Wednesday, October 31, 2018

R-O-B-O-T-S

Any day now, if you are still working, there’s a good chance a robot will do your job. Really? – you’re saying to yourself. Artificial intelligence (AI) is coming and there’s not much we can do to stop it (maybe pulling the plug or removing the batteries?).

If your job involves making simple decisions and repetitive tasks, a robot may be doing it in two to three years. They (I’m using pronouns to talk about robots…what does that tell you) will do payroll, review contracts, copy data to storage and handle simple insurance claims. They are already building cars so what did you expect? You just have to hope motor vehicle departments are not staffed by robots. On second thought, robots don’t need coffee breaks and have no incentive to slow down in order to convince supervisors that the job cannot be done any faster. Bring on the bots!

The upside, if you want to look up, is that AI has the potential to greatly enhance the lives of those of us whose work involves a lot of human interaction and judgement. We can continue to interact with other humans while robots reduce the drudgery of repetitive tasks (now we’re back to payroll and basic computer tasks). Imagine how much more productive you could be if you didn’t have update software, organize files, and make breakfast. AI will in fact add new jobs as more people will need to get involved in programming the robots to add more capabilities. Lots of job openings for bot wranglers coming soon.

The other promising factor is that when push comes to shove, humans prefer humans. It’s very unlikely that any of us will want to meet with a robotic therapist, CPA or dentist. Deep down, we crave human interaction even though there are an awful lot of humans who are just plain awful. Most of us would still opt for the human interaction over the robotic one.

So what do you do if your job is threatened by AI? Start thinking about moving into careers that call for skills such as selling, negotiating, strategic thinking, and creative design. And soon. Those bots are persistent. They don’t know how to behave any other way.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Vinci

I ran into Leonardo da Vinci the other day. He was coming out of Home Depot with a shopping cart filled with baling wire, plastic sheeting and what looked like copper flashing.

Leo, come stai? Have not seen you in ages. Are you working on a new painting or building some kind of new flying machine? Last time we met you were still not happy with the smile on that Lisa woman.

Art is never finished, only abandoned.

Well I know you’ll get it right, you always do. So what’s the latest on the flying machines?

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.

You amaze me Leo. You’re always tinkering and experimenting.

Learning never exhausts the mind.

Maybe so, but your curiosity is relentless. I don’t know how you do it.

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.

Hey, don’t go all dark on me. You paint, you invent, you write, you’re into astronomy, botany and cartography. You’re a true Renaissance Man, don’t you think?

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.

That’s very true but you seem to be a whirlwind when it comes to inventions and dreaming up new gadgets. I wish I had your inspiration and your diligence.

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

And do you do. You never were one to rest on your laurels.

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Hey, are you still hanging with that art patron, Isabella d’Este? She’s a looker, maybe marriage material.

Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel.

Whoa! It’s not for you, I get it. I just hope you take some time out to enjoy yourself, some me time.

It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.

And that is why you’re the genius and I’m just another blogger. Good to see you Leo. Keep it real.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Flight of the Boomers

When people move to a new state it’s typically for a new job. But baby boomers are retiring and they don’t care about jobs (unless they have to work forever, but we’ll come back to that). So where are boomers moving? That’s the question that United Van Lines asks every year, and this year baby boomers are confounding the typical migration pattern.

Southern states and Florida used to be the go to retirement venues, but now the mountain states and the Pacific northwest are bucking the trend. Go West ye boomers! Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are seeing a 55% uptick to in-bound migration. Fifty-two percent of the movement in the Pacific northwest was in-bound.

So if boomers are not heading for Florida, where are they going? In order, here’s the top ten list of states: Vermont, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, South Carolina, North Carolina, Colorado and Alabama.

And where are they moving from? New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts top the list. It’s interesting to note however, that the largest exodus due to finding jobs elsewhere was the South. The number one reason to move is still for a new job, followed by one in five families who chose to move in 2017 to be closer to family. In third spot was retirement.

And for those looking to retire, the top ten destinations were: Florida, Nevada, South Carolina, Arizona, Maine, Vermont, Wyoming, Delaware, Arkansas, and New Mexico.

More fun facts: The average person moves 5 times in their lifetime. It takes on average 182 days before you unpack the last box from the move.

Now to get back to who is not moving. There is no flight for boomers who find themselves still on the job, not by choice but of necessity. There’s no escape to a warm clime for those who are holding on to the same job in order to try and save enough for a decent retirement. Sorry to end on that sad note, but we need to recognize that many of our fellow boomers won’t be counted in next year’s United Van Lines survey, or the year after that. No flight. More like fight. To survive in retirement on Social Security alone. The big reckoning is coming for them and for all of us who will need to help them age in place with some dignity.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Solo Agers

It’s a thing. And a potential problem. Childless baby boomers who are aging without a spouse or a partner, or who have children more than 500 miles away account for almost 40% of adults over 65. Add the fact that there is a growing shortage of caregivers and you have the perfect storm for a perfect mess.

If solo agers continue to live at home, and most of us will try to do that rather than opt for residential care, we could be facing a variety of problems. It’s not a reassuring picture: medication mismanagement, improper treatment of wounds, isolation and loneliness, poor nutrition, susceptibility to scams are just some of the issues we might potentially face.

Many baby boomers who value their independence or who are not joiners by nature may turn up their noses at residential care. But what if senior living communities went out of their way to attract this population segment?

Experts suggest that they build communities with lots of common spaces and indoor-outdoor areas; lose the pastel look and go modern; create small areas that mimic cul-de-sacs; create units that can be shared by friends/roommates; create spaces for gardening and walking; partner with colleges/universities; provide choices in every arena; and make sure every resident has a health care directive, a will and an estate plan that is updated regularly.

Solo agers need to start thinking about future legal guardianship, to prepare for the day when they are unable to make decisions for themselves. Designating a friend, a relative or a private guardian now is key. The day may come when you’re unable to make that choice.

Boomers are optimists by nature and we’ve got that invulnerability chip on our shoulders. But the reality is we will face the same fates as previous generations…cancer, heart disease, falls, organ failure, dementia/Alzheimer’s, etc. Sorry this is such a downer of a topic, but for solo agers it doesn’t have to be. Making smart choices now and keeping an open mind when it comes to residential living could make living longer into an experience in which we’re living better.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

To-Do List?

I’ve heard that some baby boomers feel like they should be winding down things on their to-do list, and I just want to emphatically state that it’s not going to happen in my world.

What? Winding down because you don’t want to add any new tasks or goals to your life? You want to coast the rest of the way? You don’t need the distractions?

I call bullshit. You do what you want but I think it’s important to keep adding things to the list rather than letting it atrophy. I’ve got places to go, new things to learn, more books to read, people to meet. I want to expand the to-do list not shrink it. If you’re finally at a place where you can do some of the things you always wanted to do, winding down the to-do list is totally counterintuitive.

Make no mistake –– I’m not against occasionally sitting back and contemplating my navel. I’ve earned that privilege. Maybe an end-life of contemplation made sense when life expectancy was a lot lower age than it is today, but if you’re going to live to 100 do you really think it’s rational to loaf all the way there from age 65? That’s a lot of downtime.

I thought baby boomers were going to be different when it came to retirement. Golf and shuffleboard were on the way out and personal improvement and a more hyperactive lifestyle were on the way in. No gold watch after 30 years of service with the same company, and that was okay because our varied worklife was more interesting and rewarding. Once again, boomers were going to make different choices from what our parents did. Slowing down was not going to be the goal of our retirement.

While the idea of just wasting time may sound like a plus if you’ve been a striver all your life, this striver thinks it’s exactly what it sounds like. A waste of time. You could be trying to learn a new language, taking a welding course, fusing glass, or getting better at Scrabble. In fact, it’s time to create a bucket list, not time to shorten your to-do list

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

There’s a disturbing new trend among rich baby boomers. No, not that they are getting even richer. Apparently, according to architects and home builders, wealthy boomers are not downsizing. In fact, they are making their master bedrooms even larger so that they can live in one big room while the rest of the house remains vacant…waiting for the next party or set of house guests.

The kids are out of the house but these boomers just don’t want to part with their furnishings. The solution is to expand the master bedroom and rarely use the rest of the house. Builders of $10 million homes say that the buyers want wet bars, drawing rooms, dressing rooms and oversized bathrooms in their master suites. A 12,000 square-foot home in Aspen has an elevator that goes from the garage straight to the master bedroom that features an office, gym, fridge, sink and coffee maker. So a portable frig is no longer a big deal. Most of the house traffic is from the bedroom to the kitchen and back.

Which begs the question. Why not combine the kitchen and the master and just never leave that one big space. Nightstands could be replaced by beverage dispensers combined with convection ovens. The headboard could be a refrigerator-freezer combo. Groceries can be delivered by Peapod and with the help of Alexa opening the front door, the delivery person can bring everything straight into the master.

If the children and grandchildren show up, they can have the rest of the house, bedrooms and living room to themselves. The boomers can remain in their stand-alone apartment and only come out when the mood strikes.

Brokers are comparing this trend to the European penchant for closing off large parts of the baronial estate. Only the Europeans have to rent out their estates for weddings and tours in order to cover their annual upkeep. Not so wealthy boomers. They can afford to cocoon themselves in extravagant master suites without ever letting the rest of the world in.

When you think about it, even not so wealthy boomers can emulate this trend. Just move into a suite at a luxury hotel and when the kids come, make then rent their own rooms. Done.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

Monday, August 13, 2018

People Persons

Anti-social or just getting more picky? Baby boomers are less socially engaged than people the same age 20 years ago according to a Stanford Center on Longevity study. How do you define social engagement you might be asking? The Center defined it as something measured by involvement with family, friends, neighbors, spouses, as well as work, volunteer or community activities.

Are we deliberately pulling back on social commitments or is it due to lack of time or other pressures. Baby boomers are the sandwich generation after all, and they may be caring for elderly parents while their children may still live under their roof. The need to continue working for financial considerations is also a factor. Boomers have also moved frequently during their careers and that has limited longer-term interpersonal relations.

I recently had a discussion where a group of baby boomers agreed that while face to face socialization and bonding over common interests might be desirable, the same connection via the internet might be more satisfying and even more efficient. A hypothetical group of stamp collectors might dislike each other’s politics if they met in person, but the internet interaction helps to keep the focus on stamps. So even polarization has been a factor in discouraging more face to face interactions.

Texting and email have definitely made it easier to stay in touch with “your people.” Is that a bad thing? I don’t believe it is, but some of the Stanford researchers are concerned about what’s lost when boomers back away from meaningful engagement. Keeping to ourselves may not be good for our communities that need volunteers, mentors and civic minded participants.

I don’t foresee boomers becoming so isolated that their communities suffer as a good percentage of them will continue to be socially engaged. We may be trying to find that happy medium where we maintain quality real time people interactions along with social media interactions. Bottom line, it’s too soon to label boomers and people who don’t need people. In fact, we need people more than ever but we’re redefining how we maintain those relationships.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.