Re: Things To Look Forward To

1

3 is so very true. I honestly think that cutting the number of hospital acquired infections would significantly reduce health care costs. It should be relatively simple to fix too.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 12:48 PM
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they should re-label "septic infections" "going to the hospital."

Or, given the ratio (eyeballed) of septiic deaths in age group to whatever led the age group, "getting old."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 12:52 PM
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It should be relatively simple to fix too.

Why do you think that?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 12:54 PM
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Since "Unintentional Injury" appears to be the leading cause of death up until 45-54, I'd say our expiration date is right around there. Beware, oldsters.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 12:54 PM
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Ned, I can't speak for Bg, but handwashing is one very small step that can significantly reduce hospital infection rates. We're getting there -- witness the number of hand-disinfectant-dispensers mounted on the walls at hospitals -- but we're not there yet by any means.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 1:00 PM
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I'm guessing "unintentional injury" includes car accidents

I wonder if deaths from the war are included anywhere in this.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 1:14 PM
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Thoughts upon looking at that:
1) More suicides than homicides in my age group.
2) Young people who go with catastrophic insurance are generally making a wise financial decision.
3) Fuck, everything starts to break down at three score and ten, doesn't it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 1:16 PM
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Three score and five.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 1:19 PM
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archaic numeric nomenclature skillz break down much earlier


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 1:21 PM
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8: Potato, potahto.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 1:24 PM
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Cause of death: Eating a fish larger than yourself


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 1:27 PM
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I wonder if deaths from the war are included anywhere in this.

Not clear. It's 2004 data; they certainly could be.

That brings to mind the decision made in the FBI stats for 2001. The statisticians decided not to include the Sept. 11 victims in the homicide calculations, which struck me as an impressively sane choice. (Nothing to be gained by doing that, and a lot of year-by-year trend analysis to be disrupted.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 1:30 PM
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I'm trying to figure out if that fish swallowed that other one recently, or if it swallowed it aweeks ago, and the eaten fish was growing by eating what the other fish was swallowing


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 2:32 PM
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It would be interesting to see how much how much life it drains to have undiagnosed/subclinincal/untreated diseases.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 2:33 PM
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It should be relatively simple to fix too.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 2:39 PM
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It should be relatively simple to fix too.

Shouldn't it just? But we've got an epidemic of it over here and nobody can sort it (Secret fact: it's largely due to unreasonable targets imposed on cleaning staff who aren't allowed the time to do their job properly, or trained to in the first instance, but nobody's allowed to point this out because it's politically inconvenient.)

Most common bacteria resident in hospitals have evolved antibiotic resistant strains by now. Stop farmers putting pints of antibiotics in cattle feed, and we might have something to work with.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 2:40 PM
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Sorry, pissed.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 2:41 PM
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In the British or American sense?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 2:50 PM
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17: In the USAn or the UKoGBaNIan sense?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 2:51 PM
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Damn you, teo!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 2:51 PM
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Heh.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 2:52 PM
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OFE, I don't doubt that cleaning is a big part of it. But I think handwashing technique is pretty big too. Have you ever watched health-care professionals wash their hands?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 2:54 PM
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Witt, this is what I mean about training. They aren't taught to wash right.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 2:57 PM
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I completely misunderstood you, then. I thought you were talking about the housekeeping staff, which in my experience is emptying trashcans (supposedly keeping "biological hazard" waste separate from "ordinary" waste), mopping floors, removing dirty laundry etc.

In contrast, I was talking about doctors, nurses, and other staff who are expected to be touching the patient and their general levels of conscientiousness regarding washing their own hands thoroughly before touching a patient.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 3:01 PM
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Witt - No, then I misunderstood you. Apologies. This is yet another issue then? I know it is a problem at the level of care assistants in nursing homes etc.; I hadn't realised it was a problem with nurses and doctors as well.

Aaaarrrgh!!!!! I'm going off on me holidays.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 3:07 PM
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OFE turns into a pirate when he's pissed! Neat!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 3:11 PM
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25: Sadly so. A friend was hospitalized for some time following extensive abdominal surgery and was damn near hysterical with having to constantly yell at the nurses and doctors to please wash and/or sanitize their hands before attempting to check the surgical wound. Scary.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 3:23 PM
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It's interesting to see that if you make it through the cancer zone (say, 35-64), it's your heart that gets you.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 3:41 PM
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Maybe in a sense, but note that way more people over 65 die of cancer than people in all the younger age groups combined.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 3:44 PM
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So it's more that when you get to 65 the cancer zone intensifies, and you also enter the heart disease zone.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 3:46 PM
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Fear not the Grim Reaper. You can always have your body preserved in a chamber of liquid nitrogen, "in the hope that future science can restore" you to "life, youth and health."

Question: What happens to the soul of a cryonics patient?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 3:59 PM
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Hell, I spent 11 days in Cedars Sinai after a minor kidney procedure there. Two days later, my temp was 104; I'd picked up one of those lovely resistant-to-most-antibiotics bugs and spent ten days attached to an IV and another day under observation. followed by a week of oral antibiotics. The only nice thing was that I got to be in a VIP suite, where The Biophysicist could nap on my luxurious couch and I got iced tea any time I asked. [OTOH, being there meant they caught really bad anæmia, and I now possess a pint of someone else's blood and have had enough iron to become magnetic.]

Now, my doctor is deeply into washing [I've had non-anæsthetised procedures that didn't end in infection], so I'd have to blame the hospital itself. When The Biophysicist was stuck in the same hospital for 3 days, I slept on the floor [no VIP room]. I could smell urine, either on the floor itself or on the mattress, either of which would have sent the Chief of Nursing at the hospital I worked at in college into a frenzy [she was ex-Marine and white-gloved everything on a daily basis]. We scrubbed fucking everything until it was clean, sweet-smelling and very disinfected. Even bedsprings.

My goal, of course, is not to die in a hospital, but to be shot at the age of 95 by a jealous wife whilst in flagrante delicto.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 4:00 PM
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The problem with living to be 95 is that your funeral is likely to be dry-eyed and sparsely attended.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 4:31 PM
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33: I can live with that.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 4:32 PM
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The problem with living to be 95 is that your funeral is likely to be dry-eyed and sparsely attended.

Sadly. In certain kinds of, or most kinds of, communities.

I hereby dedicate myself to living in such a way that if I live to 95, there will be people at my funeral.

Fuck. Now there's a task.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:09 PM
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33: My grandmother's funeral, at 93, was well attended by a large number of very relieved people. Several surreptitiously flipped cloves of garlic into the coffin to make sure she wouldn't walk.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:14 PM
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re: 35

My grandfather is 93 [94 pretty soon]. No sign of serious ill-health, but when he does eventually go [and I genuinely expect him to make 100] I imagine his funeral will be pretty damn well attended. Then again, he's a product of a different age.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:18 PM
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36 - I'm always surprised how many people have a Mean Grandma. I hope that the number of those will go down as women who never wanted to have children get to not-have children.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:20 PM
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My grandfather is 96, and may not be with us all that much longer; I suspect his funeral will be very well attended.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:21 PM
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Then again, he's a product of a different age.

Exactly. My grandmother lived to be 97, and her funeral was huge. But she was survived by 6 children and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Most people won't have that, if and when they get up into their nineties. If they live that long, they will likely die alone, or worse, in an institution.

Having once worked for a nursing home, I have to say that, for the most part, I think living that long is vastly overrated. Elderly patients are extremely vulnerable to abuse, are often treated with a shocking lack of basic respect, and are too frequently drugged into submission. Better to die earlier and avoid that fate.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:28 PM
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It's really scary from the perspective of someone with healthy but aging parents. My other grandmother spent her last five or six years in a couple of nursing homes, beginning with mild dementia (not Altzheimers, I think a series of small strokes) and ending up quite demented, and even though they were as good nursing homes as could be found, and my father and his sister visited her regularly, it looked like an awful, awful way to live. My parents are pushing seventy, and while I hope and expect they have a very long time to live yet, I desperately hope they stay mostly healthy until they drop dead. The idea of managing long-term care worries me terribly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:33 PM
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(Healthy until she dropped dead is what my evil grandmother did. She was cleaning her gutters on a ladder at 89, and still out getting arrested for driving after her license had been pulled the year she died.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:35 PM
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Why did her license get pulled?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:37 PM
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My great-aunt Hazel is 91 or 92, and damn if she's not comparatively robust. Or rather, sprightly. Just beginning to falter in the last few years.

I think of her in connection with the whole staying-in-touch-with-the-youth thing: I see her a couple of times each year when she and my mother pick me up at the airport, and Hazel is so curious and absorbed! She's fascinated by the planes! She's not alienated by the strutting girlies with their painted toenails and their ipods! It's exhausting, but she wouldn't miss it for the world.

Despite this attitude on her part, she's pretty much alone aside from blood relations, relationships she works hard to maintain.

Therein lies the problem. A wider range of relationships is called for. Elders must have a place in the community, and so on and so forth. This is one reason I sneer at those who insist that we'd all prefer to live alone if we can afford to. (I've already forgotten which thread that was, and who was arguing that. It doesn't matter -- I don't mean to open that particular issue again.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:40 PM
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Running into things, repeatedly. She never hurt anyone (with the car) -- it was mostly crashing into other cars in parking lots. She had no excuse; she was living in a community designed so you should get around by golf cart, and had my aunt and uncle and teenage cousin living a half mile away ready to run errands at her lightest whim. But she wasn't giving up her car. (I think they did just take away her keys without her consent after the time she got arrested.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:41 PM
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A wider range of relationships is called for. Elders must have a place in the community, and so on and so forth.

Yeah. Friendships outside your age cohort are a huge thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:44 PM
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I can't think of a blood relation who's lived past 75. Of course, most of my relatives are in Iran, where you'd expect them to die earlier. But I still don't think I can justify asking out lifeguards for the sake of my dotage.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:49 PM
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I can't think of a blood relation who's lived past 75.

I (perversely?) love being adopted for this reason: I have no idea how long I might expect to live.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 5:59 PM
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Apropos of 44 and 46, does everybody know about StoryCorps? They're traveling around the US recording sessions between two people who know each other well, as one interviews the other about a major life event.

At the end, you get a CD and the recording gets added to the Library of Congress archive. From time to time, they even air excerpts on NPR. Perfect for a grandparent/grandchild, although of course the storytelling partners don't have to be related. Best of all, the story doesn't even have to be in English.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:02 PM
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"I'm always surprised how many people have a Mean Grandma."

i'm not. piss and vinegar are excellent preservatives. grudges give meaning to life.
after you can't screw anymore or eat and drink to excess, petty vindictiveness provides the only joy in living. or grand vindictiveness, if you can swing it.

peaceable people go gently, early. it's the ornery birds that live.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:04 PM
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41: The idea of managing long-term care worries me terribly.

The idea of needing managing worries me terribly. The question is, should I off myself while I'm healthy enough to do it right or should I wait and take the chance I won't be able to do it at all?


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:10 PM
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peaceable people go gently, early. it's the ornery birds that live.

Snort. So wrong-headed, so fully. Passion gives meaning to life. Dumbass.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:11 PM
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There's a doctor joke about the Law of Conservation of Malignancy -- if you don't express the malignancy in your personality, it expresses itself physiologically. Nice people are always sicker.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:17 PM
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hey, who you calling a dumbass, dumbass?
and since when are vindictive grudges not a species of passion?
man--call me a 'dumbass'--i'll get you back for that, if i have to live to 100!


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:17 PM
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53: During my patient care days I remember that. There was a very unpleasant, hard-to-please patient M** W******* -- an older woman. I was the specialist for her on our crew because she could (barely) stand me. A badge of pride, since I was able to save others from misery.

One day she turned nice on me, and within a day or two she was dead.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:26 PM
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52: Not fully wrong-headed, I think. There are always exceptions, of course, but in general I do think it takes a certain feistiness to cling so tenaciously to life for so long.

My maternal grandmother (who lived to 97) was all loving-kindness to her own grandchildren. But she was no sweet little old lady. She had a razor-sharp tongue, and a deep vein of sarcastic humour, and she could hold a grudge like she was nursing her own child.

A wider range of relationships is called for. Elders must have a place in the community, and so on and so forth.

Agreed. Especially now that the family has been reduced to the conjugal unit. But mostly this wider range of relationships is not happening, and the elderly increasingly die alone and unloved. Sorry if this sounds too bleak, but I fear it is all too true.

Yeah, LB, parental care is definitely something to worry about.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:26 PM
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I thought 19 was being pedantic, not slow.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:34 PM
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58

Even abused hearts make it to 50's usually, but not much past that. Cancers (or, avoidance of cancers) don't have such a predictable lifespan.

I never really understood the dragging-out-oldage thing.
It makes much more sense to take care of yourself when you're young (35-70 or so. When you're yonger than 35, you can do whatever you like to your body, and as long as you don't kill yourlsef, you can recover pretty well.), and then when you're old, do lots of crazy and dangerous things, like drugs and race-car driving and going to 3rd world countries and shit.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:40 PM
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Although lots of the healthy-living protocols don't really make you live longer (other than reducing heart disease/cancer), just healthier irght up to the death-by-old-age.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:41 PM
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My 96 year old grandfather is certainly an ornery (and judgmental) sonofabitch in his way.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:42 PM
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healthier irght up to the death-by-old-age.

This is true, but that's plenty. My non-evil grandmother made it past 90 as well, but if I were her I would have traded six of her last seven years for one more healthy year.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:44 PM
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My mother was really wonderful about maintaining friendships. She barely missed us when we left. Small town life and churches are good for that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:53 PM
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My 96 year old grandfather is certainly an ornery (and judgmental) sonofabitch in his way.

Honestly, I think some of the judgmentalism is understandable. He was born in 1911? or 1912? Before World War I, in other words. Think how the world has changed in his lifetime, and in so many ways, some of which must seem incomprehensible. Our grandparents are probably (almost certainly) the first generation in the history of the world to have seen their world change so decisively, and so dramatically. How could they not feel a little bit cranky?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 6:57 PM
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63: I do bring up that argument in my internal monologue quite a bit, and yet it strikes me as unlikely that too many of our contemporary 95 year-old comrades were fighting the tide of progress tooth-and-nail all through the 20th century. A few perhaps, but most of the people from that generation that I've met were clearly impressed and eager adopters of radio, TV, mini-skirts, shag-carpeting etc. (An aside: we're at, or very nearly at, the point where there is no one in the world whose birth predates the invention of cinema. That's kinda crazy.)


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:03 PM
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63: no, that's not why he's judgmental. He's been judgmental for sixty years. Why is he judgmental? Why don't you ask Jesus' forgiveness more? Both good questions.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:04 PM
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On the other hand, he was anything but an eager adopter of TV, miniskirts, shag carpeting, or any of that nonsense. The civil rights struggle convinced him the democrats were okay, but you libertines should really be thinking about Jesus.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:05 PM
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Probably told this before but it always makes me laugh. My 95 year old Italian grandmother (who finally went to sleep and didn't wake up a couple weeks ago) was unshakeable in her belief that O.J. is innocent.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:16 PM
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Our grandparents are probably (almost certainly) the first generation in the history of the world to have seen their world change so decisively, and so dramatically.

I don't know about that. Industrial Revolution, slaves become citizens, etc.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:17 PM
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On the other hand, he was anything but an eager adopter of TV, miniskirts, shag carpeting, or any of that nonsense.

My paternal grandfather, who died when I was 14, thought everything that happened after WWII was just so much nonsense. He was shocked and alarmed by the miniskirt, and all that this implied. Whenever I think of him, I recall his musty old missal, well-thumbed, and his rosary, which was jet-black (a man's bead) and worked down to a dull sheen from so much worry and anxiety.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:23 PM
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I should say that outside the context of his immediate family, and especially within the context of the poor and devout, my grandfather is a generous and beloved man. He's always been great to me, too. So not an asshole, really, except sometimes to his kids.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:27 PM
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An aside: we're at, or very nearly at, the point where there is no one in the world whose birth predates the invention of cinema.

I think we've been there for a while. Moving film was invented about 130 years ago. Colour photography is older than that.

My paternal (adoptive) grandmother remembered Queen Victoria dying when she was a very little girl. That's pretty striking given that I was born in the 70s. She was already at school when the first powered flight was made.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:36 PM
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61: i'm not saying i wouldn't choose the same.

Also all you youngsters wait till we hit the singularity.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:40 PM
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54, 56:

since when are vindictive grudges not a species of passion?

Sure, man. Feistiness, passion. kbitzer, we have a date when we're 100, but it's all about the passion and the snort, not the grudge.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 7:49 PM
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My paternal (adoptive) grandmother remembered Queen Victoria dying when she was a very little girl. That's pretty striking given that I was born in the 70s.

Right. All four of my grandparents were born at the tail end of the Victorian era, and were born (in the colony of Canada) as subjects of that queen. I won't claim they were the most loyal and faithful jewels to ever adorn that crown (my paternal grandfather, for example, hated the English with a true passion, though he was somewhat more ambivalent about the Crown, because he didn't love the Yankees either), but they were born as subjects of Victoria all the same.

In conjunction with the unprecedented pace of historical change, I submit that we now have a remarkably shallow sense of time depth. The Victorian era, for example, is commonly supposed to be ye olden dayes, and almost medieval in its distance from us, but from another (and older) perspective, it's just the day before yesterday.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:04 PM
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Why, back in olden times, the Earth's atmosphere had very little oxygen! I'm sure you Victorian whippersnappers don't remember that too well, but those were some lean times, they were.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:07 PM
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I was skimming Daniel Goleman's book on social intelligence. He says that when his mother retired from being a professor, she started renting out rooms to Asian graduate students. She figured that Asian cultures tend to respect elders. There was even a couple that had a baby, and she got to be something of a doting grandma. He credits the arrangement witht keeping her fairly healthy and happy into her 90's.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:13 PM
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But I still don't think I can justify asking out lifeguards for the sake of my dotage.

Then ask for the sake of their nonage.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:14 PM
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One of my favorite conversations to have with my grandma is the one where we marvel that it's not that hard to have a sense of what life was like when she was growing up in the 1920's and 30's, but that neither she nor me can imagine life just twenty or so years earlier than that, before electricity was widespread.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:21 PM
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If only it worked that way, aging Ben.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:22 PM
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80

My grandfather has stories of growing up in (pre automobile, utterly rural) southern Massachusetts that blow me away in their utter foreignness. Taking the buggy to the train? The vast expanses of farms along the coast? Wild.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:25 PM
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Whenever I'm camping, I'm so grateful I didn't live back in the day. I love camping, but god bless coming home to modern appliances and hot showers.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:28 PM
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If only it worked that way, aging Ben.

Hey, I got a phone number from an 80-year-old the other night. Didn't even ask.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:34 PM
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My grandfather has stories of growing up in (pre automobile, utterly rural) southern Massachusetts that blow me away in their utter foreignness.

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

Work with me, Tweety, and honour your grandfather for who he is and where he came from you, and don't blame him for not climbing aboard the gender-gender train or whatever kind of shit.

Okay, sorry to get all earnest and stuff on unfogged of all places, but I do feel quite strongly about this...


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:44 PM
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Gender-bender, I meant. Sorry!


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:46 PM
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I kind of liked "gender-gender train."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:48 PM
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In conjunction with the unprecedented pace of historical change, I submit that we now have a remarkably shallow sense of time depth.

Your submission is accepted in full.

One of my grandmothers was born in 1898!! (There are still some of her old button-hook boots in the nearly-walled-off attic in Massachusetts, but she had tiny feet.)

Certainly time moves more quickly now if measured in terms of technological change. Also as related through oral history. We gain and lose. Will no one think of the elders ??

I seem to become impatient and maudlin.

On preview, I see some old-time New England and earnestness.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:53 PM
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The question is, should I off myself while I'm healthy enough to do it right or should I wait and take the chance I won't be able to do it at all?

My grandfather's solution, if you can call it that, was to cease taking his hypertension medication, so that when the end came, it would finish him off. Aortic or cerebral aneurysms run in the family on that side, and he'd seen his mother survive hers and waste away. When the paramedics came to take him to the hospital when the aneurysm came, he grabbed at the metal frame of the sink while they tried to put him on a stretcher and ripped it out of the wall.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:56 PM
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honour your grandfather for who he is and where he came from you, and don't blame him for not climbing aboard the gender-gender train or whatever kind of shit.

My grandfather's awesome. That doesn't mean I can't acknowledge that he's been a jerk from time to time. He's still a much better person than my other grandfather managed to be.

My living grandfather's great wife was one of the most amazing people I've ever known, and encouraged me to grow my hair long in High School. So there's that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:56 PM
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My living grandfather's great wife

Great, late, slate. Wait, mate!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 8:57 PM
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90

Not to repeat myself, but the Story Corps website has some wonderful little snippets of growing-up stories. And falling-in-love stories.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 9:00 PM
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One of my grandmothers was born in 1898!!

Yep. My paternal grandmother, after whom I am named (yeah, for real, she was christened Mary Invisible) was born in 1898.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 9:26 PM
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I don't know why the 1898 date strikes me so much -- okay, freaks me out. Just the turn of the century.

My 1898 grandmother, also on the paternal side (though adoptive, not that it matters), was not a nice woman. Controlling; children should be seen and not heard. Spare the rod, spoil the child. Also racist, openly so. I disliked her intensely.

Nonetheless, she introduced me to her upright piano, in the shadows of her wallpapered home, with the framed images of soaring eagles and of jesus. The War, you know. Her husband had won medals. She had arthritic fingers even then, so although I was a 12-year-old-cad, I --

wow. Where was I? Marguerite. I actually have no idea who that woman was in real life.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 10:12 PM
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93

One of my grandmothers was born in 1905, and she's still alive, too.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 10:15 PM
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94

Ben, your 1905 grandmother is 102, then. This is worthy of remark.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 10:31 PM
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95

Occasionally she makes extremely dour comments about the fact that she's still alive. It's hard to know how to respond.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 10:40 PM
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Yeah. Hard to respond to that even if it's coming from a mere 92-year-old.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 10:59 PM
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It's hard to know how to respond.

Could be worse, grandma, you could have been born in Old Testament days, when people lived to be 900.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:03 PM
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95: You say, "oh, cheer up, grandma! Think of all the dead people who wish they were in your shoes."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:13 PM
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My grandmother died at 90-something and her funeral was small, but in fact there were young non-relatives of hers there who were quite sad about her death.

cutting the number of hospital acquired infections would significantly reduce health care costs.

Actually I bet it's a plot by the health insurance folks to keep us out of hospitals.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:16 PM
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95: You say, "oh, cheer up, grandma! Think of all the dead people who wish they were in your shoes."

How many dead people would wish they were in her shoes, if they could wish, is an open question. Such, at any rate, is probably what she thinks, and given that she's not exactly in the best of health and most of her contemporaries have gone on before it seems a bit false to give so sanguine a response.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:19 PM
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100: Okay, fine. You can commiserate instead and say, "I know, grandma, I wish you were dead too."

See? Silly and sanguine is much better. Then you can ruffle her wispy hair and punch her on the shoulder.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:23 PM
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102

Can the dead wish for death?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:23 PM
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103

My grandfather has stories of growing up in (pre automobile, utterly rural) southern Massachusetts

Sifu, send me an email.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:27 PM
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"Shall I hit you in the face with a skillet?"

Slapstick is popular with people who came of age in that time.

For grandma w-lfs-n, perhaps substitute "sestina" or "declension" for skillet.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:27 PM
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Then you can ruffle her wispy hair and punch her on the shoulder.

And then take her to the hospital.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:28 PM
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Facing a remaining lifetime of being wiped out on painkillers etc, my 83 yo gm climbed out her 17th storey window. I hope to have that kind of courage.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:29 PM
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Where she'll get a staph infection and drop dead. Problem solved!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:30 PM
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108

106: courage hell, you better have an elevator.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:30 PM
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106: Wow.

The tough thing about that would be worrying that one's relations would feel guilty or distraught. But, well, yeah: watching my aunt with MS, I'm hoping I have the clarity to end it before it's too late.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:31 PM
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Some people put a lot of work into achieving a life wiped out on painkillers, of course.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:32 PM
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climbed out her 17th storey window

It would be hard to track, but I wonder how many suicides are due to underlying health (not mental) problems. Deleuze also jumped out a window; he was quite ill.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:34 PM
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how many suicides are due to underlying health (not mental) problems

What's the difference?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:35 PM
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Isn't attempting suicide often treated as a mental problem? That would make it extremely hard to track.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:36 PM
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112: he said "mental", not "brainal".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-28-07 11:36 PM
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When my grandmother was growing up in the 1920s, it took two days to get to Farmington, which was about 30 miles away.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 12:02 AM
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some of you must be really old


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 12:12 AM
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I actually can't think of any regular commenters here that I'd consider old.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 12:15 AM
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118

I actually can't think of any regular commenters here that I'd consider old.

Emerson? Biohazard?

It's weird having conversations with people (father, grandfather) who don't hear very well at all, but it's a lot less weird once you realize that's what's going on.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 12:27 AM
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Moving film was invented about 130 years ago.
I'm dating cinema from 1895, even though the basic idea of moving pictures is quite a bit older, it was in '95 that you have the blossoming of the art form into something that is recognizably "cinema" versus pre-cinema. But I think we can agree that everyone now living has grown up in a world in which it was possible to attend the screening of a motion picture.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 5:27 AM
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re: 119

Yeah, the first successful moving picture films are a bit earlier than '95, but yeah, 1895 for the Lumières.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 5:39 AM
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The Lumieres; on Leeds Bridge.

Cinema was born there in 1895, but it moved to Paris, Berlin, and finally LA at the first opportunity and spent years denying it. It's actually not so surprising if you know Leeds.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 5:52 AM
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My grandmothers were born in the 1880s. Both were very beautiful as young women and my mother's mother absolutely knew it. I barely knew either of them, however, for reasons which were never made explicit. My sisters yell me that my mom was a bad girl who smoked cigarettes while still in high school, and I know that my dad's mom was devoutly religious in a way that my dad disliked.

I personally remember a horsedrawn cart that delivered groceries, an ice-house where lake ice was stored in sawdust, and an archetypal lame blacksmith with a charcoal forge and a blackened face.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 5:58 AM
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re: 121

The Leeds Bridge stuff wasn't the Lumieres. It was Louis Le Prince. He was a few years prior to the Lumieres.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 5:59 AM
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Speaking of old people, Studs Terkel is still alive and writing about his memories of the Palmer raids after WWI.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 6:01 AM
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One of my grandmothers was born in 1898!!

One of mine, too. She didn't die until two years ago. One of my siblings did an oral history project with her for school, recording her recollections on 8-track tapes. It was a pretty hardscrabble life: she did her schoolwork on a piece of slate because paper was too dear.

She stayed physically and mentally fit until almost the very end. The saddest day of her life was when she finally had to get rid of her chickens, at the age of 101.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 6:03 AM
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124: Studs Terkel on wiretapping.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 6:28 AM
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Is anyone else sometimes surprised to learn of a famous person's death because you had assumed that person was already dead? I had this reaction to news of the recent death of Deborah Kerr.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 6:33 AM
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It was entirely coincidental that my comment about oral history in 125 ended up being bracketed by two comments about Studs Terkel.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 6:35 AM
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Is anyone else sometimes surprised to learn of a famous person's death because you had assumed that person was already dead?

All the time.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 6:37 AM
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because paper was too dear.

Nice phrasing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 6:40 AM
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109 -- I'm quite sure no one felt guilty at all.

This was at the end of a number of attempts at treatment, and after an extended period of the only treatment that seemed to "work" -- the "last" break from which was scheduled to end the next day. She'd heard -- we've all heard -- what happens if you are unsuccessful in an attempt to end things yourself.

It helps, I suppose, that the God she believed in was a practical sort, and could see perfectly well the logic of her decision.

She was born in 1910 -- a different time, to be sure, but not so far as to be completely unrecognizable. Now that I think about it, her father wrote a memoir (I've serialized and published it in blog form) which doesn't seem all that different from our own time. Pancho Villa instead of Bin Laden.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 6:45 AM
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Is anyone else sometimes surprised to learn of a famous person's death because you had assumed that person was already dead?

Try this quiz.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 6:46 AM
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Even more shocking is to find that a famous person is Canadian. Canadians are so cute.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 6:55 AM
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118: Yeah, I'm old. I was born just as the Nazis were first heading into Russia. However, the changes I've seen have been more related to "faster" rather than to great social upheavals. My grandparents and parents lived through the really big changes when humans became cogs in the machine after the Civil War.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 7:00 AM
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I was born just as the Nazis were first heading into Russia.

No one blames you, BioH.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 7:23 AM
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I agree with 134 about how much change occurred in which generations. This would vary depending on where in the world your ancestors lived, but my grandparents—my grandfathers were born in 1879 and 1880, my grandmothers within a few weeks of each other in the summer of 1885—and my parents, who were born during WWI, experienced far more change than I have.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 7:28 AM
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135: Not to worry, my shoulders are broad enough to carry that load.

I do wonder what my parents were thinking though. They were both heavily into politics, they knew the situation. Even so, they had me in '41 and my mother was pregnant again in '43. They were "cock-eyed optimists" with their eyes cocked to the left, I guess.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 7:32 AM
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No one blames you, BioH.

I rode a tank in the general's rank
while the Blitzkrieg raged
and the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
hope you guessed my name


Posted by: Lucifer | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 7:54 AM
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I actually can't think of any regular commenters here that I'd consider old.

Interesting point, since some of us are certifiably old, what teo, or anybody who shares that opinion, would consider old? Is he talking about a style, a habit of thinking?

Or is it a simple case of old > 70 or something?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 7:54 AM
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maybe some of us are prematurely cantankerous.
it's none of your goddamn business how old i am.
so get the fuck off my lawn.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 9:06 AM
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Or is it a simple case of old > 70 or something?

This is about where I draw the line, yes, but it's also a matter of relative age; anyone younger than my parents (i.e., almost all of the "old" people on this site) isn't old. Biohazard comes closest, but he's only 66. I mostly identify "old" with my grandparents' generation, which is now disappearing rapidly, and it's hard for me to think of baby boomers as old.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 10:07 AM
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Huh. I guess if your parents were in their forties when you were born, which it sounds as if they must have been at least pretty close to, that'll change your generational perspective.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 10:11 AM
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My brother (b. 1960) had four older brothers he spent time with, so he was the last of the boomers instead of the first of whatever came next.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 10:12 AM
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My parents were 37 and 33 when I was born. We have long generations in my family.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 10:27 AM
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Wait, my mom was actually not quite 33. Her birthday is exactly two months after mine. And, it seems, exactly one month after today.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-29-07 10:28 AM
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