Last Week’s Links

Margaret Hamilton’s sister shares her memories as Seattle’s seniors celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

Seattle resident Katherine Heafield is the younger sister of Margaret Hamilton, who developed the flight software for the Apollo program. She was one of many who gathered at a moon landing commemoration party at the Greenwood Senior Center on Friday to reminisce.

Immune cells invade aging brains, disrupt new nerve cell formation

Stanford researchers have found intrusive immune cells in a place in the brains of humans and older mice where new nerve cells are born. The intruders appear to impair nerve cell generation.

Richard Russo: On the Moral Power of Regret

One of the most memorable novels I’ve ever read is Richard Russo’s Empire Falls (2001). When I came across this essay by Russo, I knew I had to stop and take the time to settle in with it. I hope you learn from it as much as I did.

Can Alzheimer’s be stopped? Five lifestyle behaviors are key, new research suggests

Recently researchers reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference that people—even those with a genetic risk for dementia—may be able to stave off cognitive decline by following at least four of these five lifestyle behaviors:

  • not smoking  
  • exercising at a moderate to vigorous level for at least 150 minutes a week
  •  consuming a brain-supporting diet  
  • consuming only light to moderate amounts of alcohol  
  • engaging in cognitive activities

The article includes suggestions for healthy eating.

ON THE LONGEVITY OF ADRIENNE RICH

Holly Genovese wonders why Adrienne Rich “has stayed relevant when other writers of the ’70s feminist movements have not.”

But I think, if I could guess, that Rich’s continuous appeal over the last 50 years is more about her absolute certainty that politics and art were intrinsically linked, that art was meaningless without political consciousness, that nothing could exist within a vacuum, and that choosing not to take a stand was in fact choosing the side of the oppressor.

And Rich continues to be relevant because “In the last few years, since the election of Donald Trump, it has become impossible not to be political. To be apolitical is to support the growth of fascism, white nationalism, and the downfall of the republic.”

As always, the personal is political.

A hospital introduced a robot to help nurses. They didn’t expect it to be so popular

In the face of a long-term nursing shortage, the Austin-based company Diligent Robotics has developed a robot to reduce nurses’ work load by performing tasks “that don’t involve interacting with patients, like running errands around the floor or dropping off specimens for analysis at a lab.” 

But the company was unprepared for one result of the robotic trial run:

the Diligent team was surprised to find that patients were fascinated by the robot and wanted to interact with it during their beta trials. Patients ended up being so infatuated with Moxi that they would ask for selfies with the robot; one child even sent Diligent Robotics a letter asking where Moxi lived.

The robot was so popular that the Diligent team programmed superfluous activities for Moxi to do once an hour so that the robot would wander around the floor and flash heart eyes at people.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

A sampling of some of the most interesting items that caught my eye over the last week.

KODAK GOT THE DIGITAL PICTURE TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

Here’s an interesting article on how Kodak, author of all those famous “Kodak moments,” missed the boat by refusing to accept and adapt to the advent of digital photography.

6 EASY HOW-TO COMPUTER BOOKS FOR NEW TECH USERS

Two books on this list are aimed specifically at us older folks:

  • Computers for Seniors: Email, Internet, Photos, and More in 14 Easy Lessons by Chris Ewin, Carrie Ewin, and Cheryl Ewin
  • Computers for Seniors For Dummies by Nancy C. Muir 

Don’t let the title of that second one get your goat. The For Dummies series is well known and even somewhat loved. When you need information on a subject you know absolutely nothing about, the For Dummies guide is often a good place to start.

Study: Retirees lose by taking Social Security at wrong time

Sarah Skidmore Sell reports for The Associated Press on a new study revealing that many older Americans aren’t maximizing their retirement income from Social Security, which “accounts for about one-third of all income annually received by U.S. retirees.” The study concludes that “optimizing Social Security would improve the lives of millions of retirees,” but there is very little information here about how individuals can figure this out for themselves.

HOW SMART TECH IS HELPING DOCTORS BATTLE DEMENTIA

Mention “dementia research” and most people will probably think of scientists looking for biomedical ways to diagnose, treat and eventually cure degenerative brain diseases. But there is also a burgeoning research program that aims to improve care for the increasing numbers of people living with dementia — estimated at 850,000 in the United Kingdom and 50 million worldwide.

Half of women over 40 say older women in fiction are clichés, survey finds

A recent survey by Gransnet, the UK’s biggest social media site for older people, and publisher HQ (HarperCollins) found that 51% of women over 40 “feel older women in fiction books tend to fall into clichéd roles.” Here are some of the most interest findings from the survey:

  • 47% of women over 40 say there are not enough books about middle-aged or older women.
  •  “when older characters do appear in fiction, half of women (50%) say they’ve seen them being portrayed as baffled by smartphones, computers or the internet – and think it’s insulting.”
  • 75% buy their books online.

As a result of the survey findings, Gransnet and HQ are launching a fiction writing competition for women writers over age 40. The article contains more information on both the survey and the writing competition. 

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

In preparing this post for publication, I realize that all these pieces revolve around remembrance.

On the Intoxicating Power of Forgetting Where You Came From

In this excerpt from the book A Primer for Forgetting: Getting Past the Past, author Lewis Hyde “explores the egoism of memory and self-making.” Hyde tells an anecdote about Larry Rosenberg, a teacher from the Insight Meditation Center in Cambridge, Massa­chusetts, visiting the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a preserved building much like the one Rosenberg grew up in. What most caught my eye was this:

Rosenberg told this story in the context of a talk about a distinction he draws from Buddhist teaching between “real time” and “psychological time.” With real time, we do not dwell on (or dwell in) the past or the future but simply note them (saying, “I grew up in New York” or “When I retire I’m going to Florida,” and so on). With psychological time, on the other hand, past and future take over the present; we live in them, identifying with their pleasures and pains. As the Bud­dhists say, we “make self” out of them (as I might make self out of my pride in publishing a book or my shame over having flunked a chemistry exam).

This distinction between these two kinds of time describes the difference between mere facts, such as date of birth, and those experiences that we incorporate into our life story, the narrative of personal events we build up over time to help us make sense of the world and our unique place in it.

Where Are All the Books About Menopause?

Having undergone a hysterectomy at age 44, Sarah Manguso ponders how “For women, aging is framed as a series of losses—of fertility, of sexuality, of beauty. But it can be a liberation, too.”

The Clarks Originals You Didn’t Even Know You Needed (Until Now)

This is not an advertisement from me (although it is an endorsement from Esquire) but rather a reminiscence. 

Do you remember Clark Wallabees?

Clark Wallabee

First debuted in 1967, the Wallabee has more than a half-century of history behind it. Originally based on a German-designed moccasin, the style didn’t catch on in Clarks’ native Britain initially. But it enjoyed success in North America, and it was a runaway hit in Jamaica. See, Jamaican “rude boys” had already adopted the desert boot—which was launched in 1950—as part of their de facto uniform, and the associated criminal activity made the footwear a target for police. When Wallees came onto the scene, they were immediately brought into the fold.

The article goes on to explain that Wallabees became popular in the U.S. because of “the influx of Jamaican immigrants to New York in the ’80s.”

I bought my Wallabees in the early 1970s, on a trip to San Francisco. I had to learn not to tie them tightly, like sneakers, but more loosely to allow for the shoes’ lower fit on the foot. Once I learned that trick, I wore them all around San Francisco (although I did not wear accompanying flowers in my hair) and for a long time afterwards. 

I hadn’t thought about Wallabees for a long time. What a pleasant surprise to see them recommended as an acceptable fashion accessory for young adult males.

Apollo 11 at 50: Space program transfixed Americans, changed pop culture

UPI asserts that humans’ first walk on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on July 20, 1969, was the culmination of a craze that since 1961 “had influenced pop culture — entertainment, architecture, fashion, consumer goods and language.”

Words linked to space were everywhere, with American space explorers called astronauts and the Russian counterparts called cosmonauts. People found ways to use “liftoff,” “launch” and “rendezvous” for purposes other than space talk. And phrases “space cadet,” “it’s not rocket science” and “spaced out” became commonplace.

The article goes on to list how the space craze’s influence showed up in all kinds of ways: toys, candy, cars, television, movies, music, fashion, architecture, Disney World (Florida). In Houston, where the astronauts trained, the baseball team the Colt 45s was renamed the Astros. They soon had a new indoor home, the Astrodome, which opened in 1962.

The moon landing was “a demonstration of what the human species could achieve,” but in the next five to six years the “feel-good moments were gone,” replaced by “the 1-2 punch of Watergate and the end of the Vietnam War.”

How about you?

Do you remember Clark Wallabees, the moon landing, the Astrodome, or menopause?

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Here are some of the more interesting articles from around the web that caught my interest over the last week.

A 40-Something Looks Back at ‘Thirtysomething’

As a teenager, a writer secretly viewed the ABC drama in her basement, trying to learn about marriage. Rewatching it now, she is surprised at the actual lessons she’d absorbed.

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life

BookBrowse offers notes and reviews of this newly released book by Louise Aronson.

Can You Reshape Your Brain’s Response To Pain?

This article discusses the current understanding of how trauma, especially childhood trauma, can cause physical pain that may continue throughout one’s life. A new form of therapy, emotional awareness and expression therapy (EAET), has been shown in a small study to help patients alleviate their chronic pain. According to “Pain Management Best Practices,” a report published in May from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Research indicates that EAET has a positive impact on pain intensity, pain interference, and depressive symptoms.”  

The article focuses on how the treatment’s emphasis on recognizing and understanding childhood emotional trauma can help adults who experience the widespread chronic pain of fibromyalgia. One need not have lived through horrific childhood experiences such as accidents or school shootings. Neuroscientists now recognize that prolonged exposure to verbal and emotional trauma (such as bullying or humiliation by others, particularly adults) can be as damaging as physical abuse.

New payroll tax is pioneering experiment to help Washington state seniors age at home

Nearly a decade after federal officials discarded a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would have provided Americans with long-term care insurance benefits, two states — Washington and Hawaii — are experimenting with taxpayer-funded plans to help older residents remain in their homes.

Becoming a Digital Grandparent

Paula Span, a grandmother herself, assures us that engaging in interactive screen chats with grandchildren doesn’t violate the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations of limiting children’s screen time. Those guidelines “exempt video chat, which is inherently interactive and doesn’t involve the same sped-up pace, overstimulation or passivity as, say, watching cartoons.”

The Many, Tangled American Definitions of Socialism

I’ve often thought that no self-proclaimed socialist will have a shot at being elected president of the U.S. until after all of us born at the beginning of the Baby Boomer era have died. After all, we remember what that second S in U.S.S.R. stood for.

the historian John Gurda would like to add some perspective to how we think about socialism. The term has been “ground into the dust over the years,” he told me, when we met in his home town of Milwaukee, and his aim is to rehabilitate it. “Part of my self-assigned role is to provide some of the context, the nuance, where it makes sense again. Because it’s the straw man, it’s the boogeyman for an awful lot of people.”

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Pavarotti Captured the Sublime and Vulgar Sides of Opera

Even if you’re not interested in opera, you might find this article informative about Ron Howard’s new documentary film about Luciano Pavarotti.

Opera fans hold on to his 1960s and ’70s glory days, when his sunny voice was in its prime . . . and he challenged himself in corners of the bel canto repertory. The broader public is likelier to remember the cheesy charity concerts and duets with Bono, the guilty “Three Tenors” pleasure with a white handkerchief clutched in his hand and endless high C’s.

According to this article, Pavarotti “never learned to read music.”

Storytelling Helps Hospital Staff Learn About The Person, Not Just The Patient

VA hospitals are pioneering the use of storytelling to strengthen the relationships patients have with doctors and nurses. With more information about patients, there may be some health benefits.

The medical profession is catching on to the notion that you can’t really know people until you know their life stories.

Seattle man finds cache of historical photos by famed crime photographer Weegee in his kitchen cabinet

Check those attics, basements, garages, and kitchen cabinets, folks!

Stonewall: The Making of a Monument

Ever since the 1969 riots on the streets outside New York City’s Stonewall Inn, L.G.B.T.Q. communities have gathered there to express their joy, their anger, their pain and their power.

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Donating Your Body to Science

Organ donation is one way of leaving your body to science. But this article discusses how to donate your entire body and how whole bodies (cadavers) are used to further scientific study.

Deadly Falls in Older Americans Are Rising. Here’s How to Prevent Them

The rate of deaths after falls is rising for people over 75, a new study shows. But falls are avoidable for most seniors. We have some tips.

The Man Who Told America the Truth About D-Day

Ernie Pyle’s dispatches offered comfort to readers back home. Then the Normandy landings — 75 years ago this week — changed his perspective on the war’s costs

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Antique Car

We saw this beauty in a parking lot over the weekend. We are not car buffs at all, but this one has been so beautifully and lovingly restored that it was impossible not to admire it.

According to the hood ornament, it’s a Packard 8. The front end is long because it houses all eight cylinders in a line, called a straight eight. According to Wikipedia, Packard produced the Packard 8 between 1930 and 1938.

If you can add any more information, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. And thanks.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Why Your Brain Hates Other People

This article, originally published in 2017, looks at evidence that suggests our inclination to “otherize” people—to separate people into categories of us vs. them—may be hardwired into our brains. But I especially like the subtitle: “And how to make it think differently.”

Anne Frank: the real story of the girl behind the diary

Boisterous, popular, self-aware: a new collection of all Frank’s known writing brings her into sharp focus, says the Costa-winning biographer.

This article is by Bart van Es, author of Anne Frank: The Collected Works.

David Milch’s Third Act

Despite what dementia has stolen from the cerebral creator of “Deadwood,” it has given his work a new sense of urgency.

Mark Singer offers a profile of and reports on conversations with David Milch.

10,000 Steps A Day? How Many You Really Need To Boost Longevity

A report from NPR:

Many pedometers and fitness tracking apps set a baseline goal of taking 10,000 steps a day. It’s a nice, big round number — with zero basis in science. A recent study of older women found significant health benefits even below 5,000 steps — and no added benefit above 7,500.

Asking our readers about their hometowns brought back nostalgic memories and emotions — some bitter, some sweet

WHEN I WROTE over the holidays about my mixed feelings about my hometown, I asked you to submit reflections on your relationship to your own hometowns. Nearly 100 of you responded, with a depth of insight, searching, humor, pride and pain that left my head spinning.

Read some of the responses about hometowns, complete with an interactive map.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

What memories about your hometown does this article bring up?

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown