Friday, September 6, 2019

Enough!

The subject of hoarding can never be too far from your consciousness— after all, baby boomers have been collecting stuff since the 60s. For all I know, you’re still wearing it all too.

But now it’s time to let go. Stop hoarding and start redistributing. To help you with your hoarding compulsion, you can watch some of the TV shows that are still running or go with Marie Kondo “does it spark joy” method.

What does it say about us that there are TV shows devoted to hoarders? There’s even a Clutterers Anonymous organization plying the 12 step waters to find their way to recovery. Twelve steps seems like too many if you’re trying to reduce the clutter in your life. What about three steps? 1) Admit you’ve been making a mess of your home. 2) Get rid of all the crap you’ve been hoarding. 3) Apologize to anyone you’ve ever allowed/forced to be in your home. There—that was easy.

The International OCD Foundation (you read that right) even has a Hoarding Center. That sounds a little obsessive, but they would know more about that than me. You can go to the Hoarding In the News section and read about how too much “stuff” can cause grief.

Once I came across a Holmes on Holmes TV episode (make it right Mike) where contractor Mike Holmes was flabbergasted to find a couple who had so much crap in their home that the heating and ventilation system couldn’t work properly (the vents were all blocked!!!). It just got away from them and then snowballed to the point that they didn’t know where to start—so they didn’t. If Mike had not come along, they would probably be dead now—carbon dioxide poisoning. He and his crew carted off all the family’s junk in a convoy of four trucks.

Boomers, it’s time to get proactive. Learn to love the minimalist décor. Dump it on your kids, sell it on eBay or leave it in the street, but you’ve got to get rid of your excess stuff before the reality show producers come calling and you really make a fool out of yourself. Fifteen minutes of fame is a strong lure, but do you really want your friends and family to see you that way? There are lots of teenagers jonesin’ for your cast-offs. Let someone else take care of your stuff the second time around.

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.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Go West!

I know it seems improbable, but I keep running into famous people who purportedly died. What can I say? It’s a gift.

My latest encounter was with Mae West. She was coming out of Nordstrom Rack with an armful of shopping bags.

Wow, Mae, you bought out the place!

“I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”

Shopping can be addictive from what I understand.

“Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.”

Good advice. But maybe a bad habit?

“I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.”

And that was also your approach to men?

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”

You do have a reputation for being shall we say risqué?

“Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.”

You certainly shocked some people in your day.

“Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.”

Well you lived your life the way you wanted. No regrets?

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

You married twice but neither lasted. What’s up with that?

“Marriage is a fine institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.”

Did you worry about your reputation at all?

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”

Happens to everyone. Do you care what people think now?

“I wrote the story myself. It’s about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it.”

Speaking of reputation, does it bother you to know what some people thought about you?

“When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.”

Would you consider getting married again?

“Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can’t figure out what from.”

Well, maybe they just want to get to know you better.

“A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.”

Mae, I think you lived a fabulous life that people still admire today.

“I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.”

And it most certainly is or was. You are an impressive lady.

“I’m no model lady. A model’s just an imitation of the real thing.”

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, July 30, 2019

Back at the Ranch

The more things change, the more they stay the same. At least that might be true when it comes to the housing of choice. Baby boomers are turning to ranch homes for the convenience and compactness. It’s a manageable size for retirement and that means they can keep their freedom and independence.

That’s just a bit ironic since the ranch home traces its roots to the old west, when early homesteads were made of adobe and then later inspired by the Spanish-style homes popularized in California circa 1920. Easterners grew fond of the unpretentious look and the affordability was very appealing. Around 1950, nine out of every ten homes in the United States were ranch homes.

So early settlers to the frontier and beyond were looking for freedom and simplicity and more than 100 years later, baby boomers are attracted to ranch homes for the same reasons. Living on one level often required larger lots back in the day but that’s not necessarily true now. The sprawling ranch homes of the 50s have become more compact and efficient, but the outdoor lifestyle in still key. Most new ranch homes have multiple egress to the outside for outdoor kitchens, dining and recreation. Swimming pools and hot tubs are also popular with baby boomers. The U- and L-shape configurations are still desirable because they offer more privacy for the outdoor space, especially important now that ranch homes are cropping up on smaller lots.

For further irony, even millennials are attracted to this home style and are competing with boomers in the real estate market. For a millennial, the moderate cost is a big factor but so is the nostalgia, as many of them grew up in this type of home.

Maybe it’s time for you to saddle up. Put some horseshoes on the wall. Get one of those cowboy silouettes…you know, the kind where the cowpoke has his boot up leaning against the wall and his hat pulled down low in front. A longhorn steer skull hanging on the wall could also work. Sure won’t look like assisted living.

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, July 15, 2019

Bon Fire

Nobody wants our stuff. Face it. Maybe you’re looking at them right now — the nicknacks and tchotchkes that are collecting dust on the mantle, piano or bookcase.

No one wants it. Not the dishes, not the furniture, not even the antique rocking chair, and especially not the figurines.

Millennials and GenXers just aren’t that sentimental about our “valuables” and even if they wanted some of it, they don’t have the space. Besides, their collectibles come in a digital format and they can store it all on a flash drive.

Thrift stores and estate sales are loaded with boomer cast-offs but they are just collecting dust. Still. They were collecting dust when we owned them and they are doomed to continue collecting dust. Go to any yard or estate sale in an older established neighborhood and you can see for yourself that our stuff is going begging. Lladro porcelain? Big deal. Even the people who know what it’s worth don’t want any more of it. A vintage Ridgeway grandfather clock? Where would anyone put it? An Apple watch does so much more. Beautiful sets of dishes, and when I say set, I mean service for 12? No one is feeding 12 people anymore and if they had 12 people over, it would be for finger food.

Look up some of these things on eBay and you’ll see acres of listings posted by desperate boomers. Their best customers may be other boomers who just can’t give up the hunt for more treasures.

I don’t care what Marie Kondo says. Holding on to what sparks joy isn’t really generating much joy and the next generations are getting absolutely no joy from baby boomer possessions.

At the risk of sounding like I’m encouraging arson, certainly one option is to put it all in a big bonfire. Or you could take it to the landfill, where the bonus is that you get to meet the most interesting people there. These options make more sense than waiting for millennials to come around and decide that these treasures are worth keeping. Won’t happen in our lifetime.

Back then to a bon fire.

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, July 1, 2019

Assisted What?

Oh yeah, assisted living is most likely in all of our futures, but it’s already clear that it won’t be your father’s assisted living. Baby boomers are playing by a different rules and the assisted living industry is already planning, or should I say bracing for the changes.

Designers of 50+ communities are creating roomier floor plans (cuz we’re bringing ALL our stuff with us), more contemporary furnishings, added workshop and gardening spaces, and accommodation for pets. When we sell the house, that does not mean we’re giving up all our stuff….we’re just going to repot it.

Location is a bigger deal now as well. The next generation of assisted living residents is not going to be happy stuck out in the burbs. They are going to want urban locations with easy access to cultural and dining options. According to a report from Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement, boomers are going to be looking for “resort style of design” when choosing an assisted living or 50+ option.

Golf and shuffleboard are on the outs, but personal trainers, pickle ball and dogparks are on the way in. Boomers are not going to retire so much as go on vacation. And I’m okay with that. I wouldn’t mind living somewhere that felt like every day was a vacation. And you can be sure boomers are going to want to have a say in how the place is run. Governance is not going to be left in the hands of those “who know best,” that’s for sure.

Broad-band access and WIFI….check. Cable TV with the premium packages….check. Closed circuit security cameras….check. These places are going to be bristling with the latest tech tools and toys, because that’s what boomers are demanding. Everything from automatic and individualized temperature control to lights and doors that operate automatically.

Imagining retirement housing 20 or even 10 years from now is not just a fun pastime for futurists. The influence and impact of baby boomers is going to seachange the entire concept of retirement housing.

So cheer up, we’re going to be the Jetsons!

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, June 18, 2019

Surprise!

So much has been written about the impact of baby boomers exiting the labor force, it seems incomprehensible that employers would not be ready and have strategies in place to respond to this major change.

Guess again. It appears that the departure of boomers is taking employers by surprise. All the sudden, companies are realizing the challenge of replacing the knowledge and skills that boomers will be taking with them when they head for the exits.

Why am I not surprised by their surprise? When your generation has been the 800 pound gorilla/punching bag (demographically speaking) for so long, nothing surprises when it comes to the wild and crazy assumptions that society has thrown at us. We’re spoiled and self-centered. We caused global warming. We’re responsible for every economic bubble burst. We’ve run up the deficit. We’re sabotaging our children’s future. We’re sociopaths. And the topper – we’re going to drain the social security fund dry.

Feels like a communal “don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out” kind of moment we’re in right now. However, employers readily admit that in the next five years they will face a significant challenge due to boomer retirements. Now they are starting to worry more about the skills loss than the fact that boomers might be blocking the advancement of younger workers. Some employers are offering phased-in retirement options in order to avoid the inevitable “brain drain.” According to a study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 70% of the employers thought their workplace was aging-friendly but only half the workers thought that was accurate.

It’s hard to quantify what employers are losing when boomers begin leaving the workplace in large numbers because you can’t easily measure the value of their institutional knowledge and history. Add to that the fact that organizations don’t know when their older workers will want to retire. It used to be age 65 but now it’s trending closer to age 70.

Better late than never, the hope now is that organizations come up with a strategy to hold on to older workers or at least offer flexible work schedules that might keep some boomers on the job and passing along what they know.

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, June 3, 2019

Long Walk

Another adventure unfolded on our recent hike into the nooks and crannies (i.e. canyons and ravines) of New Mexico. After a 4.5 hour drive down to the Gila National Forest, we made our way to the Doggone trailhead. That’s right Doggone. So named when an early explorer to the area…you guessed it…lost his dog. If you are consulting the map, this would be just outside the town of Mud Stain.

We had hoped to enjoy cooler temperatures at the 8,800-foot elevation with some tree cover shade, but no. It was hot as hell with no relief and not as much shade as we hoped. The first 2.5 miles up Dead Horse (don’t ask) mountain were sheer torture as it involved about 1500 feet of elevation gain. The payoff was at the summit where we enjoyed a fine view looking across Dirty Bastard Valley.

Our exhilaration was short-lived as the Doggone trail went from a wide path to a narrow shoulder along a sheer 400-foot drop. This part of the trail is known as Foolish, Foolish Choice for obvious reasons. Incidentally, we have numerous classifications for hiking trails such as this. There’s FOAGBU (fall off and get back up), FOARD (fall off and roll down), and of course, FOAD (fall off and die). Foolish, Foolish Choice did not disappoint as it was clearly a FOAD kind of trail.

Thankfully we made it across the blade edge and dropped down (not literally) into Chipped Tooth Gulch. Local legend is that a cowboy named Larryme fell off his horse and chipped his tooth on some wicked granite that lines the gulch.­ We did not suffer the same fate although we did take the opportunity to floss.

The trail turned steep as we made our way out of the gulch into a glen known as Furry Maiden. Not much is known about the origin of this name but the dense shade and thick forest canopy above was most welcome. A small stream ran through the glen and our topo map indicated this was a small branch of the larger Knuckle Dragger River. It was the perfect place to stop for coffee and snacks and give the biting insects a decent shot at making us completely miserable.

Nourished and rested (along with bitten up real good), we got back on the trail to complete the long loop back to our starting point. This involved a hairy scary steep downward set of switchbacks on loose scree, where one false step could have you going ass over teakettle, which perversely was the name of this part of the trail. Only the topo spelled it Ass O’er Teakettle. Same difference.

Although it was level, the path back to the trailhead had a death march quality, as our legs were weakened by the strain of constant braking to make our way down Ass O’er Teakettle. We continued on this course which the topo labeled Mad Cow for another two miles. With the truck in sight and darkness about to come crashing down, we congratulated ourselves for having had another rewarding hike in the beautiful landscape that is New Mexico at its finest.

Note: Everything about this description is true except for the facts. And a shout-out to Geo’s Hiking blog for inspiration.

Total Distance: 8.30 miles Elevation: start 8,878 ft, maximum 10,667 ft, minimum 8,207 ft Gross gain: 1,789 ft. Aggregate ups & downs: ascending 2,256 ft, descending 2,359 ft Maximum slope: 47% ascending, 39% descending, 15% average Duration: 7:20

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.