Friday, March 14, 2014

Oh Crap. We’re Quaint

Or at least millennials and maybe your own children are starting to look at you that way. It’s not quite on the order of the “I had to walk barefoot 3 miles to school” syndrome, but it’s close.

Dare you to mention that you used to play records on a turntable, the wild-eyed stares come out. Sure, we now get our music from iTunes and listen to it with earbuds on our smartphones or tablets, but tell me you’ve forgotten playing 45s on a record player --- maybe with one of those plastic inserts so that it would fit on a 33rpm spindle. Am I right? You do remember? You’re still going to deny it?

As they say in the infomercials, “But that’s not all!” If you’re going to get into the wayback machine (thanks Mr. Peabody), how about 8-tracks and cassettes. How can you forget them, never mind explain them to someone younger than age 20?

Just to keep this game going a little longer, try to remember what telephones used to look like. Ugly black cords that lost their springiness, clear plastic disks for rotary dialing, and analog bases that look totally ridiculous when you put them side by side with a contemporary cordless handset or a smartphone.

Now we take photographs on our smartphones and see them instantly. But there was a time when instant photographs meant getting out the Polaroid camera and loading film that had its own chemistry set built into the box. Just wait 60 seconds, and shazzam, you’ve got a crude, oddly tinted photograph. The 60 second miracle it was called in a flash of marketing hyperbole. And by the way, it may startle you to know that it was invented 67 years ago!

I’m typing this on a wireless keyboard connected to a powerful computer while viewing the text on a cinema monitor. A great leap forward from my Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 200 (fondly referred to as the Trash 80). We actually connected it via a 28pin ribbon cable to a Royal typewriter when we wanted to print something. Amazing! Speaking of typewriters, who doesn’t have fond memories of watching that crazy ball jump around on an IBM Selectric?

So yes, this walk down memory lane certifies that baby boomers are getting pretty darn quaint. If you find yourself using phrases such as “in my day” or “back in the day,” then you’re beyond quaint. My advice is to just shut up about all these analog devices and jump on the next train to app town – wherever it’s going.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

How About Never? Is Never Good for You?

Nearly half of all baby boomers say they don’t expect to retire until age 66, or even later. But the stat that got my attention was that 1 in 10 say they will never retire. NEVER. You hear me, I’m NEVER going to retire. Going from the desk or wherever right to the grave.

Is it just about the money, or is something else going on here? No question, many boomers feel like they must keep working to boost their retirement income, but other boomers just want to stay engaged with the world and that means staying on the job. I get that. Most retirees that I know are treating retirement like a job. They have lists of things to do, projects to get done, and places to go. Not much golfing or shuffleboarding there, unlike their parents. The whole notion of what to do in retirement has been turned upside down.

And if I read one more article about how boomers can start their own business to work from home (or even while they travel the world!!), I’ll shoot myself. They make it sound so easy. Pick a skill or a service and off you go. It’s NOT that easy and that’s why smart boomers who can stay on the job are doing just that.

Will employers and customers recognize the value of baby boomer experience and talent? That’s the big question. Younger workers have much to offer with their enthusiasm and technical knowledge, but the maturity and wisdom of a highly engaged boomer who’s truly motivated to stay on the job should make them just as valuable, if not more so.

Bottom line, we’re going to try to keep our jobs, so employers, clients and customers might as well capitalize on what we’re offering. Putting workers out to pasture at age 60 or 62 is so old school. The world doesn’t work that way anymore and the news stories about aged 60+ individuals achieving fame for late-life achievements just goes to prove that there are many attractive options to retirement.

It’s time for us all to get used to seeing aged 70+ workers still pulling their weight and making a valuable contribution in the workplace. And don’t be surprised when you ask them when they’re going to retire, they are still insisting on NEVER.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


It is better to look good than to feel good….and can I tell you something? You look maaarvelous!!

So said Billy Crystal in his Fernando Llamas persona.

And guess what? It’s become the mantra for aging boomers as well. We don’t mind taking the senior discount at the car rental counter or the museum ticket box office, we just don’t want to look like we’re seniors. We want to look maaarvelous!

The nicest thing waitstaff can say (and the smartest if they want a big tip) is “you don’t look like a senior.” No we don’t. And that’s because we’re spending night and day (plus a lot of dollars) doing whatever it takes to look younger.

We exercise, dye the hair, get dermabrasions (ouch, ouch), replace knees, sign up for brain training programs, get lasik eye surgery, eat healthier, try hormone replacement, take yoga classes, and meditate. We jump on every new social media app, as though being connected with younger users will make us feel younger (it doesn’t). Whatever it takes – sign us up.

In that respect, we’re nothing at all like our parents. They did not try to hold off the aging process. They accepted it gracefully, along with the gold watch and the shuffleboard court. Very few of them fought the good fight. Hair went gray and stayed that way. The beer bellies sagged and no one cared much about trying to arrest their failing health. It was all part of the inevitable march toward the end game of life.

Well boomers are having none of it. It’s just not good enough to age well, we insist on a full-court push-back of the aging process. The good news for our economy is that an entire anti-aging industry has sprung up to cater to baby boomers. Some of them are scammers and some can actually do us harm, but there are plenty of entrepreneurs who want to help us fight off old age.

Once again, the boomer generation is in the vanguard of a movement to change our notion of aging. Whether it’s remaining sexually active well into the 80s or continuing to work well beyond the conventional age for retirement, we are determined to redefine what it means to grow older.

Can I tell you something? We look maaarvelous! And you know who you are!

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gray What?

You know it’s trouble when they have a catchy name for it. I’m talking about “gray divorce” and that means over-50 marital splits. Apparently, divorce among the 50 and over crowd has doubled from 1990 to 2010. Must have been a rough decade. But the trend continues.

What accounts for this development? Get in line to spout your own theory: boomer self-centeredness? Sick and tired of your spouse? Endured a bad marriage long enough? Hanging on to your youthfulness? Whatever the reason, divorced boomers face an upside and a downside. The upside is the opportunity to stake out a new life, create new friendships, pursue new hobbies and interests, etc. The downside is when you split all the assets, someone gets the short end of the stick and both have less retirement income that can be shared. Being partnerless can make health issues more challenging as well.

And despite the fact that they often come out on the short end of the stick asset-wise, boomer women are more apt to initiate divorce than boomer men. The easy assumption there is that the men don’t want to give up an arrangement where someone cooks and cleans for them. But the truth may be that women are much less tolerant of an unfulfilling/bad relationship.

Some have speculated that boomers are divorce prone because we continue to invent ourselves and thus reinvent the institution of marriage. We changed premarital sex, we changed birth control, we expanded our sexual repertoire, and we made divorce acceptable, so it stands to reason we’re reinventing late-life marital options, and divorce is on top of that list.

It has also been said that our sense of duty (in sickness and in health, til death do us part?) and confidence in the sanctity of marriage is just not the same as what our parents expectations were. To that we say, whatever!

So in the end, the choice is self-fulfillment or loyalty. Tough choice. Especially when you were raised to think anything is possible and when you see something you want, go for it. If I were a demographer, I would be betting that we will be seeing a lot more single baby boomers in our future.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Easy Marks

A number of TV critics have recently lamented how dreadful the portrayals of over-50 characters are in current television fare. These boomer characters dwell on flatulence, use vulgar language, share TMI about their digestive tract functions, and seem helpless when it comes to being able to use contemporary technology.

The saddest aspect of this trend is that these are some very fine actors who have been compromised into playing roles that make any sane baby boomer wince at the awfulness of the characters. Beau Bridges, Allison Janney, Ellen Barkin, Kathy Bates, Ed Asner, Stacy Keach and Robin Williams, to name a few.

I’m not suggesting that we go back to the day when every older character was the wise oracle (e.g. Marcus Welby or Father Knows Best), but I think the writers (some of whom may be baby boomers as well – traitors!) could scale back a bit on the cringe worthiness of these current characters.

Do I have any hope that this trend will fade? Nope. Quite the contrary. I think it’s going to get a whole lot worse. Face it…we’re easy marks. Bumbling idiots who share too much information about how our bodies are failing us and that we don’t know what a Tweet is or what Snapchat does.

As baby boomers mature, TV show writers seem determined to make us look immature. Some critics think that this trend is some sort of karmic payback by millennials tired of listening to baby boomer crap about our music, movies and cultural dominance. Honestly, I don’t think it’s that malevolent. As always, it comes down to the fact that we’re such a massive demographic that it’s easy to take us down a notch or two, or three or four.

In any case, we should get used to being the butt of the joke. Remember how we laughed at our parents when they didn’t know what marijuana was or that we were smoking it? How we were so with it and they were so out of it? How we knew who Jimi Hendrix was while they were stuck on Lawrence Welk? How we knew that the Vietnam war was a foolish quagmire when they were still on the fence about it?

Talk about karmic payback. If we thought our parents were such dummies, what do you think boomer offspring make of their parents? If you don’t want to be insulted by the portrayals of boomers on current TV, your best bet may be to use that Netflix streaming thingie (more proof that we know nothing) to watch All in the Family, MASH, Happy Days, Mork and Mindy and Taxi. That would be the same head-in-the-sand thinking that our parents used when they were clinging to their entertainment icons.

And we thought we could do 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, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Twitter Is Dead

You heard me. Well maybe you didn’t. When you’re over 50, the hearing can start to deteriorate. I SAID, TWITTER IS DEAD.

How do I know? Because I recently saw a statistic from a Pew Research report, and it indicated that Twitter usage among 50-64 year olds doubled over the past 2 years. It is now probably the fastest growing demo for this social media behemoth.

So…in a repeat performance of how baby boomers killed facebook, it’s easy to see that Twitter will be dead in no time. Not only do they not have a clue about how to monetize it --- now they’re faced with the kiss of death stranglehold exerted by baby boomers. Like giant Anacondas, our demo can squeeze the life out of anything, whether it’s the latest social media fad or a new television show. If baby boomers actively like it, you can easily predict its demise.

Face it. If we like something, our enthusiasm and sheer numbers eventually make it unpalatable to everyone else. The landscape is littered with the fads we’ve destroyed. Acid-washed jeans, cocaine, Angry Birds, water beds, Ford Thunderbird, new age anything, etc., etc. If we’re all over it, then it’s all over.

We can turn a popular program or product into toast overnight. We may not kill it completely, but we can easily turn it into a niche product that only appeals to our demographic and is reviled by everyone else.

If only we could learn to use our powers for the good of the planet. Want to end global warming? Harness the power of baby boomers by getting us to deny it exists. Bam! Overnight everyone else will accept the truth of global warming research. It’s the same reverse psychology our parents used some fifty or more years ago. They didn’t want us to smoke, so they handed us the cigarettes and matches. Wait a second – that didn’t always work out the way they thought it would.

No matter. The dictum stands. Boomers like it. Boomers kill it. Remember, you read it here first. After we’ve killed Twitter, we may move on to Snapchat.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Internet Junkies

That would be you…you’re an internet junkie. That is if you’re a baby boomer. According to a recent McAfee study Americans age 50 and older are online an average of five hours per day. What the hell are we doing online for five hours? Facebooking and tweeting most likely. The study indicates that 80% of the survey respondents were using social media and 36% logged in to their social media sites on a daily basis.

The scariest stat is that 75% of the respondents did not know that social networking makes them vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. DUH! Double DUH! We’ve been oversharing since we were babies, so why would we stop now?

Now stop and think a moment. Why did McAfee commission this study? Remember, this is a company that sells anti-virus software and it’s owned by Intel. The survey found that 57% of the respondents shared or posted personal information online, and that excludes the normal info you supply when shopping online. And when they tell you that 24% of respondents have sent personal or intimate messages on their mobile devices, but a third have no password protection on them, what they are also doing is hyping the need for us to buy their antivirus protection products.

Hey, we may be internet junkies but we can see through the haze when someone tries to scare us into buying their products. Oh sure, they give you some tips on protecting yourself like not giving out your address, phone number or social security number online. We knew that. Change your passwords often? Easy to say but hard to do. Can’t remember the ones we have now. Turn off the GPS feature on your phone camera so people don’t know where you are. Not a bad idea or you could wait until you got home to send the pictures anyway.

It’s one thing when the American Heart Association does a study about diet and draws some conclusions in the form of advice to helps us all eat healthier. But it’s another thing when a for-profit company conducts a study for the purpose of encouraging us to buy their product. Something tells me we will be seeing more of this kind of covert marketing. The sheer size of our demographic continues to make us a target – for the identity thieves and the antivirus software makers.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

High Jinks

It’s not really a surprise to most boomers, but maybe some millenials are scratching their heads when they read that marijuana use among baby boomers is on the rise. The latest stats from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate that people 50-years-old and up are discovering (maybe make that rediscovering) marijuana at a pretty good clip.

“For adults aged 50 to 54, the rate increased from 3.4 percent in 2002 to 7.2 percent in 2012. Among those aged 55 to 59, the rate of current illicit drug use increased from 1.9 percent in 2002 to 6.6 percent in 2012,” the federal survey said.

“Among those aged 60 to 64, the rate increased from 1.1 percent in 2003 to 3.6 percent in 2012. These trends partially reflect the aging … of members of the baby boom cohort (i.e., persons born between 1946 and 1964), whose rates of illicit drug use have been higher than those of older cohorts.”

One can only hope that the dramatic increase is not related to medical conditions that can be remediated by smoking the ganja. I like to think that it’s just pure lust for that old feeling of euphoria that’s driving the spike in usage.

Seriously, what baby boomer isn’t nostalgic for that time when friends passed around the bong and listened to Jimi Hendrix play Crosstown Traffic? Wow, that stereo sound was something special and being high made it even more special. The fact that it was illegal upped the ante in terms of excitement.

As boomers aged, they either gave it up for fear that the law would come bursting in the door at any moment or it gave way to legal highs from throwing back a couple of martinis. Some boomers kept on puffing, and for them, a joint at the end of the day was their martini.

Now that twenty states have made medical marijuana legal and you can smoke dope hassle-free in Washington state and Colorado, plenty of boomers are starting to remember the pleasure they got from a good marijuana buzz. It feels like a big wheel turning and coming back around to the place where you got off some 40-plus years ago.

I’m picturing the snack aisle in the grocery store in a few years, and it’s a vision of boomers shuffling along with their wheeled walkers, eyes glazed over from a blast of Bubba Kush, picking out some savory chips to ease the munchies.

Is that such a bad way to spend your golden years?

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

We’re Not Stealing Your Stinkin’ Jobs After All

So once again, conventional wisdom bites the dust. Word on the street (Wall Street, Main Street, take your pick) was that baby boomers who wouldn’t retire were stealing jobs from younger workers. Just because our savings tanked and we’ve been supporting our parents AND offspring, that didn’t mean they couldn’t accuse us of being mean old job stealers. That’s what we all get for living longer.

Then along comes the Center for Retirement Research, which has been looking at 1977-2011 data from the Current Population Survey. The study looked specifically at the speculation that younger workers were facing a millennial glass ceiling because those darn boomers wouldn’t get out of the way.

Surprise, surprise. It turns out that boomers staying on the job actually helps younger workers get more jobs, and better paying jobs. The more older workers who remain on the job, the more they spend, especially on new products and services. Somebody is buying those telephones with the jumbo numbers on them! The phenomenon is comparable to the way in which immigrants in the workforce spur economic growth without displacing job opportunities for native-born workers.

This study doesn’t address the mentoring element in the whole equation, but it’s worth noting that other studies and anecdotal experiences demonstrate that boomers are helping millennials assume the reins by sharing their knowledge (or gray matter as I like to call it).

So it looks like boomers are a boon to millennials, not a bust. Not only are we generating new employment opportunities for them, we’re also willingly transferring our skills and knowledge so that they will most likely leapfrog over us in the organizational hierarchy. And what do we want in return? Nothing. Well, nothing but allowing us to stay on the job a little longer – long enough to try to boost our savings for retirement. And even that is a plus for millennials. The more boomers can save now, the less millennials will have to subsidize us out of their pockets.

You don’t want your parents hanging around highway exit ramps with signs that say “Will work for food. Millennials took my job away.” Of course not. So cut us a break and let us die on the job or at a desk, because that still looks like the upside from here.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Camp Domestic

As summer draws to a close, I hark (who uses that anymore?) back to fond and /or nightmarish memories of my first sleep-away camp experience. It was a two-week stay at some Boys Club facility that had a lake or a river (I really can’t recall which), a lot of trees, and a million mosquitos that wanted to get to know me better.

The first crisis to occur was not a bout of homesickness, but rather the startling revelation that I had no belt to hold up my shorts or pants. There is a great deal of disagreement about where my belt was packed (at the bottom of my duffel bag or my brother’s), but the result was that I MacGyvered the rope closure of the duffel bag to serve as my ersatz belt for the remaining two weeks. A lot of thought has gone into trying to understand why I didn’t get to the bottom of the duffel bag sooner. I think it has to do with the fact that I never unpacked the entire duffel bag into the provided foot locker, and instead worked my way down through the contents as I required clean clothing.

In retrospect, what’s most memorable about sleep-away camp is how domesticated the experience was. They had us weaving potholders (how many bi-colored and tri-colored examples of that can you take home) and braiding gimp into whistle lanyards when none of us even owned whistles.Sure, we went out in canoes and had tug of war games, but mostly I remember being hunkered down like Asian sweat-shop workers, churning out ugly gimp products and way too many potholders for one household.I think we were supposed to treasure these handcrafts and be sure to distribute them to all our family members. No doubt, our mother most likely held on to these finely crafted artworks, periodically holding them up for visitors to see and appreciate.

If I could time travel back to sleep-away camp, knowing what I know now, my first priority would have been to get a counselor to teach me how to make a belt out of gimp (or even potholders for that matter). The second priority on my list would be to have an ample supply of Deet insect repellent products. Lastly, I would have made sure I was wearing a belt before getting on the bus.

Alas, there are no do-overs for summer camp, much to the chagrin of former summer campers everywhere.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hip Displacement

We’re driving those hipsters crazy? Maybe not crazy, but we are driving them out of the neighborhood. From Red Hook in Brooklyn to Capitol Hill in Seattle, as soon as hipsters see the baby boomers coming, it’s time to pack up and find new digs.

All of the sudden the tattoo and facial hair quotient goes down, and the gray hair count goes up. Boomers are abandoning the suburbs in favor of more hip and artsy scenes and that can only mean one thing – hip displacement.

Real estate experts say that this sort of cycle has been going for years. What’s changed is how fast the turn-over has become. Once upon a time it took 10 years before the hipsters were priced out of an urban neighborhood. Now it’s happening as quickly as 5 years, and in great part, this speed-up is being driven by the burgeoning number of baby boomers who are snapping up condos in trendy hoods.

Redfin, the online brokerage firm, has stats that show more than a million baby boomers moved to within 5 miles of downtown in the 50 largest cities between 2000 and 2010. And this trend is now starting to accelerate as boomers take the retirement route and bug out of the burbs.

It’s either comical or ironic that boomers are moving to these hip enclaves for that sense of youthful vibrancy, which by their very numbers they drown out so quickly. One day everyone is under 30 and the next day the sidewalks are clogged with those pesky rolling walkers that people use after the second hip replacement.

In an ideal world, the hipsters and the graysters could share the neighborhood and maintain a diverse balance that benefits both. The hipsters would keep the hood jumping with some vitality and the graysters would leaven the mixture with some solid life experiences. Everybody wins. Unfortunately, real estate is rarely a win-win proposition. It’s more often made up of winners and losers (i.e. buyers and sellers).

So it’s inevitable that the cycle will continue – this game of Follow the Hipsters and ruin the neighborhood. If you think the boomers are disappointed when they wake up one day and realize they dominate the demographic of their neighborhood, imagine how the hipsters feel. For them, it’s like a scene out of Invasion of the Condo Snatchers.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Park Your Carcass

Hey! Guess what? We’re going to save the National Parks! At least that’s the theory. According tothe National Park Foundation, it’s baby boomers who make up the big share of National Park visitors. While our attendance is up, visits by people 16 to 30 are down.

The National Park Service is worried that younger generations don’t have the same veneration for wilderness and wildlife that boomers have. Too many text messages and not enough Wi-Fi? Hulu, Netflix-streamed movies and a host of other entertainment options are making it hard to get off the couch and out into nature.

At the same time, many boomers (myself included), have these bucket lists of parks they want to visit. Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Zion, Grand Staircase, Arches, Yosemite, Grand Tetons, Death Valley, Glacier, Big Bend…the list goes on and on. I’ve got my Lifetime Senior Pass and I’m ready to go.

Undistracted by social media and career-climbing, boomers appear eager to get away from it all and to see what passes for natural wonders (and that excludes Kim Kardashian). What’s even more interesting is that many baby boomers are volunteering to work in the parks and that may not be the selfless act you think. I have this vision of us spending our retirement in tents and vying with the bears for food left in trash cans.

Perhaps the best legacy we could leave to current and future generations is that National Parks are good places to get back in touch with what really matters. Wi-Fi is great but it’s not the be-all, end-all experience when compared to seeing bighorn sheep in Yellowstone or giant sequoias in the high Sierras. Of course, getting in touch with one’s self sound so sixties, it’s easy to understand why millennials might discount the experience. What would pot-smoking, tie-died former hippies know about life-expanding experiences? A lot, as it turns out. We know the majesty of mother nature when we see it and we know that we can feel a lot more centered in nature than we can on Facebook.

Final advice to millenials: try it, you’ll like it. Once you find solitude in nature and turn your back on the constant drone of media, you just might find out what’s really important to you.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

You Know You’re Getting Old When…. keep getting emails about walk-in bathtubs. What’s the deal with them anyway? I thought the hearing aid and funeral preparation mailers were coming in at a heavy volume, but they are no match for the walk-in tub industry. Judging by their insistence that every baby boomer should be thinking about getting a walk-in tub, I’m thinking it’s time to buy stock in one of these companies (Bliss Tubs, Tub King, Tera-Tub, Medi-Tubs, Envy Walk-in Tubs….the choices are endless).

And why is everyone shown in the advertising and brochures wearing a big fluffy bathrobe? Take a tip from me….if you want to show people enjoying their walk-in tubs, show them naked. That will get me to pull out a credit card and order a walk-in tub --- good looking naked people.

Is it just me or does age 66 or 67 (I’m using the leading edge of boomerdom here) seem a bit early to be thinking about needing a bathtub with a door? How many boomers would be happy with one of those massive walk-in showers that are so large, there’s no door? Raise your hands. Instead, we are supposed to be looking ahead to the day when we can’t lift our legs over a 15 inch ledge without risking life-threatening injury. There must be a ton of research and statistics that support the notion that more injuries occur in the bathroom than any other place on earth. And I just looked that one up (thank you Google): according to the Center for Disease Control, a quarter million Americans over age 15 are injured in the bathroom each year. Two-thirds of the accidents occur in the bathtub or shower, and the rest while on, in or over the toilet (you don’t want to know any more than that).

I do know that if I read this 20 years from now, I’ll be thinking: “What an arrogant bastard. Of course you need a walk-in bathtub. How do you expect older, mobility impaired people to get clean.” I think I saw somewhere that the Japanese are manufacturing a robotic person-washing machine. You sit in a chair and they run some sort of brushless carwash device over you. I think it even does a blow dry cycle at the end, but don’t expect robots with chamois to give you the finishing wipedown.

If it didn’t cost $50,000, I’d buy one today.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Encore My Ass

I’m getting awfully tired of all these articles about aging boomers reinventing their lives and starting “encore” careers. Everyone from life coaches to financial advisors has advice on what boomers should do with the rest of their lives.

How about nothing? Does that work for you? How about we sleep late, do the crossword puzzle, surf the internet, make lunch, take a nap, go out for dinner, watch a movie and go to bed early? Is that so wrong?

Why must we have a Second Act? You never heard of one-act plays? This concept of reinvention implies that we were no good the first time around so it’s incumbent upon us to do something better now that we’re ready to retire. I think it’s great that the banker now wants to be a teacher. In fact, I wish he was never a banker in the first place, but that’s another story. Good on you if you’ve decided to start a new, small business after 40 years of working for someone else’s business.

Let’s just keep in mind that it’s a choice, not a requirement. No one should think less of you if you just loll around the house all day eating Oreos, instead of caring for orphans, feeding the homeless, and finally learning to play the guitar (and play in a boomer band).

I’m trying to understand what’s driving this whole self-improvement, second act phenomenon. At first glance, it looks like baby boomers doing what they always do (at least according to sociologists). We’re so self-centered we need to find the next chapter in our amazing journey through boomerdom. We are supposed to be the “me generation” (although every generation after us has earned that label as well), so it’s all about us figuring out what do next with our lives.

Or maybe it’s just the fact that an 800 pound generational gorilla attracts a lot of attention from people who want to make money off of us. 76+ million boomers is a great target if you have something to sell. Perhaps it’s all about getting us to volunteer at the soup kitchen, drive the school bus, and launch a start-up business that needs a lawyer and an accountant.

Are there many boomers out there who want to reinvent themselves but have to keep working so that have adequate savings for retirement? A MetLife report that surveyed boomers born in 1946 finds that 21% are still employed full-time. Most of them plan to retire at age 69 or 70.

I’m not feeling a particularly strong drive to reinvent myself. It’s more about what I don’t want to be…and that’s easy – a Walmart greeter.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mo’ Babies Please

Much like the one word advice the young Benjamin Braddock receives in the film The Graduate, the most important advice of our time comes down to one word, and it’s not plastics, but it does begin with a “P.” And that word is procreate.

That’s right, we’re counting on Millenials to produce lots of kids. Lots and lots. Population growth means new entrants to labor force, but more importantly, they create demand….for clothes, cars, homes and gobs of consumer goods. And growing demand means an expanding labor force. You do see where this is going, yes? New jobs are good for the economy, most certainly. But new jobs means more folks paying social security taxes and that means baby boomers can collect their social security checks.

If you want continuing support in your twilight years, you need to be cheering on these millenials to have more babies. Perhaps we should volunteer to baby sit their existing broods while they go out for date nights. Maybe we can sign them up (anonymously, of course) for porn pay-per-view. We can lobby for higher tax credits for dependent children. Whatever it takes, we need to get these millenials in the mood for love.

There was a time in our history as a nation, when families were much larger than the nuclear family average of 2.5 children (don’t get me started on the .5 kid). Large families meant free labor on the farm, with every child helping to raise crops and livestock. Think of all the advantages of returning to this family model. The home building industry would benefit from new demand for 6 or 7 bedroom houses. Automakers would retool for 10-passenger vans and station wagons. The garment industry could literally begin to offer shirts, pants and dresses that are cheaper by the dozen. We would need bigger schools and more teachers.

Stop me now if you can’t see the upside of this new baby boom. The only loser in this new paradigm might be makers of birth control products. So my advice to you is start right now, today, to encourage the millenials in your family or social circle to get cracking on making those babies. Our whole future could depend on the actions we take today.

Two, four, six, eight, who do we want to procreate!

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.