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Why one woman got a medical alert device

A neighbor in my condo writes: About 15 years ago I heard from my travel agent that a friend of hers had fallen in the kitchen and broken a bone and had required hours to crawl to her telephone. At that point I decided that I would get one of those buttons, and I did and have lived with it ever since. The monthly charge is a tax deduction if you itemize (under "medical").

 

I have never needed my button, but the security of having it is very important to me, since I am hyper-aware of living alone. Yes, the button is useless unless you have it on you when you need it. Are you going to have it on you *all the time* (at least when you are at home)? If not, why bother? Mine is waterproof, so when I take a shower, I lay it on the ledge of the tub. At all other times, it is literally on me. (Mine is worn around the neck, like a pendant.)

 

My button is Lifeline, and in terms of the technology involved, it is ancient. It covers me only when I am in my apartment and only if I press the button.

Only when in my apartment: If I should fall away from home, the button would be irrelevant and I would be dependent on the help of strangers and/or on my cell phone (which I make a point of having with me whenever I am away from home -- even when walking within Parkside or going downstairs to get the mail).

Only if I press the button: In other words, if I were unconscious or paralyzed, I would not be able to summon help, and having the button would do me no good. Yes, I am taking a chance and perhaps may decide to reconsider the kind of coverage I want a button to give.


One inherent problem, then, is coverage. Will it cover you only at home, and will it cover you only if you are able to press it?

Another problem is whether you are someone who would keep it on you at all relevant times. And a third (which applies to the kind of button you wear only at home) is this: if you took it off right before going out your front door, *would you be able to find it when you returned home?* In the early years there were several times when I returned home and for the life of me could not find the button or remember where I had left it. Those moments or hours or days of not remembering drove me crazy (since I needed to know that the button was on me). I have now learned my lesson and am always conscious of where I am leaving it (generally in one designated place).

 

As for the question of who to list: Lifeline (my company) will not list 9-1-1, and my condominium does not allow us to list the management office. It has to be one or more people who (a) have a key to your apartment, and (b) live close enough to be able to get to you in case they're called by Lifeline and told that you have an emergency. If you live in a condo, can you list your management office?

 

P.S. I also have an arrangement with one very near neighbor that we send each other an email message every morning confirming to the other that each is okay. Thus, the longest either one of us would be left lying helpless is 24 hours.

 

See also Should you buy a Medical Alert device? Which kind? Why?

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Should you buy a Medical Alert device? Which kind? Why?

Should you buy a Medical Alert device*? Which one? Why?

(*also called  Personal emergency response systems, or PERS)

Pat McNees's roundup of tips from experts.

 

Questions to ask yourself before you buy.  

Are you getting this device for a 911-type emergency, or for less-than-911 problems?

Are you getting it for activities outside the home or inside or both? 

Where are you more likely to fall and hurt yourself, and what device would help most if you fall when you are alone?

Would you prefer a watch-like device worn on the wrist, a neck pendant, or a device on the bedside table (and/or in the bathroom).

Will re-charging be an issue?

Which are you most likely to have access to in an unexpected fall?

 

3 Key Questions to Answer (Consumer Reports)

1. Do You Want a Home-Based or Mobile System?

2. Should Your System Be Monitored or Not?

3. Should You Add a Fall-Detection Feature?

 

The Consumer Checkbook article below presents issues you should consider, and I quote them liberally. 

        Bottom line: "Our researchers tested several models and found that most medical alert device makers' products delayed emergency response and provided less-than-precise location data when we hit the alarm button. We could recommend only one company: GreatCall [renamed Lively Mobile], because it offers wearable devices that can connect its customers directly to 911 instead of a company-run call center. Wearable devices like Apple Watch also offer good options for those who want a panic button at hand that can actually get them help in a hurry [and that they are likely to be wearing during the emergency].
Scroll down for links to results on other devices tested. 

 

I found Tech-Enhanced Life's explanations and their pro's and con's of various devices for different situations very helpful. You might want to read the broad comments below that, taken from Consumer Checkbook, for general principles.

 

Tech-Enhanced Life's excellent decision-helping modules are thorough and practical in their evaluations for different needs.

Start here:

Medical Alert Systems: Selection Guide (drawing on testing-based observations)
---Learning Module Tutorial on what a medical alert system is.
---Selection Tool Choose the Best Medical Alert System for YOU. Turn Desired Features into a list of Actual Products.
---Best of Breed recommendations The result of hands-on, detailed testing in which they compare medical alert systems with similar features.
---Just Tell Me What to Buy (in which they make specific product recommendations for each of several specific personas, for people who don't want detailed analysis)
---Medical Alert Reviews Individual reviews of a heckuva lot of specific devices, listed in alphabetical order.
---Smartwatch as Medical Alert?

 

Other Useful Products recommended by the Tech-enhanced Life community

 

A broad summary of what to consider, from Consumer Checkbook:

Medical Alert Devices (Jeff Blyskal, Consumer Checkbook, Nov. 2018) "We hit the panic button—290 times!—to test the value of these gadgets. These devices do supply a panic button right at hand—on a wrist or neck pendant, or on the bedside table as it recharges overnight. If you’re worried that you might get injured or in a situation where you can’t reach a phone to dial 911, they can provide that support—although with most devices getting help will take more time than calling 911 directly.... "Most alert devices we studied delay your ambulance by inserting typically lesser-trained agents between you and the 911 pros...

     "On top of that, if you need a 911-type service and go through a medical alert device, your call will be processed after other incoming 911 calls." "Our researchers tested several models and found that most medical alert device makers’ products delayed emergency response and provided less-than-precise location data when we hit the alarm button. We could recommend only one company: GreatCall, because it offers wearable devices that can connect its customers directly to 911 instead of a company-run call center. Wearable devices like Apple Watch also offer good options for those who want a panic button at hand that can actually get them help in a hurry."

      "Many devices can be equipped with optional fall-detection features that automatically call their monitoring companies if you take a tumble (or the device falsely senses a fall, which happened often with the units we tested). But a pretty narrow group of seniors has these needs."

     "On the other hand, medical alert devices are more helpful to callers who have a less-than-911 problem. 'Nine times out of 10, when people press our button, they don’t necessarily need 911. They want us to call someone else,' such as a friend or relative...So for $130 to $625 for the first year (price of device and monthly monitoring fees), you can get a device that works kind of like a cell phone but is far easier to operate—after all, there’s usually just one button to deal with." Just remember: You are not reaching someone with 911-type experience.

        Finally: "Among the 911 community, medical alert devices are notorious for false alarms and for providing inadequate location information, both of which needlessly tie up 911 staff and sending EMS crews on wild goose chases, delaying responses to real emergencies....In our tests, medical alert companies often had trouble determining where our calls were coming from—exactly or even within a reasonable margin of error." This is a problem if the caller is incapacitated, can't talk, or doesn't know exactly where s/he is. 

        Think too about how willing you will be to wear a wearable device most of the time, and whether re-charging will be a big problem.


Consumer Reports Survey of Best Medical Alert Systems (10-13-20) CR's exclusive survey compares 7 major brands. These systems can call for emergency help with the press of a button. To help consumers sort through all the available information, CR surveyed 1,869 Consumer Reports members, who rated their satisfaction with seven different medical alert device brands. In addition to sharing details about their devices’ features, members rated their satisfaction on variables. 

 

Variables  (besides price, customer service, and response speed) include:

 

    Portable call button or in-home call button.

    Monitored vs. unmonitored

    Cell vs. landline service
    Basic service vs. additional monthly service fees

    Unintentional activation

    Malfunction rates.


How to Choose a Medical Alert System (Consumer Reports, 10-19-20)


Additional safety measures and devices:
Preventing falls + learning how to fall + how to get up  (Pat McNees roundup of tips)
24/7 Wandering Support for a Safe Return (The Alzheimer’s Association, in collaboration with MedicAlert) A MedicAlert membership plan with Wandering Support helps first responders and families reconnect with individuals living with dementia who experience a medical emergency or have wandered.
Medical conditions that require a Medical ID (American Medical ID)
Medical Identification Tags (Wikipedia, which includes a list of conditions or prescriptions warranting the wearing of such a tag.) A medical identification tag is a small emblem or tag worn on a bracelet, neck chain, or on the clothing bearing a message that the wearer has an important medical condition that might require immediate attention. The tag is often made out of stainless steel or sterling silver. The intention is to alert a paramedic, physician, emergency department personnel or other first responders (emergency medical services, community first responder, Emergency medical responder) of the condition even if the wearer is not conscious enough, old enough, or too injured to explain. A wallet card with the same information may be used instead of or along with a tag, and a stick-on medical ID tag may be added or used alone.
How To Get A Medical Alert Bracelet For Free (Paying for Senior Care) A medical alert bracelet lets medical and emergency personnel know that a person has a medical condition that should be considered in an emergency. The issue could be severe allergies, diabetes, cardiac problems or one of a long list of other conditions. First responders are trained to look for a medical alert bracelet after they check vital signs, such as breathing and pulse. In some emergency situations, having a medical alert bracelet can mean the difference between life and death.
How Can I Get a Medical Alert System for Free? (Caring.com, (800) 973-1540). Check with your health insurance company or read up at this site on Medicare, Medicaid, benefits for veterans, and senior assistance agencies.

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SEE ALSO Why one woman got a medical alert device

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Signs of aging that start after you turn 40

Did you know...

That the moment you hit 40 your vision declines and you may soon need reading glasses

That you too may start wearing glasses on a holder around your neck because you never know when you may need them.

That some people begin developing glaucoma or macular degeneration in their 40s. "If it's caught early, your vision can usually be saved.”
That you're now likely to grow crops of wrinkles, age spots, and small growths called skin tags. 

That the time between feeling the urge to pee and peeing grows shorter, so you need to move quickly.

That you'll need to see a dermatologist  to detect which of those could be or become skin cancer.

That all those days spent tanning hasten the aging process as UV rays cause thick, damaged skin.

That you may get shorter, as your spinal bones get thinner and lose some height.

That you may appear to be getting stooped.

That your facial bones lose volume, so you begin to show your age.

That joint changes may appear, ranging from minor stiffness to severe arthritis.
That you're at greater risk of heat stroke or hypothermia.

That you now appreciate the days when your upper arms were toned.

That you've made enough mistakes to have learned many valuable life lessons.

That little children are unlikely to be able to tell you from any other adult stranger with similar features.

That you will suddenly learn of rare and peculiar diseases and conditions associated with aging. 

Feel free to suggest further surprises of aging. 

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Waiting for G&G's Guide to Life (an ethical will)

Guest post by (aka an email from) Judy Helm Wright

 

Dwain and I are working on our ethical will right now, but know we need to update our physical wills for our trust. Most of the valuable things we have already given away because better they have them in their safety deposit box or jewelry case than us.  But in our Friday night Zoom call with our Young Professionals scattered in five states, we asked what they wanted after we died and were surprised by the requests.  One wanted Dwain's wedding ring, one wanted my diamond necklace, and one wanted a painting that we had put in the garage and were going to donate to a thrift shop!  No one wanted silver or china.


Our son asked me to finish my life story but I am still living and loving it.


They are all looking forward to the ethical will called "G&G's Guide to Life"  It has been fun to do.  Dwain's section was all about practical things like checking the oil and making sure you don't spend your money before you make it.  My section is all about airy-fairy spiritual stuff.  As our daughter says 'I never lose a moment when I can tell a story and teach a lesson'.



~Judy Helm Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, author of How to Discipline Without Damage: Empowering Your Child's Spirit. Judy hangs out in Missoula, Montana. I got to know her through the late, lamented Association of Personal Historians.

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Police, Protest , and Racial Justice

Police, federal agents, protests, and racial justice

 

After a short section on clashes between police, federal agents, and protesters in Portland and other cities, you will find more general links about police, protests, and racial justice.


How a Deadly Police Force Ruled a City (Shane Bauer, New Yorker, 11-23-2020) After years of impunity, the police in Vallejo, California, took over the city’s politics and threatened its people. Reformers who have succeeded in getting rogue cops censured or fired often come up against a frustrating reality: because there are no national and few statewide indexes that track police terminations and disciplinary infractions, tainted officers often find new jobs in different jurisdictions.
Trump's Portland crackdown is controversial. The man spearheading it might be doing so illegally. (Aaron Blake, Washington Post, 7-22-2020) Experts say acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf can't legally serve in that role, compounding issues raised by the crackdown.
Trump’s Effort to Provoke Violence Is Working (David A. Graham, The Atlantic, 7-28-2020) The president sent federal agents into Portland with the apparent aim of inciting a confrontation.
Federal Officers Deployed in Portland Didn’t Have Proper Training, D.H.S. Memo Said (New York Times, 7-18-2020) The tactical agents deployed by homeland security include officials from a group known as BORTAC, the Border Patrol’s equivalent of a SWAT team, a highly trained group that normally is tasked with investigating drug smuggling organizations, as opposed to protesters in cities. The agents lacked sufficient training in riot control or mass demonstrations. Rather than tamping down persistent protests in Portland, Ore., a militarized presence from federal officers seems to have re-energized them.
What to Know About Portland's Crackdown on Protesters and How You Can Help (Chelsea Sanchez, Harpers Bazaar, 7-21-2020) The Trump administration is trying to make an example out of Portland. But protesters and supporters are refusing to let him. 'Trump has since defended his decision to deploy armed units to confront Portland protesters, tweeting on Sunday, "We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!" '
Federal Officers Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab People In Portland, DHS Confirms (Jonathan Levinson, Conrad Wilson, James Doubek, and Suzanne Nuyen, NPR, 7-17-2020) NPR reported that the federal officers deployed come from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol Tactical Unit, and are intended to protect federal property. They have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least Tuesday. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation about why they are being arrested, and driving off. The New York Times additionally found that the units deployed are not specialized in nor have they been trained in riot control or mass demonstrations.
Cities in Bind as Turmoil Spreads Far Beyond Portland (Mike Baker, Thomas Fuller and Shane Goldmacher, NY Times, 7-26-2020) Galvanized in part by the deployment of federal agents in Portland, Ore., protesters have returned to the streets in Oakland, Seattle and elsewhere.
Police and protesters clash in violent weekend across the US (Jeff Martin, AP, 6-27-2020) Protests took a violent turn in several U.S. cities over the weekend with demonstrators squaring off against federal agents outside a courthouse in Portland, Oregon, forcing police in Seattle to retreat into a station house and setting fire to vehicles in California and Virginia.
N.Y.P.D. Says It Used Restraint During Protests. Here’s What the Videos Show. (video, NY Times, 7-14-2020) The New York Times found more than 60 videos that show the police using force on protesters during the first 10 days of demonstrations in the city after the death of George Floyd. A review of the videos, shot by protesters and journalists, suggests that many of the police attacks, often led by high-ranking officers, were not warranted.
Police wanted ‘a dog that would bite a Black person’ (Challen Stephens, AL.com, Alabama,11-2-2020) The terrifying reign of a small town’s police dog. Published in partnership with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system, USA Today, IndyStar and the Invisible Institute.
Trump Has Brought America's Dirty Wars Home (Stuart Schrader, New Republic, 7-21-1010) The authoritarian tactics we've exported around the world in the name of national security are now being deployed in Portland.
'Wall of Moms' joins Portland's anti-racism protests (BBC, 7-22-2020) Anti-racism protests have been taking place in Portland, Oregon, for almost two months - but in recent days they have been joined by a growing number of "moms." The "Wall of Moms" - as they have been dubbed - have been acting as a human shield between the protesters and the federal officers sent in to disperse them.
Conservative media helps Trump perform 'law and order' in Portland, with risks for November (Isaac Stanley-Becker, Washington Post, 7-22-2020) The strategy, resembling the focus on the migrant caravans in 2018, left some Republicans in bellwether counties uneasy.
Elected leaders need to take action to stop the rioting (Jeff Barker, Opinion, Oregon Live, 7-8-2020) "Oregon supports free speech. Go through the normal channels, obtain a permit and then follow the rules in the permit. You can march, you can gather to listen to speeches, you can hold up any sign you'd like even if it makes the rest of the world uncomfortable. But what you can't do is break the law." Barker was a law enforcement officer for 31 years and has represented House District 28 in the Oregon Legislature since 2003.

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Problems with policing generally


What should be done about America's policing problem? (The Stream, Al Jazeera, 6-15-2020) Driven by nationwide protests, calls are growing to boost accountability and oversight of US law enforcement.
Terror Lynching in America (Equal Justice Initiative, video, 10-11-16)
Trump Sidesteps Mentions of Systemic Racism as He Signs Police-Friendly Executive Order (KHN Morning Briefing, 6-17-2020) Advocates and Democrats say President Donald Trump's executive order on police violence falls far short of what's needed to make actual changes to the system. The White House focused on police-backed ideas, such as a national misconduct database, and continued to insist the problems lie with a few officers rather than deeper issues. Congress is also taking steps to address reform, but the parties are on a collision course with their bills.
In wake of protests, New York lawmakers repeal law used to keep police misconduct records secret (Anjali Berdia, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 6-10-2020) In the wake of widespread protests against police violence and racial injustice, New York lawmakers voted on Tuesday to repeal Section 50-a of the state’s Civil Rights Law, a provision used to keep police disciplinary records secret.
Why Policing Is Broken (Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, 6-17-2020) Years of research on brutality cases shows that bad incentives in politics and city bureaucracies are major drivers of police violence. In wake of protests, New York lawmakers repeal law used to keep police misconduct records secret.
How Police Unions Fight Reform (William Finnegan, New Yorker, 8-3-2020) Police unions enjoy a political paradox. Conservatives traditionally abhor labor unions but support the police. The left is critical of aggressive policing, yet has often muted its criticism of police unions—which are, after all, public-sector unions, an endangered and mostly progressive species. Police unions have spent decades amassing influence. They have often used it to combat what Patrick Lynch, the head of New York City's P.B.A., calls "pro-criminal advocates."
The '3.5% rule': How a small minority can change the world (David Robson, BBC, 5-13-19) Nonviolent protests are twice as likely to succeed as armed conflicts – and those engaging a threshold of 3.5% of the population have never failed to bring about change.
The Defunding Debate ((Jack Herrera, Columbia Journalism Review, Summer 2020) Suddenly, defunding the police had exploded as a central campaign plot point. Look at the issue in historical context.
'Defund the police' calls grow amid protests. Reallocations could fund minority entrepreneurship instead (Steve Strauss, USA Today, 6-10-2020) Defunding the police certainly does not mean not having any police. But it does mean that some of the money used to fund police forces can likely be better spent if the goal is long-term safety, and to begin to eradicate the poverty gap and racial disparity between white and black America that fosters crime.
Teaching About Race, Racism and Police Violence (Teaching Tolerance)
Leo Tolstoy vs. the Police (Jennifer Wilson, NY Times, 6-25-2020) Why the great Russian novelist's critique of state-sponsored violence bears thinking about now. Tolstoy's views, particularly his strong invective against state-sponsored violence, riled authorities who consequently placed the writer under near-constant police surveillance.
Screening police officers before they kill (Jack El-Hai, Medium, 1-4-16) Psychiatrist Douglas M. Kelley found that one-third to one-half of America's police officers during the 1950s were psychologically unqualified to protect citizens or enforce laws. Kelley was uniquely qualified to investigate the psychological traits of people in positions of authority. During the months immediately after World War II, Kelley, then a U.S. Army captain, was sent to the jail in Nuremberg, Germany, to evaluate the sanity of the top 22 captured Nazi leaders awaiting trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The History of Policing in the United States, Part 1 of 6 parts. (Gary Potter, Eastern Kentucky University Police Studies Online) The development of policing in the United States closely followed the development of policing in England. In the early colonies policing took two forms. It was both informal and communal, which is referred to as the "Watch," or private-for-profit policing, which is called "The Big Stick" (Spitzer, 1979).
Violence Interrupter The Interrupters is a 2011 documentary film, produced by Kartemquin Films, that tells the story of three violence interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. ... The film features the work of CeaseFire, an initiative of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention.
He used to sell drugs on D.C. streets. Now he's paid to make them safer. (Peter Hermann, Washington Post, 12-13-18) Duane Cunningham is a member of the District's Violence Interrupters, a group that works in troubled neighborhoods to try to stop violence before it happens.
Defund police? Some cities have already started by investing in mental health instead (Lindsay Schnell, MSN, USA Today, 6-20-2020) As calls to "defund the police" echo around the country at Black Lives Matter protests, a handful of communities already know what that looks like as they invest millions of dollars into mental health resources and response teams instead of just traditional policing. These crisis intervention teams typically do not include an armed, uniformed officer but do feature counselors, social workers and paramedics. And Eugene's 30-year-old program CAHOOTS, or Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets, is the model other cities are looking to as they form their own programs. SEE In Cahoots: How the unlikely pairing of cops and hippies became a national model (Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick, Oregon Register/Guard, 10-20-19)
These Cities Are Stopping Police From Responding to Homelessness, Drug Use, and Mental Health Issues (Emma Ockerman, Vice, 6-17-2020) Los Angeles proposed the change Tuesday. San Francisco and Albuquerque have already made it.
What does 'defund the police' mean and why some say 'reform' is not enough (Ryan W. Miller, USA Today, 6-8-2020)
Most Americans do not want to “defund” the police (The Economist, 6-18-2020) But they support other reforms.
Defunding Everything But the Police Short, effective video with a message
How ‘Defund the Police’ went from moonshot to mainstream (Maya King, Politico, 6-17-2020) To many watching the historic protests against racism and police brutality unfold across the country, it was a call that came out of nowhere: Defund the Police. Yet hours after the first videos of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer went viral online, those three words became the rallying cry of a movement that had suddenly won America’s undivided attention. See more stories on the topic here: The Deep Roots Behind Seemingly Sudden Rise of 'Defund the Police' (KHN Morning Briefing, 6-17-2020)
Protests focus on over-policing. But under-policing is also deadly. (Rod K. Brunson, WaPo, 6-12-2020) People in high-crime neighborhoods already don’t trust law enforcement to protect them.

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Practical links for village members in Montgomery County, MD

Updated 9-23-2021 (Bethesda, MD)

Crisis hotlines
COVID-19-related links
Safety info, preparing for disaster, emergencies
Transportation options in MontCo
Buying good food, groceries, takeout, dining out
Food assistance programs in MontCo MD
Repairs, parts, appliances, specialty shopping and assistance


Recycling

Where to donate used computers and other stuff
Composting info from Mom's


Things to do while sheltering in place
Outdoor Maryland


Potential sites for installation of small cell/5G antennae
Election info

Village organizations in MontCo MD
Parkside Village website and resources

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85+ things to do (listen, watch, read, share, do) during the pandemic

Updated and expanded 3-6-2021. The list keeps growing!

Originally 55+ things to do during the pandemic    (April 2020)

 


PBS to Broadcast ‘Met Stars Live in Concert’ Performances Featuring Jonas Kaufmann, Anna Netrebko, Renée Fleming, Angel Blue, Sonya Yoncheva
Free re-broadcasts of full Met Operas from recent years every night
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Chroma, Grace, Takademe, Revelations (Lincoln Center at Home -- and at the Movies, 2015)
Front Row Mainstage: The Brandenburg Concertos (Chambermusic Music Society of Lincoln Center) Listen free till end of December 2020)
Moth Holiday Playlist (listen to a selection of funny stories about the holidays from The Moth)
Cool science sites for kids (Do safe experiments at home!)
Buy Nothing Groups Are Inclusive, Locally-Managed Gift Economies (12-2-2020). Curious? Read  A Brief History of the Buy Nothing Project, Complete with Controversies (12-22-2020)
How to Paint a Venice Canal in Acrylic. These how-to videos really make me want to paint. Check out the series: Drawing and Painting with Paint Lesson (free online tutorials, both video and text).
Find the Song Name Without Knowing the Lyrics (Amit Agarwal, Digital Inspiration, 1-7-12. See also Find the Song Name Without Knowing the Lyrics
Fall Fun for Kids (B-Inspired Mama, Pinterest) 789 Pins. See also 50+ Awesome Fall Activities for Toddlers (Busy Toddler) "Making it to naps, one activity at a time."
10 Easy Preschool Activities (Play to Learn Preschool)
Parent Resources: Maryland Public Schools (a nifty list of links to activities and learning aids for kids to do while homebound. Sorted by grade level.)
All About Birds (the Cornell Lab's bird guide)
---Bird Song Opera (ShakeUp, a sound forge for original music and sound design for film, advertisement, events and interactive applications, based in Berlin)
---Merlin Bird ID Cornell Lab's bird identification app (available only on the App Store for iPhone)
Smart Bird ID (with this bird ID app you can identify bird by camera or microphone--that is, by sound)
---Scroll to bottom for links about building bird houses for various types of birds.
Tree Identification Guide (Tree Musketeers, an informative site) As you walk see how many types of trees you can identify. This site has great explanations, identifications and many pictographic charts all about trees. Learn about the differences between various conifer and broadleaf trees.
Kids vs. Plastic (National Geographic) Save the Earth from plastic with this DIY crafting series of easy-to make, eco-friendly party favors and school gadgets. Watch and learn how to make jeans pencil cases, paper jewelry beads, reusable sandwich bags, and more!
Clean and disinfect your home (video, CNN how-to lesson)
Start gathering and telling your family history. See Good interview questions for the family and The art and craft of interviewing (Pat McNees's site) and Great interview questions and guides (Telling Your Story). Do some of it on Zoom!
• Talk "face to face" with your friends and family on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts. See Using Zoom for a family or office teleconference call (or class)
Learn where journalists get their medical news and updates(Writers and Editors)
• Participate in Virtual fitness classes (Senior Planet)
• Explore 100 years of veterans stories from World War I to the Iraq War (The History Channel)
• Watch events from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (archived--watch free)
Standing Pilates for Seniors (The girl with the Pilates mat) 30 minutes of exercise.
• Watch the free webcast of the Paris Review Lit Fête: A Virtual Celebration of Writers and Writing(June 9, 8 pm). Indeed, many literary conferences will probably be going virtual this year! See Writers conferences, workshops, book fairs, and other learning places
I spend my day working in the hospital. Then I come home and bake. (Tamal Ray, Opinion, WaPo, 4-13-2020) The only thing I can do in the face of a global disaster is focus on the patients in front of me and keep myself and my colleagues safe.But in my kitchen, my quiet corner of the world, I still have control.
• Check out Pourhouse Trivia, which hosts online trivia games every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the pandemic.

TED’s summer culture list: 114 podcasts, books, TV shows, movies and more to nourish you (Ideas.TED.com) This list is divided into three buckets: “Things to listen to (primarily podcasts)”;“Things to read (basically books)”; and “Things to watch (mainly TV shows and movies)”<.
• ****Listen to Dozens of really good radio talk shows and podcasts (a curated list of excellent programs, with links)
• Listen to Sidedoor (podcasts from the Smithsonian)
• ***Stream all of the Library of Congress author webcasts from the National Book Festival (two decades' worth) H/T Holly Pollinger.
• Watch Carnegie Science programs on YouTube--on various topics, including the MESSENGER space probe; Life at the Extremes: Microbes, Salt and Pressure; and other topics.
Dancing ballet at home (les danseurs de l'Opéra de Paris dancing alone together, by videoconference). Play this where children can watch and see if they don't join in.
• Learn the difference between memoir and autobiography and start writing your life story, or your family (hi)story.

• Read memoirs and personal accounts of vocation, avocation, occupation, profession -- "calling"
• Read memoirs about friendship, family, and other relationships
Choose the music you want played at your (or someone else's) funeral or memorial service.
Missing Sounds of New York (NY Public Library)
Coronavirus: A Book for Children (with artwork by The Gruffalo’s Axel Scheffler) Read free online.
Facing the Rising Tide (The New Group) A free digital festival of play readings and conversations about environmental racism, the climate crisis and hope.
Stories from Audible For as long as schools are closed, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids. All stories (including Harry Potter) are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.
A digital directory of remote learning resources (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators)
Remember Books? Researcher Shows How Reading Is Superior to Screen Time (Nick Zagorski, Psychiatric News, 3-20-2020)
Small free libraries offering solace amid virus shutdowns (Michelle A. Monroe and Russell Contreras, AP/Tuscon.com, 5-17-2020) More people have been selecting and donating books since the pandemic.
Running list of Kids and YA Lit available free online during the crisis (Publishers Weekly links)
Free Online Book Access for Students and Kids (Publishers Lunch links)
Learn at Home Materials (Scholastic projects to keep kids reading, thinking, growing)
Listen online to 'The Moth'
• Read about story structure and the art of storytelling
• Read Will Storr on the Science of Storytelling (8 Longreads)
• Listen to old episodes of This American Life and all the other really good (intelligent) radio talk shows and podcasts. Do this while cleaning the house, working on your car, or organizing the garage!
• Stream Films and video from the Library of Congress (all free), as described in Film Treasures, Streaming Courtesy of the Library of Congress (New York Times story plus links, 4-3-2020)
What to Stream: Eighty-Three of the Best Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now (Richard Brody, The Front Row, New Yorker, 4-10-2020)
The Best Movies on Amazon Prime Video Right Now (Jason Bailey, NY Times, 4-16-2020)
The 50 Best Movies to Watch With Your Parents During Quarantine (Nate Jones, Vulture, 3-31-2020)
The 50 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now (Jason Bailey, NY Times, 4-14-2020)
The 100 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now (Brian Tallerico, Vulture, 4-10-2020)
The Best Documentaries on Netflix Will Change How You See the World (Hilary Weaver and Esquire Editors, 4-10-2020)
The 50 Best TV Shows on Netflix Right Now (Noel Murray, NY Times, 4-17-2020)
Stream 80 Indigenous Films from Latin America & the Caribbean for Free on YouTube (Repeating Islands)
Selections from the National Film Registry (YouTube playlist) Check out "The House I Live In" with a young Frank Sinatra, made in 1945.
Read "Why's This So Good?" (a"collaboration on the magic of long-form stories" (Nieman Storyboard pieces that explore what makes classic narrative nonfiction stories worth reading). And then
Read outstanding examples of narrative nonfiction online
New Netflix documentary tells the bittersweet story of a lesbian couple forced to keep their love secret for 60 years (Lily Wakefield, Pink News, 4-23-2020)
• Watch the wonderful Sondheim tribute: Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration a fundraiser for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), an organization that connects performing and visual artists with youth from underserved communities in the U.S., encouraging them to break the cycle of poverty. You can Donate here.
Television (wonderful YouTube video, a historic celebration of TV on its 10-year anniversary. "It is much like a radio in appearance.")
• ****Discover addictive and wonderful TV and cable shows (Writers and Editors)
• Do a virtual tour of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. From close-up examinations of some the collection’s best-known works to 360-degree virtual strolls though the museum, the website is the ticket to a perfect (and socially distanced) excursion for art lovers.
We're All Homebound -- The Coronavirus Song Claire and Mel Vatz (of Pittsburgh) sing an ode to our pandemic, to the tune of the Simon & Garfunkel classic “Homeward Bound.”
For the Longest Time Phoenix Chamber Choir (Vancouver's super a capella choir) sings Quarantine version of Billy Joel song.
• Follow the lead of the talented LeBaron family singing 'One Day More' from Les Misérables to Karaoke.
Senior Gold Dance Workout (exercise class at home) Or try this one: 20 minute exercise workout for Beginners and Seniors
COVID safety precautions (sung to The Sound of Music, Do Re Me)
Quarantine Music Video "Dance Song (for the End of the World)" - Lizzy & The Triggermen a 5-minute dance video pick-me-up for those getting Cabin Fever
Watch one of the National Zoo's webcams Watch the cheetah, the naked mole, the giant panda, the lion, or the elephant!
• Read Becoming by Michele Obama, and/or watch the documentary (on Netflix).v
Authors: Plan your literary estate (blog post, Writers and Editors)
Check out blogs and podcasts about book publishing
12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take on Your Couch (video, Travel & Leisure links to the tours)
View museum art online (Google, Arts and Culture)
• (Adults:) Read F--k the Bread. The Bread Is Over. by Sabrina Orah Mark (Paris Review (5-2-2020), whose column Happily focuses on fairy tales and motherhood. (H/T Abby Rasminsky
• Listen to earlier presidents' talks: "Obama out:" President Barack Obama's hilarious final White House correspondents' dinner speech (4-30-16) George W. Bush's powerful message of hope during the coronavirus pandemic (YouTube)
Recreate classical art with things you can find at home (Sad and Useless)
See New York City nearly empty (Stephen J. Reynolds video)
Download and color in beautiful coloring books (Biodiversity Heritage Library, a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries working together to digitize the natural history literature in their collections and make it available for open access) Download individual images or annual collections, color them, and share them on social media using the event hashtag #ColorOurCollections.
Virtual First Amendment Classroom (National Coalition Against Censorship)
• Watch trailer for The Plot Against America and decide if you want to watch the HBO series.
How to paint good (YouTube video) Bob Ross - Mountain Ridge Lake
The Classical Station (The ClassicalStation.org, WCPE-FM, Central North Carolina) Can be heard online anywhere 24/7) Including free operas being streamed by the Met and the Vienna State Opera during the pandemic.
La traviata in full from The Royal Opera (YouTube, as part of the #OurHouseToYourHouse series)
Anastasia in full from The Royal Ballet, a YouTube Premiere of Kenneth MacMillan's Anastasia, a piece inspired by the true story of Anna Anderson, a woman who believed herself to be Anastasia, youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and the only survivor from the assassination of the Romanovs in 1918. <
Light Shall Lift Us: Opera Singers Unite in Song More than 100 opera singers unite (from afar) in a song of hope and solidarity for a virtual performance of LIGHT SHALL LIFT US.
Toronto Symphony Plays Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring From Their Homes (Listen to 'Appalachian Spring')
• Listen to Hour-Long Stories from This American Life.
Read up on pandemics (links to great fiction and nonfiction about pandemics through history)
• Organize all those plastic lids and containers, or have the kids do so.
Join millions of people reducing their plastic waste.


Best birdhouses (aka bird boxes, nest boxes)
---Best Bird Houses for Different Types of Birds (Perky Pet)
---How to Build a Bird Box in Your Garden (My Job Quote, UK)
---House Wren: Nest box Plan and Information (All About Birdhouses, NestWatch, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
---Nest Shelf: American Robin, Barn Swallow, Eastern and Say’s Phoebes (NestWatch and State of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources)
---How to Build a Birdhouse for Martins (Will Shelton, Mother Earth News, Feb/March 1998) Martins not only eat copious amounts of insects but also scare away hawks and crows.
---Building Bird Houses for Cavity Nesters (Wild Bird Watching) Very informative, with dimensions for birdhouses for various types of birds. One size does not fit all when it comes to building bird houses. Bluebirds and House Wrens have different entrance hole sizes and floor to opening height requirements. You also must provide easy access for clean out. You can do this simply by hinging the front panel or one of the side panels or by having a removable floor or roof. And more such practical tips.
---Finally! A Bluebird House You Don't Have to Replace (Wild Bird Watching) Going Green Bluebird House by Woodlink


Largest human mattress dominoes (YouTube, Guinness World Records) Watch. Then discuss why people would go to this much trouble for this kind of honor.

H/T to Susan Pourian, Parkside Green; Jane Friedman, The Hot Sheet; Marcy Davis (Readers, Streamers, and Watchers);  Abby Rasminsky,  Lynne Lamberg, Holly Pollinger, and others!

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You Are Here: A story about people who don't know where they are

Listen to You Are Here (RadioLab, WNYC Studios, January 25, 2011)

A fascinating story about a phenomenon that I'll bet you haven't heard of.

 

"When Sharon Roseman was five years old, something strange happened. She was playing a game with her friends, and when she took off her blindfold--she didn't know where she was. She was lost on her own block, in her own backyard. For most of her life, Sharon feared it was all in her head, and kept her troubles a secret.

     Until she saw something on TV that led her to get in touch with Dr. Guiseppe Iaria, who helped her find a diagnosis...and a friend with the same condition. And Sharon's story begs the question--how do we know where we are? What does it take to be able to walk down the hall, or down the block, and back?

      Jonah Lehrer explains the very recent science that's helping unlock how our brains make maps from moment to moment. Along the way, Karen Jacobsen, who calls herself "the GPS Girl" (her voice can be heard in GPS units in millions of cars around the world), helps Jad and Robert navigate the episode's twists and turns."

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Index of blog posts

 
Covid-19 (Coronavirus pandemic, 2020)
You, your body, and your health
Health care, medicine, and the health care system
How we die (managing and honoring the end of life)
Life, home, and estate management
Justice and injustice
Telling our life stories
Wisdom and entertainment

Covid-19 (Coronavirus pandemic, 2020)


COVID-19: politics and the stock market vs. science and survival (the good, the bad, and the ugly)
Coronavirus: How to minimize your risks (the practical stuff)
Recommended reading about pandemics (novels and nonfiction books and articles)
Lost to the coronavirus pandemic
On keeping a diary or journal of the pandemic
Poems for the Pandemic
55+ things to do (listen, watch, read, share, do) during the pandemic
How prepared are you for disaster?

You, your body, and your health


Top sites for health news and advice
Medical links for patients, families, and caregivers
Where journalists get their medical news and information (Writers and Editors site)
Do you trust your doctor? How can you protect yourself?
Ratings for hospitals, doctors, surgeons, home health agencies, nursing homes
You, drug-resistant superbugs, and what's for dinner?
The flu: what you need to know
Overcoming flu vaccine hesitancy: The caregiver's resource sheet
We are what we eat? Read this, get healthy, feel better! (Part 1 of 2). See also Part 2 (with links to more good articles).
Healthy food that isn't yucky
Home remedies for relieving sciatica pain
The truth (and controversy) about chronic (late-stage) Lyme disease
Resources for finding service dogs, therapy dogs, and other types of assistance dogs

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Health care, medicine, and the health care system


Why U.S. medical costs are so high -- and where the system needs fixing
Taking the mystery out of health care prices
Drugs, Big Pharma, conflicts of interest, and why U.S. patients pay too much for medication
Ratings for hospitals, doctors, surgeons, home health agencies, nursing homes
Doctors rebel against a re-certification test that costs $23,600 per doctor
The anatomy of medical error Human factor scientists call skill-based errors slips and rule-based and knowledge-based errors mistakes. See also an Update on medical errors
Exposing abuse and neglect in a chain of brain injury rehab centers
Lead wars and the health of children
Organizations serious about improving U.S. health care
Talking points about the Affordable Care Act
The NIH Clinical Center: A national healthcare treasure
Nine great TED talks on improving health care

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How we die (managing and honoring the end of life)


Preventing fraud, elder abuse, and guardianship problems
Three cases for better management of dying
Autopsies: when and why and how
Farewell to T.L Hawkins, part 1 (October 2014)

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On keeping a diary or journal of the pandemic

What better time to keep a diary or journal than these strange times trying to duck a weird and dangerous coronavirus. Write about how life sheltering in place (and losing money fast) is with you. These historic times will be best recalled not by famous decisions or the tweet history of our demented president but by accounts of our daily lives trying to survive this sneaky killer.
Why We Should All Be Keeping Coronavirus Journals (Katherine Sharp Landdeck, Time, 4-27-2020)
What We Can Learn From 1918 Influenza Diaries (Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, 4-13-2020) Though much has changed since 1918, the sentiments shared in writings from this earlier pandemic are likely to resonate with modern readers. These letters and journals offer insights on how to record one's thoughts amid a pandemic.
What Historians Will See When They Look Back on the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020 (The New York Times) Universities and institutions are inviting the public to share their experiences during the coronavirus 2020 pandemic and its aftermath.
The race to save the first draft of coronavirus history from internet oblivion (Abby Ohlheiser and Tanya Basu, MIT Technology Review, 4-21-2020) How researchers, archivists, and citizens are racing to preserve a record of how we lived and changed during this strange period of history.
12 Ideas for Writing Through the Pandemic with The New York Times (New York Times)
Students' Journals Could Be 'Primary Sources' (Lauren S. Brown, MiddleWeb, 4-10-2020)
Share Your Story: Remembering COVID-19 Front-Line Workers (Meghan Collins Sullivan, The Coronavirus Crisis, NPR, 4-29-2020)
New York State Library Covid-19 Personal History Initiative The state is asking New York residents to share journal entries about living during the COVID pandemic.
Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary (Jen A. Miller, NY Times, 4-13-2020) It’ll help you organize your thoughts during these difficult times, and may help educate future generations.
How Can I Keep a Personal, Private Journal Online? (Alan Henry, LifeHacker, 1-14-13) How can I set up my journal so I can edit and update it online on my phone or laptop without the world seeing it? I want a diary, not a blog!
Guide to keeping an audio journal (Journaling Habit) Evernote and Onenote both have audio recording features that can be used on desktop or mobile.
The Art of Audio Journaling: How to Think and Write Out Loud on Your Way to Work
A Coronavirus Chronicle: April 15, 2020 (Local correspondents, New Yorker, 4-27-2020) Twenty-four hours at the epicenter of the pandemic.
The ER diaries: a coronavirus case that nearly broke me A California nurse’s journals from the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. A patient’s anguish is enough to crack even a medical worker’s professional resolve.  A nurse's coronavirus journal: 'The new normal of this pandemic sinks in' (The Guardian, 3-24-2020) "For the first time in the decade I’ve been working as a healthcare worker, the warning to stay home has been heard and obeyed by the masses."
My Students Are Finally Keeping a Journal (Jeanne Bonner, Brevity, 4-27-2020) "Yet on a whim, I wondered if using the forum tool to create a weekly diary might make sense so I inserted one during the first week of our confinement that was simply called 'Coronavirus Journal.' I told them they should not see it as a mandatory assignment but rather as a refuge.... Judging by the voluminous entries some have posted, they are galvanized in this hot-house atmosphere of illness and fear. Forced suddenly to live in new ways – or in some cases, return to living in old ways, specifically with their parents! – they've received a jolt of inspiration paired with a desperate need to vent their frustrations."
The Quarantine Diaries (New York Times) Around the world, the history of our present moment is taking shape in journal entries and drawings.
Quarantine diary from author Rick Bragg in Alabama (Celebs, Hello News, 4-18-2020)
'Write It Down': Historian Suggests Keeping a Record of Life During Pandemic (Anne E. Bromley, Virginia News, 3-17-2020)
Dear Diary, the World Is Burning (Katy Waldman, New Yorker, 4-10-2020) On the value of private thoughts during a public crisis.
Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project (National Women's History Museum) "We invite individuals from all ages, backgrounds, cultures, and socio-economic circumstances to be a part of living history by keeping a journal in 30, 60, 90, 120-day, or any longer OR shorter increments, and contributing their journalistic efforts to the National Women’s History Museum. If life gets in the way of a daily, month-long journal, that’s okay! Simply commit to what you can or what you already have. You do not have to journal daily.
"The kicker, alas: By agreeing to donate your journal, it is understood that the purpose and intent of the gift is to transfer and assign all rights, title, and interest in the journal that you may possess to the National Women's History Museum. A Deed of Gift will be issued to you from the Museum. The NWHM and/or the Museum's collaborative project partner, The New York Times Company, may make discretionary use of the donated materials to include, but not limited to, exhibition, display, publication, digitization for preservation and access purposes, and making materials available for research and future scholarship. The NWHM reserves the right to decline any submission deemed inappropriate for the project." (Make sure you have the right to use your own story, especially as they reserve the right to decline to use it.)

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