Last Week’s Links

Leaving the Law Behind for My Dream Job

“Maurice Carlos Ruffin on finding the courage to pivot to fiction writing in mid-life.”

At age 41, Maurice Carlos Ruffin quit his job as a lawyer and published his first book. He admits that he made more money as a lawyer, “[b]ut the satisfaction I have now is more than worth it.”

I’m always inspired by stories of people who have the courage to, as Joseph Campbell put it, follow their bliss.

Not Home for the Holidays

People across the country are saying no more to holiday obligations. After the drain of the pandemic, some are choosing to skip the stress of travel or of spending hours around a table with people they don’t entirely enjoy. Even those who like their families are choosing to be apart, opting instead to be with friends who live close to them or to go on far-flung trips they’ve always wanted to take.

Almost two years after COVID hit, Tacoma’s senior centers remain closed. It’s taking a toll

This story pertains to my city, but it discusses a problem that hadn’t occurred to me. Perhaps the same thing has happened where you live?

Two Musicals on the Perils of Aging

Those of us who don’t live in New York City don’t have direct access to this type of entertainment, but just reading about them can give us food for thought. Do you think of your older-life as a musical? I certainly don’t think of mine that way.

COVID time warp

“Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.”

Do you remember how eagerly, a year ago, we thought about hanging up a new calendar for a new year that would undoubtedly erase the pain of 2020? And look how that turned out. Now, instead, we face another new year—but one of uncertainly about whether this pandemic will ever end. No wonder our sense of time has become so disjointed. 

This article looks at some research into the brain’s ability to perceive and predict time—“a fundamental feature of life.”

As U.S. Nears 800,000 Virus Deaths, 1 of Every 100 Older Americans Has Perished

Although people 65 and over are among the most vaccinated in the U.S., they “make up about three-quarters of the nation’s coronavirus death toll.”

“In both sharp and subtle ways, the pandemic has amplified an existing divide between older and younger Americans.”

2021 in Review: The Year in Vibes

“2021 feels as though it does and does not exist, a hangover from the depths of terror in 2020.”

Kyle Chayka reports that 2021 “has offered an unplaceable vibe.” It was supposed to be the year when we broke out of the funk caused by the COVID pandemic. Instead, we had new variants of the virus that made 2021 much like a continuation of 2020. 

“A year that never started can’t really end, either, and so the boundary of the New Year feels unreal as well. But the time did pass, and in looking back we have to recall grace where we can.” 

Here Chayka presents his “attempt to capture the year’s ambiguous nonverbal phenomena, both positive and negative.”

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Understanding Doomscrolling

The enduring pandemic continues to affect our lives. Here’s a look at doomscrolling, “the habit of scrolling through an excessive amount of news stories on the web and social media.” Find some explanations for why we do it and suggestions for controlling it.

‘Shaggin’ Wagons’: A Rolling History of Van Murals

This nostalgic article is worth a look just for the photos. Did you have a van like this?

This is 67: Lucy Sante Responds to The Oldster Magazine Questionnaire

I include this article not just for its content, but because it’s the first I’ve heard of Oldster Magazine.

Why I Started Surfing at 61

In the latest story of older adults taking up new activities, especially sports, Kerrie Houston Reightley describes her recently acquired passion for surfing.

The top 10 health and medicine breakthroughs of 2021

Popular Science reports on some good news as we approach the end of the second year of COVID-19.

Seattle’s Julian Priester helped create jazz as we know it. Now he’s teaching the art of listening

Taking up a sport isn’t the only way to pivot in later life. Here’s a local-to-me story of how a musician is using his talents to benefit his community.

These Are The Most Mispronounced Words Of 2021

Learn how to say correctly the most mispronounced words of 2021 in both the U.S. and the U.K.

Michael Nesmith, the Monkee for all seasons, dies at 78

“Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees”

After the group broke up in 1970, Nesmith moved on to a long and creative career, not only as a musician but as a writer, producer and director of films, author of several books, head of a media arts company and creator of a music video format that led to the creation of MTV.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Space travel’s surprising impact upon humanity

Most of us grew up with the space race. Here’s an article that look as space travel’s impact in terms of product development.

Farewell to Stephen Sondheim

“His legacy is one that will be debated and argued over as long as people care about musical theatre.”

Adam Gopnik remembers Stephen Sondheim, who died recently at the age of 91:

And yet a kind of Devil’s Theory case may be made, that it was Sondheim who was the most personal, the most truly confessional, of all the great American songwriters. For all that Sondheim spoke only of character and scene and story, when we listen to his music what we hear is not characters, not scenes, but a long, unwinding, timeless soliloquy, charting a psyche at once unimaginably large-souled and thwarted, with sensitivity and guardedness combined—a wounded talent reaching out beyond itself for love and meaning and, above all, for connection.

The original Gerber Baby is celebrating her 95th birthday

Click if you remember “Babies are our business. Our only business.”

Ann Turner Cook, the owner of the baby face that accompanied these ads, turns 95.

10 Tips for Happy Aging From a Feisty 80-Something

Some advice from an 80-something woman whose parents “were not role models for a vital old age.” She had to figure it out for herself, she tells us, and here shares some of what she’s learned.

Fate stomped all over Moby Grape, but Tacoma guitar god Jerry Miller is still rocking and rolling with the punches

what happened to Miller and his colleagues in Moby Grape — a band that combined the raw guitar punch of the Who with the soaring, lit-from-within harmonies of the Beach Boys — might be seen as a cautionary tale.

Something to read if you’re still thinking of getting the band back together.

Growing Old in High Style

A look at what retirement life can be like in New York City for folks who can afford it.

Mel Brooks Writes It All Down

“The comedian will publish his memoirs at the age of ninety-five, and is at work on ‘History of the World, Part II.’”

You think you hear gunshots in a public place. How should you respond?

We had air-raid drills in school.

It breaks my heart to realize that students today have to practice “lockdown” and “active shooter” scenarios. But some of the same situations can occur in other public places such as shopping malls. For those of us who didn’t grow up with this education, here’s some advice. 

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Who Says You Can’t Form Close Friendships After 60?

I’m quite an introvert, so solitude is pretty important to me. Nonetheless, I found the biggest challenge of retirement was making new friends when we moved from where we had spent more than 40 years of our lives, in the midwest, to the Pacific Northwest. 

In this article painter and writer Brahna Yassky has some advice on making new friends as an older adult: “Do what you love to do in a situation where other people are doing the same, from artistic endeavors to participating in a sport. Teach a class in something you know well; take a class in something you don’t know. The important thing is to stay connected . . . .”

How Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem became Lucy and Desi for ‘Being the Ricardos’

Here’s some preparation for the movie Being the Ricardos, which opens December 10 in theaters and December 21 on Amazon Prime Video.

How to Exercise With Chronic Pain

Evidence from research over the past few decades has shown that exercise helps relieve chronic pain, writes Gretchen Reynolds:

But finding the best activities to help you deal with your particular pain may require mixing and matching exercise options, asking the right questions about why you hurt afterward and finding the right trainer or physical therapist.

In addition to tips on how to find out what works best for you, the article includes links to other pieces on chronic pain.

When Howard Johnson’s Was America’s Home Away From Home

Do you remember when the orange roofs, fried clams, and 28 flavors of ice cream ruled the expanding network of roadways in the U.S. in the mid-twentieth century? Explore the history of Howard Johnson’s here.

Philip Margo of the Tokens, Who Sang of a Snoozing Lion, Dies at 79

“His baritone contributed to the 1961 hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which became one of the most recognizable American pop songs ever.”

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the number of obituaries of the musicians whose music I grew up with are appearing.

Older people’s resilience during pandemic focus of $9 million grant

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have received a five-year, $9.1 million grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study resilience in older adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Older adults have been hit with a double whammy. On the one hand, they’ve had to take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19 infection, such as staying away from other people. On the other hand, the stresses associated with social isolation can cause cognitive problems and contribute to anxiety and depression.”

At age 9, best friends separated fleeing the Nazis. Now, 82 years later, they finally hugged again.

Here’s another one of those happy stories that I love so much.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Graeme Edge, Drummer and Co-Founder of the Moody Blues, Dies at 80

“Many of their songs incorporated his spoken-word poetry, making them pioneers in the prog-rock movement of the late-1960s and ’70s.”

The Moody Blues are probably best remembered for “Nights in White Satin” (1967), a darkly ruminative song that ends, in the version included on their album “Days of Future Passed,” with “Late Lament,” written by Mr. Edge and read by the keyboardist Mike Pinder. (It was missing from the shorter version released for radio.)

The New Retirement: How Golden Girls are Redefining the Golden Years

The golden years are getting a makeover. Old-school thinking about retirement is being called out, in many cases led by women who are challenging the status quo. We’re the same women who broke glass ceilings and forged new definitions of work-family balance and partnership. We’re the same women creating new role models as business owners and leaders proving age is not a limiting factor.

Cindy Morgan-Jaffe, “a nationally certified money, life and recovery coach,” explains what the redefinition of retirement by these women will look like.

This tribe helped the Pilgrims survive for their first Thanksgiving. They still regret it 400 years later.

“Long marginalized and misrepresented in U.S. history, the Wampanoags are bracing for the 400th anniversary of the first Pilgrim Thanksgiving in 1621.”

Here’s an illustration of how history has marginalized native peoples and rewritten events to produce a glowing, aggrandizing national narrative.

If history is a guide, schools will start requiring COVID vaccines

An examination of the history of vaccination mandates for schools, in comic form.

The school that pioneered polio shots will give kids the coronavirus vaccine, too

Jackie Lonergan, age 75, recalls when she and other second graders at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, VA, received their polio shots on April 26, 1954—“the very first children in the country to receive the polio vaccine as part of a massive national trial to test the immunization before offering it to the general public.”

Recently First lady Jill Biden and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy were at Franklin Sherman “to help launch another mass pediatric vaccination campaign — this one aimed at protecting children ages 5 to 11 from covid-19.”

A Brief History of the Crockpot on its 50th Anniversary

The Rival Crockpot made its debut in 1971 at a housewares show in Chicago.

I’m willing to bet most of us had one of these in our kitchens, and probably many of us still do. But when I searched a couple of sites for free images, the only photos I could find for either “crockpot” or “slow cooker” were pictures on an Insta-Pot. I wish I still had my avocado-green crockpot—trendy at the time—to photograph, but it has been replaced by an Insta-Pot since we moved into a retirement community and had to downsize.

Did Covid Change How We Dream?

“All around the world, the pandemic provoked strange nocturnal visions. Can they help shed light on the age-old question of why we dream at all?”

Brooke Jarvis takes a deep dive into this topic in the New York Times Magazine. You can listen to the article if you’d prefer that to reading.

Follett’s “Never” Shines With the Horrific Brilliance of a Nuclear Bomb

“Now, at age 72, he has given us a book that could be his most important.”

“Follett has updated the nuclear-disaster narrative for these crazier, more complex times. Never should scare the you-know-what out of you,” writes Dennis Hetzel.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Medicare Advantage is cheaper for a reason — beware

“There is no clear-cut right or wrong choice. The key is to make an informed choice,” writes Carla Fried. I remember feeling absolutely overwhelmed by having to make the choice when signing up for Medicare (in the U.S.). Here’s some information to help you make an informed choice.

Before signing up for Medicare I took an explanatory class at the local community college. It offered the necessary basic information, including definitions of key terms, to help me understand everything else. But choosing appropriate plans was still an enormous project. I recommend that you look for some classes or workshops at a community college or community center near you and that you take full advantage of your 6-month sign-up period.

How the TV Dinner Revolutionized American Life

I wouldn’t touch one of these now, but I do enjoy reading the history of items like this, which “revolutionized middle-class life in the mid-20th century–especially the lives of the women who were expected to put dinner on the table.”

Can you reduce your Alzheimer’s risk with diet and behavior? It’s not that simple

As with all articles of this type, digest the information but be sure to consult other sources as well, especially your own health-care providers.

‘Vax’ is Oxford English Dictionary publisher’s 2021 Word of the Year

Last week we had Merriam-Webster’s new additions to its dictionary. This month we get the story on the Oxford English Dictionary.

A woman convinced her husband that he had Alzheimer’s. Police say she stole $600,000 from him over time.

I sure hate to see reports of incidents like this, but it’s probably good for us, as well as families and caregivers, to be aware of how this can happen.

Burn, baby, burn: the new science of metabolism

Attach the same caveat—“be sure to consult other sources as well, especially your own health-care providers”—to this as to the previous article about diet. In fact, attach the caveat to the article below as well. 

This is an informative article about how science’s understanding of how metabolism works is evolving, including research published this summer that challenges previously accepted wisdom about how aging affects metabolism.

How to maintain a healthy brain

Kailas Roberts, an Australian psychiatrist and specialist in brain health, has some advice on not only how to avoid dementia, but also “optimising brain function throughout your lifespan.”

Richard M. Ohmann, 90, Dies; Brought Radical Politics to College English

“Inspired by the antiwar movement of the 1960s, he helped transform humanities by making room for subjects like women’s studies and Marxist criticism.”

In December 1968 Richard M. Ohmann orchestrated the passage of antiwar resolutions at the annual conference of the Modern Language Association. “ The very notion that a scholarly organization should take a stand on nonacademic issues was practically unheard-of.”

Ohmann was ahead of his time with insights that are in the news today:

starting in the 1970s, Dr. Ohmann turned his gaze inward, writing a series of books exposing what he saw as the complicity of higher education, and in particular the study of English literature, in the perpetuation of class, gender and racial hierarchies.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

You’re not ‘fully vaccinated.’ You never will be.

The phrase fully vaccinated has both annoyed and intrigued since I first heard it. In some ways it makes no sense, although I understand its origin and even the necessity for it. But surely we can come up with something better.

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. So far, 1 in 7 have gotten a booster shot of vaccine

That 1 in 7 includes both my husband and me:

Woman with sleeve rolled up, syringe piercing the skin.

How Pickleball Won Over Everyone From Leonardo DiCaprio to Your Grandparents

Not long after we moved into a retirement community in Tacoma, WA, the obituary of one of the lovely friends we were lucky enough to make included the tidbit that he had contributed to the invention of pickleball. A brush with fame . . .

One of the Most Egregious Ripoffs in the History of Science

The feminist in me has been resentful ever since I learned how Rosalind Franklin has been left out of the story of the discovery of DNA.

The last time America broke apart: How author Kevin Boyle retold the 1960s

A review of the recent book The Shattering: America in the 1960s by Kevin Boyle. The book opens with a photograph of a group of men and women in front of a bungalow:

The nostalgic setup — July 4, 1961, on a “rising middle class” block in Chicago — is deliberate. But “The Shattering,” which intertwines the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and the sexual revolution, is no saccharine account. Boyle uses the story of Ed and Stella Cahill, the owners of that bungalow, to frame the book, showing readers how much had been gained by people like them — a prosperity built on inequality — and how their world would be shattered by the ‘60s.

Super troupers! Abba on fame, divorce, ageing backwards – and why they’ve returned to rescue 2021

Not only was there a new album, Voyage, the first in 40 years: 10 new songs that brought the original band together in the studio for the first time since a split that had been precipitated by the couples in the band divorcing. Not only that, but there was to be a new “immersive live experience”, in a bespoke stadium in London – nobody seemed to have noticed the planning application being published online – featuring futuristic de-aged “Abbatars” playing a potentially never-ending series of gigs. In the depths of a miserable year, it seemed, Abba were coming to rescue 2021.

Merriam-Webster nods to pandemic by adding ‘ghost kitchen’ and ‘curbside pickup’

“Now, so many of the catchphrases we got to know while eating in the COVID era are making their way into the firmament of the lexicon.”

It’s Never Too Late to Climb That Mountain

“Dierdre Wolownick, whose son, Alex Honnold, is one of the world’s top rock climbers, ascended Yosemite’s El Capitan to celebrate her 70th birthday.”

I feel that I should offer a disclaimer here: Although I love collecting stories like this, stories of how older adults are stomping all over the stereotypes of aging, you won’t find me climbing any mountains or winning any weight-lifting competitions. But I admire those who do.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

What new research says about adding healthy years to your life

Matt Fuchs takes a look at “recent research [that] points to interventions in diet, exercise and mental outlook that could slow down aging and age-related diseases – without risky biohacks such as unproven gene therapies.”

Australian golfer makes hole-in-one just shy of 100th birthday

The story of Hugh Brown of Australia, who “made a hole-in-one on the 161-yard par-3 hole, just two months shy of his 100th birthday.”

7 Books About Older Women Behaving Badly

In my search for literature that presents older adult characters, particularly older women, who often feel themselves becoming invisible in a culture that fetishizes and focuses on youth, I came upon this list. Amy Lee Lillard presents “seven books [that] celebrate the older woman that defies logic and bias. They won’t go quietly into oblivion. They won’t disappear, and in fact, insist on being seen. Even if that involves letting their anger out. Even if it involves violence.”

Some—or perhaps all—of these books may not be your reading cup of tea, but I feel validated just knowing that some authors are still treating older women like functioning adults.

Parents were fine with sweeping school vaccination mandates five decades ago – but COVID-19 may be a different story

I live in a retirement community, and one topic of conversation that has come up quite a few times is “Nobody complained about their kids getting polio shots at school back in the 1950s.”

Here James Colgrove, professor of sociomedical sciences at Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, discusses how times are now different: “As a public health historian who studies the evolution of vaccination policies, I see stark differences between the current debates over COVID-19 vaccination and the public response to previous mandates.”

The Friendship That Shapes Atlanta Baseball

If, like me, you’re a long-time baseball fan, you’ll probably appreciate this story involving the Atlanta Braves as much as I did. It’s about a lot more than just baseball.

Writing “Eleanor Rigby”

“How one of the Beatles’ greatest songs came to be.”

An informative reminiscence by Paul McCartney.

Seniors decry age bias, say they feel devalued when interacting with health care providers

“The assumption that all older people are frail and helpless is a common, incorrect stereotype.”

Judith Graham of Kaiser Health News reports on “ageism in health care settings, a long-standing problem that’s getting new attention during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than half a million Americans age 65 and older.”

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Seattle powerlifter, 76, wants you to know it’s not too late to get started

A recent ascent of a steep, rocky hill convinced me that I need to make an effort to strengthen my legs and knees. Fortunately, I found some encouragement in this article.

These Writers Over 80 Are Still Going Strong

Tom Beer writes, “can we pause and pay tribute to the older writers still producing work into their 80s and even their 90s? I ask because I am currently reading Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket . . ., a career-spanning collection of stories by Hilma Wolitzer, age 91.”

Other writers he mentions who are still going strong include Wole Soyinka (age 87), Cynthia Oaick (93), Jerome Charyn, Orville Schell, and Diane Johnson.

Jamie Lee Curtis thinks cosmetic procedures are ‘wiping out a generation of beauty’

The current trend of fillers and procedures, and this obsession with filtering, and the things that we do to adjust our appearance on Zoom are wiping out generations of beauty,” she added. “Once you mess with your face, you can’t get it back.”

James Taylor: “All music is reiteration… We just pick stuff up and use it again. I mean, there are just 12 notes”

A bit of history on the musical icon whose “self-titled debut album was released in 1968 on the Beatles’ Apple Records; he was the first outside artist signed to the label.”

7 Early Warning Signs of Dementia You Shouldn’t Ignore

Dementia isn’t actually a disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s a catch-all term for changes in the brain that cause a loss of functioning that interferes with daily life. Dementia can diminish focus, the ability to pay attention, language skills, problem-solving and visual perception. It also can make it difficult for a person to control his or her emotions and lead to personality changes.

This article contains some information on the various forms of dementia as well as the warning signs to be aware of and how to find help.

Tina Turner’s Swiss Chateau Retirement Is Going Dreamily, Thanks for Asking

“As the Tony-winning Broadway musical about her life returns to the stage, the legendary performer reflects on her career in a new interview: ‘Recently Cher came to visit. We gossiped and laughed a lot.’”

See Tina Turner perform at Harvard Stadium back in 1970 was one of the highlights of my coming-of-age time. In this email interview Yohana Desta asks Turner about her current life: “It’s a blissful life, one that Turner worked incredibly hard to earn.”

The Personality Trait Linked To Living Longer

I feel a certain vindication in reporting these study results. All my life people have been ribbing me about my attention—some call it obsessive—to details. I’m the one who always checks every drawer and shelf at least twice before leaving a hotel to ensure that nothing will get left behind. I’m the one who checks every night at bed time that the kitchen stove has been turned off.

And here’s my payoff: “Persistent and conscientious people” tend to live the longest.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

This French Pianist Has Been Playing For 102 Years And Just Released A New Album

Eleanor Beardsley visits with French pianist Colette Maze.

Maze, born on June 16, 1914, says her mother was severe and unloving. So she turned to music for the affection she lacked at home.

“I always preferred composers who gave me tenderness,” she says. “Like [Robert] Schumann and [Claude] Debussy. Music is an affective language, a poetic language. In music there is everything — nature, emotion, love, revolt, dreams; it’s like a spiritual food.”

At 101, she’s still hauling lobsters with no plans to stop

“The oldest lobster fisher in the state and possibly the oldest one in the world, [Virginia] Oliver still faithfully tends to her traps off Rockland, Maine, with her 78-year-old son Max.”

I have a personal interest in this story. My in-laws grew up in Rockland, Maine. If they were alive today, they’d be 107 and 108. I wonder if they would have known Virginia Oliver.

Why You Need to Forget Stuff

“Forgetting names and faces can be annoying—but it’s critical for our brains to function at their best, a new book argues.”

We joke, and then worry, when we notice ourselves beginning to forget names and such things. This article discusses a new book, Forgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering, by Scott Small, “who studies and treats Alzheimer’s disease at Columbia University.” Small believes that “some amount of forgetfulness is critical for our minds and relationships to function at their best.”

For older adults, isolation can lead to overwhelming loneliness

Researchers have known for quite some time now that older adults are vulnerable to loneliness as their contact with family and friends decreases because of deaths and their own diminishing mobility. This problem was heightened during pandemic isolation:

The effects of social isolation during the pandemic have hit all ages — some studies, for example, show teens have fared worse than other groups — but older adults already were a population vulnerable to loneliness. And for many, the pandemic was the first time they felt deep, sustained loneliness. It’s a feeling that can impact physical health, creating greater risk for some illnesses and hospitalizations; and mental health, potentially exacerbating symptoms of or leading to clinical disorders such as depression.

Here’s a report from The Mental Health Project, a Seattle Times initiative focused on covering mental and behavioral health issues. 

At risk of dementia? Brain scan shows when you might develop symptoms, study says

This article reports on research published recently in the journal Neurology that may help “researchers determine an estimated timeline of symptom onset” of dementia. 

While some people may not want to know when they’ll start to forget friends’ names or have difficulty calculating change at the grocery store, others, particularly those with genetic predispositions for dementia, could benefit from having time to prepare for the inevitable changes.

What Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health

Even before I got to be one myself, I noticed that older adults sometimes seem obsessed with the state of their intestines. So OK, I’m just putting this article out there.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

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