April 14, 2022

Marian Leah Knapp, PhD - Community Activist, author who believes that it is never too late to pursue a dream

Marian Leah Knapp, PhD - Community Activist, author who believes that it is never too late to pursue a dream

Marian and I talk about aging, following a dream, contentment, caregiving and erroneos conceptions of aging among the young.


Disclaimer: Unedited AI Transcription

 Correction: During the podcast, Marian provided an inaccurate title of a book by Gene D. Cohen, MD,PhD. The correct title is The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain 


Larry (00:06):

I'm Larry Barsh. And you are listening to specifically for seniors, the podcast for those of us in the remember when generation

Larry (00:25):

Today on specifically for seniors, we are fortunate to have as our guest Marion, Leah nap, Marion received her BA degree in English literature from Boston university, an ma degree in anthropology from hunter college and at the age of 70, a PhD D in environmental studies from Antioch university, new England, her goal for doctoral work was to understand the complex environment in which people age, she, that use the gift of experience and believes that it is never too late to pursue a dream. Marion has published four books, aging in places, reflective preparation for the future, a steadfast spirit, the essence of caregiving, the outermost Cape encountering time and her latest book about which we'll talk later, prohibition wine, a true story of one woman's Dar in 20th century America. Mary, and thanks for coming on specifically for seniors. Welcome.

Marian Knapp (01:40):

Well, thank you. <Affirmative> I being a senior myself, senior issues are very much a part of who I am and what I think about a lot. I do wanna just say the book on Cape Cod that I, you mentioned was co-authored with my photographer friend, the in Goldman. I just wanna make sure we mention her name.

Larry (02:08):

Okay. I'd like to take a moment and read a brief passage from the preface of your book, aging in place that I think we've all run into. And we all experience quote, I am a member of a group that is much observed and reported on by mostly well-intentioned people. I am an older adult, the literature news predictions and precautions about me and everyone else who falls into my category is a abundant, countless perspectives are represented and reported on through all types of media debate, abounds about my financial drain on the economy, current and future health problems, psychological and emotional challenges impact on my family, where I might live, how I will get around my threat as a driver and my inevitable decline into neediness. Certainly there are some less Dimo views about me that I can be a contributor to society, a role model for younger people and impetus for change and a lifelong learner. But these commentaries seem to be outweighed by the predictions of me as a quote problem adult. This seems to be our society's viewpoint, as opposed to that of other countries. Why do you suppose that is?

Marian Knapp (03:52):

Well, that's an excellent question. I don't know. Well, first of all, I don't really know enough about other countries and other cultures to, to say that older people are more valued or treated better in different places from here. I will say that there are actually many myths about other countries, which I have not really investigated fully, but for example there's some observation about a, some Asian cultures where older people are highly regarded and respected, and that may be true to some extent, but I also know because I have a family member who's Japanese in origin that everything isn't so wonderful that respect for adults doesn't always meet what we would we are here in the United States would think of as being respectful. So <affirmative> one of the problems in some Asian countries is there's been a limit on the number of children that people were able to have, so that sometimes it's extremely difficult if there's only one child for that one child to manage the ongoing needs of an older person.

Marian Knapp (05:20):

So I, I think in some places it may be better than here, but the older I get and the more I learn I'm I really don't know exactly what that looks like. I think some of the problems in this country is sort of an emphasis on the financial status of older people like people. Don't really some people don't really respect Medicare, for example, or, you know, various other healthcare options for older people thinking that that's a big drain on society. Actually healthcare experts certainly will observe that older people need more healthcare than younger people. That's true. But sometimes that that giving of the healthcare is not well accepted by younger people.

Larry (06:18):

You mentioned respect, is it really respect that we want our acceptance as still functional human beings?

Marian Knapp (06:29):

Well, actually that's a great point. I think actually it's a, probably a combination of both because when I use the word respect fact, I really do mean the fact this, this, I do mean that many people will somehow they see gray hair as I have. And you have meaning showing that or indicating that the head underneath that hair is empty, that there's no thought going on that it's just total emptiness, which of course is not true. So it's both acknowledgement that people still have brains as they get older. Some of those brains may not function quite as well as they did when they, when that person was younger. And also respect for the kinds of contributions that older people can make. So I think it's a combination of both

Larry (07:28):

May not function as well, or just may not function the same way our brains did when we were younger.

Marian Knapp (07:38):

Well, what I, one of the things at one point I wanna make is that I can only talk from my experience and my, the educational background that I have. And I'm, I'm a unique person. You're a unique person, everyone who may be watching this is a unique person. So there's no, as far as I can see, there's no overall person that that's all the same aging person. So what I've observed about myself is that my brain actually is in some ways far better than it was when it as younger it, because I can see broader trends, I can see you know, how I can see different people and how they react. And, and one treat them as individuals, but also be able to observe and put together a new pattern of thinking. And actually one of the people that I, who influenced me a lot in this was a physician.

Marian Knapp (08:52):

And I'm, if I, I don't have, I have his name will come to me on the top of my head. The, or the aging brain is the name of the book. And I'm blanking on his name, but basically that's what he pointed out is that as we age, our brains are different from younger people. People tend to get very specific very quickly. Whereas older people have the opportunity and the, the capacity to step back and, and have a much broader view, much more integrated view of the world than many younger people do. And I have actually found that to be very true about myself.

Larry (09:39):

I was just about to say, when I was younger, I was very detail oriented. I'd go to a lecture and I'd take copious notes on every small point. And as I'm getting older, the ability to, or detail is not as important to me because I can always look it up somewhere as an increasing ability to conceptualize

Marian Knapp (10:05):

That's right. That's right.

Larry (10:07):

To get a broader concept,

Marian Knapp (10:08):

Right. And that's what older people can bring, but that's not really recognized that, that value of a comprehensive view that older people can bring to any situation.

Larry (10:23):

Well, in, in, in the younger mind, it's like Twitter, brief paragraphs of right information. And as you get older, you can't do it in that limited amount of space because there's bigger things to consider.

Marian Knapp (10:43):

You know, I actually worry about that, that many younger people may not develop that ability to see broader concepts and broader spectrum of happenings be because of their tr this training in Twitter, where you have to say things in X number of syllables, I don't even know what that is, but I I'm wonder, I wonder about whether or not train the young people are being trained from a very young age to be able to say something in as short, a way as possible. And I'm not so sure. That's so good.

Larry (11:26):

One thing that now that you brought it up that has always interested me is the use of the word training, as opposed to the word education. They say now doctors are being trained in X concepts as opposed to being educated. And, and that's, that's, I, I reserve I'm a dentist.

Marian Knapp (12:00):

Yes. I know that.

Larry (12:01):

So I find that training means learning how to work upside down in a mirror that takes training whether or not a treatment needs to be done on a particular patient, or can be tolerated by a particular patient that's education

Marian Knapp (12:28):

Right now. Again, I can only talk from my own experience I have have I have grandchildren, one of whom is now in college. And she chose to go to a small liberal arts college so that she could get a very broad education. And so I tr I think it's wonderful that she decided that she wanted to do that because I've seen many other people that too early in their lives decide what they wanna be and then gear all of their training and, oh, and education towards that one specific goal and missing out on you know, endless aspects of our, of culture that would benefit them in all decision making about their professional life, including medicine and dentistry.

Larry (13:22):

Yes. Agree. What can you tell us about your own experience as an aging adult?

Marian Knapp (13:32):

Well, mostly I'm extremely happy to be aging. I, I feel the benefits of all of my life experience so far, but I've been very, very lucky physically. I'm healthy mentally. My brain still seems to be working. I'm still right. I'm still able to do a podcast with you. So I, and so many of my friends don't have that some do, but and we can talk about this a little bit later. I'm in the middle of writing my next, my fifth book, which is about a group of women that I grew up with, who, who were all, who we became friends in, what was then junior high school when we were 11 and a half years old. And here we are now 83, and we're still friends as a group that in that group, there were 12 original four have died. Two from cancer, one from heart disease. And one from COVID. Another of that group has dementia. And so I can see in this very small cadre of women, all, exactly the same age, this huge range of capability, competence, and health. And so my I'm in the lucky part of that group of 12. And I, but I'm very aware that anything can happen tomorrow.

Marian Knapp (15:15):

And I, I do the best I can to keep myself healthy, but I have no idea something could happen to me tomorrow.

Larry (15:26):

I am lucky as well to be able to conduct a pod can, right. When most of my friends don't know what a podcast is or how to access one.

Marian Knapp (15:43):

Well, but I, I, I wanna come back to this idea and your, what your comments are making me kind of think more about my own experience. You mentioned in the introduction that I went back to school to get a PhD. And I did, I passed my dissertation defense right before my 70th birthday. Now I, I don't know exactly why I did that, except that I had been in this master's program and life circumstances got in the, of my being able to continue on to get a PhD. And so when I was about 63, or I guess it was around 63 I was taking care of many, many older people. My mother, aunts, uncles disabled. I was the caregiver. And that's what my second book is about. And it, that experience being a caregiver for so many people who I loved, they, these were people who really influenced me and how I looked at life.

Marian Knapp (16:50):

I began to, I sat down one day and say, this is gonna happened to me. What do, what do, what would be my priority? What would I feel badly about if I didn't do when I was their age in their nineties? And it just popped into my head, go get that PhD. It was like, boom, I, I didn't even have to think about it. And so I applied, they accepted me. I was kind of an unusual student. I was first of all, much older than many of the other students. I designed a dissertation and a topic that really didn't fit in their regular curriculum, but they said fine. And that opened up worlds. Me and I had to learn all kinds of new things that I never would've learned before. One, how do you write a dissertation? How do you frame a, a, a question?

Marian Knapp (17:47):

How do you, like, I was never good at science I had, or I had to do a research project using statistics, which I hated, but I had to do it and I did it. I didn't do great, but I passed the co you know, the course. So it's setting up challenges that that, that it's setting up challenges for myself that keeps me going. And I, I see this pattern in my life now, looking back over all of these years, that's, I think what keeps me going is constantly creating a challenge for my, for me. But I also want to kind of reflect on something you, maybe even before you started the podcast about people doing Majong and people, you know, maybe not thinking about things and for me, that's, I think that's great. I think it's wonderful because I know I tried Majong I kind of lost patience.

Marian Knapp (18:47):

Like I'm not a good games per but it's a, it's a, it's an intellectual challenge to play some of those games. And th that's what those people have decided will help challenge them every day. Also, it's a very social thing for, to people to participate in, you know, like Canasta or Majong or whatever bridge is another. So there's great benefit to, to that kind of activity. That's not what I chose to do, but I am not, I don't feel at all critical of people who want to you, you know, who use those things as, as their way of staying engaged. And I have fr I have a, a really very close friend who was a, a retired attorney. And when she retired, she just wanted to be quiet. She just wanted to go for walks, listen to music talk to people now and then, but, and is very happy doing that. She does, she does not feel intellectually deprived because she feels she has done so much in her life. And with a lot of angst intention being an attorney, and right now out, she just wants to kind of be peaceful.

Larry (20:15):

Thank you for explaining that. And thank you for explaining my continual searching for challenges. You helping me understand myself in a way that I didn't before.

Marian Knapp (20:36):

Well, good. That's good. Because, and I, I really feel people should not beat themselves up if like, I, I happen to choose to go get a PhD and people said to me, oh, I could never do that. I said, that's fine. That's what I needed to do. The other thing was I never doubted that I would finish and I could have easily dropped out in my sixties, my late sixties, but I somehow knew that I was gonna do this come hell or water. And it was just natural. I did took all the courses. I did extra work. I wrote the dissertation, I passed the defense. I did all of these things and I never doubted, never doubted that I would be able to finish that it was the best other than having my kids and stuff. It was absolutely the best thing I ever did.

Larry (21:30):

Again, thank you for explaining some stuff to me. When I retired from dentistry, I learned to program websites as a challenge and did it commercially for a while. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and then other things, and now the podcast as, so you, you are helping me understand myself a lot,

Marian Knapp (21:51):

Right? And you're doing what you wanna do. Maybe you're, maybe it it's acknowledging it, that you, that you are a constant challenger to yourself, but that doesn't mean, and, and most people, unless they have some kind of a, they've lost ability to do things, most people are challenging themselves in the way that makes them feel good and feeling good about yourself when you're older is extremely important. So whatever it is, doesn't matter. As long as you got that ma group on Wednesday afternoon at three o'clock, then you're gonna see your friends and you're gonna have a cup of coffee and you can gossip and, and play the game and use your skills. That's wonderful.

Larry (22:42):

I read a phrase you had once written that stuck with me, aging with intent. What's that mean?

Marian Knapp (22:53):

I don't know. I don't remember when I wrote it or what I meant when I wrote it, but basically I, I can actually think about that. So I'm, I'm not, I, I'm not aging. I'm not, I don't feel that I'm drifting every day. When I get up, I've set myself up to have a purpose that doesn't mean I necessarily have a specific goal that I'm gonna work on, but right now my intent, my aging intent is to keep my brain active. And the way I'm doing that is writing my next book. So aging with intent, actually, you're asking me a great question, cuz I'm not sure what I meant when I said that, except that for me having some kind of purpose keeps my brain active. And that's the thing that I focus on the most is trying to keep my brain active. And I still, and, but I'm facing some of the things that lots of people my age are facing. Like I can't couldn't remember the name of the author of that book or gene Cohen is his name. So if I give myself 10 minutes to pop into my head, gene Cohen the aging brain. So I find that, and I actually learned not to panic about that. I've learned that, okay, it's in there somewhere, it'll come out. And when it does, then I'll feel good that I remembered.

Larry (24:26):

I think you experience something we all do,

Marian Knapp (24:28):


Larry (24:31):

You were talking about Majong it Canasta. We all like to feel content as we age. What do you do to find contentment? <Affirmative>

Marian Knapp (24:48):

Oh, that's a great question. You know, it's sort of like the question. I have a friend who will always ask me, what do you do for fun? And I bristle at that because I feel I'm having fun. You know? I mean, I could talk about the superficial of things like going to the movies or having dinner with friends. Those actually are not superficial, but for me, so being, you know, what do I do for contentment? I I'm doing what I'm doing. I I'm, I'm comfortable with what I'm doing. I'm not feeling that I should be doing something else. I've defined something and I'm working on it. That's contentment for me. And I'm also lucky because I have children and grandchildren who are close by and we get together. We see each other, of course, we didn't see each other for almost two years during COVID, but now we're able to get together again. Contentment means that my grandkids will call me and say, Hey, grandma, do you wanna, you know, do this together? Or that's contentment for me.

Larry (25:59):

You mentioned having fun. What could be more fun than having the opportunity to talk to interesting people

Marian Knapp (26:08):

For, right. Right. Well, it's talking to interesting people like you and others who might, you know, end up watching this and you. Yeah. but fun for me is maybe more has to do with contentment, which is I'm happy getting these, writing these books. I'm happy. I have a I look out have a little office area that looks so out over conservation land, and I'm happy in the winter when it's snowing. Of course you don't know all about, well, you know about that, but you're, you're, you're, you're in Florida. I look out the window and it's snowing, snowing, snowing, and all the trees on this conservation land are covered with snow. And I can sit there and say, look how beautiful that was. That is compare to when I had a house and I would see the snow coming down and I would see my driveway pile up with snow. And I would see ice have ice dams under my roof. And I would say, Ugh, it's snowing. How yucky, how miserable I have to figure out how to deal with that. That makes me happy to be able to be able to just look at the snow and see how beautiful it looks.

Larry (27:30):

You've written four books and working on a fifth. Let's talk about you becoming a writer.

Marian Knapp (27:38):


Larry (27:38):

How did that happen?

Marian Knapp (27:40):

Well, total serendipity is how it happened. I never thought I could write. I was not a good writer throughout all of my school years, including both my bachelors, even though it was in English. It was. And my master's degree when I went to in when my, one of my first classes at, in the PhD program, I don't even remember what the class was, but we had to, there was an optional essay that people could write. So I, I wrote an, an essay and I was the only one in the class that did. And so the teacher, the professor asked me to read it and, and I read it and she said, you should have that published.

Marian Knapp (28:32):

That was the first time in my entire life at age 64 years old, that I knew that I could write. So that actually got published in the the Antioch new England, new literary journal. And so that was how I began writing. And then once I got my degree, I sent an article into the local newspaper about aging and not expecting at all that they would accept that they accepted it. And then I wrote another one and they accepted that one. So I actually wrote a column for my local newspaper, which is now defunct for more than 10 years, close to 11 years.

Larry (29:15):

I remember reading the Newton tab and your article.

Marian Knapp (29:19):

Oh, really? When we left the Newton. All right. And then, then I decided to turn my dissertation, which is the, about the total environment in which people age into my first book and that's aging in places. So that's how I became a writer. And I, and it's like, what a gift, you know, when you're 65, 70 years old to learn that you're, you can do something that you never thought you could do.

Larry (29:49):

Tell me about your latest book, prohibition wine. It's a family story.

Marian Knapp (29:55):

Yeah. So I have to say this was a, a, a labor of love. My paternal grandmother, his name was Rebecca Warnick Goldberg, and there's all kinds of stories about those names, but I won't go into that. When I was growing up, I heard stories from my father, my uncles, my aunt, about what they went through growing up in Wilmington, Massachusetts, and for people who don't know the area, it's a small, rural, I think it's a town, or I'm not sure, but it's a small at that time rural area that they grew up very poor ex. They were her, the parents were immigrants. They raised chickens. They worked in local tanneries. And then when my maternal paternal grandmother had six children in 1918 grandfather was run over by a train. And that left her with six kids, age 16 to two and a half.

Marian Knapp (31:13):

She had to figure out how to feed them and make sure that they'd stayed together as a family, because in those days, many kids would've been sent to an orphanage with only one mother parent. But she was absolutely determined that the family would stay together and her children would all including the girls graduate from high school. So in, he died at late 1918 in 19, 19 prohibition was passed and it went into effect in 1920, and she decided that she needed extra money. And so she began to sell illegal alcohol during prohibition, which she did for about five or six years. And then she got caught. And so the book is about her and it's again, it's, it was a labor of love to bring her story into the, in, into history. And she made headline news in both in the Boston, the Boston globe in 1925 and in the local newspaper where they lived. And so I, I, I decided I needed to write about her life, which I did, and it's gotten pretty good reviews. So I'm ha very happy about that

Larry (32:43):

Waves, the book available.

Marian Knapp (32:45):

You can get the book on you can get it on Amazon, but I prefer to use book shop, which they sell books for the independent book seller who get some cut rather than Amazon. So bookshop, it's not, you can do it online.

Larry (33:07):

Okay. One more question.

Marian Knapp (33:09):


Larry (33:10):

Open ended. Strange question. Is it ever too late?

Marian Knapp (33:18):

Well, you know, I wrote myself some notes and one of those, one of those points is, is it what is too late mean? Or what is never too late? I, you know, some people are afraid to start something new at an older age. But it's like, again, on my, based on my experience, I wanted to get a PhD when I was 50, but I couldn't because of I, but then I said, what, why can't I do it when I'm 64? And so I learned that if you have the goal, a goal and you have the will, it's never too late to do something that you've always wanted to do. That doesn't mean getting a PhD, but it's never too late to learn Maja. It's never too late to learn bridge. It's never too late to take a trip that you wanted to take or new and use a new technology. As long as you, your brain still works. It's really never too late to do something that you've always wanted to do. I wouldn't jump out of an airplane, but many people put that on their bucket list. So go do it. <Laugh>

Larry (34:39):

Now I'm not jumping out of perfect good airplane,

Marian Knapp (34:42):

Right. I'm not either, but whatever it is, go do it, you know, and do it in a safe way. And don't do anything stupid and, and go do. It's never too late.

Larry (34:54):

Marion. Thank you so much.

Marian Knapp (34:56):

Thank you. And this has

Larry (34:58):

Been an enlightening conversation.

Marian Knapp (35:01):

Good. I mean, just finally, I wanna emphasize that people age, the way that's in a way that's good for them. Some people are lonely and isolated and, but in a way that's their choice. So not, but not always, but just keep living.

Larry (35:24):

Thank you.

Marian Knapp (35:26):

All right.

Larry (35:27):

If you found this podcast interesting, fun or helpful, we'd appreciate it. If you tell your friends and family and click on the follow or subscribe button, wherever you listen to podcasts until next time, I'm Larry bar and you've been listening to specifically for seniors.


Disclaimer: Unedited AI Transcription

Larry (00:06):

I'm Larry Barsh. And you are listening To specifically For seniors,

Larry (00:13):

The podcast for those of Us in the remember when Generation

Larry (00:23):

Today's guest on specifically for seniors is Jay Scott Christensen. Scott is an associate teaching professor of management at the Alaska college of business where his interests are focused on the impact of emerging technology on society and geo politics. Prior to joining the college, he was a business owner with decades of experience in video conferencing, technology, project management, and information technology. He's worked on hundreds of information, technology products, and remains actively in information technology, initiatives, and startups. Glad to have you here.

J. Scott Christianson (01:07):

Thank you so much. It's great to be here.

Larry (01:11):

Scott also has been studying cryptocurrencies and blockchains since about 2015. Yeah. And he's gonna try to get us to understand this whole technology that usually takes what two semesters, three semesters. And he he's gonna get it done in one podcast.

J. Scott Christianson (01:32):

Yes. You will know everything. And I wanna say to all your listeners, if you have opinions about cryptocurrency, you're exactly right. No matter what those opinions are

Larry (01:45):

Either way.

J. Scott Christianson (01:46):

Yes, exactly.

Larry (01:48):

What is cryptocurrency? Let's start there.

J. Scott Christianson (01:52):

So let's back up even just a little bit farther. And I would say that there's some magic that happens when something becomes digital. You and I remember, and probably most everybody on this podcast remember film, right? So we had our film and we, we took pictures on our vacation. And then maybe we went to the dark room if we were into that ourselves, or we paid somebody else to go into there and, and it cost a lot of money. Right. But when cameras became digital, you know, how much money does it cost to take a picture with your phone? Well, hardly nothing. Right? And it really doesn't cost much to then send that to millions of people, right? Because things that are digital can become reproduced very quickly. And so people have had this idea of boy, could we make dollars electronic? And there were various attempts at doing this in the nineties, but they failed because of this problem of what we call the double spend.

J. Scott Christianson (02:54):

So I make a dollar that's digital, and I, I send it to you, but I also send it to Mary and Jane and, and Joe and everybody else. And I'd send that same dollar. Okay. So that's called the double spend problem, but there was a breakthrough, if you will to solve that with a particular cryptocurrency called Bitcoin. And that was like the first cryptocurrency that solved this problem. And now there's, I don't know how many cryptocurrencies, probably thousands, if not tens of thousands of cryptocurrencies. And they all use the same technology that solves that problem. So now I can have something that is digital, but it is unique. Okay. And you cannot reproduce it in a way that you could with your photograph, for example. And so that's kind of the magic of cryptocurrencies is we first had this magic of things becoming digital and coming really cheap to reproduce, but then cryptocurrency has made it so that you couldn't spend that P that dollar, that digital dollar twice.

J. Scott Christianson (04:06):

So I hope that helps answer a little bit of what cryptocurrencies are. Yeah. But how does that work? So there's some math involved. So the way that that works is through something, a database technology called blockchain and a particular type of work, mathematical work, that's called a hash. And if you can imagine a spreadsheet, right? So you have the spreadsheet with different rows in it. Well, if I have something in Excel spreadsheet and it says, Scott gives Larry $5 and I'm using that as the official record of accounts. Well, I could go back and I could change that and say no, Scott only gave Larry a dollar. Okay. So therefore I still, I have four more dollars, but what blockchain does is it makes that ledger imutable. So once you have put something in it, that ledger, you cannot change it.

J. Scott Christianson (05:08):

Okay. So there's something called a hash that gets calculated. It takes a lot of work, a lot of energy to calculate that hash, but once it's calculated, it then becomes used in, in the next row. And so then that become, that hash becomes used in the next row. So you kind of think about block chains, so they're chaining things together. Okay. And it's through this work that happens on each one of our rows. And now if I go back and try and change that, well, basically you can't. Okay. So that is one of the fundamental tech technologies that has allowed Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to flourish that I can have that chart of accounts. And I can keep something that is digitally unique, and I can keep a record of how that's going from one place to another. And I know that that's imutable and can't be changed.

J. Scott Christianson (06:03):

And I would say that that has been a very solid technology because ever since it was introduced some 13 years ago there's been big incentives to hack it. Right. So if I hack that blockchain I could get billions of dollars of Bitcoin, but no one has hacked it. Now, certainly there have been other things that have not really been a tax, but they're usually attacks on people, cuz people are easy, easier to hack than computers are. But that's kind of the way that this technology works. So there's think of an Excel spreadsheet, but think of it that once you lock in a transaction on that row, it's done, you can never go back and change it. And so that's one of the unique things about this technology.

Larry (06:52):

Okay. Let's, let's take a step back for a sec. You said we've all heard of Bitcoin. Some of us have heard of Ethereum.

J. Scott Christianson (07:05):


Larry (07:06):

But there always seems to be somebody who's starting another smaller crypto that you can buy for $2 as opposed to $20,000. These get more speculative.

J. Scott Christianson (07:25):

Yes. and some of 'em are probably outright scams.

Larry (07:29):

Okay. So if somebody is interested in investing in crypto, how do you make sure your investing in something that's stable? Well, relatively stable.

J. Scott Christianson (07:47):

Right? so there are what we call exchanges. So Coinbase is probably a very well known one and they are acting under S E rules. So they are a no year customer. So I can't go there and buy some Bitcoin and then use it for some nefarious purpose. Right. So it's, it's like a legitimate place I would have to prove I'm Scott Christensen and, and you know, so

Larry (08:15):

It's an app

J. Scott Christianson (08:17):

It's a, it's a service. It comes as an app. App comes as a website it's called coin base and there's several others. And if it's offered on there, it's probably pretty legit. There are some currencies like Bitcoin where people are not using it as a currency, but they're using it as an asset. Like you might buy old or might buy rubies or art or something like that. But I would say that you need to think about this. Well, let me, let me use an analogy that a famous person in a Bitcoin community uses. He says if you put a little bit of Curry on your dinner tonight, that's kind of exciting. Right. It makes it interesting. If you put a cup of it, it makes it inedible. Right. So the same sort of thing with investing in these speculative assets don't put money in that you can't afford lose. Right. it's exciting. You get to watch it go up by a thousand dollars and then go watch it go down by 1500 the next day. And then up by 2000. And if you're like me and a conservative investor, it'll give you indigestion pretty fast.

Larry (09:31):

So, so now you have a Bitcoin, so you just have $35,000 you want to play with.

J. Scott Christianson (09:40):

Okay. Sounds good. You

Larry (09:42):

Everybody does, right. Yeah. where do you store this? You can't put it in a box.

J. Scott Christianson (09:52):

That's a, a great question. I would say that you can I a fraction of a Bitcoin, so it's divide up to, I think, nine places. So you could buy a small fraction of a Bitcoin if you wanted to invest $10 or something. Yeah. So here's the problem it's stored on the ledger. So that, that blockchain ledger we were talking about earlier, it says Scott bought so many Bitcoin from some, and that Ledger's imutable. But in order to prove that that Scott that is there in the ledger is this Scott, I have to have something called a cryptocurrency wallet. Okay. And it has some special keys, something called private keys. And I can have that on my phone and I could have my own wallet. But if I lose those keys, I can't prove that I'm that Scott. Okay. And that's been a real problem. Over 200 billion with a B of assets have been lost because people lost their private keys. So you may see articles about somebody that is out in the New Jersey landfill, trying to find some old computer. And because there's 10 million of Bitcoin on it. Well, there's not 10 million of Bitcoin. The Bitcoin is really just there in the ledger, but he can't prove

J. Scott Christianson (11:15):

That he owns that Bitcoin cuz he law, those encryption keys. Okay. So there's some fancy math that goes on there as well. That's why Coinbase is also nice cuz they're what we call a custodial wallet. So if you do lose your phone, they will have essentially a backup. Right.

Larry (11:34):

Okay. I've heard of something called meta mask.

J. Scott Christianson (11:38):

Okay. Yeah. So that is another type of wallet as well. And I think it's used a lot with NFTs. Okay. So we can, we can talk about what those are, but those are non fungible tokens.

Larry (11:52):

We'll come to that. Then let's not confuse people. Well,

J. Scott Christianson (11:56):

This whole crypto courtesy is not in any way confusing. So I don't know why anybody would ever be confused about it.

Larry (12:05):

How do you buy something with crypto?

J. Scott Christianson (12:08):

Yeah. So there are a few places as you can do that. But the problem since the volatility, there's two, two main things that are discouraged people from using it as a currency, even though it's called cryptocurrency one is the price volatility. So let's say, I'm gonna, I'm gonna sell you this widget. Okay. So I got, got here a widget. Normally I'd sell it for $10, but I'm gonna say it for sell for the equivalent amount of Bitcoin. Well, you send me the equivalent amount of Bitcoin, but then the next day Bitcoin crashes or that particular coin goes away. And now all of a sudden I'm losing money as a business. So businesses there were many, you know, probably five years ago because Bitcoin was fairly stable. Now it is very volatile and you just don't wanna do that. The other thing is that buying cryptocurrency is not a taxable event, but anytime you sell it even to buy a widget or a cup of coffee, that's a taxable end.

J. Scott Christianson (13:15):

So you have now triggered a capital gains or capital loss because the IRS considers this to be property like gold. So imagine you bought a gold bar and you went into Starbucks and you shaved off a little bit of gold to pay for your coffee. Well, you would now need to do your cost basis for that gold, what you bought it for, the amount that you, you know, gave to the Starbucks barista there and what that was worth now. And either claim a capital loss or a capital gain on it. And you'd have to track whether you had that for a year or more. And so you can all of a sudden start to see that this becomes a nightmare. If you actually wanna try to use it as currency. So right now it's mainly an investment as an asset, very similar to gold. Now Ethereum is an interesting thing that you brought up earlier. It is very Ethereum is, is somewhat different than Bitcoin because it's more advanced and you can actually build in smart contracts. Okay. So you can actually have it, do some interesting things. Whereas Bitcoin is, I think a good analogy is gold, so okay.

Larry (14:26):

We'll get into what you can do with the theory in a minute. Sure. Or what I tried to do with the theory.

J. Scott Christianson (14:33):


Larry (14:34):

And fortunately broke even. What else can you tell us about blockchain without getting complicated? Why does it burn so much energy?

J. Scott Christianson (14:47):

Well it doesn't have to, but the, the way it's structured for Bitcoin is that thing that secures those rows. Remember I talked about each row and we would do some math. That math is really, really, really hard and everybody's in a race because whoever figures out that mathematical puzzle first gets a prize, gets some Bitcoin. Okay. So there's all these computers around the world that are racing to, to solve that really big puzzle. And so that's why it takes up so much. It doesn't have to and in fact companies will sometimes have their own blockchains and they do they do something a little bit different with it. But yeah, that's why it uses up so much energy. And I think you had another part of that question. I'm sorry. I forgot.

Larry (15:39):

Now it was just why it used up energy. I

J. Scott Christianson (15:43):


Larry (15:43):

People talk about that. It's not green.

J. Scott Christianson (15:48):


Larry (15:48):

Because it uses such a lot of energy.

J. Scott Christianson (15:51):

Yeah. So it is based on this idea that we're gonna do a hard mathematical puzzle at the end to secure that so that it would be very difficult to, for someone to come along and do all that math and, and get that puzzle correct later on. So it's called a proof of work and that's how that ledgers secured, there are other models called a of steak. So there's another one called Carano. And Ethereum, which you mentioned before is actually moving to in the next year, a proof of steak. And so it should be much more green.

Larry (16:26):

Okay. So the blockchain isn't stored on your computer, it's multiple computers around the world.

J. Scott Christianson (16:34):

Yeah. It's a distributed ledger so I could download it to my computer. And I can interrogate it. So if you actually just Google blockchain Explorer, you can actually look at the current Bitcoin blockchain and you can see every transaction back to the very beginning of Bitcoin. So it's a public ledger it's distributed. This is, has some good aspects. It also has some bad aspects if I get you to send me a Bitcoin for my widget. And then I don't send you the widget. Who are you gonna complain to know nobody okay. If I accept MasterCard and I don't send you the widget, well, you call MasterCard and say, Hey, that's a fraudulent vendor. Okay. And, and I, you know, won my $10 back. So there are some good things and bad things about the kind of decentralized nature of this. Some people there's, there is kind of a sub cult around cryptocurrencies folks with the more maybe libertarian bent that are like, oh, you know, I hate the fed. I hate that they print new money. So this is the people's money. Okay. So there is kind of a subculture around this as well. That is this really likes that decentralized nature, that there's no federal government controlling it, but you know, there might be some good aspects of that from time to time.

Larry (18:07):

So this open public ledger doesn't show names or anything.

J. Scott Christianson (18:13):

No. So it's the, it's a pseudo anonymous. So we mentioned private keys and those are what you use to prove that you own something your quote, unquote name, if you will, is expressed as a, a public key. Okay. So there's a public key key that you would see or yeah, public key. And basically you would see this in every transaction. So if you and I were to make a transaction it would have my public key going to your public key. Okay. And that would be cryptographically signed by our magical private keys that we would key keep to ourselves. But if I ever found so nobody would know it was us. Okay. Unless we were using something like Coinbase, which I said does know the identity. So let's say that we did something bad with it. Okay. I bought some some drugs or something from you.

J. Scott Christianson (19:08):

Well, they would actually the, the police could go to Coinbase and say, Hey, we see that this public key was involved in you know, these transactions where we think are involved in, you know, drug trade or something, we would now like you to produce who owns that. Okay. And so Coinbase would say, oh yeah, that's Scott Christensen, 300 south Garth and Columbia, Missouri. Go get 'em. And so there, it's what we call pseudo anonymous because the identities are there, but in they aren't linked to a specific person yet. And so if we can make that linkage, then we can follow every transaction that Scott is a ever made. So it's,

Larry (19:53):

It's sorta like a coded Venmo.

J. Scott Christianson (19:56):

Yeah. That's a good way to think about it. Yeah.

Larry (19:59):

Where every transaction is named and you see everybody's transaction. Right. But they don't hide the names.

J. Scott Christianson (20:08):

Right. So in this case, yeah, the, the names would kind of be hidden. And so it has been used for nefarious purposes. So there was a website that was fairly famous called the silk road where you could actually go on there and pay in Bitcoin and buy your you know, your cocaine or whatever. And they'd FedEx to you, you and the FBI, when they actually caught the person that was running, that they needed to make sure that they caught him with his laptop open and logged in so that they could actually get his keys and know who he was and follow him through that. So his name is Ross Alrich and he was captured and they were able to do this. There's a fantastic book called American king pin. It's great audio book as well, highly recommended. And it talks about bringing on the silk road. But it's because if you're using something like Coinbase, you're not gonna be able to go buy your drugs online, but you're gonna need to do some other stuff that is gonna be, you know, a little more dark Wey type stuff. So

Larry (21:27):

Have done some digital art

Larry (21:31):

Drawings whatever, a couple of months ago, I tried without knowing enough about it. And I preface that to set up an NFT, a non fungible token of people listening to sell a digital piece of art. And as I said, I was fortunate. I broke even, because the thing that you don't know is that there are posting fees to get the article online. And then there's something called a gas fee. And I know some of the people listening are artists, cuz I know the group that listened to this and they may want to try to sell a piece of artists in nifty. Let's start at the beginning, what's an NFT.

J. Scott Christianson (22:26):

So in the beginning we were talking about how something becomes digital. It's easy to copy if I had your digital artwork, I could copy and paste that file a million times and all those copies would look just as good as the original, right? So there isn't scarcity. What this allows you to do is take your digital art and create a token that says, okay, there may be lots of copies, but this is the one original. Okay. And Scott's gonna buy that. Okay. So that's what an NFT is. And it can be used for lots of different things, not just art, but it's one way for digital artists to now bring in scarcity back into the, the equation and and I'd liken it to having a Monet poster. So I can have a Monet poster on my office wall. It looks nice. I enjoy it.

J. Scott Christianson (23:21):

It's not the Monet. Right. Okay. So while many people may have a copy of your digital art that they enjoy or have their background on their, their computer. There's only one person Scott Christensen that owns that digital art, right? So that's what a nifty or an NFT allows us to do. Now what we're doing with those gas fees is because of that it's stored on a blockchain and because of the difficulty of doing the calculations we're paying some people that are doing the calculation. Okay. So, so called minors, but there are some interesting aspects. So for example, Larry, if let's say that you're just getting started, you sell your art to me for a hundred dollars, but then boy, you become famous. You know, you've made it big. Now that piece of a hundred dollars art is worth a million dollars.

J. Scott Christianson (24:17):

Well, I sell it and right now I would get, you know, everything except for the $10 I paid for right as my profit. Well, what you can do is you can build in a smart contract and you can say, well, Scott, I'm gonna sell this to you. But any subsequent sales that are greater than a hundred dollars, I get 20% of, okay. So now I turn around and I sell it for a million. Well, you get 200,000 of that and I get 800,000 minus to 10, $10. So it's got some other interesting aspects that make it appealing for digital artists.

Larry (24:57):

How, how long does this NFT last forever

J. Scott Christianson (25:01):

In theory, forever, as long as that blockchain is around. And that's one of the, kind of nice about the distributed nature that you can imagine these blockchains might continue forever or at least for a very long time.

Larry (25:15):

Now I sell you a piece of art. I die. Can I will my digital prior ownership and smart contract to someone else?

J. Scott Christianson (25:31):

Yes. If they, if you have figured into your estate planning, how to deal with those keys, right? So those keys are, what's significant. You'll be able to prove that you were the digital artist, that you were the owner of that smart con track. Just as I can prove that I own that piece of art, I have to have my private keys. And so you need to do some estate planning for figuring out, like printing out your keys and putting 'em a safety deposit box, letting your lawyer, whoever handles your estate, know where those keys are, letting your family know how to do it. Because they're probably not going to know how to get to those keys. Right.

Larry (26:15):

So they can be printed out. They don't have to be necessarily electronic.

J. Scott Christianson (26:20):

Yeah. I used to print mine out and you know, have a copy here. Yeah. So you can, you can do it that way. There are also, some people will actually have them like in Boston little titanium things. So it's like fireproof stuff like that. So you can get pretty wild on this stuff. And you can also have it so that you maybe give it to five different people. And that way, if let's say I gave my keys to my best friend and I had a billion dollars in there. And he might decide, well, I think I'm just gonna, you know, ch cheat Scott out of the, the money and I'm going to you know, just collect that money for myself and move to co Costa Rica. Well, if I'm worried about that kind of thing, as far as having somebody that will, you know, have the keys and help my wife figure it out, you can actually break it up and, and distribute that amongst multiple people. So if you really get serious into this, I would definitely think about some estate planning with Coinbase or one of these other you know very well known exchanges. You can designate a beneficiary just like you would, if you were on Vanguard or some other place right

Larry (27:39):

Now in the course of a, a podcast. We, I can't tell people how to set up an NFT and how to experiment with it for the first time. Is there any reference material that they can look at?

J. Scott Christianson (27:57):

There is a, one of the popular markets called open C and that may have been the one that you attempted to, to do this on. They do have tutorials on how to do that. That is a place where you can do it. You pay more gas fees, more fees, but you don't have to be that technical to do it. Okay. some of the other ones you have to be a lot more technical in order to be able to figure out how to make all that happen.

Larry (28:31):

And that was probably one of my problems. I was on one of the other ones. I don't remember the name. Right. But it costs less. So I tried that one as I said, I broke even on the whole thing and I'm not going back. That's

J. Scott Christianson (28:50):

Right. Well, that's good. That's good that you broke even. So

Larry (28:53):

It was, it was a, it was a learning experience. What else simply haven't we covered in this?

J. Scott Christianson (29:05):

We, well, there's probably a lot that we haven't covered. I will say with NFTs, you know, there's some people look at 'em and say, oh, that's weird. Well, as, you know, as an artist, the art world has always been weird. Right. So, so don't judge too harshly. There's always what we call a hype where things kind of get hyped up and then they kinda, we call it the, the, the peak of it inflated expectations. And then you enter the trough of disillusionment. So it sounds like you may be down in the trough of disillusionment for the NFT craze

Larry (29:42):

It's called, it's called Lemanski effect. Right.

J. Scott Christianson (29:46):

So the so, you know, sit back, observe maybe in 10 years this'll be something that's a lot more interesting. Okay. And, and don't judge too harshly these artists, cuz I think if you go back and start to look at art, you find that a lot of it can get kind of weird. I will say that one of the things that I've been looking at recently is how you know, there have been some governments that have embraced Bitcoin and so El Salvador has, shall we say a unique leader who has made Bitcoin an official currency there and so that has had good and bad effects. I, I would not want, you know, our government to move to something that volatile. We enjoy a, a lot of sta stability here. When you look at some other countries though, I, I try to remind my students that many countries don't enjoy the stability that we have in our monetary system. And so, you know, if I was in Venezuela and I was got my paycheck, I might buy a toaster with that because the toaster's gonna hold value more than the currency that I have. Okay. Cuz you have so much runaway inflation in, in these places. And you know, we think we have runaway inflation with six or 7%. Well you and I are old enough to remember the seventies and, and when it was a little bit higher, we certainly never had 300% inflation. Right. So

Larry (31:26):

I'm old enough to remember the forties, so let's, let's not get carried away okay. With this analogy.

J. Scott Christianson (31:36):

But the governments are looking into this and there's an speaking of an analogy, there's the idea of a, a central bank digital currency. So imagine a digital currency that we could have the convenience of men Venmo and everything else, but it would be backed by the federal government. It would actually be pegged to the us dollar. And so that might have some interesting uses. I think it also could have some scary uses. Right. Cause maybe I don't want the go to be able to track everything that Scott does, you know, and I don't want him the government to maybe change policy based on my spending behavior. Right. So there's good and bad aspects to this. I even though I'm a technologist at heart, I kind of wish we'd slow down a little bit on some of this technology. So

Larry (32:26):

Yeah, I just talking about crypto, I just read in the paper 120 million in crypto aid flowed into the Ukraine as donations.

J. Scott Christianson (32:38):

Right? So that's another way for money to transfer internationally and you can do it very cheaply. So if I was to do a bank transfer, I would have to you know, pay a good substantial fee to transfer some money into the Ukrainian currency and into that bank. Whereas if I'm using crypto, I can send it to somebody it'll settle within. I can send a million dollars to somebody in Ukraine. It would settle within probably 10 minutes and they could then cash out for whatever currency they wanted to get euros or, or whatever. So their them advantages. And that's one of the reasons why a lot of federal governments are looking at these central bank, digital currencies, cuz they realize, Hey, if we did stuff on a blockchain, maybe we could reduce fees. Maybe we can make some things better. So,

Larry (33:37):

Well I think we just about did it on a simplified level. Okay, good. I hope that worked out. If anybody wants to stay tuned for another year and a half to this discussion, Scott, this was great. I'm I, I learned a lot, there were a couple of points that you brought up that were terrific. Good. And I, and I'm sure our listeners did it did as well. Thanks for being on specifically for seniors.

J. Scott Christianson (34:04):

Thank you very much.

Larry (34:09):

If you found this podcast interesting, fun or helpful, we'd appreciate it. If you tell your friends and family and click on follow or subscribe button, wherever you listen to podcasts until next time I'm Larry bar and you've been listening to specifically for seniors.


Disclaimer: Unedited AI Transcription


Larry (00:06):

I'm Larry Barsh. And you are listening to specifically for seniors, the podcast, for those of us in the remember when generation

Larry (00:25):

This podcast is brought to you in conjunction with the Alzheimer's Association's longest day fundraiser on June 21st, 2022. If you are enjoying our podcasts, or if you would like to, or memorialize a loved one with Alzheimer's disease, please consider making a donation@wwwdotspecificallyforseniors.com. Your donation will help increase awareness, support caregivers, and fund research necessary to eventually cure this disease, please visit www.specificallyforseniors.com to make a donation. Thank you. Today's guest on specifically for seniors. Is Ron Feldman, an author whose work has been compared with that of David bald. Dachi high praise indeed. Thanks for coming on specifically for seniors, Ron.

Ron Feldman (01:33):

Oh, thanks for having me. I appreciate it very much.

Larry (01:36):

Before we talk about fiction, let's start with a little non-fiction you the teller, not me.

Ron Feldman (01:45):


Larry (01:46):

Tell the listeners your story. When did you love of writing for a start?

Ron Feldman (01:53):

Well, you know, my, uh, even before that, my life began in a place in Brooklyn in 1943. Uh, and during those young years, my mother read books to me and I got interested in stories. And what happened to the characters and what, what, what happened next, uh, and why it happened and how it happened. Uh, as years went by, I read a lot as a young person. When I was in high school, I had my first us byline for this school newspaper. Uh, and it was exciting to see my name by Ron Feldman on, on this story, which was about my buddy who played football with me. And he was the best player on a team. So that got me excited. That got me to think, you know, maybe I could do this, uh, as he is, went by, I, I began to write for myself as most writers do, because we're all kind of intimidated about writing for others.

Ron Feldman (02:53):

So we, what we, we write, uh, and stick things in a drawer or so stick things in a file cabinet and let it sit there for many years. Um, I was a teacher and I taught English and writing. I was a university professor where, where I taught journalism and broadcast news. Uh, but I was also an industry as marketing ex, uh, executive where I had to write for the, uh, commercial world, uh, uh, for, let's say Bloomberg radio. I, I wrote a, uh, um, uh, a story for yeah, Bloomberg radio and, and other magazines for the construction industry, but all along writing. And, uh, I, I was, I was invite to write a screenplay by a fellow named a mill red several years ago. Uh, we wrote it long distance on the phone back and forth from California to, to Florida where I was at at the time.

Ron Feldman (03:52):

And it was submitted to, uh, Warner brothers. It was submitted a little late. He told me that, you know, there's like 3000 scripts in January submitted. So the likelihood of this getting, uh, produced is low and he was right. He was right. But, but over the years I had written many things. My wife, my late wife was an actress. And as a result, I wrote a, a stage play, which was, uh, not produced, but was done as a, a stage reading by a, by a buddy of mine who was an actor. And, and he brought in, he brought in real actors, uh, New York city equity actors. And it was amazing to, to hear the words come out of their mouth, gave it so much more reality than the words on the page and even buzzing around my head, uh, that excited me to do even more, even more so, uh, uh, I've been writing a long time short stories and all, all, uh, kinds of things I got into this, this last phase of writing, uh, after, uh, several, uh, daunting events in my life occurred.

Ron Feldman (05:04):

Uh, the, the first was, was losing my wife at the Sloan Kettering, literally in my arms and the second, even more tragic to me. And it's hard to believe it, but losing my son, uh, on his daughter's 13th birthday, uh, that, that changed me completely from an, an outgoing, interesting, interested person to pretty close to Ave a vegetable. I was, I was locked down completely and utterly. Uh, my family said, don't stay here in New York of Florida staying grandma's condo. And I did that. I got to, to like the sun and not having to shovel the snow. Uh, but I had a hard time. I had a very hard time, uh, I couldn't read newspapers or couldn't do anything. My brother who's a psychologist suggested that perhaps, uh, some medication might help. And he suggested something that I didn't really know about something called Adderall, which is an amphetamine.

Ron Feldman (06:12):

And so, uh, I went through a bunch of tests with person. They all said, yeah, I'm healthy enough to take it. And I took it. And as a result, my focus came back. My prior focus from years of working came back, a side effect was that it also decreased the level of depression that I was feeling at the time for the loss of my son. And so I wrote that was my therapy. I just, I just wrote, I would go to the gym in the morning, I'd work out, I'd come back, uh, and, and, and write till three or four, five in the afternoon some days. Uh, and that helped me, uh, to get through that time. And that first book, the one that I don't know which, which one I gave you, but this, the, the first book is little secret, big lies, uh, right. Which establishes the two characters.

Larry (07:09):

Uh, let's, let's get to that in just a second. Okay. Uh, are you a discipline writer what's day? Like, I mean, did you schedule time to write, uh, and you try to get so many words done in a day.

Ron Feldman (07:25):

Yes. In fact, I have a, I have a sign up here on my, uh, on my pin board. It says, uh, 1000 words a day, just do it. So that's my minimum. 1000 words a day in a year's time, that's, that's 365,000 words. I don't, I don't need to do that, but most of my books are about 85,000 words, give or take. And, uh, uh, I try to be very disciplined. As I said, I go to the gym in the morning, most days I did, and then I would come home, eat something and I'd start work maybe at 10 or, and worked till 3, 4, 5 in the afternoon. Uh, and that was easy to do because after a while I got into this, the characters, and that was very helpful to do.

Larry (08:12):

We'll talk about that. I'm, I'm, I'm very, I'm very interested in that. I want to ask you some specific questions. How do you research his stories? You've got a lot of background

Ron Feldman (08:24):

It's, you know, uh, I'll tell you another sidebar. I, I had, uh, uh, a friend of mine back in New York who was a pharmacist, and he knew that I was writing. And he said, he said to me says, Ron, Ron, he says, I have, I have a great idea for, you know, I, I know I have a story. I have a good story. I'm gonna write this. I said, so what is it? What is, what, what is it? He said, well, you take a bunch of information and you put it in a pill. So I looked at him the way you're looking at me now. And, and, and I said, well, that's not a story. That's a gimmick. A story is much more than that. A story has a lot to do with, with, with, with, with that. And, uh, so, so, you know, over the years, over the years, I, I had taught many things.

Ron Feldman (09:12):

Uh, there's different kind of writing, uh, motion pictures are based on visuals, a stage plays based on, uh, dialogue characters, talking to each other, but a novel is based on the words and the words become important to the reader, telling the story, presenting a visual, presenting a dialogue. And, and, and so I found myself being able to do that because I had understood the different kinds of writing the different formats. And I try to stick somewhat rigidly to the, to the out of, of telling a story and, and, and moving on with, with the next, uh, event,

Larry (10:03):

You've written a bunch of different things. You've written a young adult mystery, the crossover mystery, a coming of age book, read red hook,

Ron Feldman (10:16):

Just, just, just so happened to have it, but it's all backwards. Yes.

Larry (10:20):

Uh, and

Ron Feldman (10:21):

Red hook is where I was born. And in fact, I literally lived in these, in these buildings. I don't know whether you can see them. I can, uh, uh, as a kid. Yes.

Larry (10:33):

I think of most interest to the listeners of specifically for seniors is your truth thriller series. There are now three books in that series.

Ron Feldman (10:45):

There are three that are published. I think I, I showed you this one.

Larry (10:49):

Yep. Uh,

Ron Feldman (10:50):


Larry (10:51):

That's little secrets, big lies. The truth be told

Ron Feldman (10:55):

This, this one, if truth be told, which is a, got a five star rating, uh, from, uh, a group called reader's favorites. And the last publish book was far from the truth. Also a five star rating from reader's favorites.

Larry (11:11):

That's the one I'm in the middle of reading right now.

Ron Feldman (11:14):

Oh, that's the one I gave you. Okay. Yeah.

Larry (11:16):

Uh, which of them compared you to David bocci?

Ron Feldman (11:21):

The, this one? The, this, this one? Um, yeah,

Larry (11:26):

Far from the truth.

Ron Feldman (11:27):


Larry (11:29):

Uh, how was that done?

Ron Feldman (11:31):

You know, I, I, I, I bumped into a guy at a, uh, a book conference in Manhattan at the tra at the, um, uh, I can't think of a center, big center in Manhattan and, uh,

Larry (11:47):

Java Java center.

Ron Feldman (11:48):

Javitz thank you. Yes. JZ at the Javit center. And he, uh, uh, he, you know, he told me what he did. He, you know, he said he has this website, uh, a, a big website that, that he uses. And, uh, if I submit to him, he'll do an analysis of my book. And I don't know whether this is based on an, an algorithm. I think it probably was. Uh, so I sent, I sent it to him and then sent me that piece of paper that I think I passed off to you showing, uh, you know, to what degree I am, uh, like David BDA and two other writers. Uh, I, I read BDA a lot. And so maybe, maybe that's part of what happened. I kind of, uh, uh, not stole. Right. But I kind of mimic some of the way he writes.

Larry (12:37):

Uh, and what you're referring to is a, uh, I guess, a website called store it.

Ron Feldman (12:43):

Yes. Correct. I'm sorry. Score

Larry (12:44):

It rather.

Ron Feldman (12:45):

I'm sorry. Yes. Yes.

Larry (12:47):

And it compared 96, 90 9% in different categories to David Zahi. Well, yeah,

Ron Feldman (12:57):

I was, I was, I was very shocked and, and, you know, more than a little proud to be, uh, compared to him because he's a, he is, he's a world class writer

Larry (13:07):

Now let's talk about the series.

Ron Feldman (13:10):


Larry (13:11):

Uh, there are three books, a fourth one is coming out shortly.

Ron Feldman (13:16):

Yes. I just finished it within the past couple of weeks. I'm still playing with, uh, with, uh, the, uh, some of the content and some of the things that, uh, I, you know, I have to do, uh, and hopefully, uh, probably by the end of may, it'll be available. I I'm thinking,

Larry (13:33):

I know there are people here are in the community, very anxious to see, and to read that next book.

Ron Feldman (13:39):

Is that right?

Larry (13:40):

Yeah. From what I've heard, uh, now throughout these three and fourth book, is there a continuing storyline, uh, does it continue from one to the next?

Ron Feldman (13:56):

Well, the storyline that does continue is the subtext of the relationship between Carl and, and Lisa and Lindsay. Uh, they meet in the first book, uh, under extraordinary circumstances. Uh, he is a, a police officer who helps saves her life at the end of it. In, in the second book, they move on to a, another relationship thing, but the stories, the main stories, the protagonists and the antagonists, uh, are, are, are the, are the primary stories. They're, they're the they're growing relationship comes the secondary stories, but they, but they have a, a growing relationship from book 1, 2, 3, and also through four, uh, each, each book though, uh, has, has different, uh, characters and different, uh, different problems. The, the, the last book that I just finished, uh, is, is, is based on two things, two stories, uh, one having to do with some, something called, which the police call wi with sick, w I T S C C the witness protection pro gram, uh, an elderly man is murdered.

Ron Feldman (15:14):

They don't know why. And eventually they find out that it probably has something to do with, uh, the fact that he, he was in, he was in the witness protection program. That's a secondary story, but a primary story. And that's the biggest one that, that takes up. Most of the space of the book is a about cyber stalking and cyber ransomware. And that demanded a tremendous amount of research in double research and vetting to make sure I know what I was talking about, uh, for the wi for the wit sec, I, uh, I, I, uh, I had a high school buddy who became an, a police officer, a detective Sergeant and, and an undercover agent. So I would be on the phone with George reading to George George, does this make any sense, is this right? Is this wrong? What do people think about it? And George would gimme the best answers that he, that he, he was very, very honest and very direct. So I, I was grateful to have his help and his support, but I had none for the, for the a year cyber problem. And I had to do a tremendous amount of research, uh, about how it works, what happens to it. And, and, and then I had to develop a character who did this kind of thing, uh, because he was his personality kind of demanded it. And <affirmative>, and that's, that's, uh, that's sort of each of the books, I developed characters who,

Ron Feldman (16:40):

Who must do what they, what they do,

Larry (16:44):

Which, which of the books was the most challenging, the first one, or as you go along in the series.

Ron Feldman (16:51):

I think the last one of number of four, uh, it's called chasing elusive truths. Um, because I took on a lot, I took on a lot, uh, you know, the witness protection program, uh, and, and the cyber stalking and, and the, the growing relationship between me, Carl and leader of the Peter, Carl, and, and Lindsay, uh, got to be significant. And I had to make it as real believable, engaging interesting as possible. And that was, that was more of a challenge than the other books. For some reason,

Larry (17:34):

You bring up a, a, an interesting question in my mind, which it's the old chicken and egg question, which comes first, the story, or the characters, or do they develop together?

Ron Feldman (17:51):

Well, Lindsay and Carl developed over the, over the books, but the, but the antagonists, uh, develop based on events that I, that you know, that I make up. And then I have to build the characters, the, the antagonists, I, I have to make more than just a, a, a bad guy or a bad gal. And so that, that becomes, uh, that becomes a, uh, an issue also this, this cyber stalker is a son of two Russian people who came to this country to escape, uh, uh, a very poor, a life in Russia. When they came here, he was a kid. And as a kid, he was rejected because he didn't speak English. Well, he, he was an outcast, he was an outsider, uh, that made him seek control of his life. And eventually that's how he got into, uh, coding and cyberware. And so I, you know, making him a real person was difficult, um, and challenging in a psychological way. I had to determine why he did what he did. It was always very important to me. Why would he do this? How come he did this? And in each stage of, of, of, of his story, uh, an event occurred, which challenged him even more and made him continue on with what he was doing, which is, uh, cyberstalking, uh, a young woman and cyberstalking banks and, and other places across the country. And eventually that led to a very tragic event.

Larry (19:34):

I'm pausing for a minute. Uh, just thinking about the way you develop a character, uh, it, it sort of blows my mind a little bit. No, I, I, I try, I tried to write a novel and I got 60,000 words to it. That's

Ron Feldman (19:52):


Larry (19:52):

And decided that I didn't like any of the characters they weren't developing properly. Maybe I'll talk to you anyway enough. Uh, this is gonna be a strange question. As you go on writing a, a particular story with particular protagonists and an miss, how much influence do the characters themselves have on the way you are writing the story? Do they talk to you?

Ron Feldman (20:23):

You, well, I, I, I think we, we, we chatted about this once before, when you, when we spoke on the phone and the answer is an absolute. Yes. Uh, and, and the, the, the first few times this happened, uh, at, uh, I thought maybe I was getting a little psychotic. I would've thought maybe I was getting crazy, because if I would, if I would, if I would want to have the characters do something that wasn't, befiting who I made them to be beforehand, uh, they wouldn't do it. Uh, and, and, and, and, and somehow they had controlled my fingers on the laptop to, to, to, to insert, you know, the right keystrokes to make sure that it was, uh, it, it was more genuine to who they really were. Not who, not, not, not making them, uh, for an audience, but rather for the, for, you know, for them. Uh, and so yes, uh, they take over sometimes and they, and they, and they do that. They, they do take over good guys and bad guys as well.

Larry (21:25):

Yeah. I, I found that a couple of the victims I was trying to write about refused to be victims in the way I wanted them to be <laugh>. So it just a very strange feeling, even as a, a very amateur amateur attempt at writing

Ron Feldman (21:47):

It is, it, it is bizarre, but it, you know, I, uh, I, I thought at first I was the only one who felt this way, but over the years, I've, uh, I've spoken to other writers and, uh, many have the same, uh, understanding of their characters, especially if they have characters that go from one book to another, uh, and, and, and the relationships grow and, and, and the charact grow, uh, you know, that does happen. Yes.

Larry (22:12):

How well did you get to know Lindsay and Carl? Wow. I mean, I I'm asking it like, these people really exist, but to you, apparently they do

Ron Feldman (22:27):

Well, you know, Lindsay has gone through a, a terrible event in the first book, uh, which caused her to do things that she would never have done as a psychologist as, as, as a well, uh, trained psychologist. And so, uh, she, she, she had to develop past the pro problem and I, and I had to make her develop past the problem. And, and, you know, I think, I think part of what I was able to do and understand was based on the undergraduate degree I have in psychology, in English. And so, and, and the fact that my brother, my brother is, is a psychologist. Uh, and so I, I, I always wanted to, to know why somebody did something and what effect it had on them. And also when you write about characters, there are two sides to the character. One is what the character thinks of him or herself, I'm this I'm that. And the other is what the, what the others outside of that character, the, the other, the other characters think of that character. And you have to balance that because sometimes they don't, they, most of the times they, they don't match. Uh, but as I developed Carl and Lindsay, they became almost like one, they knew each other thoroughly, they respected each other thoroughly and eventually fell in love thoroughly.

Larry (23:58):

Uh, do they become your friends

Ron Feldman (24:02):

To become my friends? I, if that's a good question, I'm, uh,

Larry (24:05):

In a way, I mean, I know they're characters, so they're not real, but

Ron Feldman (24:10):

Yeah. Uh, do I like them? Do, do, do I respect them? Uh, would I, would, I wanna have a drink with, with, with Carl cause he, he drinks scotch as I do. Would I wanna have a scotch with him? Yes. Would, would I wanna sit in, in with, uh, you know, Lindsay's office and, and tell her all my troubles <laugh> yes. Uh, so in that sense, I, I think, I think the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes. Even though they're much younger than me,

Larry (24:38):

This is, this has been, this has been fascinating. <laugh>, I mean, I, I have really enjoyed this conversation <affirmative>, uh, and I'm anxious. Uh, I probably should start with the first book and let them develop as they go along.

Ron Feldman (24:55):

It's a very different story than the other ones, because, uh, she, she, she is introduced and he, he, he comes along later on. Uh, but, uh, it's, it's, uh, it's a good beginning. It's a good beginning. It's a good beginning for the characters that develop later on. Yes.

Larry (25:15):

Uh, because the first book doesn't say truth in the title.

Ron Feldman (25:23):


Larry (25:24):

No. It starts out with lies. <affirmative> rather than truth.

Ron Feldman (25:29):

Right. Little secrets, big lies. And, and, and, and that's, that's what happens, um, in that story, um, she has just been divorced is, is vulnerable. Uh, and she meets a man who is not exactly what he seems to be, Which causes her tremendous problems and a problem for one of her patients. And she has to deal with it. She has to deal with the regret and she has to deal with the potential guilt that she feels for bringing this guy into her life.

Larry (26:09):

How did it evolve from big lies to truths?

Ron Feldman (26:15):

Well, you know, the opposite of lies are truth. So, uh, uh, the, the, the, uh, uh,

Larry (26:25):

There must change in focus or

Ron Feldman (26:29):

No, I, I, I never felt it was a difference to be honest with you. I never felt it was a difference. Uh, you know, this, the, the, the title of second book, if truth be told is, is, uh, uh, is based on a bunch of lies that the, that the antagonists tell everybody. Uh, and so I, maybe I, maybe I just sort of flipped it over from lies to, to the truth and the third book, uh, which is far from the truth, because it's, it's, uh, uh, it, it's kind of an international story, uh, uh, but, but, you know, I never thought about it that way. I don't know. I don't know how it happened. I honestly don't know <laugh>.

Larry (27:15):

This is, as I said before, this has been a great conversation. Thank you. Uh, you anticipate the fourth book to be of available.

Ron Feldman (27:25):

I think the end of may, I think the end of may, uh, you know, the, the, the, the first draft is finished. Uh, I've edited it twice. Uh, I have to send it out to an editor to make sure that, uh, mostly, mostly that the storyline makes sense. Uh, I don't need too much P proof reading, I don't think, but there's always, there's always things that I, that I don't see that might be, uh, uh, you know, need to be fixed. Uh, so that has to be done. Uh, and I have a, a few other things that have to be done with the, with the formatting and so forth, because I self-publish these books. Uh, and so, uh, that it's gonna take, that's gonna take a while. Uh, and it's gonna take a while because I wanna reach the point where I feel comfortable putting it into, uh, the world. I wanna feel comfortable, uh, doing that. And, uh, sometimes the books challenge me to do that. Sometimes they sit for a little longer than they should, uh, waiting to be born. They're finished, but they're waiting to come outta the womb, so to speak. Uh, and this one, this one I'm gonna push out. I'm gonna push out. <laugh>, uh, sometime by the end of may, I'm hoping.

Larry (28:41):

And where will your, where are your books available for listeners who are interested in getting copies? Well,

Ron Feldman (28:48):

They're on amazon.com, uh, both in print, as you see, and as a, as a Kindle, but they're at a bunch of other sites as well. And, and they're also available on apple. They're also available on look, press from Barnes and noble. They're also available on Cobo, K O B O and prop probably 10 or 12 others. Uh, e-readers around the world. Uh, I, I have, I have readers from many countries that I, you know, that I've never been to, uh, including, uh, a fellow from India who reads my books and, and even writes reviews for me, which is, which is what the goal of every writer is. You will wanna have a good review. You wanna have somebody write a review on, uh, for your book and say, it's good aside from just friends and, and relatives. And this guy who lives in, in India, uh, gave me a wonderful review on several books. So, uh, I'm, I'm pleased about that,

Larry (29:43):

Ron. Thank you so much for coming on specifically.

Ron Feldman (29:46):

Its been my pleasure.

Larry (29:47):

It's been fun.

Ron Feldman (29:49):

It's been it's yeah, it's been very good for me too. I appreciate you. Your, your helping getting me getting me connected and set up here this morning. <laugh> yeah.

Larry (29:58):

And getting the shades up so I can see

Ron Feldman (30:00):

You. Yes. Yes. <laugh>

Larry (30:03):

Thanks again, Ron. If you found this podcast interesting, fun or helpful, we'd appreciate it. If you tell your friends and family and click on the follow or subscribe button, wherever you listen to podcasts until next time I'm Larry bar and you've been listening to specifically for seniors.

Marian Leah KnappProfile Photo

Marian Leah Knapp

Marian Leah Knapp is a community activist and a writer. Her recent award-winning book, Prohibition Wine: A True Story of One Woman’s Daring in Twentieth-Century America (May 2021), is about her widowed paternal grandmother who sold illegal alcohol during Prohibition to feed herself and her six children. She is also the author of Aging in Places: Reflective Preparation for the Future, A Steadfast Spirit: The Essence of Caregiving, and with Vivien Goldman, The Outermost Cape: Encountering Time. For more than eleven years, she has written a regular column, Aging in Places, for the Newton (MA) Tab. Marian was an appointed commissioner on the Newton Council on Aging, and, served as its chairperson for more than six years.

Marian was born and raised in Providence, RI where she attended public schools. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Boston University and a M.A. from Hunter College in Anthropology. When she was 64 years old, she went back to school to obtain a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies focusing on the total environment in which people age and passed her dissertation defense right before her 70th birthday. She lives in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

She has experienced and managed many aspects of aging - caregiver of older loved ones, parent of adult children, grandparent of the future generation, and her own aging. With all of this she values the gift of experience and believes that it is never too late to pursue a dream!

Prohibition Wine is available at Amazon.