Generation X falling behind financially — well, duh!

US News and World Report article concerning a new book about Generation X’s lack of financial success. No surprise there, except maybe for clueless Boomers and overly optimistic Millennials.

The book is called (Not) Keeping Up With Our Parents by Nan Mooney.

This is not a new trend really, nor do is it going to go away any time soon, if ever. Generation X will always struggle, financially, culturually, what have you. And as upstart Millennials enter the work force in larger and larger numbers (remember, as a generation they are almost twice the size of Generation X and larger than the Baby Boomers) while Boomers drag their feet giving up the CEO chairs, it will be a battle for GenXers to find a seat at the table. And even those who do may find that they still aren’t making the kind of scratch that they thought they would. And the debt that many have isn’t going to go away.

Interesting note: Several of the comments on the article simply blamed Boomers for creating such a fucked up economic situation. Of course, I agree. And of course, I love to bitch, especially about Booomers. But at some point it is simply a waste of energy and breath. These old fuckers don’t care; they’re on their way out, for the most part, and hopefully sooner rather than later. So they aren’t going to listen. And Millennials just aren’t down with all that grumpy negativity. It harshes their rosey view of the future, which is apparently so bright that Generation X has to wear shades.

So I say, okay, fine, bitch if you must, but eventually we’re going to have to buckle down and work with what we got. Which will be less. Now and later, and no doubt to the ends of our lives. But maybe that isn’t all bad. It’ll force us to find satisfaction in places other than the consumer markets, in more than just stuff and things, goods and services. And what’s wrong with that?  We can, and will, create more art more literature and music, more community, more of the kind of thing that comes organically from within. Will it make us rich? Probably not. But so what? You’ll be dead soon enough and all the money in the world isn’t going to make any difference, except maybe for a gawdy headstone or having your ashes shot into space or something like that.


Better Jugs

And by jugs I don’t mean breasts, although I am rather found of those particular appednages and have much to….expound upon that subject.

In this case, however, I am speaking of milk jugs. According to this New York Times articles, WalMart, Costco and Sams’ Clubs are beginning to  utlize a new and improved kind of milk jug that is more enviornementally friendly in several ways, will provide fresher milk at the stores, as well as bring down the cost of milk. Sounds great, right. What could anyone possible complain about? American’s always find a way, of course.

The jugs have no real spout, and their unorthodox shape makes consumers feel like novices at the simple task of pouring a glass of milk.

“I hate it,” said Lisa DeHoff, a cafe owner shopping in a Sam’s Club here.

“It spills everywhere,” said Amy Wise, a homemaker.

“It’s very hard for kids to pour,” said Lee Morris, who was shopping for her grandchildren.

Where there is an American Consumer there is a bitch!

Fortunately, the stores utilizing these new cost-saving, ecco-friendly milk jugs don’t seem to give a crap about griping costumers. And in this particular case that is a good thing. People like this annoy me. Right along with people who cannot be bothered to do the  even bare minimum kind of recycling,  like returning bottles and cans to the store. Because it is too much of a hassle. Or too messy. Give me a fucking break.

These whiners’ problem is that the jugs don’t pour the same way as the old ones.

“Just tilt it slowly and pour slowly,” Ms. Tilton [a demonstrator] said to passing customers as she talked about the jugs’ environmental benefits and cost savings. Instead of picking up the jug, as most people tend to do, she kept it on a table and gently tipped it toward a cup.

Of course some people are going to resist this new way of pouring milk because relearning that skill requires too much effort. These lazy, self-centered jerkoffs need to be smacked upside the head. Or publicly humiliated somehow. In the end they may simply be forced to adapt. It is either that or go with our their milk and cookies.

Road trip to Iowa

So approximately 48 hours from now (10:30am) I’m hoping to be close to half-way through my road trip to Iowa. My plan is to leave as early as possible on Wed morning so that I can my take my time. Also, I’m taking a longer route so as to avoid traveling near Chicago and all the congestion along I-80 just south of the city. I Mapquested the trip and it looks like it will take about 12 hours the way I’m going, as opposed to the approximately 8 or 9 hours it would go by way of I-80.

I’m going to take I-94 West to I-69 down to Ft. Wanye, Indiana, where I can pick up this smaller highway, 24, which should take me across to Peoria, Illinois, and from there I can hook back up to I-74, which will take me into Iowa and to I-80 and eventually into Cedar Rapid. While this will be a longer route, and of course will require more gas, my hope is that I will encounter far less traffic. I’m particularly looking foward to traveling 24, a pretty small highway in comparison to the interstates. On Mapquest I zoomed in on it in the arial view mode, which allowed me to see an actual photo image of the road and it seems to go through a lot of farm country and small outlying residential areas.

I figure if I’m going to take a road trip it would be cool to get off the interstate tracks for at least a little while. These smaller highways are much more interesting to travel, even if it takes one longer. I’m planning to take the camera in order to take some photos along the way.

A note about Mapquest: perhaps I simply do not how to use it well, but it would be nice if there was an option that allowed you select your own route, you know, by highways or whatever, instead of having to select a starting point and end point. MapQuest always selectes the most direct route. Trying to create a more indirect route can be kind of a pain. I suppose that is why in some cases I prefer a regular road map. Also, I happen to like maps and trying to figure my own path. I’m probably just geeky that way.


Back in the saddle again

After being bucked from my bike by cold for the better part of a week, I’m back in the saddle again. I made my third bike commute to work this morning. The Weather Channel indicated that it was 63 degrees this morning but it felt cooler. Perhaps because it was overcast. Still, it was a nice morning to ride. The brisk air was as good a wake up as cup of coffee. And it won’t stain my teeth. Bug guts are gross but I’m pretty sure they don’t stain teeth.

There’s a chance for some showers today but I’m not worried about it. What’s the big deal really, unless you’re talking a major thunder storm or whatever.

Donned my new helmet this morning.

The orange was even brighter than I’d expected, but it will make me more visible. So that’s cool.

One thing I am realizing is that I need a good backpack, one made for bicyclers. My standard school pack is too small and doesn’t ride well, hurting my back. If my commute was longer it might pose some problems. A new pack is on my list, along with one of those little bike computers that can tell you how fast you’re traveling, how far you’ve gone, etc.

There supposed to be fairly easy to install, but we’ll see.

Also on my wish list is a travel pack of tools.

Road Trippin’

In this Sunday’s New York Times, Michael Paterniti, author of Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein’s Brain, has an OpEd piece entitled “Goodbye to the Great American Road Trip,” in which he bids farewell to this supposedly American rite of passage from his vacation local on Chebeague Island off the coast of Maine, a 15 minute fairy for Mr. Paterniti, which he and his family chose to downgrade to from a road trip through Spain. Bummer. A road trip through Spain would have been cool. But, hey, an island of the coast of Maine ain’t nothing to sneeze at either.

Anyhoo…it got me thinking about my own upcoming road trip this summer. I’ll be traveling to Cedar Rapid, Iowa for the fourth of July to visit my cousin. With gas prices so high I’d debated taking the trip at all, but then I figured that gas is only going to get even more expensive and this may be my last chance to take road trip for some time.

Mr. Paterniti predicts the road trip will soon be a thing of the past, and he says good riddance to them. I am inclined to agree with him on the first point, but not the second. Sure, a road trip can be tedious and tiring, especially if you have a break down that leads to unreasonably expensive repairs, but I still love them. I always have. Ever since I was kid. The nights before my family would drive to West Virgnia (from Michigan) to visit relatives for a week or so, I’d be so excited I could hardly sleep. And even though I’d be tired in the car I would not sleep, could not sleep, my attention so fixed on the sites outside my window, the places, things and people we passed. Sure, it was mostly small Ohio towns farm fields but I loved soaking it all in. And even now at 40, the idea of taking road trip has me giddy.

Of course, I’ll be doing what I can to save money. I’m forgoing use of our new, comfy Honda Accord, for the smaller, bumper Honda Civic, because it gets better gas mileage. And because I’ll still be dropping a pretty penny on gasoline, I’m packing plenty of food so that I won’t be tempted to waste money on gas station bottles of Coke and 99 cent Grab Bags of Fritos.

Although if I happen upon the every elusive Hostess Berry Fruit Pie you can bet I’m buying it.

Alas, though, I’ve discovered these are not readily available in the midwest and Great Lakes region. I did find them on my trip from Las Vegas to Iowa, when I helped my cousin make the drive to relocated from California to Iowa, but they disappeared after Colorado, replaced by Peach. Don’t get me wrong, I’m big peach fan, just not in a fruit pie, you know. Still, one can hope.

Also, to conserve gas I’m planning to stick to the speed limit as much as possible. Driving faster burns gas. I’m planning on taking off early Wed morning. And taking a route down into Indiana to Ft. Wayne and then taking a smaller intrastate highway west in order to avoid all that mess that just below Chicago. That shit is fucking crazy, and scary.

I’m bringing my camera to take some pics. Of what exactly, I don’t know. We’ll see.

I don’t know if road trips are an American rite of passage, but I dig them. And I think it will be a shame if they become extinct.

Obama H/P Index

It’s been over a week since I’ve evaluated my Hope/Pessimism Index on Barack Obama’s chances of winning the White House. So I thought it would be a good time to update.

I have to say that I’m feeling pretty optimistic, putting my H/P I at about 70/30. Although as soon as I say that I worry that I’m in danger of being too optimistic. I wouldn’t be a GenXer if I wasn’t worried about being too optimistic, now would I. The danger here, as mine Generation eyes see it, is that being overly optimistic can lead to complacency. You let your guard down and that’s when you get sucker punched and the next thing you know John McCain is sitting his wrinkly old ass down behind the desk in the Oval Office. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!

Still, it is hard not to feel good about Obama’s chances. Most polls have him leading, although it is still a close race and no doubt will be to the end. And, Hilary finally resurfaced, appearing with Obama, in Unity, NH (way to push the point people), to reassert her support for the Democratic Nominee.

Of course, there is always the wild card chance of a terrorist attack tipping peoples’ favor due to fear back toward McCain. At least that is the way Charles Black, a McCain advisor, sees it. But Frank Rich, in the New York Times, doesn’t think that ultimately such Rovian scare tactics will pan out for Mr. McCain. Let’s hope not.

So let me back up a bit and recalibrate my H/P Index to something a bit more cautious, say, 67/33. Yeah. That’s should do it.

One of Ypsilanti’s finest

Apparently, this dude , displeased with this mother, stabbed her with a fork and then assaullted another women with a — wait for it — frozen chicken.

Yeah. That’s right. Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you. That’s because you’ve never spent anytime in Ypsilanti, unlike myself. I did my undegrad at Eastern Michigan University, lived in Ypsilanti for 3 years in all, including one summer between academic years. So, you know, it was no real surprise as far as I was concerned. Ypsilanti is famous for it frozen foul crime rate. That and a water tower shaped like a penis. Check that — erect penis.

And it’s not just my perverted mind that thinks this either. Check it:

This images is on post cards for sale at $2 a pop or a pack of ten for $8, under the title Ypsi Dick Postcards.

But not so seriously folks, Ypsilanti is well known for its colorful characters. Like Uncle Nutzy, the homeless (we assumed) dude we’d run into form time to time who was always mumbling to himself and was often plagued by facial …sores, for lack of a better word. Ew! And Maniac Marge, the woman who would come into the Video Watch video store up on Washtenaw where I worked and pick fights with the cardboard stand-ups.

But perhaps one of its most famous (former) residence is John Norman Collins, aka The Coed Killer, a serial killer who terrorized the Ypsi-Arbor area between 1967 and 1969. Actually, Collins was originally from Centerline, a city just north of Detroit, but he was a student at Eastern at the time and lived in Ypsi, in a big old house that was just off campus, which has since been torn down and replaced by a new house. A shame, because it was probably the closest thing to a historic site that Ypsilanti had. Collins was the subject of the true crime book The Michigan Murders.

More recently, Maggie Nelson, a woman who is the niece of one of Collins’ alleged victims wrote a book about her aunt’s murder and a recent reopening of her case. The Red Parts. Maggie’s aunt, Jane Mixer, was the one victim whose grisly demise didn’t seem to fit Collins’ MO. She’d been shot in the head and Collins always strangled or beat his victims to death with his bare hands. A real savage motherfucker. Coincidentally, as Maggie was researching her aunt’s case to write the book, officers were investigating a possible alternate suspect in the case. The book covers, in part, how these two inquiries intersect and the case that followed. It is not your typical true crime book, part memoir and part mediation on our legal system. Cool stuff. I attended a reading and got a chance to meet Maggie. She was very interesting. Not interesting in a frozen chicken assault way, but stil….

Are you know or have ever been a Sad Young Literary Man

So I’m still reading Keith Gessen’s book, All the Sad Young Literary Men, and even though I still find the title a bit on the pretentious side it fits, and I’m still digging it. My attention did wane a little during the Sam part where he’s going on and on about the great Zionist epic he’s supposed to be writing. I don’t know.  Maybe I was just tired. But it picked up again.

Anyhoo…Reading these fictions (the book jacket reads “fiction” not “novel” or “stories”) about guys in their late 20s and early 30s, out of college and struggling with either grad school or careers or the lack-there-of careers and jobs they don’t like while they try to make some kind of careeer as, well, literary men, made me wonder if I am one of their species. Not exactly, not at this poit in my life. I mean, I have all the angst over my writing efforst which have to bare any … published fruit, but all the single/women stuff is long behind me. I suppose I’d be in that stage that some of these characters may (or may not) enter in the future beyond the narrative(s) of this book. So yeah, I suppose I once was a Sad Young Literary Man, mostly in my grad school years at Western, living in Kalamazoo, especially those last two after graduating and hanging around as adjunct faculty.

Still, my experience did not take place in or anywhere near New York, which seems a vital component of being a SYLM, at least as Gessen is constructing here.

What’s curious is that the novel I am currently working on sort of delves into that stage of one SYLM’s life at that stage just before graduating from undergrad and either going on to grad school or getting a job or whatever.

Ultimately, for me, this book qualifies for X Lit status. In that it is concerned with a particularly kind of youth culture, that stage of life between adolescence and adulthood, however you happen to define those two states. There’s the whole angsting over jobs and higher ideals, and the characters’ want or attempt to opt out of mainstream corporate/consumer culture. Perhaps Gessen wasn’t intending that in any specific way but it is there nonetheless.

Quick additonal note: I like how the one characters, Sam, I think it is, rates his importance in the world by the numbe of hits his name brings up on a Google search. He calls it  “his Google” as in “my Google is shrinking.” Sam even goes so far as to attempt to artificially bump up his Google hit number with some help of a computer savvy friend. This is after he calls the Google offices in order to try inflate his Google. Funny, cool stuff.