Back to work

It’s been a busy month and a half.

Since the beginning of September I have taken two road trips. The first to Indiana to visit my brother and his family — daughter Addy came along on that one. The second was over Labor Day weekend to visit my relatives in West Virginia, a solo trip. Then I moved out of my apartment and back in with my folks. And, I collected my final unemployment check, not because my stipend had run out but because I started a new job. I was on unemployment for only 8 weeks. Don’t think I don’t know how lucky I am, especially when you consider all the people who have been out of work for months and and years, especially here in Michigan. I got lucky, I know it.

Speaking of my job, it is pretty cool. I’m not going to name the place, though. It’s an office job with all the Dilbert-esque accouterments that that entails, like cubes and copy machines and daily meetings, but the people are really cool. I like it there. Hey, we get free slushies (made from Faygo) and popcorn daily. Coffee too. This week’s slushy flavors are Lemonade and Rock n Rye. Last week it was Grape and Red Pop.

Recently JenX67 posted on her blog an entry that is, in part, about Generation X in the work place. My office is full of GenXers. I’d say mostly GenXers, from what I can gather. But there are plenty of Gen Yers/Millennials as well. In fact, my immediate supervisor is one. He’s maybe 24 or 25 years old. I heard someone ask him where he went to high school and he said Fitzgerald, graduated in 2006. I stood up at my cube and, speaking over the half-wall, said, “Hey. I went there.”

“What?” he said. “You taught there?”

I said, “No. I graduated from Fitz…twenty years before you did.” I graduated in 1986. He laughed.

My supervisor is very cool, very hip. And very good at his job. I like him a lot. I was asked by someone if it bothered me to be “taking orders” from someone so much younger than myself. But you know, it doesn’t. I could really care less. I’m there to work and to learn and he has plenty to teach, so my ears are wide open. You know, I think I’d rather have this young guy than some aging Babyboomer. At least with my boss I don’t have to listen to droning nostalgia about the 60s or The Beatles or anything like that. My boss digs JZ.

In my immediate area there a few other  GenXers. And few a Gen Yers as well.

The other day 0ur supervisor, in response to something someone else said, replied, “Awesome blossom.” He said he didn’t know why he said it.

I asked him if he was referring to the 80s TV show “Blossom.” The other GenXer’s near me just laughed and said that could not possibly be the case, he, our boss, was way too young. I’m pretty sure he didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. Although strangely enough he was singing that Sade “Smooth Operator” today. So….

Maybe this is an opportunity to blog about GenX in the workplace. Gen Y too for that matter. We’ll see. I’ll be working long hours soon, 10 to 12 hours a day some day. This new schedule means I don’t see my daughter as much. She stays with her mom more, not an ideal situation or one that I want but one has to do what one has to do. Addy and I will just have to make the time we do have together count.


It’s time to set the record straight…

…on Hostess Ding Dongs.

Because there seems be a lot of misinformation floating around out there. And since no one else seems to want to correct it I guess it falls to me to do so. But worry not — for I am up to the burden.

Of course, I understand why people don’t want to touch the Ding Dong with a ten-foot Twinkie. It’s contentious stuff. A real hot button issue. Politically slice-n-dicey, as it were (wasn’t it?). Not to mention chocolate covered and cream-filled. So, you know…

But me — I don’t shy away from such controversy. No sir. I meet it head on, and take a big old chomp out of it. In fact, I can actually stuff a hole Ding Dong in my mouth at once. Hm, perhaps that is why I was often mistaken as gay in my younger days. And here I thought it was because I was thin, fastidious about my hair (it was the 80s) and wore thin-wire-framed glasses. You just never know, do you?

Anyhoo…so here’s the real deal (with Bill McNeil — I loved News Radio and Phil  Hartman…ah, good times):

Ding Dongs was the original name for the chocolate covered, cream-filled, hockey puck-shaped Hostess confection, first introduce in 1967 ( the year I was born). There are those who seem to be under the impression that they were originally dubbed King Dons. This is not the case. In certain markets Dings Dongs were called King Dons to go with the character created for the sugary treat — King Ding Dong. I believe one of these markets was Michigan, at least where I lived in the southeast part of the state, just outside of Detroit, because I do recall them being called King Don’s, and for a long time I was under the impression that the original name for Ding Dongs was King Dons. But then I was educated in The ways of Hostess and now it is my duty to enlighten others.

But don’t bereive me. Prease, observe this comercerial.

And by commercial I mean the wikipedia page for Ding Dongs.

Because of course wikipedia is the definitive source for information, by which I mean the most easy to use and access, plus it’s free.

GenX Lit

Even if Kevin Brockmeier hadn’t modeled one of his stories in his recent collection, The View From the Seventh Layer, after a choose-your-own-adventure-book (loved those when I was kid, along with the Dr. Who books), he’d still qualify as a GenX author.



Born in 1974, he is demographically (is that the right word?) within Generation X, although age alone does not make one a GenXer. His age does make me feel like even more of a slacker as a writer, since he’s seven years younger than I am and already has six books to his credit — two novels, two short story collections, and two books for young adults/teens/whatever.  But that’s whole other deal.

Of course, for me perhaps the strongest argument for Brockmeier to be lumped into the GenX category comes not from this collection of short stories but from his previous book, a novel entitled The  Brief History of the Dead, which is an end of the world story but much more complex and moving than your typical apocalyptic tale. It is a striking portrayal of loneliness and alienation but also perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, a feeling perhaps all too familiar to Generation X. Also, it takes some good shots a the callous capitalist notions of American Corporation, specifically the Coca Cola company, which one of the main characters works for but is conflicted about, something I think is true for many GenXers — of course, one needs to work, make a living, contribute to society and all that but working of a corporate cylcops can induce some level angst and regret about what one’s efforts are contributing to exactly.  Mainly it is the end of the world scenario, which strikes me as a preoccupation of GenX, at least it was for me and for a good number of people I knew.  Fear of nuclear anihilation and all that from the Commies in Russia or from an adle-minded American Pres who thinks he’s making a movie and not really the leader of the free world.

The stories in this collection are quite diverse. It’s difficult to pin Brockmeier down, yet another trait that qualifies him as GenX. Clearly he’s interested in sci-fi, fantasy, magicalnesss (is that a real word?) and yet his writing can hardly be said to be genre fiction. It is both literary and fantasy. Perhaps magical realism would applay, but not entirely.

GenX label aside The View from the Seventh Layer is a remarkable collection of stories and worth reading regardless of how it or its author is labeled, by  me or anyone else. But I still maintain that he is a GenX author, more than anything else. I  mean, there’s also a story that is essentially a retelling of the Trouble with Tribbles episode (first aired on the day I was born) from Star Trek, told from the POV Chekov. And if that’s not GenX, well then I don’t know what is. And I do kno what is…

The forgotten Monster Cereal

At least it was forgotten by me. In my blog post of Sept. 29 on cereal, which I was inspired to write after my daughter insisted on getting my Count Chocula as a surprise treat when she went shopping at Target with her mom.

Remember Yummy Mummy?

Of course, it was introduce in 1987, according to wikipedia, and as such could probably more rightly be considered a Millennial cereal. Full disclosure: I’ve never tried it. At the time, a year after I was out of high school, I was not so concerned with cereal anymore, although I still ate it, of course. Who doesn’t eat cereal? But I do remember Yummy Mummy in the stores, which I was reminded of when I ran across it while searching for Fruit Brute. It was discontinued in 1993, just after I graduated from college, boomeranged back home to live with my parents and started living on mostly bowls of sugary cereal again, this time consumed very late at night while watching soft core porn on Cinemax, instead of on Saturday mornings while watching cartoons.

But, hey. Check out this cool poster I found just now searching for Yummy Mummy images via google:

And this cool bobble head:

I know what I’m asking for Christmas!

And while we’re on the, oh, so very important subject of breakfast cereals. Does anyone remember Quisp?

Which also has a related bobble head, apparently called a Wacky Wobbler. Don’t ask. I have no fucking clue, and don’t really want one:

I’m pretty sure I saw this cereal in the store recently, which is entirely possible since according to its wikipedia page Quisp cereal was “re-introduced” as the first “internet cereal,” whatever that means. It’s funny, because the page also talked about commercials for Quisp which included a “competing character” for a cereal called Quake; the character was a miner and Quisp was an alien. But I’m drawing a complete blank on that one. The wiki article also stated that: “Starting in early March 2008, many Dollar General Stores (especially in, but not limited to, OH, PA, WV, and much of the Northeast US) will begin selling Quisp (as well as other classics such as King Vitamin, Crunchy Corn Bran, and Honey Graham Oh’s”

Now, I’m positive that I have seen King Vitamin in the store recently.

Is it just me, or is cereal a subject matter upon which many, if not most, GenXers could expound virtually endlessly?

Gen X vs Traditionalist

This blog post frames the current Presidential Election as a contest between Generation X and the Traditionalist Generation. I found it interesting, but I wonder just how important this sort of thing really is to people? Perhaps more then many would admit. I think much of generational allegiances are subconscious. We don’t really think too much about them. They just are. Because we identify with those who remind us of ourselves. Makes sense.

I was not aware that the age difference between McCain and Obama constitutes the biggest age disparity between candidates (25 years) in US Presidential Election history. The next biggest age difference was from the 1856 election between James Buchanan (65) and John C Fremont (43) – they were 22 years apart. Perhaps that isn’t that relevant but I found it to be an interesting factoid.

I think McCain’s age is something of an issue. He may be a hearty guy and end up living to be over a hundred but that’s not a selling point for me. I want someone younger, more vigorous. Someone more in touch with modern life. John McCain is too much the old guard. It is time for a change.

Of course, ultimately, the best thing about this election is that there is almost no chance that we can have another Baby Boomer in the White House. You’ll not my use of “almost.” In typical GenX fashion, I cannot entirely set aside my pessimism. There is still some part of me that worries that this will not work out, that our first Gen X candidate will end up getting tossed over by, oh, I don’t know, some kind of Hilary coup or something like that.

I know there are still those that refuse to allow Gen X to lay claim to Barack. But he is not a Boomer and I do not recognize the term Generation Jones. He is a GenXer, and this blogger agrees with me.

Now you might say, “Well, Obama was born in 1961, so technically he’s a Baby Boomer.” The experts sometimes define Generation X as 1961-1981, even if the standard for Baby Boomers is 1946-1964. But whether Obama fits a technical definition is missing the big picture – Obama speaks and acts like Generation X.

Fuckin’ A right!

However, I find him/her to be a bit too soft on Boomers:

And this isn’t a knock against Baby Boomers, but we need a fresh perspective on the woes of our country. And we need a non-Baby-Boomer perspective. The Baby Boomers did try to change the world 40 years ago, and we still applaud their actions. For those who sold out, their performance lately has been sad. Short-term visions, pandering to middle-class tax cuts, even Bill Clinton’s obsession with school uniforms were part of the Baby Boomer leadership mentality. And this isn’t even counting the travesties of George W. Bush’s short-sightedness.

Dude, the Boomers need some knocking, upside the head any anyplace else you can land a shot. So do it to em, man!

Damn right, though, that we need a non-Boomer perspective. But that doesn’t mean that McCain’s agenda — what is it exactly? I mean, besides staying in Iraq and dealing with economic problems by telling the American people to stop whining and snap out of it — will suffice. It won’t.

To wit:

The seminar presenter was talking about how her generation (Baby Boomers) wasn’t as comfortable with technology as younger generations. Obama’s use of the Internet to raise money is an excellent example where a younger generation’s perspective is useful.

Very true. But how does this relate to McCain precisely? Well…

If the Baby Boomers are clueless about technology, you can imagine what McCain thinks about IM and text messaging LOL.

There were some comments to this blog. Here is an ignorant on that I particularly enjoyed:

Who cares? Obama is full of it!

Yes I get irritated with the baby boomers. I’ll admit it. I’m in Generation X but there is no way on God’s “green” earth I would EVER vote for Obama Lama Ding Dong! A large chunk of Gen X’ers are not warped or idiotic enough to vote for Obama. Better luck with “Y,” because many of us are smarter than that. In my generation, some of the parents still insisted on teaching morals. I’m most likely voting for Keyes. MAYBE and I mean a BIG maybe McCain. But Obama? No way! I’m still praying Hillary will pull it off some how. At least there is “some” hope in her-not much but some.

It’s derogatory tone qualifies it for dismissal but there are more reasons. What does this person by “a large chunk of GenXers” anyway? I mean, has he/she take a poll or something? No on called me. That’s all I know. Then awkwardly transitioning from mocking Obama supporters, calling them stupid basically, to making some half-assed statement about his/her parents teaching him morals, whatever that is supposed to mean. And finally, sinking himself/herself for good by announcing support for Keyes, and praying that Hilary will still pull it off. The person who commented to this comment directly hit it right on the head:

Who typed this for you?

Anyone that is considering voting for Alan Keyes is not a serious political person to start with, so your comments about Obama have as much validity as McCain’s.
Still, it wasn’t nearly as annoying as the Boomer commenter who wanted to be sure we GenXer’s know that she’s down with us.

You’re painting the Boomers with an awfully broad brush…

There are plenty of Boomers who haven’t lost their 60’s roots, and who are totally into computers and other technology. I’m retired, living a voluntarily simplified life, have no credit cards, and spend a LOT of time involved in political/environmental activism. I am much like your description of a Gen Xer, in fact.

Every generation has people who run the gamut from right to left wing and everything between. Every generation has people who are activists, and others who are pretty inert. I do think that the increasing dependence on technology for social interaction has changed us all, and not always for the better. Watching PBS’ series on the presidents brought it to mind – we don’t much do crowds anymore, like the ticker-tape parades, etc. in the 40s. Diversity is good, but the fragmentation of society is maybe not so good.

Try not to pigeonhole people so much. Some of us old farts are pretty savvy! ;>) Oh, and just so’s you know, I’m an older woman, a feminist, and an Obama supporter. I’m also an avid gamer, do webpage design/graphic design, and am a former professional film photographer who loves digital and Photoshop. I do admit to not owning an iPod, but I am satisfied with XM. I don’t download ringtones, either, LOL.

Honey (yeah, I used the term on purpose to offend Boomer, Feminist sensibilities; what you gonna do about it, huh? Please don’t hit me!) if “haven’t lost your 60s roots…and are retired” then you are about as far from being a GenXer as can be imagined. GenX doesn’t do 60s revolutions; we aren’t trying to change the world for the whole world to see, we’re working quietly on the fringes and sometimes, but not always, spurring change. We do, but don’t blow our horn about it.
This whole comment smacks of an aging Boomer in denial of the fact they she is fast approaching irrelevancy.

Boomer Revolution to change the world: the sequel

Here we go again.

Baby Boomers, their revolution to change the world when they were young, wide-eyed, and idealistic having failed, are set to give it another go. In retirement. So blathers fellow Boomer, Nicholas Kristoff in his NY Times Sunday column this week.

“We often think of those trying to save the world as bright-eyed young people,” Kristoff opines, suggesting that now that the Boomers are swiftly becoming wrinkly old retired geezers that notion will be changing, because of course only the Boomers can save the world. Or so they believe in their collective, solopsistic borg-like mind. It is more true to say that they are the only ones who would be arrogant to make such a claim. As they did before. And how did that work out….? Just splendidly I’m sure they’d argue. But I’m going with not so well.


Some 78 million American baby boomers are now beginning to retire, and one survey this year by a research institute found that half of boomers are interested in starting such new careers with a positive social impact. If we boomers decide to use our retirement to change the world, rather than our golf game, our dodderdom will have consequences for society every bit as profound as our youth did.

There it is in bold folks, the nauseatingly deluded optimism of a self-centered generation. I don’t know about anyone else but just the idea of a second Boomer attempt at revolutionizing the world not only makes my queasy it makes me nervous.

But perhaps I should be so cynical. I know, I know. It is the default Generation X mode, but this could be good thing.

Yeah, that was I began to think, reading about Peter Agre,

a medical doctor who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2003 for research on … on … well, on something to do with cell membranes that I still don’t understand. Dr. Agre could have run his lab indefinitely but was restless to assume a challenge that would more directly affect society.

He thought about politics, but ended up taking on a fancy administrative position at Duke University, thinking he could help shape students and education. Then he became restless again, and this year he took a substantial pay cut to head the Malaria Research Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

Until he was quoted thusly:

“It wasn’t a matter of being a Mother Teresa,” Dr. Agre said. “It was a matter of, ‘Boy, that sounds like fun!’ ”

Gag me with Ginsu! What kind of crap is that. Hey, it’s great that the guy wants to good. More fucking power to him. But don’t deal me that bullshit that it’s, oh, so fun. Yipee!

But still if the guy manages to overcome malaria, as he hopes to do, who really cares if does it with a Polly Anna grin on his face.

Of course leave it to the Boomers to “redefine” a new stage in life, so they can avoid from slipping into irrelevance:

Marc Freedman, author of a book called “Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life,” notes that adolescence is a relatively modern concept; until the 19th century teenagers normally were treated as adults. In the same way, he says, a new life stage is emerging — the period of 10, 20 or even 30 years after one’s main career is completed but before infirmity sets in.

I would argue that what some of this graying Boomers believe is a new way of thinking is actually replicating the kind of things that Generation X would do. They are thinking/acting like GenXers. For example:

another general in the war on malaria is Rob Mather, a British management consultant who — thank heaven! — isn’t very handy with a TV remote. Mr. Mather was trying to turn off his set in June 2003 when he accidentally flipped to another channel and was riveted by the image of a 5-year-old girl who was struggling to overcome severe burns all over her body.

Mr. Mather suggested to several friends that they swim as a fund-raiser for the girl. Because Mr. Mather is relentless, the swim ended up involving 10,000 people in 73 countries and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Bowled over by the possibilities of mobilizing people for good causes, Mr. Mather set up a swim the next year to raise money against malaria — and this time 250,000 participated. He left the business world and founded a group called Against Malaria, now one of the world’s leading organizations battling the disease.

Of course he does it with a typically Boomer twist:

Mr. Mather browbeats businesses into donating services and covering overhead — “we have 17 legal firms working for us, and we’ve never paid a legal bill” — so every dollar donated to the organization ends up actually used to buy bed nets for families that can’t afford them.

Still, it is for a good cause. I won’t ague that. If people are being helped it is all too the good. But as the ending of this column implies that at the root of such Boomer motivation is accolades:

If more people take on encore careers like that, the boomers who arrived on the scene by igniting a sexual revolution could leave by staging a give-back revolution. Boomers just may be remembered more for what they did in their 60s than for what they did in the Sixties.

The point is to be remembered. If people get helped along the way, cool, but it won’t be just that good was done, but it was Boomers that done it.

Why do I keep reading this book?

That’s what my wife would like to know whenever I gripe about The Dumbest Generation. Because, I say, it has legitimate points. Just because the author seems like a jerk at times, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything valuable in what he’s written. Also, I’ve only got a few pages more to go, and seems lame to bale now, right.

In the second to last chapter the author harkens back to the 60s, where he sees the beginning of the problem that he’s detailed previously. Adults of all ilks, from teachers to parents to scholars to journalist etc, gave far too much credence and importance to the youth of the country, who at the time were quite lively and outspoken. From there the problem only got worse and today is fast approaching epdidemic proporations, if it hasn’t already.

I guess I object to the fear mongering, while he seems to offer little in way of a curative. Except the standard stuff — read more, go to museums, engage in civic life, learn history. Who hasn’t been saying this shit for like fucking ever? I heard it when I was kid. And I say it now. So what was the point of wasting the paper to say it again?

Oh yeah. That’s right. The dude has statistics. But I ran across an interesting quote in Don Dellilo’s novel, White Noise, that I think offers some perspective:

But I only said, “Terrifying data is now an industry in itself. Different firms compete to see how badly they can scare us.”

White Noise, by the way, is an excellent book, better than I’d expected, although I hadn’t expected it to be not good, just, I guess, beyond my comprehension. Sort of like Thomas Pynchon. I want to like his stuff but mostly I just don’t get it. Same with more recent Rick Moody, among others.

I guess my point is that the dude seem like a hysteric.  Have I said this already? Probably. What does it matter?

Anyway. I’ll be done with the book soon enough and I can finally shut up about it. Thank jebus!

Another book about the 60s — gag!

As if we needed another one, eh. That’s what I thought, anyway, when I first saw this book, The Sixties Unplugged by Gerard J. DeGroot. But then I took a look at the description and was encouraged to see that it is not a nostalgic slobbering tome for that magical time but a more critical look.

To wit:

If you remember the Sixties,” quipped Robin Williams, “you weren’t there.” That was, of course, an oblique reference to the mind-bending drugs that clouded perception—yet time has proven an equally effective hallucinogen. This book revisits the Sixties we forgot or somehow failed to witness. In a kaleidoscopic global tour of the decade, Gerard DeGroot reminds us that the “Ballad of the Green Beret” outsold “Give Peace a Chance,” that the Students for a Democratic Society were outnumbered by Young Americans for Freedom, that revolution was always a pipe dream, and that the Sixties belong to Reagan and de Gaulle more than to Kennedy and Dubcek.

The Sixties Unplugged shows how opportunity was squandered, and why nostalgia for the decade has obscured sordidness and futility. DeGroot returns us to a time in which idealism, tolerance, and creativity gave way to cynicism, chauvinism, and materialism. He presents the Sixties as a drama acted out on stages around the world, a theater of the absurd in which China’s Cultural Revolution proved to be the worst atrocity of the twentieth century, the Six-Day War a disaster for every nation in the Middle East, and a million slaughtered Indonesians martyrs to greed.

The Sixties Unplugged restores to an era the prevalent disorder and inconvenient truths that longing, wistfulness, and distance have obscured. In an impressionistic journey through a tumultuous decade, DeGroot offers an object lesson in the distortions nostalgia can create as it strives to impose order on memory and value on mayhem.