given this election campaign that was distorting our politics at the time, a better memorial for Cohen might be his 1990 Democracy. Canadian TGB reader Gillian suggested that to me in an email that is is almost perfect for our 2017 circumstance.

So here it is with the lyric below the video so you can follow along.

It's coming through a hole in the air
From those nights in Tiananmen Square
It's coming from the feel
That this ain't exactly real
Or it's real, but it ain't exactly there
From the wars against disorder
From the sirens night and day
From the fires of the homeless
From the ashes of the gay
Democracy is coming to the USA
It's coming through a crack in the wall
On a visionary flood of alcohol
From the staggering account
Of the Sermon on the Mount
Which I don't pretend to understand at all
It's coming from the silence
On the dock of the bay,
From the brave, the bold, the battered
Heart of Chevrolet
Democracy is coming to the USA

It's coming from the sorrow in the street
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin'
That goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat
From the wells of disappointment
Where the women kneel to pray
For the grace of God in the desert here
And the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the USA

Sail on, sail on
O mighty Ship of State
To the Shores of Need
Past the Reefs of Greed
Through the Squalls of Hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on

It's coming to America first
The cradle of the best and of the worst
It's here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it's here they got the spiritual thirst
It's here the family's broken
And it's here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way
Democracy is coming to the USA

It's coming from the women and the men
O baby, we'll be making love again
We'll be going down so deep
The river's going to weep,
And the mountain's going to shout Amen
It's coming like the tidal flood
Beneath the lunar sway
Imperial, mysterious
In amorous array
Democracy is coming to the USA

Sail on, sail on

I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight
Getting lost in that hopeless little screen
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
That Time cannot decay
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
This little wild bouquet
Democracy is coming to the USA

AMAZING NEW BOSTON DYNAMICS ROBOT

I've told you about Boston Dynamics' robots at least twice and they just get better. Boston Dynamics explains that its latest,

”...called Handle...stands 6.5 feet tall, travels at nine miles per hour and jumps four feet vertically. It uses electric power to operate both electric and hydraulic actuators, with a range of about 15 miles on one battery charge.

“Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex.

“Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs, Handle can have the best of both worlds.”

Mashable describes Handle as moving like a “world-class athlete." Wired says it is an “evolutionary marvel.” Take a look for yourself:

JUST IN TIME FOR SECRETARY BETSY DEVOS

As soon as the completely unqualified Education Secretary Betsy Devos adjusted her opinion of transgender bathrooms to match the White House point of view, this new report about school vouchers, which she strongly supports, was released:

”...wave of new research has emerged suggesting that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them,” reports The New York Times. The results are startling — the worst in the history of the field, researchers say...

“Researchers examined an Indiana voucher program that had quickly grown to serve tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. 'In mathematics,' they found, 'voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement.' They also saw no improvement in reading.

“[In Louisiana's voucher program]...Public elementary school students who started at the 50th percentile in math and then used a voucher to transfer to a private school dropped to the 26th percentile in a single year. Results were somewhat better in the second year, but were still well below the starting point.”

More about Secretary DeVos's squishy transgender politics here and the voucher research findings here.

EARTH SHIPS

As YouTube explains,

”The New Mexico desert is a landscape of harsh extremes: brutally hot in the summer, frigid in the winter. It was the perfect testing ground for architect Mike Reynolds' "earthships"—houses of unconventional design material and utility that are completely self-sustained.

“They're built with used tires and empty glass bottles and produce their own electricity, water, and food. For Reynolds, sustainable houses are the key to making a home in a better future—and now, the rest of the world is catching on to Reynolds' genius eco-friendly designs.”

Take a look:

There is another video and more information at The Atlantic.

JAPAN'S ALL-NATURAL MONKEY SPA

I keep thinking I've featured this spa that warms Japanese macaques during their cold, four-month, snowy winters but I can't find it. I've seen various video and am always charmed. The YouTube page explains,

”The Jigokudani Valley in Japan's Joshinetsu-Kogen National Park is a high altitude, snow-covered landscape of cliffs and chasms that holds a surprising secret: naturally occurring hot springs that bubble with subterranean heat and fill the air with steam.

“However, we humans aren't the only primates who have discovered the hot springs. In the early 1960s, Japanese macaques moved down from the higher forests above the valley and made themselves right at home in the warm waters. These snow monkeys have been using them as a warm-up spot ever since.

* * *

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: Is the Internet Worth It Anymore?

If Crabby Old Lady were not committed to this blog, she is unsure if she would bother with the internet anymore. Every effin' page is filled with annoyances and the amount of it has been growing for years.

NYTpopup

Here's one: it's not enough that Crabby pays real money for what she purchases online. Oh, no. Then, THEN they pester her for weeks to write a review of the product. Really? You want Crabby to critique the poop bags she uses to clean out the cat's litter box twice a day?

Or how about those batteries she buys by the sh*tload for all her electronics. What could she say? They're batteries, for god's sake. They work and after awhile they don't. Crabby could as well review a box of salt for all it would mean.

When they're not whining for a review – or, sometimes, in addition to a review - they want Crabby to fill out a survey about how wonderful their service is. “How great are we? Choose one: special, more special, fabulous, magnificent.”

Annoying as they are, those are relatively easy to ignore. But there are many other ways website developers have invented to fry Crabby's brain.

This oldie is still a goodie for news websites: As soon as the page loads, the audio starts blaring. Sometimes the video is not even visible, being below the fold, so Crabby scurries around to find the frame to shut it down thereby forgetting why she went to that site.

Or, if more than one browser window is open, some other website restarts the audio even after Crabby has shut it down and moved to another page. More brain rattling and lost attention.

Even more insidious, is when the video/audio begins a minute or two into Crabby's read of the print story. The noise destroys her concentration and she loses all understanding of the article.

Comicsnopopups

And just when Crabby thinks these tactics can't get any worse, what appears to be a quiet news story with no video blaring, times a pop-up window to appear at exactly the moment she is reading third or fourth paragraph destroying any retention of what she's read so far. (And, no, pop-up blockers do not block all pop-ups.)

The designers of these disruptions are masters at hiding the damned X that would close the window. Lately, Crabby has noticed, they have resorted to printing them in the faintest-possible font so that they blend into whatever background color they sit upon.

And don't get Crabby started on moving GIFs that repeat every five seconds into eternity. Not to mention the ubiquitous “like us Facebook” popups.

It is hard to know what these websites – and they span everything from the most staid and traditional such as The New York Times to sites like Buzzfeed listicles – believe they accomplish by enraging Crabby and, she is pretty sure, tens of millions of other people.

Do they think we don't notice what websites we're on when these cruel and (Crabby believes) dangerous interruptions occur? Surely, by disrupting thought and focus they are rotting our brains. There are plenty of studies showing how short our attention spans have become. What must all the unnecessary dispruptions do to us?

Then there are the loathsome emails. Crabby was naive enough to think that after the election the political donation solicitations would end. Don't be silly - they only increased and the progressives are no less obnoxious about it than the Republicans.

Some individual organizations send half a dozen emails a day begging for money and look out if you do donate: they'll up that number to a dozen a day.

Crabby supports three progressive organizations she believes do good work but even they won't let up on the emails.

One final aggravation that has become all too common: Popups that appear just as Crabby arrives at a page asking if she will subscribe to the email newsletter.

HULLO, YOU JACKASS – HOW TO YOU THINK CRABBY GOT HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

If a website can track what product Crabby looked at three days ago and make sure a photograph of it follows her to every page she visits for next four weeks, surely they can figure out when she has followed a link from the damned email newsletter she is already subscribed to.

Crabby subscribes to dozens of email newsletters – news, politics, ageing, some other personal interests so you can easily imagine that she suffers dozens of brain freezes each day. She is gradually unsubscribing to the least useful now.

It has become so bad, so painful that Crabby is not reading nearly as much as she once did and she's given up on a lot of research – it just jangles her brain too much when she is trying to learn and understand.

160411.eyeballs

If Crabby Old Lady did not still enjoy producing this blog and especially the information and camaraderie of the comments section, she'd be ready to kick the internet out of her life. It has become a trash heap and it took only 20 years to get there.


Old and Living Alone - Or Not

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, the percentage of people age 65 and older living alone increased from six percent in 1900 to 29 percent in 1990. And then it declined to 26 percent by 2014.

But that's the average of men and women. Divide them up and what you get is that the number of women in that age group living alone declined from a high of 38 percent in 1990 to 32 percent in 2014.

For men, the direction reversed beginning in 1990 from 15 percent living alone to 18 percent in 2014. Here's the chart:

EldersLivingAlong2014

One reason for the change, reports Pew, is that an increase in life expectancy means that more women are living with spouses rather than as widows. Further, says Pew:

”Overall, women still make up a majority of the 12.1 million older U.S. adults living alone, but their share has fallen significantly over the past quarter century – from 79% in 1990 to 69% in 2014.”

This isn't intended to be a post about statistics of living alone but a couple of graphs set the stage a bit. This one, also from the Pew research, shows how many more men and women 85 and older are living alone. Look at the yellow areas in the two bottom graphs:

LivingArrangements

Okay, I'm done with charts and statistics. If you want more detail, the Pew Research study has a lot of it.

What I would like us to talk about today is how we feel about living alone or not, and what appears to be – at least when you read as much about ageing as I do – a media epidemic of scaring the pants off old people who do live alone and their adult children.

Take a look at these three photos from, in order, a news magazine story about elder living arrangements, a caregiving website and the website of a regional U.S. assisted living corporation:

old Woman on bench

Elder at stairs

Lonely-old-woman-sitting-by-window500

How do you feel about these photos? How do they make you feel about yourself? What do you suppose younger adults think about old people when they repeatedly see this type of photograph?

These are only a sampling. I could show you dozens of similar stock photographs of lonely, frightened old people many of which accompany stories about “the dangers of seniors living alone.” Go ahead, Google it.

Commercial retirement communities use them as sales tools and reporters or editors unthinkingly use them as illustrations for such stories as the Pew research which, in this case, is neutral on the reasons elders choose one living arrangement over another.

This is not the first time I've ranted here about alone not being a synonym for lonely. Nor does living alone in old age automatically mean that something awful will happen to you or that you're afraid all the time. But the media is good at overkill.

Old people wind up living alone for many reasons: widowhood, divorce, never married and hey – how about this one: choice.

An excellent New Zealand ageing researcher, Dr Judith Davey, who blogs for Age Concern New Zealand and is also a senior research associate with the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, notes that the most frequent answer from elders about why they live alone is “freedom, choice and control and independence”. Further

”One person summed it up,” wrote Davey, “'(living alone) allows us to do what we want, when we want, and how we want'. This does not sound like a pathological state!” [as some have defined elders who live alone].

I live alone because I always have - well, almost always. I was married for six years and I lived with another man for four years but that's just 10 years out of the 60 I've lived since I left home. I'm comfortable in my aloneness.

When I think about it too hard, I can convince myself that living alone is a certain kind of selfishness akin to not having children. But I don't want my thinking interrupted as I write this any more than I ever wanted a short human tugging at my sleeve.

And, anyway, who does that selfishness – if that's what it is – harm? No one I can see.

It's important to acknowledge that sometimes I am lonely. Lonely for what my one-time father-in-law explained about the years he and his wife had lived together: “there's another heartbeat in the house,” he said.

But having a partner is no guarantee. I was deeply lonely during the last couple of years of my crumbling marriage.

As the above photographs imply, maybe I'll fall down the stairs (if I had any) or maybe I'll have a stroke with no one around to help. Maybe I will become too weak to bathe myself or too addled to pay the bills. Or cook. Or...

All true and there is a lot we could discuss about that and about becoming socially isolated or gradually losing our minds to dementia and more – all the stuff that the age media uses to scare us into buying retirement community condos.

But the truth is a large majority of elders make it to the grave living on their own so for now, I'll take my chances and flatter myself that I will be able to recognize, if the time comes, that I need to change my living arrangements.

What I am curious about today is how TGB readers who live alone – and partnered readers who have thought about the possibility of being alone one day in their old age – deal with living by yourselves.

Do you like it? Did you choose it? Do you worry about living alone? Would you like to change your living circumstances? What would trigger such a change?

Have you thought about other kinds of arrangements? Retirement community? Take someone into your home if it is big enough? A Golden Girls household? Co-housing? Something else?

Let us know.


Elders: Don't Let Trump Fatigue Stop You

Protests work. We who are old enough learned that first hand back in the 1960s when we stopped a war, helped force through civil rights legislation and made a big leap forward with women's rights. And it's true again in the 20-teens.

In addition to some wins and the growing resistance movement now, you can tell for sure progress is being made when the opposition gets scared enough to threaten criminal action.

Take a look at this map:

Mapstateswithprotestb ills

Republicans in at least 18 state legislatures have introduced bills that would restrict public protests and in some cases, criminalize them. The Hill reports:

”Arizona Republicans have introduced a measure to expand racketeering laws, which target organized crime groups, to include rioting. The bill would allow police officers to arrest and the seize the assets of those who organize protest events...

“One measure in Tennessee goes so far as to give civil immunity to a driver who hits a protester blocking traffic.

“The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Matthew Hill (R), comes after a car hit volunteers helping protesters cross a street in Nashville as they demonstrated against the Trump administration’s orders blocking immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.”

The Washington Post, in publishing a thorough listing of the various legislation to date noted that there are already plenty of laws throughout the U.S. that control public demonstrations:

“Democrats in many of these states are fighting the legislation. They cite existing laws that already make it a crime to block traffic, the possibility of a chilling effect on protests across the political spectrum, and concerns for protesters’ safety in the face of aggressive motorists.”

The Post reporter goes on to describe pending legislation in each of the 18 states. Some examples:

“An Indiana Senate committee recently toned down a bill that would have allowed police to shut down highway protests using 'any means necessary.' The current version allows police to issue fines for such behavior.”

“A Republican lawmaker [in Missouri] has introduced legislation that would make it illegal for protesters to wear masks, robes or other disguises during protests deemed to be illegal.”

“A bill before the Mississippi legislature would make obstruction of traffic a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and a five-year prison sentence.”

“A novel piece of legislation in Oregon would require public community colleges and universities to expel any student convicted of participating in a violent riot.”

None of the 18 bills has become law yet and according to the ACLU, most of them are unconstitutional. Even so, it takes time, money and effort to fight them and to me, the legislation frighteningly exposes how ignorant or dismissive or both of the First Amendment state Republican leaders are. ACLU senior staff attorney, Lee Rowland:

I bring all this to your attention because it is just one of the many overt and sneaky ways the Trump administration and the Republicans - as much in the states as in Congress - are working hard to strip away constitutionally guaranteed rights.

That, and how easy it is for us to succumb to Trump fatigue. With ten new outrageous assaults on our senses every day, it's not hard to throw up our hands and stop reading the news.

Please don't. I know as well as anyone how hard it is for old people to get out and march for several hours. But there is a lot more we can do if we cannot be there in person.

And it must be us, the people, because I didn't see anything on Saturday at the election of the new leadership of the Democratic Party that will correct any of their ineptness.

Michael Moore has some good ideas for us. Here's the first item of his ten point plan:

THE DAILY CALL: You must call Congress every day. Yes – YOU! 202-225-3121. It will take just TWO MINUTES! Make it part of your daily routine, one of those five things you do every morning without even thinking about it:

  1. Wake up
  2. Brush teeth
  3. Walk dog (or stare at cat)
  4. Make coffee
  5. Call Congress

Further, says Moore, and I agree one hundred percent with this important note:

”[I]f you’re saying to yourself, 'I don’t need to call because my rep is a Democrat!' — that is NOT true. They need to hear from you. They need to know they have your support.

“Don’t believe it? Our beloved Sen. Elizabeth Warren voted in favor of Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development! I’m sure no one in Massachusetts thought they had to call her. YOU DO! She and the other Dems need to hear from the boss — YOU! They work for us – and what boss doesn’t have daily contact with his or her employees?”

Moore includes another terrific idea, a smart phone app someone created called 5 Calls that Moore says “...will dial the friggin’ phone for you and give you talking points for when you speak to your reps!”

It's available for both Android and Apple smartphones. I downloaded it and it couldn't be easier. Give it permission to access you location then, each day, there are a dozen or so issues about which you can call your representatives.

It even gives you a good explanation of each issue then shows you a photo of your representative with his/her phone number. Tap it and the phones dials for you.

Michael Moore has a lot of other good ideas in his Ten Things, many of which even we old folks can do.

We can't let protesting get old. We can't allow ourselves to become bored with it. We can't let President Trump wear us down. Our children, grandchildren and our country, need us to fight back as hard as we can.


ELDER MUSIC: Surf Side Ten

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.

* * *

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist suggested the title. She thinks that inflation has taken its toll over the years and instead of six we have 10. That's fortunate, as that's the number of tracks we have today.

In the late fifties and early sixties there was a craze for surf music. Well, this wasn't universal; it was pretty much confined to the east coast of Australia, particularly Sydney, and the west coast of America, particularly Los Angeles.

Pretty much all the music today will come from those two cities, and from that time (with a couple of outliers).

When you hear surf music, pretty much the first name that will come into your brain is the BEACH BOYS.

Beach Boys

Naturally they'd have to be present but selecting a song of theirs is a bit difficult as there so many of them. In the end I decided on one of their early ones, Surfer Girl.

♫ Beach Boys - Surfer Girl


Although they made quite a few records, THE SURFARIS are best known these days for just two of them.

Surfaris

One of them is the instrumental Wipe Out, probably the quintessential surfer tune. The other is the one we're interested in today, Surfer Joe (which was on the flip side of the single of Wipe Out).

If you know the song, the version today might come as a surprise. It's a longer version than was on that record, there are several extra verses.

♫ The Surfaris - Surfer Joe (long version)


BARRY MANN was a songwriter from the time of most of these, usually with his wife Cynthia Weil.

Barry Mann

He recorded some of their songs as well. These were usually rather tongue in cheek (remember Who Put the Bomp?), and this one is no exception. It is Johnny Surfboard.

♫ Barry Mann - Johnny Surfboard


LITTLE PATTIE had a huge hit in Australia when she was only 15 years old. She was the biggest thing in the country at the time (a little irony there, as she's not very tall, under five foot in American measurements, thus the name).

Little Pattie

For those who are into rock & roll trivia, Pattie's name is Patricia Amphlett and she is a cousin of the late great Chrissie Amphlett, head honcho (honcha? honchess?) of The Divinyls.

Anyway, Pattie's song is (takes a deep breath) He's My Blond Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy.

♫ Little Pattie - He s My Blond Headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy


After the Beach Boys, JAN & DEAN are the group most synonymous with this music.

Jan & Dean

It's not too surprising as they often sang on Beach Boys' records at the time and vice versa. I listened to quite a bit of their music but I always came back to the obvious song, Surf City. Sounds just like the Beach Boys.

♫ Jan & Dean - Surf City


A lot of surf music was purely instrumental. I've mostly left those out of the mix today but there's one performer who deserves his place in the sun (and the surf).

Some say he invented the genre of surf guitar music. Some may be right. I give you DICK DALE.

Dick Dale

Dick plays several instruments and he claims his style developed because he started out playing the tarabaki, a Lebanese drum.

As a kid he developed his style, a mixture of rhythm and lead playing so he could do everything himself. It was hugely influential on later guitarists.

Dick plays Surf Beat. He once played with a group called The Del-Tones, no relation to the next item.

♫ Dick Dale - Surf Beat


THE DELLTONES formed in Australia back in 1958 and are still going strong (with one original member still present).

The Delltones

They were originally a DooWop group but later morphed into a fully fledged band. Their biggest success was in the sixties where they had several songs up at the pointy end of the charts, and these days they are one the most entertaining live acts around.

One of their hits from back then is Hangin' Five.

The Delltones - Hangin' Five


Just so you won't be bored with all the surfing music (which, I must admit, has caused my eyes to glaze over), here's a bit of change of pace. It's included purely because of the title (and also because the male singer is – or was – an Australian).

The group, really just a duo, is TRUCKSTOP HONEYMOON.

Truckstop Honeymoon

Their song is Couch Surfing with a Family of Six, a song about their family (well, duh).

♫ Truckstop Honeymoon - Couch Surfing with a Family of Six


Okay, you might think that the songs so far aren't very classy, so now we are going to raise the stakes to a considerable degree. This next one could even be classified as classical music. It's about as high class as is possible in this genre.

This is up there with Bach and Mozart. I give you THE TRASHMEN and Surfin' Bird.

The Trashmen

This really is the zenith, the acme, the ne plus ultra of musical culture of the 20th century.

♫ The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird


The final song didn't come from the time period of most of the other songs today. It's quite recent and isn't really in the same genre but it amused me enough to include it. The performer is JIMMY BUFFETT.

Jimmy Buffett

He says that Einstein Was a Surfer. He's not the only one to make that connection; Philip Glass wrote an opera called Einstein on the Beach. I don't think Philip mentions Einstein surfing though, not in the parts I've listened to.

♫ Jimmy Buffett - Einstein Was a Surfer


Einstein


INTERESTING STUFF – 25 February 2017

There is such an abundance this week of “interesting stuff” that I hardly knew where to begin. Here are some of them.

MONOPOLY KILLS THE THIMBLE

Yes, it's true. Last month, four million Monopoly fans voted on which game tokens to keep and which to get rid of:

You can read more about the changes in this classic game here and here.

What's your favorite Monopoly token? I've always liked the top hat.

NEW EARTHLIKE PLANETS DISCOVERED

Astronomers have found a nearby solar system with seven Earth-sized planets, three of which circle their parent star at the right distance for liquid surface water, raising the prospect of life.

This is such exciting news that there are already hundreds of places online to read more about the newly discovered planets. Here is one.

”DEMOCRACY DIES IN DARKNESS”

For half a century or more, my go-to newspaper as been The New York Times and I doubt that will change in whatever lifetime is left to me.

But more frequently in the past year or so, I spend an equal amount of time with the Washington Post and that is attributable to the “new” editor since December 2012, Martin Baron.

If you saw the movie Spotlight, you know who he is and he has so improved the Post journalistically, that it is now about as far a you can get from the dreary little rag it used to be.

This past week, something new turned up on the front page nameplate of the paper. The New York Times has always had its motto: “All the news that's fit to print” and now the Post has added one:

WapoHeader

Did you see that slogan just under the paper's name? “Democracy Dies in Darkness” seems to me to be a perfect choice for our times that will carry well into whatever the future brings.

"WELCOME REFUGEES" BANNER ON STATUE OF LIBERTY

A 3-foot by 20-foot banner reading "Refugees Welcome" was hung last week just below the observation deck of the Statue of Liberty. It happened on the day that the Department of Homeland Security announced expanded immigration enforcement policies.

You can read more about it at Talking Points Memo.

A WEEK WITHOUT TRUMP NEWS

One reason the new president is so ubiquitous is that all other news seemed to have stopped and there is nothing to know unless it involves Trump.

For a week, The New York Times technology columnist, Farhad Manjoo, avoided as much Trump news as possible. Here are some of his observations:

”My point: I wanted to see what I could learn about the modern news media by looking at how thoroughly Mr. Trump had subsumed it," Manjoo wrote. "In one way, my experiment failed: I could find almost no Trump-free part of the press...

“President Trump is inescapable...

“I spent more time on international news sites like the BBC, and searched for subject-specific sites covering topics like science and finance. I consulted social news sites like Digg and Reddit, and occasionally checked Twitter and Facebook, but I often had to furiously scroll past all of the Trump posts...

“During my break from Trump news, I found rich coverage veins that aren’t getting social [media] play. ISIS is retreating across Iraq and Syria. Brazil seems on the verge of chaos. A large ice shelf in Antarctica is close to full break. Scientists may have discovered a new continent submerged under the ocean near Australia...

“In previous media eras, the news was able to find a sensible balance even when huge events were preoccupying the world. Newspapers from World War I and II were filled with stories far afield from the war.

“Today’s newspapers are also full of non-Trump articles, but many of us aren’t reading newspapers anymore. We’re reading Facebook and watching cable, and there, Mr. Trump is all anyone talks about, to the exclusion of almost all else...

“There’s no easy way out of this fix. But as big as Mr. Trump is, he’s not everything — and it’d be nice to find a way for the media ecosystem to recognize that.”

If you're not a subscriber to the Times and you haven't used up your monthly story allocation, you can read all of Farhad Manjoo's article here.

JOHN OLIVER ON PUTIN

It's good to have John Oliver back at his weekly perch on the HBO program, Last Week Tonight. Most recently, he took on the man who appears to be President Donald Trump's new best friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

HOW THE TOILET CHANGED HISTORY

This is a fascinating little documentary on the commode, throne, privy, latrine, potty, whatever you want to call it. It is not as new an invention as you might think and no, it was not invented by Thomas Crapper (isn't that too bad.)

NEW YORK'S RESTAURANT SALT RULING

Just about every time I eat in a restaurant – any kind of restaurant – my bathroom scale shows me two pounds heavier the next morning.

It's not that I overeat in restaurants, it is that everything is salted beyond any reasonable amount that a human should consume in one day, let along one meal. So my body bloats with retained water, although the two pounds are gone by the following morning.

For some time, New York City restaurants have been required by the Department of Health to let customers know when menu items exceed recommended limits of sodium. The restaurant industry sued over that requirement and they lost.

Here is what the medical website STAT reported about that:

”The restaurant industry will have to stay salty about a New York City mandate imposed on high-sodium items on menus. An appeals court has affirmed that the city’s mandate — which requires menus to stick a salt-shaker symbol next to dishes that contain more than a day’s worth of sodium — was legal and well within the limits of the health department’s authority.

“The restaurant industry said that the menu symbols violated their right to free speech and could run the risk of confusing customers.

“The recommended daily limit of sodium is 2,300 mg [less that 1,500 for people 50 and older]. The CDC has estimated that around 90 percent of Americans, both adults and children, take in too much sodium.”

I wish restaurants where I live would let me know on the menu what the sodium amount is.

YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY COMMERCIALS THIS DOG HAS BEEN IN

The Oscars are coming up on Sunday night and as MTV News online told it in a feature story last year, this dog will never win one but he seems to be the smartest dog on television:

”The most talented movie star in America is two and a half feet tall, 7 years old, and 39 pounds. He has brown eyes, a natural black vest and tail, and his pale chest, arms, and legs are dotted with tan freckles. His name is Jumpy.”

Take a look. You'll be amazed at how often you've seen him.

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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.


Do You Want to Know When You Will Die?

That headline is a more interesting question, I think, for people of the general age (50- or 60-plus) who read this blog than younger people. As it turns out, two new studies released just this week has some answers.

One involved face-to-face interviews with 1,016 adults living in Germany. The other featured similar interviews with 1,002 adults living in Spain. As reported in Pacific Standard,

”Asked if they would want to have an exact time stamp on their eventual death, 87.7 percent of Germans said no. Only 4.2 percent said yes, while 8.2 percent were uncertain.

“A similar percentage, 87.3 percent, did not want to know the cause of their death...

“Spanish participants'...answers on the negative news items were very similar to those of the Germans.”

In announcing the publication of the study, lead author, Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin wrote that “deliberate ignorance” is a “widespread state of mind” and

”...was more likely the nearer the event. For example, older adults were less likely than younger adults to want to know when they or their partner would die, and the the cause of death.”

That makes sense to me. Until 40 or so, most of us believe we are immortal so the idea of one's own death is mainly hypothetical. At my age now, nearly 76, death has become very real and recently, I find Gigerenzer's “deliberate ignorance” a state of mind I'm clinging to for - well, dear life.

Since mid-November, a mystery malady has been plaguing me. His disinterest in the many symptoms led me to fire my previous physician and I found a new one I like better. There is no obvious diagnosis so since late December, I have been undergoing the many tests he has arranged for me.

Medtests3

About once a week, sometimes twice, I drive to the giant medical center he is associated with for a screening – sometimes for blood, other times for x-rays of this or that body part and this week a bone scan.

These are not just to track down what my malady might be. It is also that because I've spent the greater part of my life avoiding doctors and most medical tests, the new doc wants a baseline for future reference.

I can't argue with that but here's the problem: I'm just about the best example you're ever going to find of Gigerenzer's “deliberate ignorance.”

In our brave new world of electronic medical records, I can find out the results of the tests almost by the time I drive home. And when that doesn't happen, they are posted by the next day when an email alerts me to their availability. It never fails – except -

Except once. And that's where my “deliberate ignorance” kicks in, leaving me now gasping in fear when I allow myself to think about that exception.

Every result so far has been in the healthy range of whatever was being tested. I've been incredibly lucky that way all my life.

But for all that good news, there was this: no email and nothing posted to my online medical records after the CT scan of my lungs for cancer two weeks ago. It's not that I've missed it. I check for it every morning.

Let's see if I can explain the emotion of this. With no posted results, I can live in (supposedly) happy “deliberate ignorance.” But not really. I smoked for many decades and three relatives died of various cancers so this test is more fraught that simple blood draws.

The question rolls around in my head: What could that anomalous missing report mean?

As my thinking goes, there must be something so terribly wrong with that CT scan that they don't want to cause a heart attack by having me read it at home alone.

I could email or phone the doctor but as much as this is eating at me, I also don't want to hear terrible news. So I wait and worry trying to be happy in my “deliberate ignorance” until my next scheduled doctor appointment in early March - which, given these circumstances I would rather skip so to remain in my "deliberate ignorance."

I'm fully aware that there could be other reasons for not posting scan results (although I can't figure what they would be). That doesn't help. And I am equally aware that my fear of a deadly diagnosis is not in keeping with my genuine relief at living in a state with an assisted suicide law, as we've discussed in these pages.

Inconsistency, thy name is human.

My uneasiness in this circumstance is not unique and the growing sophistication of medical tests and diagnoses will soon leave many more patients in similarly difficult emotional places at much younger ages, as the researchers note:

”...gene-based medicine 'will put more and more people into situations where they have to decide whether they want to know future health issues.'”

The reporter of the Pacific Standard story explained further:

”In the not-too-distant future, we’ll be able to discover whether we are prone to a variety of diseases. Knowing such information could help us make major life decisions in an informed, thoughtful way.

“But we can only take advantage of this information if we can...emotionally handle the knowledge of when and how we are likely to die. And when that subject is broached, our impulse seems to be to run as fast as we can in the other direction.”

Yup. That is exactly what I'm going through right now – terrified of a bad diagnosis that will turn me into a professional patient. I've been afraid of that for as long as I can remember.

The full study, co-authored by Rocio Garcia-Tetamero of the University of Granada, is available online in the Psychological Review. [pdf]


Elder Use of Marijuana

[DISCLOSURE: I've been smoking pot recreationally since I was in high school with no ill effects I can see. I don't do so often nowadays because in my old age, it makes me cough too much. I haven't gotten around to trying the new edibles that are available here, but I will in time.]

Marijuana

One of the most common afflictions that comes with old age is pain – from arthritis to cancer to neuropathy to back and neck pain to those random aches and pains that come and go and seem to have no known cause.

For many, pain is almost a definition of growing old and these days, increasing numbers of elders are using cannabis (also known as pot, weed, reefer, maryjane, etc.) to treat their pain. As UPI reported in January,

”A new report has found that cannabis use by people over age 50 has increased significantly and outpaced growth across all other age groups.

“The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that in 2000, 1 percent of Americans over 50 had used cannabis within the past year, but by 2012, that number had increased to 3.9 percent.”

In January of this year, The University of Iowa published a study looking into this increased use:

"'Some older persons have responded to changing social and legal environments, and are increasingly likely to take cannabis recreationally,' Brian Kaskie, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Iowa College of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in a press release [according to the same UPI story].

"'Other older persons are experiencing age-related health care needs and some take cannabis for symptom management, as recommended by a medical doctor.'

“...The study participants were more likely to have started using cannabis before the age of 30 and many before age 18.”

Twenty-eight states now allow limited use of marijuana for medical purposes and a half a dozen others, including my state, Oregon, allow unrestricted use of marijuana by adults. It is sold in licensed dispensaries not dissimilar to liquor stores in many states.

And now marijuana is being used in some nursing homes even in states that have not approved its use. From The New York Times:

”At the Hebrew Home in the Bronx, the medical marijuana program was years in the making. Daniel Reingold, the president and chief executive of RiverSpring Health, which operates the home, said he saw its powers firsthand when his own father, Jacob, was dying from cancer in 1999.

“To ease his father’s pain, Mr. Reingold boiled marijuana into a murky brown tea. His father loved it, and was soon laughing and eating again.

“'The only relief he got in those last two weeks was the tea,' Mr. Reingold said.

“When Mr. Reingold requested approval from the nursing home’s board members, there were no objections or concerns, he said. Instead, they joked that they would have to increase the food budget.”

The Times also reports that because federal law prohibits use of marijuana, the Hebrew Home complies with that law and although they recommend and monitor its use, “residents are responsible for buying, storing and administering it themselves.”

The University of Iowa study is titled "The Increasing Use of Cannabis Among Older Americans: A Public Health Crisis or Viable Policy Alternative?" As Science Daily reports:

"The article also focuses on the misuse and abuse of cannabis. It then explores two other prominent public health issues - the misuse of prescription medications and the under-treatment of pain at the end of life - and considers how cannabis substitution may be a viable policy alternative to combating these problems.”

Given the reports of runaway opioid addiction in the United States, this sounds like a good idea to me. The New York Times again discussing a resident at the Hebrew Home:

"Marcia Dunetz, 80, a retired art teacher who has Parkinson’s, said she worried at first about what people would think. 'It’s got a stigma,' she said. 'People don’t really believe you’re not really getting high if you take it.'

“But she decided to try it anyway. Now, she no longer wakes up with headaches and feels less dizzy and nauseated. Her legs also do not freeze up as often.

“For [another resident], Ms. Brunn, the marijuana pills have worked so well that she has cut back on her other pain medication, morphine.”

And so what if, in addition to symptom management, users do get high? Why would anyone care.

All this movement toward cannabis legalization in more than half the U.S. states could be rolled back under the new administration and Congress in Washington.

Although President Donald Trump said during the campaign that he did not object to medical marijuana, so far he has reversed himself on almost every campaign promise.

Plus, both the new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and the new secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, have long records of opposing legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.

Without stretching one's imagination too far and with the growing use of cannabis by elders to control age-related conditions and diseases, any attempt by the federal government to remove or limit its use could be seen as withholding medication from sick and dying elders.


A Thank You. Presidents' Day. And More

Does anyone else have trouble tracking federal holidays after retiring? Sure, I have no problem with Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and the other big ones. But today, Presidents' Day, regularly escapes me.

One consequence is that I told at least one winner of Norm Jenson's book, Mostly Anecdotal: Stories, that I would put it in the mail today. Well, not so fast. No open post office today. So I will send them off tomorrow.

More on the holiday in a moment but first:

Thank-youC

A BIG THANK YOU, TGB READERS
Yesterday ended the week-long, annual donation drive for Time Goes By and it was a resounding success. Like last year, I am dismayed at your generosity and there are so many of you that it's impossible to thank you individually.

So I must do it collectively here.

It was terrific to read the personal notes some of you included with your donations and I enjoyed seeing so many names from so many different places – worldwide – that are new to me. Apparently a whole lot of you read TGB and never comment.

Nothing wrong with that – I do it all over the internet - but it is still a load of fun to see all the new-to-me names.

So thank you all - those who donated and every one of you who didn't too. The community we have created here is unique among blogs and you, the readers did that by paying attention, sharing your information, your knowledge and your opinions that make the comments so rich and thoughtful and fun to read every day.

SOME SAD NEWS
A TGB reader emailed a few days ago to tell me that Diane Schmidley of Schmidleysscribbling blog suffered a stroke, as her daughter explained on Diane's blog.

“This is Diane’s daughter. Mom has had a stroke and is in ICU at the hospital. If anyone reads this, please get the word out and keep her in your prayers. Thank you.”

On Saturday, her daughter posted again that Diane had been moved to the Acute Stroke Unit and further updated:

”She is at George Washington University Hospital in the District of Columbia if anyone is wanting to send flowers, and I can take cards to her. My postal address is: Connie Nystrom, P.O. Box 368, Rixeyville, VA 22737.”

Diane's name has often turned up here in the comments for many years. Of course, she is on our minds with prayers for a fast recovery.

PRESIDENTS' DAY – SOME THOUGHTS
The two-year mark since Donald Trump announced he was running for president of the United States is fast approaching. For a long time it was a joke to most Americans – me too.

No more and to way understate it, we now live in a world that is more uncertain that at any time, I think, during our long lives.

As a result of this new political circumstance, something in me has changed. Never much of a patriot, I took our system, our liberty and freedoms for granted. Not anymore.

Khizr-khan-us-constitution680

Maybe it started for me with Khizr Kahn holding up his little copy of the American Constitution at the Democratic Convention in July. It's not that I haven't read it many times – I own several copies and I sometimes carry a small, portable one with me to read in odd moments.

But during the campaign, my feelings about it expanded into a much greater devotion to the freedoms it grants us that I had before. I have a strong sense, now that it is under attack, that I am responsible for it, that I must be part of doing what is necessary to protect the provisions that created this unique government that is - as we learned to say in school - of, by and for the people. The people.

I wonder if any of that has happened to you.

Among our 45 presidents, a few were great, some might be better forgotten and the majority did pretty well with the times they governed through. So for Presidents' Day, I looked around the internet for some pictures of how they lived in their time.

I found a page of photographs of some president's private homes now preserved as museums. I particularly like the interior shots. Here are a few – take a look at this one, the library in President Harry Truman's home in Independence, Missouri:

TrumanLibraryIndependence

This is the dining room and tea parlor in Monticello, President Thomas Jefferson's home:

Jeffersonsdiningroom

The music room in President George Washington's Mt. Vernon home.

MusicroomatWashtingtn'smtvernon

Let's have one more – President Franklin D. Roosevelt's office at Springwood in Hyde Park, New York.

FDR DESK

There are about 25 more presidential home photos at Business Insider. (You need to cancel your adblocker, if you have one, to see them.)


ELDER MUSIC: A Fifth of Classical Gas


FINAL DAY OF THE 2017 TGB DONATION DRIVE
At last, you have reached the final day of the 2017 TGB donation drive. If you don't know what that is, you can find out details in last Monday's post. If you have donated, a great big thank you. If you would like to donate, use the button below or in the right sidebar.

And if you don't want to donate, that's good too. Just scroll on down to today's post.

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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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Continuing this series of columns (originally named by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist) to highlight lesser known composers who are seldom heard on radio or in concert, although some of the music today may be familiar to many of you.

JOHANN GEORG KNECHTEL was a horn player (what we call the French horn these days) in Dresden in the mid 1700s. Jo doesn't seem to have had his photo taken, so no picture for him.

He was principal horn player in the court of Dresden at the time and he wrote many works for the instrument. Alas, few remain as many of his manuscripts were destroyed during the egregious firebombing of the city during the war.

Here is the first movement of his Concerto for horn in D major, with the best French horn player from the last 50 years, BARRY TUCKWELL, doing the honors on the instrument.

Barry Tuckwell

♫ Knechtel - Concerto for horn in D major (1)


Felix always contended that his sister FANNY MENDELSSOHN was a better musician and composer than he was (and that's a big call).

Fanny Mendelssohn

Alas, given the mores of the time, it wasn't the done thing for a woman to earn a living doing that sort of thing. However, with the love and support of both her brother and husband, the artist Wilhelm Hensel, Fanny managed to play (a little) and compose (a lot of) music, and even had some published in her lifetime (under Felix's name mostly).

She did manage to get some out under her own name at the time (a lot more now). There are 460 compositions of hers that are known, and are increasingly becoming part of the musical performing repertoire. She and Felix both died of complications due to massive strokes only six months apart. They were both too young.

Her string quartets are far in advance of any at the time, including her brother's, and even today are somewhat challenging. I had one pencilled in, but sorry, I changed my mind and have gone instead for the third movement of the Piano Trio in D Minor Opus 11.

♫ Fanny Mendelssohn - Piano Trio D-Minor Op. 11 (3)


LOUIS SPOHR was a German composer, violinist and conductor.

Louis Spohr

Besides that, all the violinists since his time are indebted to him because he invented the violin chin rest. It seems such an obvious thing but nobody came up with it until Louis did so.

Aside from that, he was a really prolific composer and his compositions are really worth listening to. One of those is the sixth movement of the Nocturne for Winds and Turkish Band in C-major, Op.34. Turkish themes were all the rage back then, even Mozart did some in that vein.

♫ Spohr - Nocturne for Winds and Turkish Band in C-major, Op.34 (6)


Many of you, perhaps most, would know the name BERNARD HERRMANN, especially the film buffs amongst us.

Bernard Herrmann

Bernie was a major writer of film scores, most notably for those of Alfred Hitchcock. Not just Hitch's films, he also wrote the music for Orson Welles' films likeCitizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons and so on. Lots of others, more than 50 in total.

However, he's here today because he also wrote what those inclined in that direction like to call serious music – a symphony, concerto, sonatas etc. One of his compositions was called The Fantasticks, not to be confused with the musical with the same name (he did it first).

This was a piece of music that charted the months of the year. Unfortunately, he only got as far as May and the rest didn't see light of day. That's okay as April is really good (I'm sure April birthday people would applaud that, particularly Ronni, my sister and the A.M.).

Here it is with GILLIAN HUMPHREYS singing the part.

Gillian Humphreys

♫ Hermmann - The Fantasticks April


There's a theme to the remaining tracks, and theme is a singularly appropriate word as you'll see and hear.

ARAM KHACHATURIAN was born in Armenia in 1903. Thus for much of his life he was a citizen of the U.S.S.R.

Aram Khachaturian

He held high positions in the Union of Soviet Composers. Then he was officially denounced as a "formalist" (whatever that is – "anti-people" was the official reason) along with Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Later he was reinstated. A bit of a yoyo existence being a Russian composer of that time.

Anyway, he wrote music for a ballet called Spartacus. I assume Kirk Douglas wasn't in that one. The movement called Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia may be familiar to people who are long time watchers of BBC TV drama programs, and I'm thinking specifically of The Onedin Line.

♫ Khachaturian - Spartacus ~ Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia


Australian readers will need no introduction to the next piece by RONALD HANMER. It's called Pastorale.

Ronald Hanmer

The rest of the world probably does though. However, I can hear the Oz readers saying, "What are you talking about?" When I say this was the theme to "Blue Hills, I can already hear them going dar dar dar dar dar dar dar dar dar dum dum dum dum.

For the rest of the world, Blue Hills was a long-running radio serial that was broadcast from 1949 to 1976.

Ron was an English composer who eventually settled in Oz in 1975 and he really had no idea the impact his composition had on my country before then.

♫ Ronald Hanmer - Pastorale


CHARLES-FRANÇOIS GOUNOD is probably mostly remembered these days for his opera Faust.

 Charles-Francois Gounod

However, there was a lot more to Charlie than that. He wrote more than a dozen other operas, motets, masses, ballets, lots of songs and the usual symphonies, concertos and so on.

One of the "so on" is a piece called Funeral March of a Marionette. I probably only have to say the words Alfred Hitchcock and you'll know this piece of music.

♫ Gounod - Funeral March of a Marionette


FRANCISCO TÁRREGA was a Spanish composer and guitarist of the 19th century.

 Francisco Tarrega

As a guitarist, he probably did more than anyone to bring the instrument into the classical canon. He also wrote music for it.

Probably his most famous work is Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra). Today it's played by Eduardo Fernández.

Although not its theme, it was included in the film Sideways, which managed to bump up the price of pinot noir and reduce the price of merlot. Swings and roundabouts, I suppose.

♫ Tarrega - Recuerdos de la Alhambra


SERGEI RACHMANINOV (or Rachmaninoff) was a Russian composer who left the country when the Bolsheviks came to power. He spent the rest of his life in America.

Sergei Rachmaninoff

He was an excellent pianist and many of his compositions feature that instrument. People who have seen the film Shine will remember the "Rach 3", that is, his piano concerto no 3. That's not one I like at all, but his Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor is a particular favorite.

Here is the second movement. For lovers of old films, this was used extensively in Brief Encounter.

Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 2 C Minor (2)



INTERESTING STUFF – 18 February 2017


TIME GOES BY 2016 DONATION WEEK REMINDER
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NOTE: It is getting harder to find non-Trump-related items for this Saturday post. I'm sure the explanation has something to do with Trump fatigue that increasing numbers of people are writing about.

With that caveat, I've done my best this week to make the list as interesting as possible. Like everyone, I have not yet adapted to this new Trump world. Please bear with me.

ELDERS PROTESTING THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

Fifty women in the 80s, 90s and 100s, took part in the women's march without leaving their Seacrest Village retirement home in Encinas, California. And it wasn't a one time thing for them. Now they spend their time writing their representatives:

“'You can’t leave it up to someone else,' said Bertha Fox, 91, who raised four sons in Los Angeles and dedicated much of her life to volunteering,” reported KPBS News. “'If something is important, you have to do it.'

“They have witnessed a lifetime of historic protests and movements, from Civil Rights and anti-war to abortion and labor rights. Some of the women, including Appleby, have done a lot of marching through the decades.

“'In college I was for solidarity and I came home and I thought my father was going to throw me out of the house,' said Appleby, who also marched for union rights in the 60s, and Roe v. Wade in the 70s.

“Immigration is also on the mind of Rudolph, who said she can’t stop thinking about the uncertain future of Syrian refugees. The crisis echoes the Holocaust, she said. 'There’s no place for them to go in this world,' Rudolph said. 'My God, it just brought it all back.'”

Watch the entire video report frm KPBS-TV and thank Darlene Costner for letting us know about this. We should all be working this hard to resist.

You can read more about these women here.

WALL STREET JOURNAL CLOSES GOOGLE HACK

The Wall Street Journal for many years has had a tighter paid firewall online than many mainstream newspapers but there was a way around which I've sometimes mentioned to you.

If you landed ona WSJ page where most of the story was grayed out, you could copy the headline into Google search and the resulting link would take you to the full, readable article. No more. They turned it off last Monday:

The Journal tested turning off the feature with 40 percent of its audience last year. But the eye-popping moment was when the Journal turned it for off four sections for two weeks, resulting in a dramatic 86 percent jump in subscriptions. The Journal said the full turnoff is a test, but didn’t say how long it would last, reported Digiday.

I'll miss the hack but I can't afford to subscribe to everything I want to read. I'm at my limit now. You can read more here.

WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED TODAY

It's only about three weeks old but Matt Kiser's new blog is already wildly popular. As Poynter explains:

WTFheader

”The concept of his blog was pretty simple: Matt simply wanted to log what he called 'the daily shock and awe in Trump’s America' and make it easy for others to consume.”

He's right that it's hard to keep up these days and to help us out, Kiser spends six hours a day on the blog in addition to his paid job. He explains further:

”There was no grand plan or vision. I'm winging it here. I kind of made a blog, shared it on Facebook, and then it went nuts. Like many, I'm a news junkie, and I was having a difficult time keeping up with the cadence of news coming out of the White House...”

Read more about Matt at Poynter and check out his WTF blog here.

LAUGHING TOGETHER ON THE METRO IN BELGIUM

Let's break up today's list with good laugh. It's a letdown to find out at the end that it's just a Coca Cola commercial but until that's revealed I had fine ol' time laughing at people laughing together.

NO BABIES ARE ILLEGITIMATE

How is it that some idiots don't know that? A bill currently in the state legislature of Tennessee would, if passed, make children born by artificial insemination illegitimate.

”The text of the new bill,” reports Raw Story, “says it immediately 'repeals statute that deems a child born to a married woman as a result of artificial insemination, with consent of the married woman’s husband, to be the legitimate child of the husband and wife.'”

I have no idea what it means in day-to-day life for a child to be named “illegitimate” but it doesn't sound good. You can read more here and here.

THE DEPARTMENT OF SO GLAD I'M RETIRED

Big brother is getting smarter and watching workers more closely than ever before. Technology Review reports

”...that an increasing number of companies are outfitting offices with sensors to keep track of employees. These sensors are hidden in lights, on walls, under desks—anywhere that allows them to measure things like where people are and how much they are talking or moving.

Among many other things, the surveillance can track keystrokes, card swipes and what software employees are using on their computers. Or

”...maybe an employee looks at a lot of sensitive data and schedules a large number of external meetings, so the system flags them as a potential security risk. These are, after all, the problems that keep senior management awake at night.”

“Of course, the such schemes can also be read as creepy, Big Brother-style surveillance.”

Ya think? How far, I wonder, will surveillance go in the future. You can read more here.

KEITH OLBERMANN: TRUMP'S WAR ON IMMIGRANTS

Former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has been holding forth on GQ's YouTube channel since early in the election cycle and he continues now. I hesitate to post his monologues sometimes due to how hyperbolic he can get but even so, he is smart, politically observant and his arguments are cogent.

Here he is a couple of days ago on how Trump's “deportation obsession” will help cripple our economy.

HOW CABINET SECRETARIES ARE VETTED

Thank Elder Music columnist Peter Tibbles for this:

NonSeqiterCartoon

HELPING A MOOSE STUCK IN THE ICE

Did I ever tell you my moose story? During my first month living in Maine, I looked out the window and saw a moost sauntering down the street. He strolled up a driveway across the street, strolled back down, walked a bit further and turned the corner.

Moose are weird looking – prehistoric. And I had no idea if a moose on a city street was an event or if it happened all the time. The photo on the front page of the morning newpaper the next confirmed that it was an event and it's one I never forgot.

Here's another moose story. As the Youtube page explains:

”...we saw the moose make several attempts at getting out of the water, but it could neither get up nor break the ice to get into shore. My partner, Sigrid Sjösteen, eagerly started to chop a pathway to shallower water, where it could reach the bottom and get out.

“We took turns chopping for about 30 minutes before the moose was out of danger.”

Here's how the moose good Samaritans did it:

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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.


Elders, Stress and the U.S. Government

There is a lot to do today so let's start with the winners of the drawing for Norm Jenson's book, Mostly Anecdotal: Stories that we told you about on Wednesday. May I have a drum roll please.

And the winners are:

Estelle D
Linda
Diane

Congratulations to you all. What the three of you need to do now, is email me (use the "Contact" link at the top of the page and send me your snailmail address. I'll then get the books off to you forthwith.

Next:

TIME GOES BY 2016 DONATION WEEK REMINDER
Only two more days until this TGB donation drive for 2017 is done. You can read the details of what it is about on Monday's post.

If you have already donated, thank you – it is much appreciated. If you haven't done so and would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

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ELDERS, STRESS AND THE U.S. GOVERNMENT

Stress

When even The American Institute of Stress can't define what stress is, you know you're in trouble:

“Stress is not a useful term for scientists because it is such a highly subjective phenomenon that it defies definition.”

[Eight opaque paragraphs later:]

“While everyone can’t agree on a definition of stress, all of our experimental and clinical research confirms that the sense of having little or no control is always distressful – and that’s what stress is all about.”

Uh-huh - stress is distressful. That is what is called a tautology – defining a word by using the same word.

MedicineNet is a bit more helpful: “a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension” but a note on a different page of that website is better:

”Due to the overabundance of stress in our modern lives, we usually think of stress as a negative experience, but from a biological point of view, stress can be a neutral, negative, or positive experience.”

If I've ever read anything about neutral or positive stress, I don't recall, but it confirms for me that sometimes stress is a good thing. In my career, for example, deadlines had me gritting my teeth but without them I would probably never have finished editing a story or video nor would my work have been as good.

Except for that one Medicinenet reference, all I ever see is how dangerous stress is. Here is one more definition of negative stress, from an article at Medical News Today, that makes the most sense to me:

”We generally use the word 'stress' when we feel that everything seems to have become too much - we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us.”

What's important about that definition and my intro to it (“makes most sense to me”) is that stress – whatever it is or isn't – is individual. You might sail through a situation that leaves me a puddle on the floor. Or vice versa.

According to my cursory reading on stress, it is brought about in elders by such factors as financial hardship, physical decline, healthcare changes, loneliness and there are many, many other “smaller” stressers. Whatever the cause, the effects on our bodies are profound and dangerous to our health. Here is a partial list of stress responses:

Anger
Anxiety
Burnout
Depression
Fatigue
Feeling of insecurity
Forgetfulness
Headache
Heart disease
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Irritability
Lower immunity against diseases
Muscular aches
Nail biting
Nervous twitches
Pins and needles
Problem concentrating
Restlessness
Sadness
Sleeping difficulties

What brought up all this rumination on stress is that since election day, I've felt more worry, fear, anxiety and most of all, helplessness, than I can ever recall. Every day, all the time – and it is not related only to the president. It's the Republican Congress too.

Voucherize Medicare? Privatize Social Security? Repeal Obamacare? And those are almost incidental when you hear this from a White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller:

Let's repeat the most important part of his statement:

“...the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial, and will not be questioned."

Does that not chill you to the bone? And what can I, personally, possibly do to counter this most recent, terrifying turn toward autocratic rule in the United States?

Not much that I can see but it eats at me every day. Sometimes I can barely breathe and with each new move toward the right by the government, I am more frightened – read: stressed – and I'm not alone.

Here are some of the suggestions from the medical community for dealing with stress:

Meditation
Exercise
Good nutrition
Relaxation techniques
Cut down on caffeine
Talk with friends
Keep breathing

It is one thing if the sources of stress are from our own lives. In that case, those suggestions are useful. But what if the source of stress is your government? And what if the people comparing the Trump government to 1930's Germany are not hysterics?

So much for a quiet, fulfilling retirement. Breathe, everyone. Breathe.