Thursday, July 27, 2017

Things Boomers Can't Let Go Of

I recently stumbled across a list of things baby boomers can’t let go of…I’m guessing it was composed by a millennial. There were supposed to be 25 things on the list but it ran closer to 45. Maybe boomers have trouble letting go but we did learn how to count.

So what kinds of things made the list you might ask? It starts off with diamonds, golf, the mall, plain toast, 24-hour news networks, Yahoo and Crocs. Honestly, I know many boomers would be OK with losing all those things.

From there the list moves on to Reader’s Digest, ironing, jorts (which I had to Google to know what they are), airbrushed t-shirts, cruises, messages in all caps, and Mrs. Dash spice. Once again, many of the boomers in my circle would have little trouble walking away form these things forever.

Racquetball, patterned wallpaper, those fuzzy rug matching toilet seat covers, potpourri, buffets, metal detectors, juice from concentrate, infomercials, Avon, knickknacks and chain restaurants? It’s all good man, if I never see any of them again.

The entire concept of boomers being unable to let go of these things was starting to smell funny. Fossil fuels? Most of the boomers I know want us to promote alternative energy sources so that we can fend off climate change for future generations. Maybe the 70 year-old oil company executive wants to keep drilling but that would put him in the boomer minority.

Was there anything on the list that I did want to hang on to? How about meatloaf? I’m okay with that. It’s not my favorite but it still ranks very high on the all-time comfort food list. Retirement funds? Millennials are so cynical about the future that they think saving for retirement is pointless. That’s harsh. Catalogs? I like catalogs in moderation. Sure it’s a dead tree product but sometimes you just want to see something printed on paper rather than on a monitor.

Somehow this list comes off as just another Buzzfeed tease. I’m ready to battle back with a list of things millennials can’t let go of. Start with bashing baby boomers by blaming them for everything that’s wrong with our world. Then add Starbucks, YouTube, smart phones, yoga pants, Chipotle, Pinterest, Snapchat, Netflix, and more. You can see where this battle of the lists is going, and it’s pointless. The stereotyping does not work. Let’s try to spend more time focusing on what all of us agree are things that are worth hanging on to. Someone second that motion!

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 15, 2017

Wild Thing – You Move Me

I killed a scorpion in the bathroom today. How many people you know can say that? And don’t give me that “living thing” rebuke. Did you want me to put this stone cold killer in the scorpion relocation program?

Okay, they don’t often kill you. I’m exaggerating as usual. But within a few hours of being stung by a scorpion you can experience pain and swelling, difficulty swallowing, drooling, muscle twitching, respiratory problems and sometimes death. Does that sound like fun?

This was an Arizona bark scorpion and they, like most scorpions, prefer to hang out in dark and damp places. Hence, it’s no surprise I found one in the bathroom. People here advise one to shake out their shoes and damp towels before using. One advisory notes that scorpions can climb any surface except glass and plastic, which comes as little comfort since houses are made mostly of wood, plaster and tile. They have some impressive survival skills due to their ability to slow their metabolism. It allows them to use little oxygen and live off as little as a single insect per year. You can freeze them overnight and put them out in the sun the next day only to watch them thaw out and walk away. We’re talking hardy.

The stinger is in the tail but I didn’t feel the need to get up close and personal with this cousin of the spider family. Experts suggest you hunt for them at night when they are most active. Dig out your old black light if you have one because they glow in the dark. A flashlight with a black light bulb will work just fine. They also suggest you have a long-handled tweezers or a knife and boots. They don’t say it but I think the implication is that if you don’t want to tweeze them you could alternatively give them the boot. You can also use Raid ant and cockroach spray which has the fastest activation. It’s a good idea to check the perimeter of the house at night with black light in hand to see if you can find them before they get inside.

Cats and chickens enjoy hunting scorpions so if they are persistent, it may be time to get a cat or keep chickens in the yard. Ground cinnamon is a natural scorpion repellent but it can get pricey sprinkling that spice all around the baseboards.

My defense plan? I’ve only seen 2 scorpions in the house in 8 years so I’m going to do nothing unless a third one shows up.

However, I will shake out my shoes more often.

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 7, 2017

Welcome Campers!

Summer camp for baby boomers? Yes, that’s a thing. And it’s probably great if you loved summer camp the first time around when you were 10 years old. Or if you never had the summer camp experience back then and want to see what all the fun is about. If your only summer camp experience was not having a belt to hold up your shorts and resorting to using the rope that came with the duffel bag, it may be more of a “not so much” proposition. (Yes, that was my camper experience. My belt was at the bottom of my brother’s duffel bag…a fact that he denies to this day).

Camps geared to adults are becoming a big deal. According to the American Camp Association, about a quarter of their accredited camps offer adult-only programs. Prices range from $375 on the low end to more luxurious camper digs for $1,170. Adults in their 60s and 70s are signing up in big numbers.

Canoeing, swimming, archery, tie-dyeing and crafts are still mainstays of the camp experience. But the counselors are there to provide support rather than keeping an eye on rambunctious kids. There is still storytelling and singing songs around the campfire, so nostalgia is very much a factor if you’re wondering what would motivate a 70 year-old to sign up for summer camp.

My memories are a little fuzzy (except for the missing belt….that part is seared into my brain), but I remember the canoes being fun and we made potholders (OK, hotpads for some of you) to bring home to Mom. The highlight for me was making a lanyard out of something called gimp. I think we were supposed to use the lanyard to hold a key. I didn’t own a key so it’s unclear what use I would make of it, but I was pleased that I could learn how to do a box stitch to create a multi colored marvel. Little things can entertain little minds.

I get why a baby boomer would want to relive summer camp life, especially if the away camp experience was the highlight of their adolescent years. I’m going to stick with independent travel that does not include potholders and gimp. And I’m going to wear one belt and pack a second one just in case.

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.