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.

Monday, June 6, 2016

What Shortage?

Haven’t they run out of baby boomers in the workplace yet? I keep reading articles about how thousands of boomers are leaving their jobs and there will be severe shortages of knowledgeable workers to carry on the business of business when those folks retire.

Only I’m not seeing it. Looks like plenty of gray hairs (eminence grisers as I like to call them) are still on the job, still standing in the way of GenXers and Millennials waiting to take their jobs. With the promise of 10,000 retirees per day, I thought we were going to see a dramatic denigration in the quality of worker output. Is it possible that worker output already sucks because everyone is shopping online for half the workday?

Admit it. If you’re a boomer, there’s a part of your psyche that wants to see the entire economy come screeching to a halt as the boomers take their leave. They need us, they really, really need us. Or maybe they don’t. Maybe we’ve done such a great job training our replacements that the transition to the next generation will proceed in a calm and orderly way.

One fly in the ointment. There are not enough replacements. Boomers are such a big cohort that only the milennials can match us for sheer numbers. Unless you think we can throw a twenty year-old into the breech to replace the sixty-five year-old worker, we’re all kind of screwed. And that means you too boomers. What kind of service do you think we’re going to get down at the doctor’s office, the motor vehicle department or the social security office if these places are all run by kids that just got out of college?

Stop shaking, it’s going to be okay. Everything will be computerized. We will just complete the forms on the website and then robots will process our request. If the robot screws up, you just complete the form again until the robot gets it right. Sure, it could take three or four tries before you get what you need, but we’ll have time. We’ll be retired and there won’t be any rush to get anything done or go anywhere.

Feel better? I know I do.

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, May 27, 2016

Spot Us

I get that Millennials have surpassed baby boomer as the largest generational demographic but that doesn’t mean we’re going extinct. I saw a list the other day entitled Five Ways to Spot a Baby Boomer. It made me think that perhaps we’ve evolved into some kind of exotic pileated woodpecker.

The 5 ways you ask? #1 - We hand out business cards. That’s right, we’re so digitally disadvantaged that we still rely on dead tree editions. Is that so wrong? Sure, we could text the contact info or email it, but why not promote more human contact….shake my hand, take my card.

#2 - Boomers can read maps. OK, this is one where boomers best millennials who are so GPS-reliant that they will never find the buried treasure without that insane voice constantly telling them that it’s recalculating. And we know which direction is North by the moss on the trees, so there!

#3 - A Boomer carries a pen, maybe several. Dictation is wonderful (except when it insists you want a different word when you really don’t want that word), but sometimes you just want to write it down. Plus, it’s a scientific fact that writing out information is one of the best ways to commit it to memory. And if you’re having trouble remembering your own name…

#4 - Boomers think millennials are slackers. I’m not feeling this one at all. Because millennials want a good balance between work and leisure, that makes them slackers? I think they have the right idea. Boomers spent way too much time climbing the ladder only to arrive at the top feeling disappointed and maybe cheated out of time that could have been better used.

# 5 - Boomers think millennials are tech-savvy. Actually, I’m fairly certain they don’t know much more about the latest technology than I do. They just plan to be much earlier adopters than boomers. They are willing to run right off the cliff, crash, burn and respawn. Not having grown up with video games, boomers have little faith in respawning. We’re not installing that operating system upgrade until lots of millennials have vetted it for us. Clever, eh?

So boomers are not exactly exotic or going extinct, but we are a little more cautious about totally giving up on some old school tools that still work. I can live with that. In fact, I have been living just like that.

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 19, 2016

Deal With It

I read an op-ed recently about how millennials should deal with baby boomers at work that was so patronizing that at first I thought it was meant to be humor.

Here are some phrases that stood out:

What are the best practices for handling their [baby boomers] Luddism and fragile egos?

And don't talk to boomers as if their methods (even the ancient ones) are stupid.

… don't mock their clueless questions.

Recognize that baby boomers have a lot of fear and anger about technology, and tread gently.

…baby boomers love to be heard and admired.

If you are tempted to roll your eyes, carefully fix your gaze on your computer until the feeling has passed.

Seriously? It’s that hard to work with baby boomers. Fragile egos? More fragile than a millennial’s?

This whole business of the generations coexisting in the workplace is getting tired. Young people have been working for and with older workers since forever. The only thing that’s really changed in the last 10 years or so is the large number of tech start-up businesses that were founded and run by twenty-somethings. Unlike generations past, we now have twenty-five year-olds in charge of large corporate entities and they tend to hire employees who are the same age or younger. The products are cutting edge apps for social media or entirely new software products. Once these businesses are up and running, there is often a need for more experienced or seasoned employees to handle certain aspects of the business (e.g. financial, distribution, marketing). Enter the boomers.

To be fair, the author of the op-ed was addressing how millennials in more conventional workplaces with boomer dominated cultures should make an effort to get along with their overlords. But as already noted, this is not a new “problem” that requires advanced training in socialization. Sons and daughters have been working for mothers and fathers without internecine warfare for quite some time now. It has not always been friction free, but on balance, it has managed to sort itself out with few casualties. Soon millennials will be in charge and the next generation will be writing op-eds on how to manage the fogies.

And so it goes.

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, March 29, 2016

Keep Boomers on the Job

Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Yep, that’s us. At least those of us who are still Boy Scouts. But is this any reason to keep us on the job?

It doesn’t hurt to have a bunch of merit badges, but there are some other more compelling reasons for employers to hang on to their baby boomers as long as they can.

Let’s take the most obvious reasons first. Boomers have experience. We’ve been working at some of these jobs for 30 to 40 years. Not trying to be mean here, but the 21 year-old new hire does not have a clue about how to do the job a boomer can do.

Next, we’ve got leadership skills. We’ve worked our way up the ladder because we know how to direct and motivate people. We may not have been natural leaders but we learned how to grow into that role and make it our own.

Perspective? Check. We’ve seen a lot of change, ideas that came and went. It’s not that we’re going to stand in your way, but we can tell you what happened when we tried a new idea and it didn’t work. We’re open to new possibilities without going all in for the first idea that someone has proposed.

How about credibility? A boomer with 30 years or more of experience can talk to clients or customers with the kind of gravitas that younger employees only wish they had. A little gray hair can command respect as well as give off confidence.

Then there’s the fact that boomers have some serious interpersonal skills. We’re talking person to person, not text to text or email to email. Getting face to face to resolve a conflict, negotiate an agreement or persuade someone to try something new….boomers have had lots of time to perfect those skills in real time with real people.

Lastly, but almost more important than any other quality, boomers are adaptable. We may not know what social media platform is going red hot at the moment --- Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, whatever --- we have managed to learn about loads of apps and technologies just to keep up. So while you may not see us as early adopters we are definitely constant adapters.

All that and we can light a fire with 2 pieces of wood.

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, March 1, 2016

Get On the Bus Gus

Uber may be giving the taxi biz a run for its money, but seriously, how often can you call Uber when you need a ride? The cost of that door-to-door service can add up fast.

Maybe that’s why public transit companies are betting that aging boomers are going to be their next best friends. Take LA for example (I know, the cute answer to that one is, “no, you take LA”). They expect to see a huge increase in ridership by boomers. Right now, only 6 percent of its riders are over 65, even though seniors make up 12 percent of the county’s population.

Will it take longer to get where you want to go? Yes. Is that still a viable option when you no longer can or want to drive your own car? Yes.

And they really are aiming to please. They have more elevators in their stations, more priority seating on the buses, and offer training to seniors on how to use the system. There’s even a book with detailed directions for how to go on 24 sightseeing adventures using only public transit.

So if you’re still driving now and will be for the foreseeable future, do you really think that when the time comes, you’ll take the bus? I have to think about that. But when I think about it long enough, my answer is yes. Paying a car service every time is going to rack up quite a bill and if the bus is filled with other aging boomers who can no longer drive, how bad can it be? Okay, it won’t be like Ken Kesey’s Magic Bus (or if we are all vaping the ganja, maybe it will), but if you can get to the grocery, the doctor or the movie theater for a low relative cost, that may not be so bad. Listening to the guy who talks to himself for the entire ride might be enlightening, if not entertaining.

You’ve got plenty of time to think this through, but when the time does come, you might as well hop on the bus Gus.

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 23, 2016


The latest trend in the senior center biz is an effort to rebrand these centers so that they will be more attractive to aging boomers. First thing to go? The word “senior.” Boomers are avoiding anything with that name attached to it except when it comes to grabbing discounts at restaurants and movie theaters.

What else is in store for these hubs formerly known as “senior centers?” How about bistro-style cafes, Zumba classes, cooking classes, power yoga and fitness programs. These activities lead the list of add-ons meant to appeal to boomers.

Is it working? Sort of. More boomers are checking out the offerings but the over 70 crowd that makes up the bulk of users isn’t so happy about the changes. They’ve been called seniors for a long time and really don’t have a problem with that label. In fact, they are often proud to be considered “senior citizens.” And they like being driven in vans to movies and plays, playing cards and other social activity mainstays.

When name changes for the centers are proposed in some instances, the current “senior” population revolts and fights to keep the word “senior” in the name. Some of those 80-year olds can get kind of testy when they’re feeling oppressed. Calling boomers the Silver Tsunami and using the Latin word for silver (argentum) doesn’t sit well with the older patrons who resent being pushed to perimeter to make room for the crop of boomers these centers hope to attract.

While I can appreciate that senior centers and assisted living facilities want to lure us boomers in, they might end up between a rock and a hard place. Seventy-somethings have much different priorities than eighty-somethings. Maybe senior centers just need to remain senior centers and boomers get their own satellite Starbucks-like meeting places where they can hang with their tablets, smart phones and gadgets while they ponder whether or not they want to join a Zumba class going on in the back room or take a cooking class.

And then again, maybe we can just starting calling them Friction Centers.

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, February 7, 2016


The big-box retailers who counted on baby boomers to do it themselves are seeing a change among their boomer customers. There might have been a time when boomers relished the thought of doing their own bathroom make-over or kitchen cabinet refinishing. We were all over that backsplash replacement and ceiling fan installation. Firepit for the backyard? Sure. Building our own deck? Why not?

Boomers still make up the largest percentage of customers at Home Depot and Lowes, and with millennials still struggling to buy their own homes, that demographic profile is unlikely to change soon. What is changing is the boomer population’s lack of motivation to continue taking on these DIY tasks. We’ve got better things to do, places to go, people to see. Enter DIFM --- Do-It-For-Me.

Look for this trend to manifest itself in many retail categories. Boomers may want someone to buy their clothing, collect their groceries and pick out their office supplies. We sure as hell are going to need someone to set up our home theater and our content streaming devices because those gadgets are heading way north of our comprehension at this point. Same goes for our smart phones and tablets (visit a Verizon Wireless store and count the number of helpless boomers who are stuck there for hours trying to figure out how to get their email).

With internet-based industries offering grocery delivery and car services, there is less and less need for baby boomers to lift a finger – except maybe to dictate a request to their smart phone. Drone deliveries are sure to be in our near future, which could mean that everything from a 3-ring notebook to a pizza can be in the front yard in less than 30 minutes.

When I think about it, this propensity to allow others to make our purchases and installations for us will mesh perfectly for the day when we need assisted living arrangements. Once you get used to concierge shopping and home repairs, it’s not much of a leap to someone bathing you and preparing your meals.

Maybe we’re rushing this DIFM 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, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


It may seem like a long way off, but have you thought about the day when you won’t be able to drive your own car anymore? A lot of boomers are already avoiding night driving because of the discomfort they feel about fading vision and headlight glare. Most of us have read about children taking away granddad’s car keys after he’s gotten into 4 or 5 minor accidents, and we think, that poor bastard hates not being able to drive anywhere whenever he wants to -- bummer!

Now put yourself in the poor bastard’s place. Someone (a relative, the motor vehicle department, etc.) tells you that it’s no longer safe for you to be behind the wheel. You’ve been driving since you were 16 or 17 years old.…maybe 50 plus years. The sense that you’ve lost all mobility (the 4-wheeled kind) must be a royal freak out. Sure, you can get friends, family, neighbors and car services to take you where you need/want to go. But it’s not the same as sliding behind the wheel and flooring it down the highway.

Here’s a comforting thought. Fatal crash rates are higher for older drivers. Mostly because they don’t heal as well as younger drivers. The older drivers that do give up the keys voluntarily are afraid to get in a car with a driver who’s over 75 or 80, and who can blame them. You might as well get in a car with a teenager who’s texting the whole time. For those who do give up their keys voluntarily, they are twice as likely to suffer from depression as a result. Can’t we catch a break!

It’s ironic that many boomers are looking forward to retirement as a time to travel and enjoy life, but if that includes driving a massive RV off the side of a mountain on a moonless night, maybe staying on the job and taking the bus is a better option.

Perhaps driverless cars will advance to the point where older drivers can depend on them to go where they want, when they want. We can hobble out to the garage, get a teenaged neighbor to figure out how to program the GPS controller (or tell Siri) and boogie down to Walmart at midnight. Then we get in one of those motorized shopping carts and cruise the aisles all night long. Even if we buy nothing and go home, it will be a great evening of independent living.

I may be ready now.

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.

It's Over

I looked on with curiosity as the tourist paced back and forth in front of the hotel, towing his rolling suitcase. A bellman often sees some strange behavior in Las Vegas, so it didn’t make a big impression. Then I remembered the envelope the pretty woman gave me no more than a half hour ago.

“Excuse me sir. Is your name Donald?” I asked the man. His forehead was sweaty and he appeared to be very nervous.

“Yes, yes. My name is Donald. Do you know where my wife is? She was supposed to meet me here a half hour ago. She wanted to try her luck at poker table one more time. I’m getting scared that something has happened to her. It’s not like her to be late.”

“She told me I might see you here and that I should give you this envelope.”

Donald tore the envelope open and read the note inside. After the minute it took to read it, he let it fall to the ground, walked over to the taxi stand. He opened the door for himself, threw the suitcase on the seat and followed it into the cab. The vehicle shot out of the driveway and onto the Strip.

I picked up the discarded envelope and note and saw that it was written in a bold cursive style that read as follows:

“Donald, I’m sorry if my disappearance caused any panic on your part, but I felt as though there was no other way out. I needed to escape our marriage and going home with you to discuss it would have only prolonged the inevitable end. You would have tried to save a lost cause with suggestions that we get counseling or try some other hopeless intervention. I’ve cashed in the airline ticket and will be flying to another destination – not home. You will find that my sister has removed all my personal belongings from the house. My lawyer will be in touch to begin divorce proceedings. I presume that all of this comes as a great shock to you, but that is really the whole point. You never seemed to grasp what I was feeling or what I was looking for in our marriage, so I took this drastic action as a last resort – the only way for me to make a clean break and a clean start. You should see it as an opportunity to do the same. Patricia.”

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.