Those Darn Millennials!

Are you having a bad day, week, month, year?

Did you arrive at this spot in your life and realize that things aren’t as peachy as they should be?

Does the news of the world frighten and confuse you, and make you wonder what the heck happened?faultI’ve got great tidings for you.  The problem is neither in your stars nor yourself.  You’re not to blame.

Unless, of course you were born between the years 1981 and 1996.

‘Cause it’s all the millennials fault!


I honest to dog dressed just like this.  What the heck was I thinking?

That’s right, the world is a terrible place and it’s all because of the children born in a certain fashionably questionable span of fifteen years.  They have ruined our lives, destroyed the economy, and given all baby boomers varicose veins.  They’re touchy, cranky, and don’t like McDonald’s. millennialThe entire list of previously awesome things that are now atrocious due to millennials is too long to list, but what follows is some of the more hair-raising examples.busted mallShopping malls; the places where we grew up, hung out, met crushes, fell in love, then bought our wedding dresses and rented turquoise tuxedos.  Those whippersnappers now shop online and patronize locally owned small businesses.  They are responsible that those giant cathedrals for the worship of conspicuous consumption, and its ensuing unnecessary credit card debt are quickly becoming empty things of the past.golfersThe game of golf.  For some reason kids today don’t see the allure in dressing in ugly candy-colored matching sets and riding a kiddy car around acres of land tortured with chemicals, chain saws, and mowers into perforated, make-believe Edens so they can hit tiny balls with sticks and pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for the privilege.cerealNext time you run into a grocery store and those thousands of boxes of sugar-frosted, vitamin sprayed, artificially colored and flavored breakfast cereal have dwindled to a mere few hundred, blame those kids.  For some reason they think they’re too good to eat pseudo-food full of ingredients that were created in a lab in Altoona.

The obsession with selfies has the anti-aging industry convinced that the millennials have no interest in what they have to offer.  But, in this case I believe the fear is totally unfounded.  Millennials account for 47% of heavy buyers in a $13 billion cosmetic market.  And more in photo editing apps.its-hard-to-close-up-to-the-age-of-wrinklesThis info has been interpreted that with makeup and filtering no one will ever look old.  Maybe not in a photo.  But remember, the oldest of the millennials are not even forty yet.  The first time a 45-year-old millennial looks into the bathroom mirror in full sunlight after a long night?  Amazon won’t be able to get enough vans full of anti-aging products up their driveways.chamber potsThere are industries that will disappear because young people have no need for the product.  But that’s been happening since folks lived in caves and hunted woolly mammoths with sticks and spears.  When’s that last time you bought a chamber pot or a buggy whip?

These problem children bring something new to the party, though.  They have this beautiful duality of attitude toward differences and diversity.  On one hand, they don’t give a fig about the “otherness” of others.  They don’t judge; it’s not their judgementBut they are also fiercely protective of each other, their struggles, and vulnerabilities.  It may not be their journey, but they are deeply committed to help make the paths of each other as smooth and safe as they can.

Yeah, they wreck stuff and break things.  But they’re kids and have the capacity for growth.  And, where it counts?  They kinda got it goin’ on.oxfamThanks for your time.

Behave Your Selfies

Here are a few things in which I don’t believe: cell phones, social media, and the devaluation of both privacy and individuality.And by not believing, I don’t mean the category of disbelief in which resides Paul Bunyan, the statement, “resigning to spend more time with my family”, and comfortable high heels.  I know that phones, Twitter, and pathological sameness and oversharing exist; I just don’t believe those things are necessary to my life.

Let’s talk cellphones.

When people find out I don’t own, and have never owned one, almost to a human, they express stunned incredulity.  They eye me a bit closer.  I can see them thinking, what type of human is this?The boring truth is that I work from home, and when I’m out I don’t want to be bugged.  Attached to my landline is an answering machine.  I’m neither a brain surgeon or liable to go into labor, so don’t need to be connected in case of emergency.

From there, the response diverges according to age.

People over thirty will beam at me and say, “I wish I didn’t have one! I hate it! I’m so proud of you!”  Their pride in me feels weird, like I’m a chicken that’s been taught to do math.  But I always wonder, if they hate them so much…why do they carry one?

But it’s the children under thirty that are the real laugh riot.Have you ever seen a movie with a robot or computer when they’re given input with a fatal logic error?  They start jerking and clicking, twitching and smoking.  Then they wave their arms and run into the nearest vertical surface, back up and do it over and over again.

That’s what it looks like.  Those poor little lambs can’t wrap their heads around the concept.

It’s not just the phones, though.  It’s what those phones get up to.

Specifically, I’m talking selfies.I know I already sound like that cranky old lady that yells at those darn kids, so, I’m going all in.  Here goes…

When I was a kid, there was a little something called humility.  What depraved level of vanity makes it not only thinkable, but mandatory to takes hundreds of photos of YOURSELF?

The Wright boys, 2018.

It makes me think about the time and brain power being wasted.  Do you think the Wright Brothers would have invented manned-flight if they’d blown most of their days getting the best “candid” shots for their insta page?  Might we still be sitting around in the dark if Edison was too busy fishing for “likes” to invent the lightbulb?  Imagine the carnage if Stephanie Kwolek spent her days documenting her every move with photos instead of creating Kevlar.

But the thing that actually alarms me is a commonality in most of the photos.  Once you see it, you’ll never not see it.  It’s the result of the hundreds of thousands of photos taken of themselves; a horrible kind of ennui.Microblading PenIt’s the eyes.  They are glazed, dead-looking, devoid of any emotion.  They look like they have seen every single thing this world has to offer, and they’re completely bored by it.

What’s needed is a healthy, regular dose of youthful astonishment.  So, I’ll keep telling those whipper snappers that I’ve never owned a cell phone.

The marketing to make an unnecessary item indispensable has been the largest piece of wool pulled over the most eyes in human history.  Our parents that stood up to evil were the greatest generation.  Our children have become the most wired generation.So, it’s up to us to surprise and embarrass them every chance we get.

It’s good for them.

Thanks for your time.

A handy reference chart for those of you unfamiliar with human emotions.

Time Marches On

I’m a fan of Walgreens because of two things.

First, as far as I know, they’re the last folks in our Pseudofed-wary world to sell old school Nyquil.  It’s packaged under Walgreen’s label, but it’s that same disgusting red liquid that never fails to quiet your cough and knock your butt out when you have a miserable cold and need some shut-eye.

The other element that I love about Walgreens is that somewhere in every store a portion of an aisle is filled with products, each bearing a bright orange tag.  And that tag informs the shopper that the corresponding item is at a deep discount which is usually 75% off.

You never know what you’ll find.  I got a bento box for The Kid for 4.99.  For Petey, it was a big bag of Cadbury milk chocolate toffee priced at 75 cents.  I scored a big box of oatmeal for $1.50, and at $5 each, I couldn’t resist three pair of fleece-lined leggings. walgreensIt’s a treasure hunt under florescent lights.  The other day when I was in they had fancy little Batman and Superman 8 GB flash drives.  Each was nine dollars and the size of a hushpuppy.

So you’ll understand why the picture I saw last night made me shake my head.

It was a photo from 1956 of a bunch of guys struggling to get this piece of equipment the size of a guest bathroom out of the luggage compartment of a Pam Am airplane.  It had “IBM” stenciled on the top.The “equipment” turned out to be a 5 GB hard drive.  That’s almost 50% less capacity than the superhero drives at Walgreens.

The picture reminded me of learning about UNIVAC in elementary school.  UNIVAC was a computer which filled an entire room and had less processing power than the calculator we bought The Kid for high school math.

All of this brought home to me how the entire world has transformed since I was a child.

First of all, it’s a miracle we made it out alive.I, and every kid I knew rode in the back seat of a car that didn’t even have seat belts, let alone anchored, padded, car seats made of space age polymers.  We rattled around station wagons like BB’s in a Pringles can.  My folks had a VW bug, and when the car was filled with riders, they’d fold me into the little cubby behind the back seat—right above the engine.  I often rode in the same spot in our next car, a pinto; which was eventually recalled due to fiery explosions that occurred when the rear bumper was tapped.

In Puerto Rico, we actually had a party line, in which more than one household shared a circuit.  The phone rang in a particular cadence so that you could tell what house the call was for.

Today long distance and local calls are billed at one flat rate.  Talk to your Aunt Verbena in Altoona for 300 hours a month, or make local calls only; it all costs the same.

But back in the dark ages, calling long distance might necessitate a double mortgage.  A ten-minute call cost the equivalent of about $65.Pill box hats, 15 cent Cokes, and Captain Kangaroo have all gone away, and that’s a crying shame.  But some disappearances are nothing but good.

Like the welcome void of bouffant hair-dos and asbestos oven mitts.  And when was the last time you really wished for leaded gasoline, slide rules, or UHF?Thanks for your time.

Lies we tell our children

I have become absolutely shameless. 2-22-2017-cWhen you have a new puppy, you must socialize them with other dogs and humans as much as possible.  And if you have a large breed pooch, it’s even more important.  A sofa-sized dog is already pretty intimidating—it’s the responsibility of the owner to make sure his size is the only thing scary about him

So, anyway, each walk that Crowley and I take has me asking each person we meet, “Would you like to pet my dog?”. 2-22-2017-aLike I said; shameless.

The other day we walked past a house with three kids playing out in the yard.  They’d come to a standstill watching as we walked by.

“Would you like to pet my dog?”Those children jumped back as if I’d offered them a basket full of bubonic plague wrapped in uranium.  The older boy actually put his arm over his face.  “We can’t!  We’re all allergic!”

Now, I don’t know, these kids may really have been boy-in-the-bubble allergic to animals, but it got me to thinking.

That could be some James Bond evil genius level parenting. What do you do if you don’t want a pet and the kids won’t stop begging?

“I’m so sorry, babies.  I’d love to have a house full of dogs, but you’re so allergic, if you come within 20 feet of an animal, your head will explode!”

And that got me thinking about the lies we tell our children to get stuff done, or not done, or just to make our lives a little easier.  I am absolutely not judging.  In fact I have nothing but admiration for a well-played parental scam.My own father ran a multi-year con on me.

He had me totally convinced that he could see me and thus any transgressions, while he was at work.  It’s possible that my inability to get away with anything without dropping a dime on myself made his claim more workable.  It’s hard to deny getting into the Oreos when you’re smiling with a mouth full of black teeth.To make sure my brother and I didn’t go hog wild with our Christmas lists, my mom told us that they had to send Santa a check.  Every parent sent a little extra so poor children could get something, and if we got too greedy they’d get nothing.

At seven, I asked how babies were born.  My father told me his version of how chickens lay eggs.  Let’s just say it’s truly a miracle I ever ate another egg.One mom I knew told her kids that it was illegal for people under the age of eighteen to eat red M&M’s, so hand ‘em over.

My friend’s grandmother told her that the ice cream truck only plays music when all the ice cream is gone.

As a child, I pretty much bought whatever my parents were selling.  My gullibility is something of a family joke.  Petey and The Kid call me Bunny Rabbit because I’m so ridiculously trusting.Which is I guess, why the two lies I tried to tell my own child were judged laugh riots.  But to my thinking, they were extremely credible.

Lie number one, told to a kindergarten aged Kid: Every time you tell a fib, you make baby Jesus cry.Lie number two, trotted out for the first time when The Kid was in middle school: Give me the phone!  I’m calling the adoption bus to come pick you up!

What?  I’d believe me.

See? The adoption bus is a thing

Thanks for your time.