Saturday, March 28, 2009

Five-oh and Six-oh

Nearly all of us eventually reach those “zero year” milestones of 50 and 60. If it makes you feel old, seeing celebrities age helps prove there is justice in the world. Thanks to Rhea for her monthly reminder of who is next.

Singer Irene Cara (who sang the Fame lyric “I’m gonna live forever”), actors Tom Arnold and Aiden Quinn, OJ sidekick and fake celebrity Kato Kaelin, and male model Fabio are all turning 50 this month.

Singer Eddie Money, Cars member Ric Ocasek, Dallas star Patrick Duffy and CHIPS star Eric Estrada all hit the 60 mark this month.

Talk about March Madness!

Monday, March 23, 2009

An Indispensable Piece

No electricity, no running water.

Soldiers with weapons drawn patrol the streets in groups of four and see devastation in every direction. Fearful citizens seek reliable information, food, medical care, hope.

Stragglers guard their homes from behind broken windows. The stench is unbearable. Military helicopters circle overhead. Authorities search for bodies and looters.

War-torn third-world country?

No!

It’s New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Three weeks later, the flood waters slowly recede, leaving mud and reality. Authorities fight over jurisdiction, emergency funding and logistics, while more citizens leave or die. As the bumbling, disorganized Federal, State and Local Governments dig through policy, procedure and protocol, real people dig through mud, mold and the soggy remains of damaged lives. Youth groups, church groups, retired doctors and caring college students from across the country work side by side with heartbroken-but-stubborn local lifers in the heat and humidity, sorting the destroyed belongings from the salvageable.

Days and weeks become months and years of cleaning, mold remediation, tearing down, rebuilding, heartache, red tape and uncertainty.

Three and a half years later, New Orleans is still a broken city. Laissez les bon temp roulette is still the mindset and the locals that tourists see put on a smiling face. Visit at a time other than Mardi Gras or Jazzfest and you’ll get a better taste of the bitter reality.

Drive in from the east instead of taking the airport shuttle from the west for a real view of where the city is and is not on the road to recovery. Mile after mile of vacant lots might sway you to the side of the debate that New Orleans isn’t worth saving.

Then stop and talk to the people who call New Orleans home and you might understand the validity of the argument that says their brand of unique is an indispensable piece of the American mosaic.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Confidence and Aging

With age comes confidence. At least that has been my experience.

As I grow older I grow more confident in who I am as a person, an employee, a friend. I express my opinion more boldly than in the past and often hear more agreement than expected; and less regret and fear in the face of disagreement. I stand my ground more in my slightly larger leadership role at work and find that others come around to my point of view more often than in the past; and I have received increasingly positive response for my initiatives from managers further up the line. That positive reinforcement adds to my confidence.

Aging is a scary thing and our youth-focused American culture doesn’t inspire confidence in growing old. Aging often represents loss … loss of parents, loss of friends, loss of memory, body shape, libido, hair. The only significant loss I’ve experienced on that list is parents and I’ve actually reconnected with many old friends in the past year. I know where my keys are. I’ll comment on the rest of the list some other time.

Fortunately, aging is not all about loss. We often gain experience, wealth, knowledge, skills, power and … confidence. We grow comfortable in our skin, even if that skin sags a little more than in our youth.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Say It Aint So

If you’re in your 30s or even 40s and you heard about a concert with the following lineup, what would you think? … Santana, The Who, Crosby Stills and Nash, Joe Cocker, Jefferson Airplane.

Must be a classic rock radio station or an iPod playlist, right? You certainly wouldn’t get all of those bands on the same stage at the same concert.

If you’re at the mid to upper end of the Baby Boomer range, you already know all of those bands DID play on the same stage at the same event. Woodstock!

Here is the part that is really unbelievable: August marks the 40th anniversary of Woodstock..

Forty years! Geez, I’m feeling old at this moment. No, I was not at Woodstock, but I certainly remember hearing about it, then hearing music from the album, then seeing the movie. Although that movie only shows a segment of the population of the time, it is a good representation of the spirit of 1969 and provides a glimpse into a highly visible and influential part of the culture of the era.

Some of the other artists on stage during those three days of mud and music: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly & the Family Stone, Grateful Dead, John Sebastian (long before he sang the Welcome Back Cotter theme), Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, and Blood Sweat & Tears.

Watch the movie some time, then click here to see what became of the site. It’ll give you a good view of the contrast between Boomers then and Boomers now. Like everything else in Boomerville, things are now slick, produced and sponsored.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How Can We Get A Job THERE?

Most of us have jobs where good performance is encouraged, expected and often rewarded.

On the flip side, if your actions cost the company hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars, they fire your butt!

Wouldn’t you love to work for an employer just once in your life where you can lose a fortune for the company and its investors and still walk away with millions of dollars in bonuses? Well, there is such a company … AIG.

Multi-million dollar bonuses for poor performance, backed by contracts that even the federal government can’t break!

I am so there. When can I start?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Busy B

Busy busy busy. I hate being so busy.

Busy busy busy busy. Eat, drive, work, drive, eat, sleep. Busy busy. Next day, eat, drive, work, drive, eat, sleep. Nothing else. Too damn busy. Next day: DDSS. Busy.

No time for friends, no time for fun. Just eat, drive, work, drive, eat, sleep.

When did our lives get do damn busy?

Busy busy busy.

And you?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Daylight Confusion Time

Why do we still change our clocks from Standard time to Daylight Savings time and back again, over and over, twice a year? Why not just keep one?

Daylight savings time was first adopted in parts of Europe during World War I in 1916 and eventually in the U.S. in 1918. That is also when time zones were established in the U.S. Changing the clocks twice a year was so unpopular here that the law was repealed after the War, making it a local option. A few states and even a few cities continued the practice, everyone else ignored it.

During part of World War II in the 1940s, Daylight Savings Time was adopted year-round, which is how I think it should be now. After that war, it became a local issue again, with a confusing array of options state-to-state and in some cases, county to county. Laws passed in 1966, 1974 and 1986 standardized the clock switching across most, but not all of the country and the start and end dates were changed again in 2005.

But it is still confusing!

Arizona, for example, does not switch to Daylight Savings Time. Neighboring Utah does. Navajo Nation, which is embedded in parts of both states, does. If you drive from Flagstaff, Arizona to Moab, Utah on highways 89, 160 and 191, don’t even bother trying to figure out what time it is; it changes three times in five hours. Or maybe four times. Five? I’m not sure.

At least one study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation claims that Americans prefer Daylight Savings Time because it gives us more daylight at the end of the day. If that’s the case, why not do that all year long?

There is no easy answer. Energy use and traffic safety are also part of the debate. Some people even say the additional afternoon light helps the economy because people go out and spend more money during the extra daylight. And recent research points to sleep disorder problems related to the clock changing.

Confused? Me too. Maybe it’s because of losing an hour of sleep last night. You did remember to change your clocks, right?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Totally Random 1.0

I love Discovery Channel. Did you know a grizzly can eat 40,000 moths in a day?

Mother Nature is such a tease! Ten degrees Monday night, 73 degrees Saturday afternoon; neither is normal. I don’t understand her any more than I understand any other women I know.

A baby boomer remembers when a telephone, a camera, a music player, a computer and a typewriter were all separate devices, each weighing five to thirty pounds and only available at five different stores in a shopping mall. A twenty-five year old has all five of those items in one device the size of a pack of cigarettes and he or she bought it without leaving home.

Why are all the female anchors on the Fox New Network buxom blondes?

Who decided black is a good color for a car? A black car certainly does look good when it’s clean; but in my experience, that only happens during the first ten minutes after exiting the car wash. I was warned.

Friday, March 6, 2009

To Self-Checkout or Not Self Checkout, That Is The Question

My regular grocery store has all live checkers. I went to a different grocery last Saturday and was surprised to find that six of the seven open checkouts were self checkouts. They each had one customer checking out. There were at least eight of us in line at the one checkout with the human checker. We laughed over this as we waited in that slow-moving line.

Is there some kind of psychology involved with this? I know I sound old-school even admitting that I hate self-serve checkouts. In most aspects of my life, I’d rather do things myself. But when given the choice, I usually pick the checkout staffed with a person, in part because there is so often a problem requiring human intervention at the self checkouts.

The long line today seems to validate my point; or at least it reaffirms my belief that I’m not alone in my dislike for self checkout.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It’s Entertainment, Not Politics

Rush is not a political leader or expert and more important than that, he doesn’t really care about the issues. If it wasn’t for the First Amendment, his inflammatory bullshit would be silenced.

He is an entertainer and his shtick is conservative politics. The crap that spews from his mouth is entertainment, no more, no less.

He used to be a DJ. Somewhere along the way, he realized he could get more listener reaction and better ratings by talking. His views probably are genuinely conservative, like approximately half the adult population, but there is no evidence that he really cares about the issues. Conservative indignation happens to be a lot more fun to listen to on the radio than liberal pontification, so his brand of entertainment has a larger and more vocal audience than someone like Randi Rhodes, a liberal talk show host who used to work for the left-leaning Air America network.

People talk about Rush. I’m doing it here, although I’d prefer to ignore saying anything about him with the same enthusiasm that I ignore his radio show. But his pompous ramblings got a lot of attention on TV news last weekend, so it is hard to ignore him.

He recently said that he hopes President Obama fails. That’s pretty damn un-American, isn’t it? Why would anyone want the President of the United States to fail? If the President fails, doesn’t that imply that the country fails? President Bush failed for seven of his eight years and look at the mess we’re in now. I don’t hear Rush blaming Bush for anything.

Fortunately some leading conservative Republicans like Michael Steele and Eric Cantor are publicly distancing themselves from him. While Rush may speak for a lot of people, don’t confuse him for a leader. Don’t look at his spoken opinions as representative of the majority of conservatives or the majority of Republicans. He speaks to get a reaction and his goal is to increase ratings on his show. Higher ratings lead to higher salary. With his reported $33 million annual compensation, there is no economic downturn at his house.

It’s just entertainment. Take it too seriously and it becomes dangerous entertainment.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Daughter

We don't have kids, but we do have three dogs. All are Border Collies, one boy and two girls.


Most Baby Boomers I know have children and some even have grandkids; but my sister, two cousins and at least three good boomer-aged friends do not have children. I think we will regret this when we're old.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Milk, Bread, Toilet Paper and the End of the World

Snow is predicted for the Washington DC area tonight and tomorrow morning. It’s not the first time we will experience heavy snowfall around here, but the ‘storm warning’ panic has already begun.

We laugh at ourselves when snow is in the forecast, in a self-conscious ‘it’s funny but it’s true’ way. The joke is that everyone in the Mid-Atlantic states stocks up on milk, bread and toilet paper when snow is coming. It’s funny. And it’s true. Those items were in my basket yesterday and I doubt anyone would believe that I really was low on all three; my purchase had nothing to do with the weather forecast. Really.

If you’re visiting here from Buffalo or Cleveland tonight or tomorrow, you’ll be laughing at another aspect of life in DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia: we forget how to drive in snow until we’re in the middle of the first big storm of the season. So far this winter, we’ve only had two inches of show, so if the current forecast holds true, this is the first big one. Part of the area may see ten inches of snow.

Actually, if you’re a seasoned snow driver visiting from lake effect locales, you might not be laughing; because one of us might skid right into you. At least we can offer you something to eat and drink while exchanging insurance information.