Telescope in the eyeThe good old Austin American Statesman comes through again with a great story on aging. This week it’s teeny, tiny telescopes implanted in eyes affected* with Macular Degeneration.

As the eye ages, the light-sensing cells in the center of the eye can begin to stop working and one cannot see anything in the middle of the field of view or up close. Only peripheral vision is left and that makes life tricky.

Telescope real version in the eyeThis little telescope redirects the light to parts of the eye that still work and one can see again. It takes a lot of rehabilitation and practice to learn to see using another part of the eye, but it is possible. The Statesman article tells about a 93 year old man who did it. Now he can sees much better, moves safer and can care for his animals.Telescope in eye really

The second and third photos show the device on a finger tip and how it looks embedded in the eye.  Click on the photos to see them bigger. The first photo is a bit bogus.

* or is that effected? I can never figure that usage out. What do you think? See if this web site helps: Diffen


  1. Roser, MA. Telescopic eye implant shows promise for patients losing their sight.
    Austin American Statesman, April 17, 2015.
  2. Telescopic implant restores vision in patient with advanced macular degeneration. University of California Davis Newsroom, September 11, 2012.

Image Source: I don’t know the original source for the first photo. I found it on  The other photos are from the UC Davis article.

Yesterday’s Austin American Statesman featured an editorial by Roy Smythe. The article discusses the limits that the Texas Medical Board wishes to place on the practice of medicine by remote and virtual methods. This is usually called telemedicine and it has a number of possible formats.

diagnosis by radioSmythe does work for a company that markets telemedicine services so his comments are not unbiased. He was however previously associated with Scott & White and the Texas A&M University College of Medicine, so his thoughts bear attention. I refer you to his complete article below.

I have long been an advocate for telemedicine in any form for rural and remote areas. For the elderly and home bound, telemedicine is a useful option if the physician is down the block. Barriers to access take many forms and there are many solutions. I refer you to an earlier post in this series from week 124, Medicine at a Distance.


Smythe, R. Why Texas telemedicine rules restrict access to health care. Austin American-Statesman, April 14, 2015.

Image Source:

Novak, M. Telemedicine Predicted in 1925., March 14, 2012

Chris in the morningIn the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska, the local radio station, KBHR, keeps the scattered residents informed of local events and emergencies. The morning host, Chris Stevens, mixes classical philosophy and erudite quotes with local news, and everyone in town pays close attention via their radios.

Radio is a unique medium. It was the first mass communication channel in the world that could offer live information and news. Newspapers reached millions of people and in their heyday had four or five editions a day in big cities. Newspapers are however “old news” compared to the instant interactivity of radio. Even Television, which supplanted radio as an entertainment medium, does not offer the immediate “live” connection of radio.

So, why not just do “radio” over the Internet? In many ways the Internet is an ideal alternative to the radio waves. In fact, almost all radio stations stream their content over the Internet. However, when your power goes out in a storm, your battery operated radio will work. Also, radio is a very simple technology to use. And it’s always free.

To serve local communities the FCC licenses low power FM radio stations. Wimberley, where I live, has had several groups of people interested in starting a new local, radio station. One group has recently gotten the go ahead from the FCC to build a station and if all goes well soon there will be local programming on the public air waves. For now, they stream a full schedule on the Internet, but real radio is the shining goal.

In anticipation of going “on air” soon, the station is seeking local people to develop and host programs. The light bulb goes on… What about a program on aging? How valuable would it be to have a local program focusing on the issues and needs of the elderly? Sounds good to me. Does it sound like something your community needs?

References and Links

  1. Chunovic, Louis. Chris-In-The-Morning: Love, Life, and the Whole Karmic Enchilada
    Contemporary Books (April 1993)
  2. Northern Exposure. TV program created by Joshua Brand and John Falsey. It ran 1990-1995.
  3. Wimberley Valley Radio, Susan Raybuck, board president and acting station manager
    Live Internet stream from Wimberley Valley Radio –

Join us for a real-time discussion about ideas raised by this essay on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room:

Ren fair
Another day at the Renaissance Faire and I am again struck by an interesting observation. While Renaissance Faires are usually thought of as fun for children who like dragons and younger adults who like wearing costumes and drinking ale, I have noticed a number of people at the faire in wheelchairs and motorized scooters.
Thomas ren fair
A case in point is Mr. Thomas Williamson, who was at the faire both in costume and using his scooter to get around. There was an older couple, in full Tudor-period costume, and the husband was guiding his lady who was using her scooter. One wonderful lady had created a dragon costume for her scooter and she looked like she was riding the dragon as she sailed through the faire.

I was delighted to see people out and enjoying themselves in spite of mobility issues. At one time, mobility issues kept people at home and they even would feel embarrassed at trying to join in at such celebrations. It is a sign of the generation that spawned these re-enactment events that we get out there and enjoy. It is also a sign that no one took exception to the wheeled visitors and everyone simply merged into the process.

This is not an isolated case. Across the country there is a new mobility.  There is even a magazine, New Mobility, that discusses the ins and outs of getting out and profiles neat places to go.

Join us for a real-time discussion about ideas raised by this essay on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room:


tombstonesMy wife has been a student of genealogy for many years. Originally she learned how to find government archives and write off to them for copies of records and spent days in the special genecology library in Houston. After much work she discovered that she had an ancestor who was at the battle of San Jacinto and found his name engraved on the monument at the battlefield site. She has drug me to far flung meadows at the end of dirt roads where live ancient graveyards where she found a relative’s name chiseled on a weather worn stone. The activity combines scholarly research with detective work.

Then, one day she got a computer program, Family Tree Maker, that helped to organize the information into family trees. This was a big, digital step forward.

Now, has made genealogy research a social media extravaganza. Via the Internet she can now search 1000’s of government databases for family records and reach out to the world to find other people with similar names who may be distant relatives with valuable bits of family lore.

The end result of this process is a huge archive of family information, trees of descendants, photos, digital documents and links to resources.

A question comes to mind: What happens to this trove of specialized information when we die?

Digital assets has become a complicated issue. Linshi (1) says, “Several state legislatures have debated the question of whether families can access someone’s digital assets after they die. Most large Internet companies, citing federal privacy laws, will not allow your family to access your account after death. Though some states — including Delaware and Virginia — allow parents or guardians to manage their deceased children’s accounts, in most areas, families must seek a court order to obtain the rights, which can take months or years.”

Similar questions arise about social media sites, like Flicker or Facebook, and what about the “cloud?” What happens to all those songs, books and photos I’ve uploaded to the iCloud? What about Google Drive or Drop Box?

A pretty good and recent (given that this stuff changes all the time) article that looks at all these areas is by Stewart & Cross (2). It was written by a lawyer and since it appeared in a Texas magazine considers Texas laws.


  1. Linshi, J. Here’s What Happens to Your Facebook Account After You Die. Time Magazine, Feb. 12, 2015.
  2. Stewart, C & Cross, B. What Happens to Your Digital Assets When You Die? Amarillo Magazine, Feb. 20, 2015.

Join us for a real-time discussion about ideas raised by this essay on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room:

This week’s column will be devoted to an upcoming workshop about virtual learning environments. Each week there is a discussion, based on the weekly aging column, in UTMB’s virtual campus. This workshop will give you an introduction to that virtual world if you have never explored it.

Virtual Learning Committee Meeting in Old Red

Virtual Learning Committee Meeting in Old Red

It is an interactive workshop dealing with virtual learning environments in general and specifically with the advantages of using the UTMB virtual campus in Second Life for small group meetings with distance students or colleagues. The virtual tour of the campus will show the 3D graphical environment and demonstrate current activities. The discussion will focus on possible uses for virtual learning environments.


Participants will have the opportunity to:

  1. tour the virtual UTMB campus in Second Life.
  2. observe the ways in which a virtual world has been used in education.
  3. discuss ways to incorporate virtual world experiences in their educational activities.
  4. contract with the presenter to develop a pilot educational experience of their own.

The workshop will be conducted twice and in virtual space as the facilitator is in Wimberley.

  • Thursday, March 19, 2015, noon to 1 pm CDT
  • Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 4 to 5 pm CDT

The technology requirements have been kept as simple as possible. We will connect by phone via a conference call.

So that the participants can see what UTMB’s virtual campus looks like, the facilitator will share his computer screen via a simple, video streaming method, called LiveStream. Participants will need to register with LiveStream but this is free and only takes a few steps.

If you have a Second Life account, join the workshop in-world as opposed to using LiveStream. The SLURL is under the Discussion tab above.

Teaching Skills Workshops are sponsored by the UTMB Academy of Master Teachers and the Office of Educational Development.

On Saturday, my two sons and I are going to a Renaissance Faire (the antiquated spelling for fair is part of the shtick). Faires are a loosely interpreted form of historical reenactment popular in the US , England, and probably other places as well. This particular faire is called the Sherwood Forest Faire and is somewhat based on the legends of Robin Hood.  The two big faires in Texas, the Texas Renaissance Festival and Scarborough Faire, are based on the reign of Henry VIII at the end of the Renaissance, hence the generic name for all such faires.

Faires are fun and festive. We all wear period costumes (sort of, my costume is more 18th century than 16th but it’s all in the spirit of play not historical accuracy). The day is spent in watching the actors play out the storyline of the Faire, listening to music from flutes and dulcimers, drinking good English ale, eating, and watching knights on horseback jousting.

lit by fireWhat does this have to do with aging? It all ties back to a remarkable book by William Manchester called A World Lit Only By Fire (1).  Manchester’s book has been criticized (quite rightly, I might add) for numerous errors of fact and interpretation (2, 3), however he draws a compelling portrait between human periods of ignorance and enlightenment. The value of this book lies in this overall point: Western civilization has moved from periods of immobility to periods of mobility (and probably back to immobility and so on in an endless cycle).

The Renaissance is characterized as a time when new ideas were encouraged and new practices were allowed to flourish. Those two conditions, in the 15th and 16th centuries, resulted in the Reformation, exploration of the “New World,” acceptance of new notions of physics and natural history, advances in technology and commerce, etc.

The echoes of the Renaissance persist today. One area where this “new birth” has been slow to mature has been in the perceived roles of the various ways people can be grouped: men, women, children, adults, elders, not to mention stereotypes due to race, religion and culture.

Over the last few decades there has been a shift in the perception of the elderly. People in their 70s are now actively engaged in the world not as the exception but as the rule. I felt sad to learn that Harrison Ford had engine failure and had to crash land his airplane on a golf course. That he is 74 and still flying never occurred to me as unusual.

Much of this altered perception is due to improvements in public health and medical care. People live longer, are healthier and are lots more active. Back in the Renaissance times, living to 60 was remarkable. Now we are shocked when illness takes one so young.

Finally, our expectations for older people have shifted. We do not automatically assume that everyone over 65 is retired and playing golf. In reality their 401K accounts ran out and they need to work. Regardless, the elderly are part of the mainstream of our society not a group on the periphery waiting for the next bus to paradise.


  1. Manchester, W.  A World Lit Only by Fire. The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age.  Little, Brown and Company, 1993.
  2. A World Lit Only by Fire. In Wikipedia:
  3. Adams, Jeremy duQuesnay (January 1995). “Review of William Manchester, A World Lit Only By Fire”. Speculum 70 (1): 173–74.

Join us for a real-time discussion about ideas raised by this essay on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room:


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