Wednesday, March 31, 2021

What Cattle Do At Night (or Until the Cows Come Home)

 

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 writer and creative consultant for DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Miss Information?


Or should that be misinformation? I never had any expectation that baby boomers were a monolithic demographic when it came to their political and social opinions, but sometimes it felt that way when the war was raging in Viet Nam and Selective Service (remember that?) was breathing down the necks of young boomers. We are all in this together, right? Well, maybe not.

Fast forward 52 years, and it’s become even more clear that if there ever was any uniformity to our outlook as children of the 60s, it’s gone now. The truth has gotten fuzzier and facts can be challenged by alternative facts, the latter phrase itself a puzzling and disturbing development.

All this time, even though we watched the same TV shows, listened to the same hit songs, and fixated on the popular movies of our era, it appears that are brains were interpreting these cultural touchstones in very divergent ways. Truthiness became a thing and thus it became okay, if not acceptable, to decode shared experiences as opposing ends of the political spectrum.

The alphabet soup of generations (Gen X, Gen Y/Millennials and Gen Z) have been for the most part shaped by a whole different set of cultural and political influences. Their outlook has been influenced by recessions, rapid technology innovation and rampant social media. Now they are tasked not only with translating the latest operating system updates for our computers, but also helping us separate truth from fiction. With baby boomers grandparents caught between Q Anon and the Onion, what’s a Gen X, Y or Z’er to do? They expected, even welcomed the chance to help boomer parents with technology, but how could they have predicted they would be required as well to debunk fake news. One generation believes if they see it in print it must be true and the other generation finds almost everything that makes its way to the internet to be suspect.

Since we can’t agree on which facts are really facts (i.e. truth), we can only hope that X, Y and Z will save us by confirming the real ABC’s.

Jay Harrison is a writer and creative consultant for DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.

 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Deep in Da Nile


Whadda you mean I’m not 58? I feel like I’m 58.

Yeah, about that. You’re just another baby boomer who thinks that they will live forever. But have you noticed that you are forgetting things more often? That thing where you go into another room but can’t remember why –– is that happening more often? Do you need the TV volume up higher than –– ahem –– some other people in the room? Is figuring out how to do stuff on your computer getting more and more difficult (i.e. requiring the services of random teenagers in order to figure out how to back up your old iTunes –– I know, Apple killed it and they call it Music now. How creative.). Do your knees feel sore after a long walk or a hike? Do I need to continue listing these things or are you getting the message?

You –– we –– are in denial. And the older we get, the more denial we exhibit. I’m not particularly worried about it. It’s normal as we age. I’m more worried about where it stops. This is why children take away the parent’s car keys. I don’t have any children. Does that mean people I don’t even know are going to tell me I should not be driving anymore? I know this day is far off (or is that just more denial?), but it’s never too early to start worrying about it.

Baby boomers just don’t think of themselves as “older adults.” And honestly, why should they? The definition of older adult has been “updefined.” The President is 78. The Speaker of the House is 79. Bernie Sanders is 79 and he’s a famous meme for crying out loud!

Of course, we are not the first generation of oldsters to face this problem. The difference is that we are baby boomers, and I don’t have to tell you, boomers have this group-think tendency to believe we are different than past generations. Not necessarily better, but different. Our culture has contributed to this effect as well. We are living longer and healthier lives. There are more medical and psychological means of deferring events that used to define old age.

So. What to do? Keeping paddling in the Nile? That’s where you will find me. Until or unless someone takes away my paddle.

Jay Harrison is a writer and creative consultant at DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.

 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Sominex


Maybe it’s the anxiety of waiting for a vaccination or just the general angst of waiting out a pandemic, but either way, I’m ready to try some Sominex (doubtful they still make it). If you’re old enough, you might remember their jingle. “Take Sominex tonight and sleep. Safe and restful, sleep, sleep, sleep.” That little ditty is still effective. You almost want to lay your head down and take a nap after listening to it.

The more serious issue is what baby boomers may be doing to themselves to get some quality sleep. There are warnings that alcohol consumption is way up and it stands to reason that various sleep aids such as ZzzQuil, Luna and Nytol are experiencing a big bump in sales. Likewise, CBD products are getting very popular for the supposed benefit of reduced anxiety.

I suppose you’ve heard that we should be getting 7 hours of sleep a night. Who was getting 7 hours even before the pandemic? Six is good, hell, I would take 5. The creepy aspect of this sleep deprivation is that we really don’t know how much sleep we’re getting. Looking at the clock over and over throughout the night does not prove that you were not sleeping in between time checks. How many times have you heard yourself say, “I didn’t sleep at all last night.” If it were really true, you would be in a zombie apocalypse movie by now.

Is this sleep deprivation issue really about the pandemic or is it a natural consequence of getting older? The National Sleep Foundation found that 35 percent of Americans report their sleep quality as poor or fair. Boomers spend less time in deeper stages of sleep and our circadian rhythms change, causing us to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier. Their advice is to shoot for the same bedtime and wake-up. No TV or electronic devices (that’s going to be tough); no eating within 3 hours of bedtime; no caffeine after 3 p.m.; and don’t stay in bed if you are not sleeping.

All this talk about sleep is making me drowsy. Oh yeah, they also recommend naps be limited to 20-30 minutes. See you in my dreams.

Jay Harrison is a writer and creative consultant at DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.

 

 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Memories


I want to discuss memory loss with you. For baby boomers, the fear of memory loss is really the fear of dementia. I’m not referring to the inability to recall names, places, or even what you ate for lunch. Wait, where was I? Seriously, isn’t every boomer thinking that dementia is right around the corner when they can’t remember something they were told an hour ago? You can argue with me if you like, but I’m going to affirm that half the time my problem is with listening skills, not memory, but that’s a whole other story.

The good news is that exercise not only improves memory – it also decreases memory loss. Studies have shown that walking for as little as 2.5 hours per week can significantly improve memory.

Exercise increases the levels of brain chemicals, and that in turn encourages the growth of nerve cells. The more aerobic the exercise, the more successfully your brain ages. Soooo, time to get moving.

While on the subject of memory, I wanted to know why we can remember things in the most distant past but not how we spent the afternoon yesterday. The science indicates that once a memory is created it has to be stored somewhere. Sensory, short-term or long-term. I’m going to guess that short-term can only hold so much, while long-term is there for the long haul.

And I just remembered why we can’t remember when we were babies. Most of us, that is. I’d be willing to bet there are a few boomers out there who can remember getting a spoonfuls of Gerber Apricot Mixed Fruit, but they would have to be considered extremely rare. The rest of us at that age had brains that were not developed enough to bundle information into the complex neural patterns known as memories.

Maybe you will remember this the next time you and your friends and family are discussing memory loss. Or maybe not.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.

 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Bug Out


They said the pandemic was going to change things. Or put another way, some things were never going to be the same after the pandemic was over.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis, a lot more boomers chose retirement during the pandemic than what had previously been expected.

If you watched the TV show MASH, there was a 2-part episode devoted to what was known as a Bug Out. Surgical units had to be ready to relocate within 6 hours due to imminent movement of enemy troops.

It’s beginning to look as though baby boomers are experiencing their own Bug Out. And this one is precipitated by the pandemic forcing people to abandon their workplaces.

2.86 million Baby Boomers retired in the 3rd quarter of 2020. The COVID-19 recession was the main culprit in this higher than expected surge. Until now, retirements averaged around 2 million per quarter, so this was a substantial increase.

Forced to work from home (if they were lucky and could figure out how to ZOOM) or pushed out of jobs that were considered essential but posed a risk greater than they could tolerate, many boomers chose the Bug Out option. It’s doubtful that they could do it in 6 hours or even make the decision to bug out in that amount of time. While several million boomers were planning on retiring anyway, close to a million more boomers just felt like they no longer had any choice in the timing.

In the MASH episode, much of the drama emanated from the fact that Hawkeye, Margaret and Radar stayed behind to care for a patient who could not be moved without threatening his life. Baby boomers who are essential workers must know what that feels like, as they remain on the job while a silent enemy is all around them, and all they have for protection is a mask. Social distancing may not be possible.

For those boomers who chose early retirement, we say good luck. To those boomers who remain on the job, we say thank you for remaining behind and doing those essential jobs. Things may never be the same when this is over, but let’s not forget who performed the essential work.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.

 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Puffy?

Yeah, puffy. You want to make a big deal out of it? No, not me. I was just thinking that it’s an interesting name for a mattress and décor company.

Then I was intrigued by the fact that Puffy just released results from their national sleep survey.
They surveyed over 4,400 adults from all 50 American states, asking them how they were sleeping in the time of Covid.

Surprisingly to me, 74% said they preferred working remotely from home. But, they were going to bed later and less satisfied with the sleep quality. I guess you could say they are a bit stressed out. Millennials have it the worst, as 62% of those surveyed reported higher stress levels while working remotely.

It seems that how you work remotely has a lot to do with your stress level. Baby boomers were working out of home offices, which most likely reflects the fact that they have larger homes. 54% of the boomers surveyed fell into that category, while only 20% of the Gen Z and millennials had designated office spaces. Presumably, the rest were working at the breakfast bar, dining room table or the bedroom. Home office spaces translated into lower levels of stress according to the survey.

Not surprising, 79% of boomers preferred working from home. Well yeah! They have fancy pants home offices. 68% said that their productivity level was higher than when they were in offices.

Only 20% of millennials had a home office and 42% were working in their bedrooms. 62% were feeling more work stress than they did before the lockdown. Keep in mind that these are the “digitally-native” workers who grew up with computers but are struggling with the adjustment. Housemates, young children and limited space are all factors in their dissatisfaction with work-at-home circumstances.

Bottom line, Puffy’s data suggests that sleep satisfaction across all demographics has nosedived. Older adults in particular, while transitioning well to remote work, are not happy with their sleep. Only 27% of those over age 55 were satisfied. Gen Z’ers reported the highest satisfaction (48%) and that appears to correlate with the redecorating they’ve done during the lockdown.

Aha! I think I get it now. Puffy sells bedding and bedroom décor. Better décor — better sleep! We’ll all sleep better now that we know their secret.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.