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.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Star Crossed Trends?

Baby boomers are frequenting restaurants in greater numbers than other population segments. At the same time, their suicide rate has also jumped (and I know that may not be the best choice of words in this instance). Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Let’s look at the numbers. According to the NPD Group study, baby boomers have increased their share of restaurant traffic by six percentage points since 2008 and Millennials have decreased their share of traffic by six percentage points. Okay, big deal. So we like to eat out and we’ve got the bucks to pay for it. But if you look at the CDC study of suicide rates in this country, from 1999 to 2010, it rose 30 percent for Americans ages 35 to 64. The sharpest rise was among men in their 50s – a 50 percent increase. For women ages 60 to 64, the rate increased 60 percent.

I’m no statistician (still have trouble with 8 x 9=72), but I see a clear correlation between eating and offing oneself. Face it. If you’re repeatedly going to Denny’s and eating something with Slam in the name, eventually you have to return home and deal with the shame of having absolutely no self-control (or for that matter, any regard for your heart health). What choice do you have? Of course you’re going to want to kill yourself – it’s the only way to stop the cycle of overeating.

Wait. There must be a better way. Oh, right. You can STOP eating out all the time and prepare some healthy meals at home. While you’re at it, you can have some quality time with your spouse and family. You know, the people who love you (hopefully) and don’t want you to end up dead because of your poor eating habits.

The folks at the CDC have a slightly more nuanced analysis of why boomers are committing suicide in greater numbers. They chalk it up to baconalia the stress of the economic downturn and the depressing outlook for boomers who had hoped to enjoy their golden years (albeit with a lot less gold than they thought). The other factor is that it’s a lot easier to kill yourself now that it was a decade ago. More drugs and poisonous substances have reduced the rate of difficulty. It’s progress, but not exactly the kind you want.

So I stand corrected. I would have gone with repeated meals at Denny’s as the root cause for suicidal thoughts and actions, but I bow to the experts. Just remember, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

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, April 30, 2013

The 65+ Club

Remember when you thought age 65 is when the fun begins? Well, maybe fun is the wrong word. Remember when most baby boomers thought age 65 is when they would retire? Seems like it was just yesterday but it was more like 10 or 15 years ago.

Things have changed (thanks to Bob Dylan for that line). And the more things change, the more we all need to adapt. We’re living longer for starters, and that makes it less practical to stop working at age 65. If we’re going to live well into our nineties we need to keep working to pay for that extra time. Plus, all the research indicates that the longer we stay mentally and physically engaged, the healthier we’ll be in both mind and body.

Whether it’s because we can’t afford to retire or we just want to stay engaged with our work, it has become an accepted fact that age 65 is no longer the cutoff point. Baby boomers seem to have readily adjusted to this fact of life, but what about the rest of society?

Employers are recognizing the advantages and disadvantages of older workers. We have experience but maybe are not as open to new ideas and methods. You don’t have to pay as much, but our healthcare costs are higher. Working for younger managers can older be challenging, but boomers are proving resilient when it comes to keeping up with technology and adapting to new ideas. Boomers are less about reaching the top of the heap and more about contributing something useful to the team, and that’s a good thing for any organization.

In the end, I think baby boomers will just be grateful if they can continue to be paid a decent wage for being a productive worker who still has skills and experience that are valued by their employers. We’re all going to have to make adjustments to accommodate the changes brought on by longer lifespans. Someday, today’s 30 and 40-year old managers will be facing the same issue. By that time, it may be common for people to live into their one-hundreds, and the accepted age for retirement might be 75. What goes around, comes around, so my advice to younger managers is be kind to your boomer employees, and one day some young boss will be kind 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.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Brothers On the Rock

It doesn’t take much logic to see why the natives have fondly given Newfoundland the nickname “The Rock.” Everywhere you turn, there are rocky promontories that tourists have come to see. Fog-bound ships – not so much. Plenty of vessels have been dashed to pieces at the foot of these massive precipices, but the brothers were not there to look at shipwrecks. We were in Newfoundland to hike and photograph the splendid landscapes that abound there. And to bond – whatever that might mean.

Growing up, we shared a bedroom for close to 15 years, but it had been a long time since we shared any space with that kind of confined proximity. As in maybe 50 years. On "The Rock," we were going to be sharing hotel rooms and rental homes in the outport villages where we would be with each other 24/7. I’m fairly certain that we each predicted that it would be a great trip if we didn’t kill each other.

I can only guess what my brother learned from the trip, but traveling with him for 14 days confirmed many things that I already knew. He will eat anything, particularly if it’s exotic. Cod tongue salad? Bring it on! (I ate one. It tasted like cod fish, but slimier). He can be relatively quiet, almost silent, for some long stretches and then just as suddenly get very talkative (As opposed to my ability to fill time and space with continuing monologues if necessary). His travel motto may be “more is better” or “two of everything is better than one” and his giant suitcase was proof of that. I thought he was crazy to check his gigantic bag and he thought I was nuts to have only one carry-on (I have not checked a bag since my honeymoon, 26 years ago). This difference in baggage philosophy might be about the widest gulf between us. I will say that he never lacked for gadgetry. Two sets of hiking poles, two binoculars, a suitcase just for camera and lenses, iPad, cell phones….he may have had a fax machine in there, I can’t rule it out.

What did I learn about him that I didn’t know? He snores. Loud enough to keep me awake on some occasions. He says that when I sleep, I make a noise like a death rattle. I claim it’s a form of tantric meditation. We’ll call that a draw. I also learned that our mutual interest in hiking and photography gives us a lot more in the compatibles column than in the incompatibles column.

I’ll give him the last word (other than to say that I would join him again if he invited me):

"It was a fun trip and no one got killed. You can’t ask for more."

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 15, 2013

It’s Sleepy Time

How did you sleep? How many of your days begin with that question? And why does our worldview now depend upon how well we slept?

Seems like the older we get, the more illusive a good night’s rest has become. Does it help to know you’re not alone? Not so much.

The experts say that each of us has a “sleep architecture,” and that as we age, this architecture begins to change. For one thing, we spend less time in deep non-REM sleep and our circadian rhythm starts shifting earlier (no one knows why). Depression, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, menopause – there are loads of additional reasons for sleep disorders to affect baby boomers.

Whether it’s trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, boomers are finding that what used to come easily is now a struggle. Should we go to bed later, read longer, not drink coffee, drink warm milk, get out of bed when sleep doesn’t come easily…..all good questions and nobody has the answers. The recipe for a good nights rest is different for everyone – I get that. So, for now, we rise early (so that’s empty what the world looks like at 5 am) and try to go back to sleep, or we get up and start surfing the Internet (you got a better idea of what to do at that hour?). Start trying to remember who you went to grade school or high school with and then look them on Facebook. That can kill at least an hour. Try reading a classic book that you’ve never finished (or truth be told, never even cracked open). Moby Dick or Silas Marner anyone?

To put this all in perspective, it’s said that a healthy 70 year-old may wake up as many as four times a night without it being due to disease or any of the other aforementioned causes. Maybe on one of those wake-ups you could clean the bathroom or change the Brita water filter. There are plenty of distasteful chores you can do in the middle of the night that you may not even remember you did by morning.

The good news (the silver tsunami lining, if you will) is that you ARE waking up in the morning. You may think you have a sleep disorder, but not waking up (as in DEAD), that’s a real problem!

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. 2KS8Q3D9E3E5

Friday, January 4, 2013

How’s That Again?

We all have our favorite misheard lyrics – there are even websites devoted to cataloging them. This site takes its name from one of the most often repeated “misheards” --- “scuse me while I kiss this guy” is from Purple Haze and most of us know that the Jimi Hendrix was singing “kiss the sky.”

I’ve always been fond of hearing small children recite the pledge of allegiance (you do remember when we actually did that in grade school?). Especially the part where they say, “and to the republic, for Richard Stands.”

Or the Beatles “girl with colitis goes by” rather than “girl with kaleidoscope eyes.” If you remember Iron Butterfly’s totemic song, In-A-Gadda Da Vida, you may also recall that the first time you heard it played, it sounded like “In a glob of Velveeta, honey.” And some of us thought Elton John was singing “hold me closer, Tony Danza,” which may have made sense if Danza was gay, but “tiny dancer” won out on that one.

The lyrics that forever remain a mystery to me are from Steve Miller’s The Joker, recorded in 1973. Clearly, I’m not alone, because there’s even a movie titled with the same lyric and it revolves around four guys trying to figure out what the hell Steve Miller was talking about. To refresh your memory, the song starts out with this four-line opening:

Some people call me the space cowboy yeah

Some call me the gangster of love

Some people call me Maurice

Cause' I speak of the pompatus of love

The sheet music declares that it’s “pompitous,” the liner notes indicate that it’s “pompatus,” and there’s a contingent that believes the word is “puppetudes.” The characters in the movie try out “prophetess, profitless, impotence, pompous ass,” among others, but give up trying to find the one true answer.

And that’s the right thing to do. When a song’s lyrics contain a neologism that confounds so many people, perhaps it has fulfilled its mission. We play it over and over, desperate to make sense of it all, but finally just give in to the pleasure of hearing the words. I’m no song writer (trust me on that one), but if I wrote a song that mystified everyone for decades, I would be a very happy camper.

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.

Here’s Looking at You Kid

Someone called me a whiz kid the other day, because I knew how to record a voice memo on an iPhone. He’s a few years older than me, but it got me thinking that if I qualify as a kid, maybe it was time to start to giving the “Kid” moniker to anyone younger than me.

The server at the Indian restaurant will be Kid Curry, the UPS driver will be Kid Brown, which means the other delivery guy will be Kid Fed. My coffee will be expertly brewed by Kid Barista and I’ll purchase my jeans from Kid Levi. Movie tickets will be purchased from Kid Flic and burgers from Kid Mac. Kid Firestone will rotate my tires and Kid Kroger will bag my groceries. Kid Cable will keep my internets going and with any luck, I’ll never have to watch any of the shameless shenanigans of Kid Kardashian.

When you’re a kid, you don’t want be be called kid. As in, “Scram kid.” Or W. C. Field’s line, “Go away kid, ya bother me.” And being someone’s kid brother or kid sister isn’t exactly the description a young person wishes to be called.

But attitudes change and the years have mellowed my opinion about being “the kid.” Being the youngest carries no stigma anymore. On the contrary, when you put a bunch of boomers in a room, it’s quite the honor to be considered the kid.

It’s a storied tradition when you think about it. The Cisco Kid, Billy the Kid, Kid Shane, Karate Kid, Cudi the Kid, Kaitou Kid, Heartbreak Kid, Ringo Kid, Rawhide Kid, Two-Gun Kid, Kid Rock, Kid Kaplan, and who could forget the Sundance Kid. In the movie Casablanca, Rick toasts Ilsa with “Here’s looking at you kid.” That line is one of moviedom’s most famous.

A kid is young. A kid can get away with stuff. A kid has a certain joi de vivre, and who doesn’t want that? Yes, I like this “kid” thing. I like being called kid, and I think I’m really going to enjoy calling younger people “kid.”

It’s a lot better than whippersnapper.

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.