Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hugging for Life

Around ten years ago I wrote an essay for this blog about not being much of a hugger. I theorized then that hugging is a learned response and no one in my family seemed to be enthusiastic about hugging. Who knows what went on behind parents’ closed doors but that’s another day on someone’s couch.

Only recently has hugging become important to me and what a revelation that was. Chalk it up to age or life changes or whatever, the point is that I now have come to understand the value of a hug. Now I know that it’s a vital connection that tells someone that they are important to you, and if the hug is reciprocally enthusiastic, you know that you are important to them. And that’s what hugging has always been about – I just didn’t know it.

I still have a problem hugging a tall person. Getting up close and personal with a sternum is not my idea of a good time or a good hug. But it’s a minor complaint in the scheme of things, especially when hugs are loaded with health benefits. Yes, when you feel close and connected to people you care about, studies have shown that this enhanced social support can mean you’re less likely to catch a cold.

Then there’s the fact that hugging can release oxytocin (also known as the bonding hormone) and that in turn reduces stress. Receptors under your skin can increase vagal activity that helps to put you in a relaxed state. The calming effect of a hug has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression.

I’m not confident that our current state of polarization could be ameliorated by increasing hugging, but it might not be a bad place to start. It’s hard to yell insults at someone when you’re in a close embrace.

So I’ve come late to the party but that beats not being invited, or worse, not knowing there was a party. I no longer shrink from the hug. Quite the opposite. I’ve embraced the embrace. Don’t you think I even sound calmer?

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, March 15, 2017

Up In Smoke

Put down that bong or that doobie and listen up. According to the Addiction Journal (your read that right, there’s a journal for addiction. Once you start reading it, you can’t stop) there has been a 71% increase in marijuana use for people over 50 from 2006 to 2013.

Let that sink in for a minute. So maybe a fair number of baby boomers are smoking pot for medical reasons. Look at any alternative newspaper and the back pages are filled with ads for medical marijuana dispensaries (if that’s legal in your state). Boomers suffering with pain, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, nausea or loss of appetite have all benefited from medical marijuana, but what about the rest of you stoners?

Some baby boomers never stopped smoking pot. From their teen years until now, they have been getting high the same way others have a cocktail every night at 5pm. Then there are the newcomers who have taken to smoking pot because they are lucky enough to live in a state where it’s legal or they live in a state where it’s illegal but everyone can get their hands on it anyway. Marijuana does not have the scare power that it used to.

Study researchers see no particular harm in this increased usage by older citizens, as they assume that these pot smokers are experienced users who know their limits. The risk of falls was cited as one possible adverse effect, however you would have to think that baby boomers who are really high are also not in the mood to stand up. So there’s that.

Researchers believe more studies should be done to see there can be any actual harm to older Americans from continued use of cannabis. As they say in New York, fuhgettaboutit. Even for a publication called Addiction Journal, it’s a little crazy to waste any effort studying the effect of pot smoking on baby boomers.

My mother said it best. “Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice. Pull down your pants and slide on the ice.”

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 22, 2017

I’ll Give You A Driveway Moment

You want a driveway moment? I’ll give you a driveway moment. No, it’s not some sad, uplifting, or enlightening story I’m listening to on NPR. And it’s not a favorite golden oldie on WWAM. Nor am I out here in the car contemplating the theory of relativity.

I’m sitting in the car that is parked in my driveway because I don’t want to go inside my house – at least not yet. Because when I walk through that door I have to be an adult who worries about my spouse (who thinks I take our marriage for granted), about my grown children (who won’t leave home), and about my parents (who may soon need to go into a home), and about planning for retirement (a train that has long since left the station).

Driving home from work I was able to find respite from all these wonderful topics, but now that I’m in the driveway, the only thing between me and the boogey man is the sanctity of my car. It may be old and have over 150,000 miles on it, but the seats still smell leathery and I am comfortable behind the wheel. I know everything about this car. The new tires on the back, each of the disc brake rotors I’ve had replaced, the new radiator hoses, it’s all documented in my mind. Really, when I think about it, I realize I have replaced 50-60% of the car by now. But the sound system is still A-1 so I can listen to some soothing classical music while working up the courage to leave the comfort of my “cabin.” Might as well put the seat in the reclining position to see if that will lessen the throbbing sensation in my frontal lobe. That’s working. I can already feel my heart rate slowing down, my hands have stopped clenching, and the damp brow is drying off.

I feel transported to a better place – a place where no demands are made of me. When I’m hungry, food appears. When I’m drowsy, a soft bed is there for me. Everyone speaks softly and we are gentle with one another. The sense is that everyone is solicitous without verging on obsequious. This is good – very good.

A loud rapping noise on my window shatters the reverie into a thousand tiny pieces. My son is staring at me through the fogged up window and mouthing some words. I’m confused – I don’t know what he’s trying to tell me. He makes a motion that I should lower the window, and I comply.

“Can you move your car so I can get mine out?”

No hello. No how are you. Doesn’t ask if I’m okay. Just stands there looking idiotic wearing a backward ballcap, waiting for me to move on, so that he can move on.

Fine. Until tomorrow then. This driveway moment is over.

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, February 14, 2017

I Know Right?

Not really sure how to punctuate that title but I do know that it seems to be the millennial phrase of the moment. And it won’t last long, so you better catch it while you can.

I first noticed the phrase being used profusely by wait staff in restaurants. You would order a particular dish and when the waiter asked you if you enjoyed your meal you might respond that it was very good and spicy. To which the waiter would respond, “I know right?” I find this response very endearing, because the intent is right there on the surface. She is agreeing with you that it’s spicy and not in a condescending way, as though you’re an idiot baby boomer and you just figured out the green chile is going to be hot. Rather, the objective is to convey camaraderie. She has eaten the same dish and also thought it was very spicy. You two are now simpatico.

I’m not suggesting that millennials are intentionally using this phrase to establish a connection with customers or older adults. At least the different speakers that I’ve heard using it come across as very genuine. I put a question mark at the end of the phrase and no comma after the word “know” because there is no pause but there is a slight upward inflection at the end of the sentence (technically known as HRT….high-rise terminals). It’s also called “uptalk” and is generally popular with teenagers and millennials, but I’ve heard uptalkers all my life, so it’s been around a long time. I find that it conveys a shyness or unassertiveness, but some people think it conveys a lack of conviction. The speaker is agreeing with you but the upward inflection gives them a way out if you don’t agree.

Too technical? OK, that was a real question. The answer is maybe, but baby boomers better get used to millennial speech patterns because they are going to be talking to us everywhere we go for many more years to come. Linguists suggest that younger speakers will grow out of uptalk over time.

To which I say, I know right?

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 11, 2017

Standard Equipment

Many baby boomers are reaching that place in their lives when they know that they are probably at the three-quarter mark. I know that it says “your whole life’s in front of you” at the top of your screen, but that just means you still have plenty of time to go places and do things. It doesn’t mean you get to start over.

All the more reason to get the most out of your life NOW! What’s past is past. Regrets and failures do not matter any more. If you have 15, 20 or 25 good years left, why not make the most of that time. Wipe the whiteboard clean and start thinking about what makes you happy. Does this sound like something a typical baby boomer would say? Yes. Do baby boomers often think of themselves above all else? Yes (most of the time). Do I care that it sounds selfish? No.

What we should care about now is packing in as much life experience as we can. Stretch the boundaries of your comfort level. I’m not talking about bungee jumping. I’m talking about having an open mind when it comes to new experiences and not automatically ruling out things you never used to do (or thought you wouldn’t like).

It’s actually somewhat exhilarating to put some of your preconceived notions behind you and try something new. Foods you’ve never eaten before. Travel destinations that were never on your list. Physical activities that you thought were beyond your capability. Book genres you never tried. Social interactions that you typically avoided.

What could go wrong? Failure to launch? So what. You can argue about who said “it’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all” but the truthiness contained in that phrase is irrefutable. The only thing stopping us more often than not is our own inhibitions, and with our limited remaining years, should we allow them to prevent us from finding contentment?

So here’s a car metaphor mantra for going forward: Happiness is not an option. It really should be standard equipment.

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.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What Cattle Do At Night

Another in a continuing series of articles about what exactly animals and marine life are up to, that you always wanted to know.

We’ve all seen it. About an hour before sunset the cows come home. If we’re talking milk cows, they head for the barn because there’s food there and a place to get out of the wind. But what about cattle on open grazing land? Where are they heading? How do they spend their nights?

First of all, we’ve all heard the expression “herd mentality” and when it comes to cattle, there are always some dominant animals that decide where and when the herd moves. They are after all prey animals, so there’s safety in numbers. So after a hard day of grazing, cattle will seek out some lowland out of the wind and elements and find bedground for the night. You would be surprised at how much body heat an 1,800 pound cow can generate and they do have a whole lot of insulation, so I would not get too hung on whether or not they are cold. Ask a rancher in North Dakota how low the temperature has to get before a cow freezes.

There’s usually a lot of gossip about who saw what (Did you see that rusty old pick-up truck go by?), how much forage everyone had, and some of the goofy things the calves were up to that day. There is a lot of talk about the quality of the forage, so much like humans, cattle will drone on and on about where the best forage was, or complaining about the scarcity, or how long it took to chew cud.

Cattle are very social, so it’s not unusual for some of the better storytellers to break out a story that’s been handed down for generations for the listening pleasure of the rest of the herd. On some rare occasions, the herd will come across some Jimson weed and on those nights the cattle have a riproaring time getting high as kites (perhaps not the best comparison when you’re talking about an 1,800 pound animal) and having some really wicked hallucinations. If you’re wondering what kind of hallucination a cow might have, one of the most common ones is that a cow will think that the ear tag is some kind of radio controller that’s following every move the cow makes. Creepy yes, but not out of the realm of possibility.

So the next time you see cattle making their move around sunset, you’ll have a pretty good idea that the party is about to get started.

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.

Recall Program

Are you having difficulty being able to recall a name or a word when you’re having a conversation with someone or just ruminating on your own? Experts say not to worry. It’s most likely not dementia. There are many other causes….everything from insomnia to anxiety or stress can cause these lapses in memory. None of which make me any less relaxed about the situation.

It’s frustrating when you can’t find the right word to convey your thoughts. And why can’t I think of the name of that band that had a big hit with that song. What’s the name of that author that I like….I’ve read all his books. It’s actually embarrassing to be conversing with someone and be unable to recall a name or a title. You end up repeating over and over that you know the word/name but it’s just out of reach. Sometimes you even go so far as to say something like, “it starts with an “m.”

The fact that I’m able to recall the word or name and hour later (when I don’t need it) is little consolation. I want total recall. Wait. Wasn’t that a movie with what’s his name. You know, he became the Governator. Arnold I-Can’t-Spell-Your-Last-Name. At least I knew there was a movie by that name.

I like to think that the real problem is an overtaxed brain. I’ve collected too much information, taken too many classes, read too many books, watched too many movies, met too many people, stored up too many facts, and spent way too much time surfing the internet. And the result is my brain is overtaxed because it’s overloaded with information. Our brains are impressive organs but they are not anything like IBM’s Watson when it comes to retention and recall. The brain certainly works like a computer but lacking a 12 terabyte hard drive puts us at a clear disadvantage.

You might be saying “get over it” to which I say, “no, you get over it.” The brain wants what the brain wants. Is it too much to ask for total recall for the information stored in there? When I want it?

It’s bad enough that I have to ask Siri for information. Please don’t make me start saying “OK Google.”

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, November 29, 2016

So Long Sport

Have you noticed that low to the ground cars are hard to exit? Almost like you need a crane to extract yourself from the seat. It’s probably worse if you have two vehicles; one with a high clearance and one with a low to the ground stance. That sporty vehicle may be spending more time in the garage.

If you have shared this experience, it won’t come as a surprise to you that sports car sales have taken a deep dive. Mustang and Corvette sales are dismal and it’s all our fault. As more and more boomers get close to 70 years of age, the lure of these “life-stage” vehicles starts to fade. We’re “aging out” according to automotive magazine writers, and it could all be down to our aching backs.

Among U.S. drivers, the over 65 year old segment is the fastest growing demo. Almost 1 in 5! So when we can’t accordion fold ourselves into a sports car, the whole industry feels the pain. GenXers and millennials are not going to pick up the slack with starting prices for sports models starting north of $30,000.

There are some techniques for extricating yourself from a sports car. One popular trick is to swing both legs out and then use both sides of the door frame to launch yourself. Of course you will look like an idiot when you do this in the grocery store parking lot, but you already know you’re fast approaching geezer status. The upside of being a geezer is that you could care less how silly you look getting out of your trophy sports car. Just make sure you can reach your cellphone in case the back locks up.

It could be worse. Carmakers could start producing cars that have doors similar to those walk-in bathtubs. What the hell….maybe they will start motorizing the walk-in bathtub and you can bathe and get to the grocery store at the same time.

It would be funny if it wasn’t a scary possibility.

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.

Monday, November 14, 2016

How Fish Get Caught

If you’ve ever wondered how fish get caught, this is your lucky day. As a fish that’s been caught several times in a brief life, I can tell you exactly how and why it happens.

First of all, fish are not stupid. We know that there is some sort of lifeform above the surface of the water and that they would like nothing better than to yank us out of the water and into some sort of basket thingy. Sorry for the imprecision on the terminology, but we are not expert at all when it comes to things above the surface. Sort of like a fish out of water, you might say.

If we are not stupid, you may ask yourself, why then do fish take the bait? The answer can be very complex, depending upon the type of fish and the body of water, but I will review here the most popular reasons.

Topping the list, without a doubt, is boredom. You swim around all day long, snacking on zooplankton, worms or insects you spot on the surface and you begin to long for a break in the monotony. Next thing you know, a furry looking insect thing plunks into the water and you swim up to see what this new thing is. Most fish will try the taste test and chomp down on it. And then BAM! Some lifeform pulls the line and you’re hooked. Believe me, when it happens you want to smack your forehead with your tailfin just to remind yourself what an idiot you are.

Bad eyesight is probably the second most prevalent reason for getting hooked. You just have to look at the setup to appreciate that we have an eye on each side of our head, so we are really able to see with one eye if an insect plops into the water on the left side. If it’s straight in front of us, we might not be able to see it at all. When things are splashing into the water or landing on the surface, we really don’t have much idea what we are dealing with until we get right up on it for the taste test, and by then the horse is out of the barn.

You may not believe this, but most fish are arrogant, and that can frequently lead them to think they can outrun or outfight the lifeform. I admit to having a bit of conceit about my ability to beat the system. One of the times I was hooked, I simply took the line as far as I could and it broke, which also pulled the hook free from my mouth. It hurt like hell but it sure must have ticked off the lifeform.

I’m ashamed to say that a good fish is hard to find, so when the lifeform throws a fish smaller than me into the water, I have to go for it. You’ve seen the chart where the little fish gets eaten by the bigger fish, and the bigger fish gets eaten by an even bigger fish? And at opposite end of the chart is a shark that eats all the other fish. Trust me, it’s all true. Fish are good eating.

Think about this logic the next time you get out on the lake or an ocean, because the lifeform that knows how fish get caught is the lifeform who comes home with the biggest catch.

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.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Reverse Mentoring

“Clear? Huh! Why a four-year-old child could understand this report. Run out and find me a four-year-old child. I can't make head or tail out of it.”

So spoke Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx in Duck Soup if you’re a fan).

But these days you do not have to be the leader of Freedonia to get some help. Turns out millennials are happy to teach baby boomers a thing or two about such things as the integration of social media and crowd sourcing. They call it reverse mentoring when 18 to 35 year-old employees are paired with baby boomers in order to educate one another on business topics and new tools.

I think it’s a great idea, but then every time I’ve been stuck with a computer issue I’m the first one to say “Run out and get me a 12 year-old!” You have to stop and realize every so often that almost every baby boomer can remember when there was no internet. Millennials on the other hand, for the most part, think the internet has been there for their entire lives – and they would be correct in that assumption.

Millennials will make up half the workforce by 2020 so I’m thinking I want to be on their good side. Not only do they have some good information and techniques to pass on, they will be footing my social security payments. Honestly, I feel capable of keeping up with most new developments in social media now, but 2, 3 or 4 years from now, it may be a much different story. You start to have visions of impatient youth trying to get technical concepts through to our brains. Remember trying to explain AOL’s modem and the concept of email to your own parents? That’s right. That could be you trying to understand how a microchip tattoo on your wrist is going to replace your watch, your mobile phone and your fitbit. And don’t even get me started on the retina implant that will project films or the Uber car that’s going to show up without a driver.

Fasten your seatbelts because things are going to change and you may want your own millennial to help you make it through the storm.

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.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Silver into Gold

Longevity market. That’s the term being tossed around for over-50 market. I like the sound of it. If only because it infers that boomers are going to be around for a while.

We know that entrepreneurs are going to profit off us by coming up with products and services that are specifically targeted to an aging population. And I’m okay with that. Whether it’s electric bicycles or stylish walking shoes or home care, I’m in.

According to AARP, this longevity market accounts for $7.6 trillion in economic activity. That’s a trillion pound elephant. What makes it interesting is that millennials are coming up with great product ideas out of personal experiences with parents or grandparents. Grandson sees how hard his parents are struggling with Grandpa’s care and he comes up with a new app for homecare providers. Daughter wants to help her parents continue to exercise and designs an electric bicycle.

Note to self: the next time I want to disparage a millennial, remember that she might be the one who invents an automated prescription pill dispenser.

New business ideas that cater to baby boomers are most likely going to be coming forth in a constant stream over the next decade. Ironically, that means that millennials who have been blaming boomers for everything wrong in our society may one day be thanking us for all the start-up opportunities that we have stimulated. Venture capitalists have taken notice and there are now numerous crowdfunding options for any startup that has targeted the longevity market.

What’s in it for boomers? Investment opportunities for one thing. I’ve been saying for years that I really should invest in whatever company makes the most advanced and barely visible hearing aid, because that should be a very profitable business. Just the fact that so many millennials are interested in creating products and services targeted to boomers bodes well.

Now we just have to worry about Social Security remaining solvent enough for us to pay for the new products and new apps. What am I thinking? Some millennial out there is working on a Social Security Management App at this very moment.

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 3, 2016

Cereal Killers

I’m not feeling sorry for Kelloggs or General Mills, but cereal sales have fallen off sharply. Apparently baby boomers who grew up eating cereal for breakfast and snacking cannot make up for millennials who rarely go in for the milky crunch.

We had Rice Crispies, Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Wheaties, Puffed Rice, Sugar Pops, and loads of other brands I can no longer remember. We ate them with milk and if they were covered with sugar, we ate them as snacks.

According to recent surveys, millennials forego the cereal habit because “it’s too much work.” Read that again. Too much work. You have to clean up the bowl and spoon afterward. Almost 40% of those surveyed gave that as the number one reason they prefer the convenience of protein bars or fast-food biscuits. I’ll grant you that some of the cereals we ate back then were just slick sugar delivery systems, but as we got older we turned to Wheat Chex, Rice Chex and other somewhat healthier alternatives. Then we added fresh fruits as well, all in the name of eating smarter.

Cereal makers have not given up on trying to attract millennials and the inducement of healthier offerings is still being used as a lure. Kellogg has come out with a variation that has quinoa in it. Can Kale Bran be far behind?

If it’s too much trouble to get out a bowl, spoon and milk, can we count on these people when we’re no longer able to feed ourselves? Are they going to put us on protein IV drips for breakfast? That may be the same way they get their morning nutrients, but for folks who grew up listening to their Rice Crispies making snap, crackle and pop noises it’s going to be a real downer.

Convenience is a great selling point for just about anything. Internet access, cruise control, electronic bill paying, ATMs, and more have made our lives easier and more pleasurable. But the pleasure of cold milk hitting a bowl of crunchy grains and scarfing it all up while the cereal is still crunchy – that may be an indulgence that future generations (thinking about the Matrix here) never get to experience.

Sugar Pops are Tops!

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, July 23, 2016

That Was Then

Remember when people worked for the same company for years and years until they were ready to retire? Well then you must be a baby boomer for sure because that doesn’t happen much anymore. Millennials change jobs the way some people change cars…at least once every three years.

A recent poll by Associated Press-Center for Public Affairs Research showed that among workers over 50, 41 percent had spent two decades with the same company. Eighteen percent stayed with the same employer for at least 30 years. That last group includes me. This year will mark the 30th anniversary of working for the same company and with the same business partner, and no one is more surprised about this than me.

At the beginning of my working life it seemed like I was destined to move from one career to the next, trying my hand at different tasks to see what appealed to me. It didn’t take very long to figure out what I wanted to do based on what I thought my strongest talents were. Likewise, I didn’t expect to team up with a business partner whose skills and ethos integrated so well with mine.

Hitting the 30 year mark seems like a good time to look back and wonder if we missed anything by not exploring more employers and careers as so many workers do now. I doubt that I would have been comfortable with the stress of swinging on the jungle vines, leaping from one job to the next and trying to fit into a new work culture every few years. We tend to think that would have been hard to pull off, but would it have been any less stressful than managing to keep our small business going through good times and very tough times? The range of different experiences might have been very appealing as well but so was the ability to create a career with so much longevity.

Worklife has changed so much in our lifetimes that it’s hard to predict the trends for coming years. Global strategies, outsourcing, the end of pensions and the overall coarsening of the employer-employee relationship all have contributed to a general sense of workplace instability. There’s not much loyalty to go around when workers think their employers care more about their stock price or their image than their employees, and employers believe their workers are not as productive as they should be.

It would appear that we were lucky (most of the time) to find a career that’s still going strong with the same company. Future generations of workers may marvel at that feat.

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.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

You Dig?

In the category of We Should Have Seen This Coming, it is now apparent that baby boomers are to blame for the lost generation of gardeners. Seriously. Seriously?

Well, seriously in Britain. Folks in their twenties, thirties and forties were never taught to garden by boomer parents according to the Royal Horticultural Society.

Come on. Just because boomers did not encourage their kids to play in the dirt (too many germs there), their offspring have rejected any interest in gardening. I call bullshit. My parents were not gardeners but I still jumped on the Mother Earth bandwagon in my late twenties and ended up with three zucchini mounds that produced 100 pounds of zukes per week (I may be exaggerating). It was a 20 foot by 70 foot garden with corn, tomatoes, peppers and strawberries surrounded by an eight foot fence that deer easily leaped right over for breakfast. We thought we were getting back to the land and earning self-sufficiency merit badge. No parent involvement whatsoever. They marveled over the fact that we had any interest in growing our own food but they certainly knew that it had nothing to do with any example that they set for us.

If millennials and GenXers really have a yen to garden, lack of parental guidance or childhood experience is not going to stop them. In fact, I would posit that all the interest in organic food and veganism would be all the encouragement these deprived folks would need to get motivated to get dirt under their fingernails and grow their own food in their own gardens. Younger generations can go online now and get 100 times more information on gardening than we had access to almost 50 years ago. Our wellworn Mother Earth News magazines were the go-to resource back then and we learned by doing and from our mistakes (3 zucchini mounds will feed a family of 30. I know that now).

Don’t have your own home with space for a garden? That might have been an impediment back in our day but not anymore. Community gardens are everywhere now, so you can till your own patch along with like-minded gardeners and bring home the bounty.

So no, we’re not taking the blame for this one. And that’s final.

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, June 17, 2016

Time Machine

For all outward appearances the TMI looks like a sophisticated virtual reality machine. You wear this clunky looking goggle-like apparatus with a wire coming off of it. Then there are the earphones to enhance the audio experience. Maybe some day it can be surgically placed right on top of our retinas, but that’s way off in the future. The one piece of technology that makes the Time Machine Input completely different from VR is the cord that goes right into the brain’s cortex to the neurons that control our sense of time.

If you have visions of Hot Tub Time Machine (or Hot Tub Time Machine 2 or 3), let me assure you that the TMI does not take you back in time. It’s not going to fulfill some juvenile fantasy of going back in time to be cooler than you were in high school or to erase all those embarrassing moments that all of us would like to delete from our memory bank. The TMI extends time, stretching the boundaries of time and space in a way that just a few years ago we thought would be impossible.

We hear people say all the time, “if only there were more than 24 hours in a day, I could get so much more done.” The amazing TMI technology makes that possible. You need more than one hour to get yourself going in the morning? TMI can add as much as 15 minutes to the basic 1 hour block of time. Repeat that setting for a full 24 hours and you pick up a net gain of 6 hours. Over a week that adds up to 42 hours, or almost 2 full extra days in your week. But that’s not all. You could gain 104 days in a year, and over a lifetime, are you ready for this, you could gain 260 months or an extra 21 years.

Personally, I’m not interested in extending my lifespan by 20 or more years. My goals are much more modest. I just want that extra 15 minutes when the clock is running down and I need that boost. Let me spend 15 more minutes with the one I love, or sleep for 15 more minutes in the morning, or take 15 minutes our of my day to do nothing more than contemplate my navel.

The choice is yours with the TMI. You decide how and when you want more time. Just remember, batteries are not included.

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.