Aging in Place

And so this is where the actuarial rubber meets the road.

Baby boomers appeared of a sudden, historically. We swelled the ranks of the middle class. We demanded and got affordable housing just out of town, and cheap gas to get us back and forth to the places we spent our money.

Now we’ve grown up, grown old and grown to need a lot of new things that society is just now wondering how to offer to both the well-off and the not-so-well-off elders of our times.

Chief among these missing older-boomer things is a way for aging folks who have enjoyed those city edges and settled neighborhoods to stay in or near them when their physical, emotional and health needs become more demanding of the help of others in the context of a familiar and supportive setting for their final years.

Hence, “Aging in Place.” I attend a three hour meeting this morning at Hotel Floyd to discuss this complex issue, both at the personal and the community level. I rather dread being forced to look at the inevitable demands that come with inevitable decline and increasing dependency on community, neighbors and family.

But face it we must.

Some gathered resources from a quick overview this morning:

Age In Place | The National Aging In Place Council   http://www.ageinplace.org/

Aging in Place | SeniorLiving.com   https://www.seniorliving.com/aging-place

Aging in Place and Senior Resources   http://www.seniorresource.com/ageinpl.htm

Octopi From Outer Space

No Really. That is being posited as the source of the many-faceted oddness of the 8-tentacled creature that has been shoehorned into the mollusk group but really, in many ways, is such an outlier that it seems like it came from–OUT THERE!

A recent proposal in the scientific journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology posits that octopus DNA could have arrived on Earth in “an already coherent group of functioning genes within (say) cryopreserved and matrix protected fertilized octopus eggs.” And these eggs might have “arrived in icy bolides several hundred million years ago.”

Not everyone is aware that Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, suggested that life on Earth was the product of “directed Panspermia“–a seeding of the galaxies by an advanced being, also OUT THERE.

And admittedly really OUT THERE is where many see the credibility of this intriguing proposal. But I have lived through a time when many “impossibilities” have proven to ultimately have been taken as fact. Stay tuned!

Go Get Dumpa!

Regrettably, we have a long distance relationship with our grand daughters. Looking back a couple of decades from now, their memories of their mother’s parents will be sporadic visits to Goose Creek or on their home turf for a long weekend now and then.

But I suppose they will have some solid recollection of the things we paid attention to: clouds, birds, flowers, and anything living.

So when Ann and Taryn came across this roadkill on their coastal Carolina neighborhood walk last weekend, the 10-yr-old immediately said “Let’s go back and get Dumpa!” And they did. And we all walked six blocks back to the dead snake.

“Can I touch it?” she asked, needing permission from the nature-outdoors “authority” in her life, now and again.

From all such interactions over the years, the grands at least know that things have names; they have stories; and they have value in the grand scheme of things. And they maybe will keep their eyes open to details that some children don’t care to attend to or see and just don’t have the curiosity to care about.

The snake, by the way, stumped me. It had the head of a rat snake, but until seeing this “yellowish rat snake” (Elaphe obsoleta) I did not know that any had longitudinal stripes. Now I know. Thanks Taryn, for teaching the old dog a new trick.

Not Exactly Bored

I am plagued or blessed—depending on the way I squint my eyes when I reflect on the things that fill my vision at various moments on any day of the week—with a lot of interests.

I guess I just don’t want to miss anything before the lights go out.

One of the current spinning plates in the Vaudeville Act of Life is a resurrected interest in playing the piano—and this after giving away our old family upright that, in this moist location with drying woodstoves, would never hold a tuning.

Shortly thereafter, I had occasion to sit down at a nicely tuned old piano and was able to resurrect just enough of my ancient muscle memory to enjoy playing again, and not have that too terribly painful to listening ears.

And so, after two weeks of dinking around with a borrowed Yamaha keyboard, I ordered one this morning. Finally! An end to the empty hours when I can’t find a single thing to occupy my idle mind and hands–the Devil’s workshop, you know!

Oh—and there is Scout, our 13 month old canine with us now two weeks tomorrow. Ann entreated me to not post anything about the dog, since, for a few days there, we were not certain we were equal to the task of training a dog who had already had a former life we knew nothing of.

I think—think—we are past that uncertainty. So Scout, the pup, is another thing to stave off boredom. And more about that new hobby, soon.

THE LAST STRAW of ONE Lifetime

I pledge: to never again use a new plastic straw.

I made that commitment—regrettably and only after decades of knowing about the Great Garbage Patch in the Sargasso Sea, and since, about the other floating islands the size of Texas that consist of all the plastic waste that washes down our local creeks and rivers.

This article contains ample support for why each of us needs to think about the cradle-to-grave lifespan of everything we buy—and mindlessly use once and toss. Think about where that toss sends the plastic sizzles, cup lids, twist-ties, “free” pens from the bank, styrofoam Happy Meal containers, coffee cups….

So on our recent trip, I had multiple opportunities to JUST SAY NO. We did stop one place that used paper straws. Paper or plastic: take TWO. I saved a straw found in the glove box and will reuse it for thoes rare times when driving and drinking—a fountain drink from Subway.

You can purchase re-usable straws, too. I’m thinking if I need that one more bit of STUFF.

April 16, 2007 and the Problem of Pain

Deep Creek near Thomas Amis House and Inn near Rogersville TN. Click image to enlarge

This is a far more weighty subject than anyone should jump into casually. So forgive me for doing just that, in a way, with a brief morning post.

For so many families, the sting of this day remains sharp and deep. And many still feel the weight of the evil that befell so many innocents at Virginia Tech at the hand of an unbalanced shooter.

I happened across this essay/sermon by Philip Yancey, who shortly after the event, addressed the students and faculty on campus after having just suffered his own near-death pain and injury in an accident.

Where is God When it Hurts?

His understanding expressed in this text of how a universe exists in which God is both good and omnipotent AND evil and pain exist might be helpful to some who make the effort to read it through.

Christians ask the same question, but like Yancey, find sufficient understanding, though “through a glass, darkly” for this life. And with that understanding, they don’t shake their fist at God (like more than a few of our friends) for creating a world where free will leads to lies and deceit, anger and vengeance, suffering and injustice.

As C S Lewis describes such a world, a knife could be used to spread butter on bread, but should it be used to threaten injury, it would turn into a blade of grass.

We live in a consequential world. And in it, perhaps the most astounding fact is that love and beauty abounds. And life is precious. And something is most definitely broken here.

 

Saved by The MetaGenomics of Dirt

Below are some annotated bits from an article in Wired that describe the early successes in the battle to find weapons against the increasingly numerous and increasingly virulent microbes that are resistant to all known antibiotics.

We worry about the Russians or the Chinese or the North Koreans or Dr Strangeloves in power around the world, when all along, if the human population suffers the Malthusian reduction many fear, it will most likely come from invaders far too small to see.

HOW DIRT COULD SAVE HUMANITY FROM AN INFECTIOUS APOCALYPSE

The culprit, pan-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, is not the only superbug overpowering humanity’s defenses; it is part of a family known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. The carpabenems are drugs of last resort, and the CDC considers organisms that evade these antibiotics to be nightmare bacteria.

So it’s difficult to envision a future that resembles the pre-antibiotic past—an era of untreatable staph, strep, tuberculosis, leprosy, pneumonia, cholera, diphtheria, scarlet and puerperal fevers, dysentery, typhoid, meningitis, gas gangrene, and gonorrhea.

But that’s the future we are headed for.

This is not the coming plague. It’s already upon us, and it spells the end of medicine as we know it.

That’s why Brady and others turned to metagenomics—the study of all the genetic information extracted from a given environment.

Brady came to realize that he did not need to trek to some pristine or remote ecosystem to explore the world’s biodiversity. The requisite material for building new drugs could be found much closer to home.

The more we use antibiotics, the less effective they become; the more selective pressures we apply, the more likely resistant strains will emerge.

Think about this the next time you stand quietly in the park or in the forest or meadow near your house. Reach down and gather a teaspoon full of everyday soil in your palm, and realize there are likely to be some 3000 different microbes nestled in the hollow of your hand.

Here is enough genetic information to solve many of humanity’s problems–if only we ask the right questions. And move with sufficient speed to do the work in advance of the inevitable and urgent need.