What Net Neutrality Means to Your Online Life

We have been through this before and here we are again: someone in government wants to make it hard, maybe impossible, for startups and ordinary people to get online without paying a whole lot more money that we do now.

This time it is Ajit Pai, a former attorney at Verizon, appointed to chair the Federal Communications Commiussion (FCC) last January by President Trump. Read what he wrote [pdf] about how wonderful life will be when, if he has his way, net neutrality is repealed in December:

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet. Instead, the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

That statement is so deeply disingenuous that it bears no resemblance to what Pai intends which is to allow internet providers to make even more billions of dollars than they already do.

Trying to read the dry details of net neutrality can make you cry so I spent a good deal of the weekend looking for the best short explanation I could find for us.

After watching more than a dozen videos from the big guys in TV news and other name-brand online sources, this segment from the local news at WDIV, Channel 4 in Detroit did the best, clearest job.

Don't let the length, 6:44, deter you. It is all you need to know and as it was first broadcast yesterday, it is up to date with the latest information:

Google, Netflix and some other large tech companies oppose repealing net neutrality as do many of our representatives in Washington. Although the millions of apparently false comments being left by robots at the FCC website (referenced at the end of the video) in support of repeal may derail this next step, the FCC is set to vote on the proposal on Thursday 14 December.

You can read more about fake comments at Salon.

President Trump supports repeal of Net Neutrality. So just to add a little levity or even schadenfreude to this issue, here is a warning tweet from Wikileaks' Julian Assange addressed to Trump:

Assange Net Neutrality



ELDER MUSIC: Till I Waltz Again With You

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

* * *

I was searching for a completely different song for a different column when I discovered a "waltz" song. Ah ha. Light bulbs. I abandoned my original search and created this column (another example of "Oh, look at that shiny thing over there").

I thought of five songs before I even started looking, so with half the music already set I knew I had a column. Of course, it's about waltzes and is skewed towards the fifties and country music, so there won't be a Strauss in evidence.

The first song I thought of, and the one first mentioned by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist when I told her about the column, is by PATTI PAGE.

Patti Page

I imagine we weren't alone in thinking of this one, a huge hit for Patti, and one I've used several times over the years but it's still worth another listen. Tennessee Waltz.

♫ Patti Page - Tennessee Waltz


The second one has a very similar name, and it's by JESSE WINCHESTER.

Jesse Winchester

It's difficult to think of one without the other, at least for me. Jesse called his song The Brand New Tennessee Waltz.

♫ Jesse Winchester - The Brand New Tennessee Waltz


Here is the title track, and those who know these things will easily respond with TERESA BREWER.

Teresa Brewer

The song was written by Sid Prosen, and according to Wiki, it's not a waltz but a slow AABA shuffle (whatever that is). It was a huge success for Teresa and got stuck at number one on the charts for several weeks. Till I Waltz Again With You.

♫ Teresa Brewer - Till I Waltz Again With You


As a total contrast to just about everything else today, here is DAVE BRUBECK (and his quartet, of course).

Dave Brubeck

This is from the second of his really successful "Time" series of albums, "Time Further Out". The tune is It's a Raggy Waltz.

♫ Dave Brubeck - It's a Raggy Waltz


COWBOY COPAS is largely forgotten these days, and when his name does come up it's usually just to mention that he was also in the plane with Patsy Cline that crashed, killing them both (along with Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes, the pilot).

Cowboy Copas

Before that, he was a regular on the Grand Ole Opry and had a number of hits in the forties and fifties. This is one of those, I'm Waltzing With Tears In My Eyes.

♫ Cowboy Copas - I'm Waltzing With Tears In My Eyes


In the fifties, the mainstream decided they had to do something about this Rock and Roll fad (that's the way they thought). If they couldn't beat it, they might as well join it. Boy, did they get it completely wrong when they tried. The next song is a prime example of that. It's by KAY STARR.

Kay Starr

Anyone who listened to the charts back then will know the song in question: Rock and Roll Waltz.

♫ Kay Starr - Rock and Roll Waltz


From phony Rock and Roll to completely genuine music. I give you EMMYLOU HARRIS. Well, if she were mine to give, I wouldn't.

Emmylou Harris

From her somewhat underrated album "Cimarron" we have The Last Cheater's Waltz. It wasn't the only waltz song on it, Tennessee Waltz was there as well, but we've had that one.

♫ Emmylou Harris - The Last Cheater's Waltz


When I was a whippersnapper, the first time I heard the next singer's name on the radio I thought he was a duo – Ferl and Husky. A little later I found he was only one person FERLIN HUSKY.

Well, it's an unusual name so it's an easy mistake to make, although The A.M. looked at me a bit sideways when I told her.

Ferlin Husky

Ferlin's song is a bit of a downer, but we need some contrast. He's looking forward to The Waltz You Saved for Me.

♫ Ferlin Husky - The Waltz You Saved for Me


LEON REDBONE always brings a smile to my face, his performances are so wonderful.

Leon Redbone

The A.M. and I saw him in Albuquerque and it was, to put no fine point on it, effing cold. He played his first song (on the guitar) with gloves on (white ones, she reminded me). I don't blame him. He was so good he could have left them on for the rest of the performance. I don't think he's wearing gloves for this one, Bittersweet Waltz.

♫ Leon Redbone - Bittersweet Waltz


MARTY ROBBINS is somewhat more into the heavy country style than is normal for him.

Marty Robbins

It's all about the steel guitar and he's not at all happy about it. Oh well, that's the way it goes, Marty, when you try to waltz to a steel guitar. Marty laments about the Crying Steel Guitar Waltz.

♫ Marty Robbins - Crying Steel Guitar Waltz


Here's an extra track that I acquired after all the music was selected. Rather than throw something out, I'll add it as a bonus. It's from an artist I wouldn't expect to have an entry in this genre, NEIL YOUNG.

Neil Young

It's from a new/old album of his. New, because it's only recently been released for the first time, and old, because he recorded it in 1976. It's surprising that it hadn't seen the light of day earlier, not even as a bootleg, as most of his others were.

Neil's song is The Old Country Waltz.

♫ Neil Young - The Old Country Waltz



INTERESTING STUFF – 25 November 2017

BEFORE WE GET STARTED TODAY...

With the amount of time it takes to be a cancer patient, I haven't kept up with many of the websites and blogs that I used to check regularly so I am grateful to Cop Car for letting me know that elderblogger Marianna Sheffer, the proprietor of Hattie's Web blog, has stopped blogging.

Here are the two most recent posts:

November 09, 2017: Hi. I am very unwell. Hope to be able to visit your blogs when I feel better and do a real posting but struggling right now. Thinking about all of you.

November 22, 2017: This is Alice, Marianna's daughter. The cancer has progressed and is no longer treatable and Marianna is starting hospice care at home. She says she is thinking of all of you. She is comfortable at home with her family, visiting close friends and her kitty. I will keep you all updated.

Followup from Alice: Thanks everyone for your kind comments. She is able to read your comments on her smart phone. She just doesn't have the energy for typing. I know it means a lot to her to hear from all of you.

Of course, my thoughts are with Hattie (she's always been Hattie to me) and her family and if you are inclined, you can leave a note for them at Hattie's Web.

* * *

WHY WE LOVE CERTAIN BOOKS

This is one explanation of the reason certain books are important to us. I'm sure there are others but I like this too.

REGARDING OLD LOVE LETTERS

Last week, we had a terrific discussion about what to do with old love letters as we get older. My friend Jim Stone was moved to email me this lovely and touching excerpt from John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

This is much lengthier than I usually quote but worth it.

”Ma was just through the door, and she heard his words. Slowly her relaxed face tightened, and the lines disappeared from the taut muscular face. Her eyes sharpened and her shoulders straightened. She glanced about the stripped room. Nothing was left in it except trash.

“The mattresses which had been on the floor were gone. The bureaus were sold. On the floor lay a broken comb, an empty talcum powder can, and a few dust mice. Ma set her lantern on the floor. She reached behind one of the boxes that had served as chairs and brought out a stationery box, old and soiled and cracked at the corners.

“She sat down and opened the box. Inside were letters, clippings, photographs, a pair of earrings, a little gold signet ring, and a watch chain braided of hair and tipped with gold swivels. She touched the letters with her fingers, touched them lightly, and she smoothed a newspaper clipping on which there was an account of Tom's trial.

“For a long time she held the box, looking over it, and her fingers disturbed the letters and then lined them up again. She bit her lower lip, thinking, remembering. And at last she made up her mind.

“She picked out the ring, the watch charm, the earrings, dug under the pile and found one gold cuff link. She took a letter from an envelope and dropped the trinkets in the envelope. Then gently and tenderly she closed the box and smoothed the top carefully with her fingers. Her lips parted.

“Then she stood up, took her lantern, and went back into the kitchen. She lifted the stove lid and laid the box gently among the coals. Quickly the heat browned the paper. A flame licked up and over the box. She replaced the stove lid and instantly the fire sighed up and breathed over the box.”

THE BUCKET SNATCHERS

This is amazing. From 1958 to 1986, the U.S. Air Force’s 6594th Test Group and 6593rd Test Squadron operated from Hickam Air Force Base retrieving film capsules dropped from satellites.

This newly declassified video [2016] details the history of the program and its final mission in April 1986.

CHARLIE AND THE SEAL IN ANTARCTICA

Irish journalist and broadcaster Charlie Bird has a wonderful up close experience with animals and nature when he encounters some seal pups on the beach.

He met the seals while traveling through Antarctica following the route of explorer Tom Crean’s final expedition alongside Ernest Shackleton aboard the Endurance in 1914-15.

OLD, LOST APPLES

Apples have long been a hot commodity for the people of Washington state, but in recent years, many orchards have been left abandoned. As orchards are neglected, many varieties of apples are being lost to culinary culture. David Benscoter is bringing them back.

THE DISTURBING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT PROBLEM

Cartoonist Tom Toles gets it exactly right.

TomToles

TIME MAGAZINE'S PERSON OF THE YEAR

Time magazine is asking for the “people's choice” for their annual Person of the Year. The final choice is up to the magazine's editor's but you can vote here until 3 December.

MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION BY THE NUMBERS

Here's a little video about how legalization of recreational weed is working out in Oregon, Washington state and Colorado.

OVERDOSING ON CUTE: PANDA CUBS

Researchers have been working for decades in the Wolong National Nature Reserve and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to boost the numbers of giant pandas in captivity, and to reintroduce some of them into the wild.

Since 2006, the breeding program has released seven captive-bred pandas into the wild, two of which have died. At the moment, there are an estimated 1,864 giant pandas living in the wild in China, with a bit more than 225 living in captivity.

Recently, Atlantic magazine posted a whole lot of great photos of baby pandas at the research base. So cute.

Here, researchers dressed as pandas, give one of the babies a checkup:

Pandas1

Here's one of the babies playing in the snow:

Panda3

A whole passel of baby pandas as one tumbles off the platform:

Pandas2

There are at least a dozen more baby panda photos at The Atlantic.

* * *

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.


Happy Thanksgiving 2017, Everyone

Given the condition of the national government (not to mention some state governments), we in the United States could be forgiven for wondering what there is to be thankful for this year.

May I suggest we go micro, local, personal.

The biggest for me is old and new friends including all of you at this blog who have been so open, generous, understanding, giving and loving. Not that you haven't always been so but without your constant and powerful support since my diagnosis of pancreatic cancer earlier this year, I know I would not be nearly as positive as I am.

You are all wonderful people.

Secondly, I am thankful to the gods or to whomever arranges such things in the universe that I was among the 10 percent of people with this diagnosis who are eligible for the Whipple procedure.

In addition, the chemotherapy has so far been relatively easy with none of the gruesome side effects that can happen. How did I get so lucky?

And then there are the innumerable staff at the Oregon Health & Science University clinics and hospital where, without exception, every one is smart, thoughtful, experienced, caring and as far as I can tell, never has a bad day.

Moving on then to the celebration of this year's holiday...

In 2013, I vowed that due to my delight at rediscovering Arlo Guthrie's epic Thanksgiving fable, Alice's Restaurant, after the decade or two it lay somewhere in memory limbo, I would make the song the annual holiday anthem of TimeGoesBy.

As I noted that year, I was equally delighted to discover that with a couple of minor lapses, I still knew the entire monologue by heart. I can't say why but it gives me a great deal of pleasure to sing along for the entire 18 minutes, which I took the time to do (with gusto again this year) while readying this post.

Maybe you would enjoy doing that too. All together now...

It's a fine ol' song, don't you think.

At this point, I need to slip in a practical note: Last weekend, a huge, big box of baklava arrived at my door from Libanais Sweets. It has been a favorite treat – baklava – for many years.

Alas, there was no card enclosed nor could the nice woman at Libanais help me with a name when I telephoned so I have no idea who to thank. Please do let me know – the baklava, in several types, is wonderful.

Just because I can, I'm taking tomorrow off from the blog but will be back here on Saturday with the a new edition of Interesting Stuff.

For my baklava benefactor and everyone who honors me year 'round by reading, commenting and/or generally hanging out here,

Thanksgiving


Elders and Dog Sharing

Day in and day out, there is so much bad news, I decided that in keeping with the holiday tomorrow, we should have a week of light news and commentary. God knows such things as sexual misconduct, tax reform, net neutrality and whatever else comes up will need our full attention next week.

Meanwhile, in a recent story in 1843 Magazine, Edward McBride discusses dog sharing in London. Mostly, he is talking about working people whose dogs get lonely during the day:

”For those whose schedules make it hard to pay their dog enough attention, outfits like BorrowMyDoggy are a godsend.

“They match owners, who need someone to stop Fido getting so bored he chews the skirting boards and pees on the sofa, with people who volunteer to walk or dogsit lonely pooches because they want the fun of having a dog to play with occasionally without the hassle and expense of owning one full-time.”

Personally, I think such people have no business having a pet but let's go with premise for the sake of this story.

It's more than just dog walking, it's an actual visit and the idea has spread to Canada (Part-time Pooch) and Australia (Dogshare). It's that name “Dogshare” that got me thinking about pets (well, dogs in particular) and old people.

I'm perfectly happy with my cat Ollie, I'm home most of the time so he doesn't need a drop-by friend and it is in the nature of most cats that they are slow to warm up to new people so I'm applying my idea to dogs.

Ollie is 13 now. My previous cat lived to be nearly 20, but what if Ollie doesn't and what if I would like a new pet when he is gone? It is widely understood that pets and people are good for one another and that dogs are amenable to more than one person at a time:

"Most of the world’s dogs [says Alexandra Horowitz, who teaches canine psychology at Columbia University in New York], are strays living in the developing world.

"Their natural habitat, as it were, is the proximity of humans, but they do not have a specific owner. Instead, they attach themselves temporarily to whoever is nice to them.

"There is good evidence that dogs form genuine attachments to humans, and can become depressed when these bonds of affection are sundered. But they need not be exclusive. As Roger Mugford, an animal psychologist who helped to train the queen’s corgis, puts it, “'You can overplay the idea of loyalty to the last gasp.'”

Most people want kittens or puppies but there are services that pair up elder people with elder pets. A good idea. But do I really want to face outliving another pet, if it comes to that?

So taking a page from Part-time Pooch and Dogshare, what about a real shared ownership between an elder and a younger person? The dog could live at each person's house for a week at a time, then switch.

It should start when the dog is a puppy, of course, so that having two homes feels normal to him or her. Each person can enjoy the pet in a week on/week off relationship, share expenses, work out vacation time with one another and when the older person dies, there is no worry that the dog won't have a home.

Give it some thought and let us know what you think.


Downsizing and Old Love Letters

Quillandink

You might imagine that given my age (76) and with the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, I've been thinking lately about clearing out some of the detritus here in the ol' homestead.

Not that I've done much about it but it has come up in conversation recently with a couple of friends.

One of them, in New York City, tells me he tried arguing logic: “It's not like anyone is going to write my biography,” he said to himself and to me.

Too true, but I've had just that conversation with myself about my old love letters. In one case, a long, long time ago, the man I was dating spent a year in Europe as publicist on a TV miniseries while it was shooting in several countries there.

Back then, 1970s, there was no email, phone calls were problematic and expensive, and snailmail was oh, so slow – weeks even.

But he wrote me a letter every day – every single day - numbered them on the envelopes and saved them up until one of the actors was furloughed back to the U.S. for a few weeks before his or her next scheduled shoot.

Then I'd get a phone call: “Hi Ronni. I'm here in New York. Let's meet for coffee. I've got a batch of letters for you from J.”

Now, honestly, how can anyone expect me to toss 300 or so love letters with a story like that go to with them.

The fact remains, however, that no one cares and it's not like I've read them in the past two or three decades or will do so anytime soon. Why, then, am I keeping them?

Another friend here in Portland, Ken Pyburn, noted that without the fact of the letters themselves, one is free to fictionalize old stories from our pasts. I know what he means. We may change the details over time so that a story not entirely “true” to the details of what actually happened, but it's my experience that the essence remains. And maybe it becomes more true in its own way.

Most of us here are old enough to remember when snail mail was the only written communication we had and I have quite a collection – from lovers, a lot from my father, mother, great Aunt Edith, brother and friends too.

As I've been thinking that it's time to get rid of them I've also thought I should give them all one last read. And yet I have resisted. I don't know why.

It's been a long time now that email has mostly taken the place of hand-written letters and I've kept most of those too, the ones that were more than a quick exchange of information. They don't feel as substantial as words made with ink on paper and I've definitely not given them as much thought as those old ones.

Maybe all this is different if one has children, which I don't.

In the greater scheme of things, letters hardly matter, do they? I should really be getting rid of all the bigger stuff, all the duplicates, the too much kitchen equipment, old electronics and such, but so far have not done.


ELDER MUSIC: Wolves

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.

* * *

BigBadWolf

Here is yet another entry in our series about animals, in this case the wolf. This animal is the top predator in many areas and as such is critically important to the ecology of the area (and surrounding areas, research has shown). Not only for animals but plant species as well. So, let us praise wolves.

The obvious place to start is with HOWLIN' WOLF, not just because of his name, but his song as well.

Howlin Wolf

It was said that "no one could match Howlin' Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits." In spite of that, he was a kind man and dedicated and loving husband and father who also paid his band very well, including all benefits.

Because of that, he attracted the best musicians. It seems that The Wolf is at Your Door.

♫ Howlin' Wolf - The Wolf Is At Your Door


WARREN ZEVON's best known, but far from his best, song makes the grade today.

Warren Zevon

A lot of you will know of which I speak. It's from his fine album "Excitable Boy" and it's called Werewolves of London. It's not to be taken seriously.

♫ Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London


So, to just another band from East L.A., as they like to call themselves, LOS LOBOS.

Los Lobos

They're too modest of course, they are one of the finest bands around. From a very early album of theirs ("How Will the Wolf Survive") they perform Will the Wolf Survive?

♫ Los Lobos - Will The Wolf Survive


PAUL SIMON seems to have become a hip hop artist with his contribution.

Paul Simon

Not completely, he does sing a bit but it's certainly different from what we expect from him. It's not a song I was familiar with until I searched my computer. It's always interesting to see how Paul stretches things with his songs. It's just called The Werewolf.

♫ Paul Simon - The Werewolf


TERRY ALLEN was born in Kansas, made a name for himself in Lubbock, Texas (home of a surprisingly high number of musicians) and lives in Santa Fe.

Terry Allen

Besides being a songwriter and singer, he's an artist of some renown and has lectured (and been a professor) in various artistic endeavours. From one of his albums (there have been about eight of them) we have The Wolfman of Del Rio.

♫ Terry Allen - The Wolfman Of Del Rio


GREGORY PORTER is the odd man out in the column today, and not because he has a great voice – we have a couple of those.

Gregory Porter

No, it's because he's more jazz oriented than the rest. I like to throw in something from left field (generally, it's not always appropriate) just to mix things up a bit. His best selling album was "Liquid Spirit" and it's from that one we have Wolfcry, although I didn't detect any wolves in the words of the song.

♫ Gregory Porter - Wolfcry


Alas, IAN TYSON doesn't have the wonderful voice that he used to.

Ian Tyson

He's not the handsome man of his youth either (well, who is?), but he's not bad (I wish I could say the same about me). However, he can still write fine songs and make good records. One of those is Wolves No Longer Sing.

♫ Ian Tyson - Wolves No Longer Sing


CHAMPION JACK DUPREE received his moniker in his early career as a boxer, he was even earlier called William Dupree.

Champion Jack Dupree

Jack was one of the great honky tonk pianists. He learned to play in the Colored Waifs Home in New Orleans when he was orphaned at age eight. This was the same place that Louis Armstrong got his start on the trumpet (well, cornet, technically).

Jack moved to Europe in 1960 where his music was in great demand. He stayed there and in Britain for pretty much the rest of his life. His contribution is Black Wolf Blues.

♫ Champion Jack Dupree - Black Wolf Blues


For the last 30 years or so there have been few better singer/songwriters than TOM RUSSELL.

Tom Russell

Tom is too modest to suggest such a thing, he would claim Ian Tyson, Gordon Lightfoot and others for the title, but we know, Tom. I would suggest searching for his albums if you're unfamiliar with them. From "Modern Art" Tom sings The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

♫ Tom Russell - The Boy Who Cried Wolf


I'll end as I began, with HOWLIN' WOLF. I think it's only appropriate.

Howlin Wolf

The Wolf rocks out with Howlin' Wolf Boogie.

♫ Howlin' Wolf - Howlin' Wolf Boogie



INTERESTING STUFF – 18 November 2017

CENTENARIAN SHARES ADVICE WITH STRANGERS IN NYC

Eileen Wilkinson's grandson set up a laptop on an upper west side corner in New York City so that his 100-year-old grandmother could give out free advice to strangers. It seems everyone is getting something good from this. (Thank Jim Stone for sending the video.)

JOHN OLIVER'S LAST WEEK TONIGHT

I haven't featured clips from John Oliver's HBO program Last Week Tonight recently because the show is broadcast on Sunday nights and by the following Saturday, when Interesting Stuff is posted, it's old news. That's how news goes these days.

This, however, is the last show of the current seasons in which Oliver discusses the year that has passed since the election of Donald Trump. Then he enlists the catheter cowboy to teach Trump what he should have learned by now but has not.

Last Week Tonight returns to HBO in February 2018, exact date to be determined.

HISTORY OF THE WORD “DEADLINE” IS DEADLY

Nowadays, “deadline” refers to a time or date when a task must be completed, but it started out much more literally.

Heinrich Hartmann Wirz rose through the ranks of the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War to oversee one of the most notoriously awful prisoner of war camps, Fort Sumpter, near Andersonville, Georgia.

During his tenure running that camp that house up to 30,000 Union soldiers, Wirz created a “dead line”. As the Secretary of War reported in October 1865:

”...a line around the inner face of the stockade or wall enclosing said prison, and about twenty feet distant and within said stockade; and so established said dead line, which was in many places an imaginary line...

“he...instructed the prison guard stationed around the top of said stockade to fire upon and kill any of the prisoners aforesaid who might touch, fall upon, pass over or under or across the said “dead line...”

For that and other gross transgressions, Wirz was found guilty of violating the rights of wartime prisoners and hanged on 10 November 1865. More details of the story at Mental Floss.

FAST WORKERS WHO ARE GOOD AT THEIR JOBS

They are amazing to watch and they'll make you smile too.

ALERT: After I posted this, I found that some piece of video is not cleared for replay on some websites (this one, apparently). You can watch on YouTube. It's still fun.

A CERTAIN TREE IN THE WOODS FOR ONE YEAR

A man installed a camera aimed at one tree for a year. Here is some of what happened.

You can find out more here.

25 THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH PEANUT BUTTER BESIDES EAT IT

Someone went to a lot of trouble to find all this. Here are a few samples:

REMOVE GUM STUCK IN YOUR HAIR: The oils in peanut butter make gum less pliable and sticky, therefore easier to massage out of hair. The quick fix also works to free gum from other surfaces like clothing.

COOK SAVORY DISHES: Peanut butter shines in sugary treats, whether in a cupcake or a candy bar. But peanut butter works just as well as a savory ingredient. If you have a jar in your pantry, you can add a dollop to punch up your instant ramen, or use it as a thickener in sauces or stews.

SHINE LEATHER: Your dull leather is only a few dabs of peanut butter away from looking as good as new. Rub it into the material you want to shine by making tiny circles with your fingers, then use a towel or washcloth to wipe it off. The polishing hack also works on leather shoes.

Or so they say at Mental Floss where there are 22 more things to do with peanut butter. I haven 't tried any of them so no guarantees.

WHY INCOMPETENT PEOPLE THINK THEY'RE AMAZING

It has always made me nuts that too often really nice people are not good at what they do. And, that the reverse is also too often true – that unlikable people are really talented.

Here's a sort of explanation :

MAYBE YOUR DOG ISN'T COLOR BLIND AFTER ALL

They've always told us that dogs (and cats also) don't see as many colors or as vividly as humans do. Now “they” are saying that may not be true:

”The finding suggests that, 'if you are planning to train your dog to fetch a ball that fell on the green grass of your garden, think of using a blue, and not red, ball,' said study lead researcher Marcello Siniscalchi, a professor in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Bari, in Italy...

“It's a common misperception that dogs see only in black and white. Rather, research shows that dogs' eyes have two kinds of cones, the photoreceptor cells responsible for color vision. One cone type is sensitive to yellow and another to blue, Siniscalchi said. This suggests that dogs can see yellows, blues and their different combinations, he said.”

Read more details about this study at Live Science.

CLONE YOUR PET

This isn't a new service. Certainly you remember the first animal clone, Dolly the sheep. A few companies have been cloning people's pets for a decade or more and it is almost common practice now to clone farm animals such as cattle, horses, pigs and sheep.

Recently, TV station KDKA reported on pet cloning at a Texas company that charges $50,000 for dogs. Cat owners get off for half that price. Here's the video.

You can read more at the Washington Post.

* * *

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.


A Cancer Surprise

Thank you all for your concern and suggestions on Wednesday's post about my fatigue. I wrote that post late on Tuesday anticipating my regular chemo session the next afternoon. It did not go exactly as planned.

First, you would not be wrong to say that I underplayed my fatigue in Wednesday's story. For two or three days I had been unable to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen, a distance of about 20 feet, without stopping halfway to catch my breath, nor could I carry the trash to the bin or do much of anything else that involved walking even on flat surfaces.

In addition, I had noticed for several days that my face had a white, almost waxy look. Dead might be an apt description - no pinkness at all.

Usually, the chemo clinic staff draws my blood, sends it off to the lab to analyze and prepare my infusion and then we get on with it. This time, they drew blood a second time because my red blood cell count was so low they believed there must have been an error.

But no. The count was way below normal and further, way below the point where they would order a transfusion.

With hardly a how-de-doo, they canceled the chemo and checked me into the hospital. The upside of this is that I finally got a trip on the OHSU tram that travels between the campus down by the river where the chemo clinic is to the the campus up on the hill where the medical school and several hospitals are.

OHSUTram

I'm not crazy about heights like that but it was kind of fun too.

The downside to the hospital stay is that I spent the next 12 hours overnight plugged into a variety of sensors and, before it was over, received four units of blood. If you're new to this procedure – as I was – here's how it goes.

It takes about two hours to infuse one unit of blood after which the empty bag is disconnected and another attached. In between, the nurse stops by three or four times to check blood pressure, body temperature, pulse, etc.

You can see that sleep is not a priority to any of the medical staff but strangely, in those many short increments, I slept more deeply than I usually do and easily fell back asleep after each interruption.

In the morning, my red blood cell count was way up (I've forgotten numbers) and pronounced to be “great.” My face was a normal pinkish color again

This drop in red blood cells is caused by chemotherapy, it is not an uncommon occurrence and there are no promises that transfusions won't be necessary again. But I am sure happy to know it is something that doctors and nurses are accustomed to dealing with. For me, cancer treatment is scary enough; I sure don't want anything to happen that the caregivers are unfamiliar with.

I'm tired now (on Thursday afternoon) but not fatigued. I can walk normally without need to stop to catch my breath and I have developed a growing appreciation for all the things that can and might go wrong. Or, perhaps, go right.

NOTE: I returned home to somewhere between 300 or 400 emails and even after deleting the spam and unimportant detritus, I don't think I'll be able to respond to all of you who emailed. My apologies.


The Reality of Cancer Treatment Sets In

As I sit here at my desk tapping out this first sentence, I'd rather be curled up in bed. I don't necessarily need to sleep; I just want to lie down. I am deeply weary.

This is not an unexpected condition. Before I started chemotherapy, the experts at the hematology clinic within the Oregon Health & Sciences University where I am being treated for cancer told me this would happen.

Cancer, they explained, uses up energy – that is, calories – faster than a healthy body and so does chemotherapy, thereby supplying a double dose of fatigue which will increase cumulatively during the six months of my planned treatment.

In addition, tests at the clinic last week revealed that I am “severely” anemic (another not unexpected side effect of treatment). So another source of fatigue, and another pill in my cupboard to treat the anemia.

Now into my third round of chemo, I'm tired all the time. Tired when I wake in the morning, tired getting out of the shower, tired after cooking breakfast or dinner or any one of the other several meals a day I prepare to try to keep up my weight, and tired sometimes just being vertical.

If you ignore the horrible first four or five weeks of recovery from surgery after the Whipple procedure, until now I've been interested, even fascinated by this cancer, the treatment, the reaction of my body, the boundless concern and kindness of the staff who care for me, and the almost daily changes in my sensibility toward life and death.

Certainly it is not easy knowing you have one of the worst cancers. Only lung, colo-rectal and breast cancer kill more people each year than pancreatic cancer.

But it's not something I have dwelled upon much and I suspect, until I find out in March how successful or not this chemotherapy has been, the ranking of “my” cancer will remain of little interest to me.

This, I have noticed, is also true now of having cancer in general. It's no longer a novelty and I'm ready to move on.

Except, of course, I cannot.

As I have said in the past, I am grateful for how lucky I have been: that I was eligible for the surgery, that my chemo is only once a week and takes only an hour, that fatigue is the worst side effect I've faced.

It makes me feel like a wimp to be complaining while knowing other patients have a much harder time than I have had.

It's ironic this week that just as fatigue is becoming difficult to deal with, I have been freed from my the post-op restrictive diet to eat anything I want. Don't go hog wild, the nurses and doctors advise, but there is nothing I need to avoid now.

Yeah. Right. Nice. Except that the more elaborate cooking I enjoyed before this unwanted interruption to my life appeared last June is more than I can usually find the energy for now.

The doctors and nurses at OHSU tell me that depending on my blood work today, they may give me a blood transfusion which, among other things, will temper my fatigue if not entirely relieve it. Hmmmph. Who has ever hoped to need a transfusion. The ironies abound.

A long time ago, I read somewhere that house cats (and maybe wild cats too - I don't recall) sleep about 17 hours a day. That seems a good estimate for Ollie the cat's daily routine and now he's got a companion to keep him company during all those hours he snoozes.


Making Hearing Aids as Cool as Eyeglasses

A neighbor leaned in close, putting her ear near mine. “Can you hear it?” she asked, referring to her new hearing aid? Yes. Yes, I could hear her hearing aid announcing that it had been inserted correctly.

They haven't gotten any cheaper (the average price for a pair of hearing aids hovers around $4,000) and users often find them less than satisfactory. Further, many who could benefit don't use hearing aids because there is a cultural stigma attached to them.

Recently, Barnard College professor, Jennifer Finney Boylan, in an opinion piece in The New York Times, wrote about the cultural acceptance gap between eyeglasses and hearing aids:

”Why, I wonder, is it that devices to keep you from being blind are celebrated as fashion, but devices to keep you from being deaf are embarrassing and uncool? Why is it that the biggest compliment someone can give you about your hearing aids is 'I can hardly see them'?”

I've often wondered that myself. Hearing aids may not work as well as eyeglasses do, but that or the need to feel “cool” shouldn't be a reason for so many people to choose silence. Ms. Boylan continues:

”Among those in their 50s, 4.5 million people have some hearing loss. How many wear devices that would enable them to better hear the world? Less than 5 percent.

“Wearing hearing aids can change your life in an instant — not to mention that of the people you love, whose actual voices you may have been unable to hear. But we don’t get help.

“Because coverage by insurance carriers is inconsistent. Because we don’t know where or how to get our hearing tested. Because we’re afraid of what others might think. Because hearing loss is uncool.”

And they are wildly expensive but Boylan takes that on too while explaining some of the advances that are making hearing aids more successful for users.

Earlier this year, CNN reported on 78-year-old New Yorker, Peter Sprague, another who wants to make hearing aids cool. He's gone so far as to create a prototype of his idea, to start a company and to seek venture capital funding. Here he is in a short video explaining it all:

The hearing aids are called HearGlass which is, according to Sprague's company website, a

”...disruptive wearable device that incorporates full audio spectrum HiFi [hearing aids] into eyeglasses, allowing for a directional hearing experience superior to traditional [hearing aids]. Bluetooth/WiFi capabilities allow for hands-free music streaming, telephony, voice-activated commands and on-the-fly setting changes.”

You can find out more at the website. HearGlass is not yet available, Sprague is still in the fundraising phase and I have no idea if they work well. I'm not here to sell them.

I just like the idea that there are some people trying to remove the stigma from hearing aids so maybe more people will use them.


ELDER MUSIC: 1953 Yet Again

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

* * *

It's 1953 and I'm in grade 3. Most of the songs today I remember from that time, but there's a ring-in that I didn't find out about until later. I'll start with that one.

I must admit that my first exposure to the song Just Walkin' in the Rain was via the Johnnie Ray version a few years later than 1953. It was a few years after that I happened upon the original, far superior, version by THE PRISONAIRES.

Prisonaires

The song was written by Johnny Bragg and he was the group's lead singer.

♫ Prisonaires - Just Walkin' In The Rain


Hi Lili Hi Lo seemed to be around for a bit in 1952 and 1953 (and later as well). As far as I can tell DINAH SHORE was the first to record the song, and that was in 1952.

Dinah Shore

However, I think the hit was in 1953 (perhaps it was one that straddled the years). That rationale is good enough for me because I wanted to include it, and besides, I've already selected the songs for 1952.

Hi Lili Hi Lo was written by Bronislau Kaper and Helen Deutsch and it made an appearance in the film "Lili", sung by Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer. Helen Deutsch also wrote the film's screenplay.

♫ Dinah Shore - Hi Lili Hi Lo


Not too long before he burst on the scene with Rock Around the Clock, BILL HALEY was already morphing from a country performer into rock and roll.

Bill Haley

He was already recording covers of jump blues artists, most particularly Big Joe Turner's songs, and he was also writing his own songs in the same vein, one of which is Crazy Man Crazy.

♫ Bill Haley - Crazy Man Crazy


I mentioned JOHNNIE RAY above, and here he is singing a duet with DORIS DAY.

Johnnie & Doris

At this time Johnnie was often a welcome relief from the rubbish on the charts. Alas, he sometimes slipped and fell and recorded some of that himself – like this one, Let's Walk That-A Way.

♫ Doris Day & Johnnie Ray - Let's Walk That-A Way


Between Frank Sinatra, a few years earlier, and Elvis, a few years later, EDDIE FISHER was the one that set the teenyboppers squealing.

Eddie Fisher

He was closer to the Frank mold (with less talent) than Elvis, but he was what we had at the time. Eddie seems to be a bit of a stalker in his song, I'm Walking Behind You.

♫ Eddie Fisher - I'm Walking Behind You


GUY MITCHELL was all over the charts around this time (and later as well).

Guy Mitchell

Like Johnnie Ray, he was also a relief from the music on the charts. However, he slipped as well, and at pretty much the same time, with She Wears Red Feathers. Here's your chance to catch up on your cocynuts and huly huly skirts.

♫ Guy Mitchell - She Wears Red Feathers


The FOUR LADS want to return to a city that doesn't exist anymore. Okay, it does, but under a different name.

Four Lads

Those who were listening to the hit parade in 1953 will know to what I refer. The song is Istanbul (Not Constantinople). The song was written by Jimmy Kennedy and Nat Simon and it surprised me a little that the city changed its name as recently as 1930.

♫ Four Lads - Istanbul (Not Constantinople)


Back around this time there was an English radio series, which we got here in Oz, called "Take it from Here". The next artists were all in that program. They are JOY NICHOLS, DICK BENTLEY and JIMMY EDWARDS.

Joy, Dick & Jimmy

If I were ranking the songs included today, this one would be at the very bottom (and there's some stiff competition). However, it was ubiquitous at the time and it's been stuck in my brain ever since, so now it's your turn to be so affected. The Little Red Monkey.

♫ Joy Nichols Dick Bentley & Jimmy Edwards - The Little Red Monkey


Thank heaven for PEARL BAILEY, so she can wipe that previous song out of my brain for a few minutes.

Pearl Bailey

Quite a few people recorded this one, but this is the one I prefer. Takes Two to Tango.

♫ Pearl Bailey - Takes Two To Tango


Here is a song that the Peter who lived next door and I sang together (The Two Petes – well we didn't call ourselves that, I just made that up). It's China Doll by SLIM WHITMAN.

Slim Whitman

The other Peter was better at the yodelling parts than I was (I don't know if anyone else would consider that a plus). Anyway, we had fun.

♫ Slim Whitman - China Doll



INTERESTING STUFF – 11 November 2017

VETERANS DAY

Today is American Veteran's Day and I like this video that turned up about Captain Simtratpal Singh who is a West Point graduate, a war veteran, an active duty Army officer and a recipient of the Bronze Star.

He is also a Sikh, and successfully sued the U.S. Department of Defense in 2016 to be able to wear his beard and turban with his fatigues.

WHY THERE ARE TWO NAMES FOR THE CURRENT SEASON OF THE YEAR

In the northern hemisphere of the world, the English-speaking part of it, there are two names for the current season of the year: autumn and fall. The other three seasons have only one name each. How did this happen?

”Fall was, in fact, the very last of the four seasons to become codified with a name, or even the designation as a season on par with the others,” explains Atlas Obscura.

“There are mentions of winter, summer, and spring in manuscripts dating back to the 12th century; the name of spring may not have been settled upon, but the idea that it was a full season came much earlier than with fall...

“The word 'autumn' has French roots; in modern French the word is automne. It certainly has Latin roots, coming from the word autumnus, which in turn comes from – somewhere...

“Autumn shows up in English first around the late 14th and early 15th centuries, though it coexisted with 'harvest' as a loose description of the season for another 200 years.

“Fall is different. It first shows up in the mid-16th century in England, primarily at first as “the fall of the leaf,” which was shortened to just “fall.” Like “harvest,” it is descriptive, but more evocative...”

There is much more detail about the naming of the seasons at Atlas Obscura and it's more interesting that you might think.

THE DONKEY BEEKEEPER

This is funny but also a practical solution for a beekeeper in rural Brazil.

Manuel Juraci Vieira needed a way to transport the honey he would collect from his beehives on his farm back to his home. His solution? His donkey, Boneco.

Outfitted in his very own homemade beekeeping suit, Boneco tags alongside Vieira, helping him carry the honey they gather during their hauls. Take a look:

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME

Yes, that is the title of a book by physicist Stephen Hawking from 1989, that was cosmic in scope. This, today, has the same name but a different goal, to explain how our system of telling time was created. As the YouTube page mentions,

”Why do we divide the day into 24 hours of 60 minutes each, and put 60 seconds in each minute? Where does the definition of a second come from? And who decides what clock shows the correct time?”

There is some more written information at Mental Floss.

AMERICANS ARE OFFICIALLY FREAKING OUT

Or, so says Bloomberg News:

”The 'current social divisiveness' in America was reported by 59 percent of those surveyed as a cause of their own malaise. When the APA surveyed Americans a year ago, 52 percent said they were stressed by the presidential campaign. Since then, anxieties have only grown.

“A majority of the more than 3,400 Americans polled, 59 percent, said 'they consider this to to be the lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember.'

“That sentiment spanned generations, including those that lived through World War II, the Vietnam War, and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. (Some 30 percent of people polled cited terrorism as a source of concern, a number that’s likely to rise given the alleged terrorist attack in New York City on Tuesday.)”

Here's the chart of what Americans are most worried about:

Bloomberg Stress

I'm personally disappointed that climate change is last on the list. You can read more at Bloomberg.

ARE YOU WASHING YOUR HANDS ALL WRONG?

Because chemotherapy compromises the immune system and makes the patient more susceptible to infection, I wash my hand these days a whole lot more frequently than in the past.

Sometimes I use medical gloves, as when I clean the cat's litter box but mostly I wash, wash, wash.

This video turned up from The New York Times a few days ago, originally published in 2016 about the best, safest way to wash our hands.

BRINGING BACK A RAIN FOREST

What was once 300 acres of coffee and cardamom fields in India’s Southern Ghats is now lush native forest, all thanks to the hard work and dedication of Pamela Gale Malhotra and her husband Anil, explains the YouTube page.

The couple started India’s first private wildlife sanctuary, SAI sanctuary, and for the past two decades they have been nursing the land back to life. Here’s how they did it. It's amazing.

SIMON'S CAT – OFF TO THE VET

Simon's Cat has been a YouTube staple for years now. Some, in my viewpoint, funny and sometimes not. This is new, a full-color, long (13-minutes) “Simon's Cat Special” crowdfunded at Indiegogo.

The YouTube page tells us that Simon’s Cat: Off to the Vet has screened at multiple film festivals around the world and was awarded The McLaren Award for Best British Animation at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016. Enjoy.

* * *

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.


The Democratic Wins in Tuesday's Election

Let's have a little political talk around here today as a switch from too much health chitchat.

Democratic candidates got an amazing number of wins over their Republican opponents in Tuesday's election and in some cases did it in a walk. The biggest spread in the vote count was in the Virginia race for governor between Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie – a vast nine points dividing them.

The Democrats had a good run that night too in Virginia's House of Delegates. Four seats are still too close to call as I write this on Thursday afternoon and the final count could end up with a 50/50 split in the formerly bright red House.

Not as dramatically, some other states leaned heavily toward blue in this election, notably the Democratic win for governor in New Jersey, which is giving Republicans heartburn for the 2018 midterm election.

Yastreblyansky posted a cogent response to these developments at The Rectification of Names blog which I will quote more extensively than I usually do,

First he points out that of the 16 Virginia districts that went to Northam on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton won 15 of them in 2016.

”...one reason [this election] was so like 2016 is that so many people voted — 47%, the highest turnout in a Virginia gubernatorial election in 20 years,” writes Yastreblyansky.

“In a normal off-off-year election, the same kind of idiocy we're stuck with in New York City and New Jersey, the candidate of the leisured, the management, the retired, has an advantage. Not this year: voters just came out.

“And not just voters; candidates too. In 2013, 56 out of 100 districts had no opposition (mostly Republican seats), and no election was required at all; 71 of them in 2015.

“But in 2017 there were just 12 Republican seats with no opposition (28 Democratic seats unopposed by Republicans), because Democrats came out in Virginia to challenge everybody they could, and they won such a startling number those seats because they showed up.

“That simple. (Apparently Trump really inspired folks to run, particularly women, just by being so disgusting.) (Guy on MSNBC—Stuart Stevens, Wikipedia says he's a travel writer—saying every woman running as a Democrat nationwide just won her race.)”

The New York Times followed up on how much this Democratic Party-leaning vote involving wins by so many women and minorities means or does not mean for the midterms that are still a year away:

”Some are skeptical of reading too much into one off-year election. And even Democrats have had heated disagreements over whether identity politics help the party or drive people away.

“But David Ramadan, a Republican who served in the Virginia General Assembly from 2012 to 2016 said the warning for his party was clear.

“'Tuesday’s results show that unless the Republicans go back to being mainstream conservatives and run on issues like education, jobs and transportation instead of sanctuary cities and Confederate statues, they will hand not only Virginia to liberals, but they will hand the country to liberals and Congress to liberals next year,' Mr. Ramadan said.”

At New York magazine, Ed Kilgore walked readers through the various county vote numbers vis a vis the same counties in 2016, concluding:

One would be tempted to guess Northam won a good number of anti-Trump Republicans. But the exits suggest he won only 4 percent of self-identified members of the GOP. What seems to have mattered more is that self-identified Democrats were 41 percent of the electorate, as opposed to only 31 percent who were Republicans.

“That is a testament to the Democratic voter targeting and turnout operation, and possibly an indication that Republicans are losing a significant number of Virginia’s white suburban voters altogether.”

Two things about that: The daily effort the resistance has been making day-in-and-day-out since the 2016 election is working. It's fallen off my radar a bit since June with the distraction of my health issue and I haven't been reminding you to keep after your D.C. representatives on votes as they come up. Do keep at it for the coming year. If you can, help out your local grassroots efforts too.

Second, what do you make of this week's elections? Depending on your political leanings, are you encouraged, worried or, like me, concerned that so much happens, so much changes, every day in our current Trump world, everything is forgotten in the worldwind and almost nothing applies anymore after a week has gone by.


Crabby Old Lady and End of Literacy

Okay, maybe Crabby Old Lady is overstating it in that headline, but voice and and tiny little pictographs appear to be taking over human communication at the expense of the written word.

060915_Top100Emoji_Header

It's not just email and texting. When you add Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterist, Snapchat, etc. - all of which often use more photos, video and emoji than words – it appears that the written word is in danger of disappearing.

Before she goes any further, let Crabby admit that since last January, she has owned two Amazon Echo devices – one re-gifted from a TGB reader who didn't want it and another that Crabby, who was amused by the first one, bought for the bedroom at the other end of her home.

She doesn't use them as extensively as many people (and she certainly does not have a “smart home” to command with them), but just by asking she can find out the weather forecast, set a timer, listen to radio or to music or order up the latest news to be read to her, or a book, add items to her grocery shopping list, check the instructions on a recipe while she is cooking and much more.

You can see the insidious attraction.

California entertainment lawyer, Jon Pfeiffer, reported recently on a Harris poll that asked people of varying ages if emoji communicate better than the written word:

”...36% of millennials said that emojis convey their thoughts and emotions better than traditional words. About half as many baby boomers agree.

“However, when you look only at emotion, around 40% of baby boomers prefer emojis. This is not quite as many as the 66% of millennials, but it is still a huge percentage nonetheless.'”

Pfeiffer also quotes Professor John Sutherland on the subject:

“'In the future, less words and letters will be used in messaging as pictures and icons take over the text speak language.'”

(Crabby would be more inclined to take Sutherland seriously, however, if he – a professor of modern English literature at University College London - did not have such a poor grasp of English language grammar.)

Nevertheless, she still worries that these two men are on to something.

Crabby knows that every generation, especially as it ages, believes the world, now run by younger generations, is going to hell in a handbasket. So far that hasn't happened but the loss of widespread literacy would have devastating effect on civilization.

This loss seems to be progressing on several fronts beyond pictures replacing words.

Consider the assault on thought, focus and concentration of the modern workplace. Even before Crabby retired in 2004, cubicles had taken over and she, a writer and editor then, had been give a “cube” next to sales people on two sides of her who were on the phone all day. Yak, yak, yak as Crabby tried to bring clarity to her own and others' writing.

Nowadays, they've even removed cubicle dividers in favor of open space and shared tables, and as voice commands increasingly become the norm over typewriting and tapping, it's not just literacy that is in peril, but thought itself.

Another development is the increased use online of video news reports without an accompanying print story. Even though Crabby produced television shows for more than two decades, she was keenly aware that pictures are an enhancement that are incapable of transmitting nuance and detail in a two- or even five-minute story.

Not to mention that is takes much longer to watch a video news story than read it in print.

Plus, we're talking to our screens almost as much as we are reading them or writing onto them. Some business researchers expect that 50 percent of searches will be done by voice by 2020. If you're not concerned about literacy, at least consider the cacophany – yet another way to prevent reason, intellect and understanding.

Crabby's concern about all this was raised by Lori Orlov's bi-weekly online column, Aging in Place Technology Watch. On Monday, Orlov concluded:

”Our devices, our adult selves – what happened to words? So we are speaking (or shouting) 50% of our queries to our devices, texting selfie animojis and receiving a word or two plus more emojis in return.

“And to add to our not-so-smart phone use, we are overwhelmed by auto-play videos in Facebook, Twitter, and Google Chrome...

“Imagine those noisy employee meetings at Apple (median age 31), Google (median age 30), and Facebook (median age 28) as staffers hunch over their emoji menus, play videos by accident and spend quality time searching for a charging location.”

Those age demographics Orlov includes are not about how youngsters are befouling our literacy. The greater importance is that they will grow older and this will be their normal when it's their turn (not so far off) to run the world.

In case you're not up to speed on this stuff (Crabby was not until now), here are links to what may soon pass for communication and thought, an emojipedia and an emoji keyboard. These are hardly the only ones.

What's your take on all this?


Chemo Brain and Bravery

[To be clear, I want to assure you that I don't intend to turn Time Goes By into a cancer blog - I have plenty of other interests in regard to aging.

But for the two weeks I was stuck on that prehistoric laptop with the speed of a slug, I could not bear to spend more than an hour at a time on it so it was less irritating and easier to write from current experience than about anything that needs backgrounding and research.

At last, on Saturday afternoon, my computer was returned to me in pristine condition, all my files intact and with normal computer speed restored, thanks to an ace tech guru a friend found for me.

I'm now in the process of putting my files in order, catching up on the real work of Time Goes By and I expect to be back to full production by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, I know that during the computer hoo-haw, I missed answering a lot of reader email and lost some of it due to the hinky email program I had to use. So if you were expecting a reply and didn't get one, my apologies.
]

* * *

CHEMO BRAIN
For three or four or five weeks after my cancer surgery in June, I was stuck with what hospital personnel called “anesthesia brain” which can apply after especially long surgery – mine was 12 hours. It was frustrating.

Just putting simple sentences together took more effort that I often had. There was a small hiccup of time between someone saying something to me and my understanding of it. And ordinary kinds of focus were almost impossible, in general and particularly on reading as I inexplicably lost interest after a sentence or two.

After that first month, the fog lifted rather swiftly over one weekend and until recently, I didn't notice any of those symptoms again.

Now, apparently, I have intermittent “chemo brain” which is defined differently in different medical circles. One of the nurses at my chemo clinic seemed thoroughly familiar with the phenomenon and implied that it does not necessarily disappear when chemotherapy treatments are done. Oh joy.

The Mayo Clinic, on the other hand, reports that little is known about chemo brain and seems to say that it occurs in cancer survivors, which I am not (yet).

”Chemo brain is a common term used by cancer survivors to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur after cancer treatment. Chemo brain can also be called chemo fog, chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment or cognitive dysfunction.

“Though chemo brain is a widely used term, it's misleading. It's unlikely that chemotherapy is the sole cause of concentration and memory problems in cancer survivors. Researchers are working to understand the memory changes that people with cancer experience.”

In my case, it appears during the three weeks I am “on chemo” when I can tell my thinking gets fuzzy, although it is not as debilitating as it was after my surgery. On the week off from chemo the brain fog gradually lifts and then I start the routine over again.

There is no byline to the Mayo Clinic story, just “Mayo Clinic Staff” which can mean anything and anyone so there is no way to make a judgment about it. There are a lot of unanswered questions in the realm of cancer.

BRAVERY
I want to talk a bit about cancer and bravery. Last week, on my post about how busy cancer keeps patients, a reader named Barbara who blogs at Frugal Juice - Life Begins at 70, commented that

”...you are teaching me to be brave as you are so brave to meet each day.”

Barbara is far from the first or only reader, in these months since I was diagnosed, to mention how brave I am. It is not possible for me to express how much your repeated encouragement, love, concern and caring means to me as I tackle this new and unexpected journey.

But brave? We've discussed what it is or is not in these pages in the past and it was clear then that there are many definitions.

This time I am not so interested in what it is in the dictionary or philosophical senses. I care more about why (however many are the ways I might personally define bravery) I don't believe the word, the idea, the intention apply in my current situation.

Was it brave to undergo a 12-hour surgery that has required months of recovery to feel almost normal again? When I asked the surgeon what would happen if I refused such a dreadful-sounding intrusion of my body, he said I would be dead by the end of the year.

That's not bravery, that's survival, the inbred imperative of all animals to avoid death at nearly all cost.

Some readers have attached the notion of bravery to my willingness to write about my cancer experience. Well, here's one secret about that: whatever I said at the top of this post about other interests in life, cancer does tend to take up a lot of space in one's mind often leaving little room for much else so you get these missives.

I write as much to winnow out some meaning and understanding for myself while trying to find some universal significance for readers. That is not bravery and it embarrasses me to be included in the category.

I'm a fairly simplistic thinker and the first thing that comes to mind about bravery is, for example, the soldier who rushes into a hail of bullets to save his buddy – the kind of person to whom we award the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Or, that person who stood in front of a convoy of government tanks in Tienamen Square during the protests of 1989.

Or a parent who runs into a burning building to rescue their child. You know what I mean, and I say that even understanding other, less dramatic but equally stunning forms of bravery.

What I have chosen to do in this circumstance, as I see it, is to endure. To persist. To persevere. For as long as that may be possible.

And if you don't count the annoyances I have given full voice to here, it's not really a big deal what I'm doing because, as I often ask myself (more rhetorically now than otherwise) is what else am I going to do? What else is there to do?

The only answer I have is: just what I'm doing. Just what I did before this with the addition of those damned annoyances.

Oh my, this got much longer than I intended. See what happens when you give me back my working computer. I'll stop now.


ELDER MUSIC: Mozart's Lesser Known Operas

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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Mozart's operas are among the best loved and most often performed. Well, some of them – “Don Giovanni“, “Cosi Fan Tutte“, “The Marriage of Figaro“, “The Magic Flute“ and a few others. However, he wrote a whole bunch more and it's those that we're interested in today. Fortunately, these have been recorded, if not often performed.

As with all good operas, I'll start with an overture. This is from, as far as we know, the first opera Wolfie wrote. He was 12 years old.

Mozart

It was apparently first performed in the back yard of Franz Mesmer (of hypnosis fame) who commissioned the work. It's the overture to Bastien and Bastienne.

♫ Bastien and Bastienne - Overture


La Finta Semplice (The Feigned Simpleton) was also written when Wolfie was 12. It was scheduled to be performed in Vienna but the bigwigs at the opera there conspired against it and threatened a riot, claiming it couldn't have been written by such a young person, and it was really by his father.

Dad, prudently, withdrew the performance and it was produced for the first time a year later in Salzburg.

This is the aria Marito io vorrei sung by TERESA BERGANZA.

Teresa Berganza

♫ La Finta Semplice ~ Marito io vorrei


Another finta - “La Finta Giardiniera” (The Pretend Garden Maid, or some such). This one is especially silly and this is how it goes...

We have Don Anchise who is in love with Sandrina. Sandrina, the Marchioness Violante Onest, likes to dress up as a gardener. Then there is Arminda, niece of Don, who is engaged to Belfiore but was previously in love with Ramiro. Belfiore, before he was engaged to Arminda, had the hots for Sandrina, but he stabbed her in a fit of rage (apparently suffering no consequences).

Ramiro wanders about love-struck (not surprisingly, as he was originally played by a castrato), but in the end, Arminda gets back together with him. Serpetta is Don's servant and she is in love with him, but nothing comes of this. Finally, Roberto, Sandrina's servant, likes to dress up as her dressing up as a gardener. He ended up with Serpetta. Got all that? No; neither did I.

Anyway, we have an aria sung by PLACIDO DOMINGO (as Belfiore) called Che beltà, che leggiadria.

Placido Domingo

♫ La finta giardiniera ~ Che beltà che leggiadria


If you think that was silly (and it was), consider “Mitridate, Re Di Ponto” (Mithridates, King of Pontus).

Mithridates, after a battle with the Romans, is thought to be dead (he isn't). That fake news is passed to Aspasia (his fiancée) and Farnace and Sifare (his sons) who certainly don't see eye to eye.

Sifare is in love with Aspasia, and it seems Farnace also has the hots for her and is a bit overly aggressive in this regard. Sifare helps Aspasia which does nothing for the brotherly love.

Around this time it's learnt that Mithridates is still alive and the brothers pretend everything is hunky dory between them, except that Farnace conspires with the Romans to do dad in.

Mithridates arrives in town with another chick in tow (Ismene) and when Farnace sees her he wants a bit of the action as well. Ismene is taken with Farnace and that causes friction with dad (not forgetting that Aspasia and Sifare are still at it).

Mithridates discovers the plot that Farnace hatched with the Romans and arrests him. He is rescued by Ismene but falsely suggests that Sifare was also involved, and besides dad, he's bonking your fiancée. Dad plans revenge on him as well.

That's only Act 1. There are two more to go but I'll spare you.

In the end dad forgives both sons who marry the appropriate women and then he commits suicide in fine operatic tradition.

From all that we have DIANA DAMRAU (as Aspasia) singing Al destin che la minaccia.

Diana Damrau

♫ Mitridate rè di ponto ~ Al destin che la minaccia


“Il Sogno di Scipione” (Scipio's Dream), as the title suggests, all takes place in a dream. When Scipio wakes up he realizes that was so, and, well, that's it really. A bit less complicated than the previous couple.

From that we have the wonderful RENÉE FLEMING (as Fortuna, whom we haven't met) performing sono al par del viento.

Renee Fleming

♫ Il sogno di Scipione ~ Lieve sono al par del viento


“Ascanius in Alba” (Ascanio in Alba) involves goddesses, nymphs and shepherds, the usual love affairs, broken hearts, city building (well, that's new) and everyone living happily ever after for a change. Here is an instrumental break, the first Ballet.

♫ Ascanio in Alba ~ Ballet No.1


“Il Rè Pastore” (The Shepherd King) concerns a pair of lovers, one of whom is a shepherd, but he is the long lost king of Macedonia. He is eventually recognised as such but in the mean time all of the usual operatic shenanigans occur.

He eventually ends up as king and everyone marries whom they should and no one commits suicide.

Here Aminta (the shepherd king) and Elisa (his main squeeze) have a bit of a warble together. For some reason Aminta (who's a bloke) is sung by JOHANNETTE ZOMER (who isn't) and Elisa is sung by FRANCINE VAN DER HEYDEN (they got the genders right this time). Vanne a regnar ben mio.

Johannette & Francine

♫ Il Re Pastore ~ Vanne a regnar ben mio


“Apollo et Hyacinthus” (Apollo and Hyacinth) is very early Wolfie, he was 11 when he wrote it. This is one that may or may not be an opera, or it could be a song cycle.

The synopsis of this one was so complicated I couldn't make head nor tail of it. It involves gods, sacrifices, storms, murders, the usual convoluted love affairs, more shepherds and a discus.

What follows is a duet by Apollo, who is a god, but likes to mingle with the common herd, and Melia, once attached to the king who was making a sacrifice to the big guy, but she now has the hots for Apollo. Their relationship is far more complicated but we'll just blip over it.

Apollo is sung by RALF POPKEN and Media by VENCESLAVA HRUBA-FREIBERGER. They perform Discede Crudelis!

Ralf & Venceslava

♫ Apollo and Hyacinth ~ Discede Crudelis!


“Lucio Silla” is another Roman opera. Lucio is dictator of Rome and has had senator Cecilio exiled and has spread rumors that he's dead. There are a number of interlocking love affairs, a few murders and whatnot. It's even more complicated than any of the others.

In the end (and this is the most unbelievable bit of the lot), Lucio sees the error of his ways and steps down. Cecilio is restored to his rightful position and everyone gets married and lives happily ever after (at least, those still alive).

Now we have an aria by Cecilio, again another bloke sung by a woman: MARIANNE CREBASSA, singing Pupille amate.

Marianne Crebassa

♫ Lucio Silla ~ Pupille amate


Naturally, I'll end with a finale. In this one everyone gets to strut their stuff. The big ending to “The Shepherd King”, Viva! Viva l'invitto duce!

♫ Il Re Pastore ~ Viva! Viva l'invitto duce!


It shows you what teenagers can do when they set their minds to it. Everything in today's column Wolfie wrote when he was between eleven and nineteen. He might be an exceptional case, though.

Mozart


INTERESTING STUFF – 4 November 2017

HOW AN IGLOO KEEPS YOU WARM

I always wondered about this. Here's a good explanation:

TURN YOUR CLOCKS BACK TONIGHT

Yes, daylight savings time ends in the U.S. tonight which can give you an extra hour of sleep – you know, that one you lost in the spring.

I didn't have any success in finding a cool video to go with this reminder, but I did find a wonderful one from John Oliver's show from spring 2015 discussing the uselessness of this semi-annual ritual. Enjoy:

IT'S MUELLER TIME

My friend, Jim Stone was the first of many TGB readers to send this fantastic video. As he wrote in his email, “A boy can dream, can't he?”

MORE THAN HALF OF NOMINEES CONNECTED TO INDUSTRIES THEY REGULATE

Undoubtedly some of you, like me, wonder how it is every single presidential nominee to head various federal agencies are people opposed to regulation of the industries they are hired to oversee. Or at least, it seems that way. Are we wrong?

Apparently, the Daily Beast was thinking the same thing, and they looked into the issue:

”The Daily Beast examined 341 nominations the president has made to Senate-confirmed administration positions. Of those, more than half (179) have some notable conflict of interest, according to a comprehensive review of public records,” reported Lachlan Markay and Sam Stein.

“One hundred and five nominees worked in the industries that they were being tasked with regulating; 63 lobbied for, were lawyers for, or otherwise represented industry members that they were being tasked with regulating; and 11 received payments or campaign donations from members of the industry that they were being tasked with regulating.”

So my back-of-the-envelope calculations weren't wrong. You can read more at the Daily Beast.

THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND'S STAND-IN

Who knew? For decades, this woman has been standing in for Queen Elizabeth when the monarch's public appearances are being rehearsed.

ALL CATS ALL THE TIME

Pluto TV is television service that runs on a variety of apps and on the web. I had never heard of it before this week when I was made aware of its all cats all the time channel.

What could be more appropriate for the place, the web, that was built on cat videos and cat memes.

At Pluto TV online, you can watch cat videos 24/7. See it here where there are clip shows around the clock. Find out more about Pluto TV at Wikipedia.

WAR HORSES

These days we most frequently hear the phrase “war horse” as a metaphor in reference to old politicians or sports figures who have been around forever and, sometimes, stage musicals that are frequently revived.

But for centuries, there were real-life war horses. As the YouTube page explains, these “Friesen” horses

”...were originally bred...in the days of knights and armor. As armor got heavier, bigger horses were needed and the Friesens almost became extinct. They are now back and are one of the most beautiful horses in stature as well as gait...

“Their manes and tails are the longest that I have seen and I noticed that when performing on grass, their hoofs do not kick up a divot, as they land flat footed...These horses are native to the Netherlands.

Thank Darlene Costner for sending this.

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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.


Cancer Keeps You Busy

Chores have been piling up and I'm getting behind so this is really a day off for me but I thought I'd make quick mention of a couple of cancer-related surprises. Some of you who have greater experience with this “emperor of all maladies” (or other kinds of maladies) of which I am still an amateur, may have more to say about them than I do yet.

[Emperor of All Maladies is the title of a brilliant book by Siddhartha Mukherjee subtitled, “A Biography of Cancer” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011.]

BUSY
Among all the scary new stuff I learned after they told me I have cancer is how much time it would steal from me. I don't mean the years by which it may shorten my life. I mean the list of new items added to the normal daily routine. Here's a short list:

Counting out pills each week and putting them in those little daily box containers. (It takes two containers to accommodate all my pills.)

Remembering to take those pills and at the right times of day. (I have invented half a dozen ruses to remind myself.)

Keeping track of when those prescriptions need refilling.

Preparing six meals a day, shopping for them, cleaning up after them.

Drinking what feels like gallons of liquid a day.

Keeping up with side-effect prevention measures: hand and foot lotion, mouth rinses, etc.

Napping. I've never been a napper but the chemo makes me sleepy so I lose two or three hours a day to naps.

WEIGHT LOSS
This one's a joke, right? I've spent my entire life repeatedly losing the same 10-12 pounds (not to mention the ginormous 40 pounds I allowed to pile on and lost six years ago. Now I have the reverse problem – keeping weight on.

They weigh me every time I go to the chemo clinic and during the three weeks a month I'm having infusions, I lose weight. They told me early on that the disease requires more energy than a healthy body and now I know that chemo increases the use of energy too. So I am regularly admonished to eat more, eat more, eat more by the nurses and doctor.

I hereby offer my apologies to all the skinny people I've privately mocked over the years for complaining about how hard it is to keep their weight up. They were right - it's really hard to do.


Crabby Old Lady and Cancer on TV

When something newly interests us, we naturally become more sensitized to it. We pay more attention, we notice it more and like Crabby Old Lady recently, may wonder if it is just her or is there a lot more on television these days about cancer?

Even if she's wrong, it feels that way and a lot of it is disturbing.

What comes to mind first are those commercials for the various cancer-only treatment centers in cities around the United States, some of them for-profit chains. They and others spend a lot of money chasing after new patients via TV commercials and not infrequently run half a dozen of the same commercial in a single one-hour program.

Crabby supposes there is nothing wrong with that in a capitalist economy where many lawmakers and citizens believe healthcare is a privilege and not a right. What she objects to is how the commercials try to make viewers believe that if you travel to their hospital, you will be cured of cancer.

Most of us, Crabby included, don't pay close attention to TV commercials – usually just enough to fit into the periphery of our minds while we think about something else and that's where the producers create their edge, counting on viewers to hear the music and not the lyric.

Of course, when you listen word-for-word, they don't use the word cure. But most of us get the general impression of becoming cancer-free that they intend us to hear.

You will have to trust Crabby on that or track down some commercials online for yourself because Crabby cannot bear to watch them anymore. She is all too aware these days, given her own cancer, how cruel it is to imply a cure when none can or should be promised.

A couple of facts: in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health, cancer is the number two killer after heart disease; just under 600,000 people a year die of cancer. During their lifetimes, about 40 percent of Americans will be told they have cancer.

Those are large numbers but that doesn't mean progress in treatment isn't being made. As The Economist reported in September,

”Cancer has become more survivable over recent decades owing to a host of advances...The survival rate for leukemia in America has almost doubled, from 34% in the mid-1970s to 63% in 2006-12...

“Caught early, many cancers are now highly treatable. Three out of four British men who received a prostate-cancer diagnosis in the early 1970s did not live for another ten years; today four out of five do. Other cancers, such as those of the lung, pancreas and brain, are harder to find and treat.”

In her heightened state of awareness, Crabby has also wondered if more TV dramas aren't making cancer a plot point. She first noticed what appeared to be an uptick over the summer and only this week started making note of incidences. Just a few days ago she jotted down this line from a show whose name she doesn't recall:

“He had pancreatic cancer. The doc said he'd be dead in a few months.”

Oof. Dear god in heaven, do we have to say such things so starkly? Crabby wonders.

Well, of course we do. Writers should use whatever knowledge and information they have to move the story forward and not pull punches while they're doing it.

But here's the difference: The drama writer is stating a a well-known fact. It reinforces belief in the veracity of the story making it more immersive and, the producers hope, bring more viewers leading to larger profit.

The commercial writer, on the other hand, is trying to fool viewers by implying that there is a happy outcome to cancer treatment every time. Also for profit.

Many of the cancer centers – profit and non-profit – are involved in important research that over time moves the needle forward on cancer discoveries and treatment. It's their media approach that makes them, at best, unkind and makes Crabby Old Lady queasy to think some viewers might believe what is being implied.

On the other hand, all this could be that Crabby has enough cancer in her own life right now to be able to tolerate what seems to her to be an excess of media references, some of which make cancer seem like a day in the park. It is not.