My Sweet Irreplaceable You
Final score….73 to 48. That’s 73 million baby boomers and 48 million GenXers. If all the baby boomers left the labor market at the same time, the American economy could not sustain itself.
Wow! Makes you want to quit tomorrow if it weren’t for the negative consequences. But seriously, this is serious. It’s not a question of experience or competence, it’s just plain arithmetic. As large numbers of boomers leave the workforce, there are not enough employees to take their place.
Employers may have to reach down to the farm team level to tap Gen Yers (born between 1980 and 2000), but there’s a big concern about whether they are ready and whether their work culture will clash big time with the remaining boomers.
While boomers are typically obsessed with their work, Gen Yers generally seek a greater balance between work and life interests. Often characterized as high performance and high maintenance, they lack the experience of even Gen Xers. Bottom line, the Yers will have a tough time filling the shoes of the more seasoned baby boomers.
Experts are telling employers that the next 10 years could be a very rocky road if they are unable to hold onto the talent they already have. The successful businesses will find a way to keep employees engaged and committed to the company’s goals, but after years of downsizing and merger-acquisition frenzies, that’s easier said than done. Plus, the burgeoning start-ups are looking to poach the Gen Xer talent from more established businesses, making the remaining baby boomers even more valuable workers.
Articles about boomers staying on the job well past conventional retirement age are now a weekly staple. Just recently I read about an 81 year-old bartender and an 82 year-old waiter working at the same restaurant. They didn’t want to sit around at home and get fat and they liked coming to work, even if it was only part-time. Youthful workers at the other end of the spectrum just don’t see it that way, and if you think that’s not your problem, remember, we need them to cover our social security benefits.
In any case, I’m beginning to feel a little bit like Sally Field when she accepted her Oscar. “You like me. You really like me.”
Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.
Burden of Proof
Once upon a geometry --- long, long ago in The Golden Age --- Proof called for a configuration of Polygons.
“Attention, please,” said Proof addressing the multi-sided closed figures. “Octagons stop where you are; trapezoids and rhombuses, stand aside. For this procedure we will be utilizing four congruent right triangles and three different squares. Applicants should report immediately to The Ruler for verification of dimensions.”
“We have heard that Proof is demanding,” whispered one of the Three-Four-Five triangles selected.
“Me, too,” said the identical triangles in unison.
“Practice makes perfect,” offered a Four-by-Four square as Three-by-Three and Five-by-Five nodded in agreement.
“Polygons, thanks for all you do,” said Proof. “Now, let’s get started. I’d like you to form a Seven-by-Seven square with the four triangles intersecting each other at a vertex. Ready? Configure!”
The Three-Four-Five triangles positioned themselves so that each hypotenuse provided one side of a single square. They motioned to Five-by-Five to join them.
“Check it out, I’m a perfect fit,” said Five-by-Five filling the space between his new friends.
“Splendid,” said Proof. For your next assignment let’s form another Seven-by-Seven square that includes Three-by-Three in perpendicular intersection with a vertex of Four-by-Four. Five-by-Five will sit this one out. On your mark, get set, configure.”
The two squares moved into position as directed and then recruited the Three-Four-Five triangles to help them complete the assignment.
“Want to join us?” they asked the four triangles.
“Sure, sure, sure, sure,” said the triangles as they scrambled into place forming a pair of Three-by-Four rectangles by aligning along a shared hypotenuse.
“I see”, Proof observed. “There are two squares in this second configuration along with the same four triangles united to form Three-by-Four rectangles. Each of you has a ninety degree angle?”
“Right,” said all six of the Polygons.
“Eureka,” said Proof. “Both of these Seven-by-Seven configurations utilize the same four congruent right triangles, with the remaining area being either Five-by-Five or the sum of Three-by-Three plus Four-by-Four. I’d like to see that again. Polygons, as you were, I mean, about face or whatever.”
The triangles returned to the original configuration in combination with Five-by-Five. “Works for me,” said Three-by-Three. “Yeah,” said Four-by-Four, “and notice how nine plus sixteen is twenty-five.”
“That is so cool,” said Proof observing the maneuvers. “Alrighty then, you Polygons, one more time.”
“No problem,” said the squares and triangles as they alternated back and forth between the two configurations.
“I’m satisfied,” said Proof observing the results.
Harpeth Rivers is a New Mexico transplant from all over who has in the last year written songs about isosceles triangles, played bass guitar in a band, and declared himself "Retro-eclectic." His novel-in-progress is entitled Last Year.
Surrounded by Storks
All around me, big white storks lounge around on their king size nests, bird versions of those tourists you hear about, the ones that come to a nice warm beachy destination on holiday and like it so much they forget to go home.
These Iberian White Storks should spend their summers at home in their European nest and then migrate to Africa for the winter via Gibraltar. While not very good fliers, they are great at gliding the thermal air currents. But even gliding is still an arduous journey only to be repeated in the spring when they have to glide back home.
Ten pairs of storks own homes in my new neighborhood. I say own because they stay in their nests for decades. They live 20 to 30 years! Never having been around storks before, I am totally enthralled with so many living right next door. Even when it’s cold and raining, you’ll find me still sitting on my balcony surrounded by computer and binoculars, swathed in sweaters watching “my” storks and Googling anything I can find out about them.
When they are feeling frisky, I hear lots of clattering and see head bobbing. This means the eggs will show up in a month, then the babies a month later. From what I can see from my balcony, there will be little stork-lings come April. Mr. Stork will be the Baby Daddy for all the little ones; Iberian White Storks don’t fool around like some of those other storks. All the babies are treated the same, from the meekest to the meanest, they all get the same amount of food and the same chance to grow up and probably stay in the Algarve.
Here in Portugal if a person has bad luck, the old saying was “he must have killed a stork”. If you were caught killing one, your hand was cut off, and that’s pretty bad luck right there. Living here, surrounded by storks I am lucky if I can accomplish anything anymore. When the sun rises and silhouettes the towers of the old sardine factory, I stare at my winged neighbors, vision magnified with binoculars. I have become a stork stalker of the worst kind.
If I ever become so jaded by life that my heart does not leap out of my chest when these magnificent birds swoop by me as I quietly watch in awe, it is time to send me back to where cubicle walls defined me. The breathtaking beauty of being surrounded by storks, or whatever your “stork” is, your passion, is a wonder to cherish and delight in each and every day.
Constance left the U.S. not for spiritual enlightment (Eat, Love, Pray), or to run away from anything, but to challenge herself in a new culture, living a simple life. Portugal seemed to be the best fit, and so far it is just the right size. Read lots more at her blog -- An Adventure Abroad.
A Movie Odyssey
It broke all the molds.
Until Stanley Kubrick’s mind-bending 1968 movie, baby boomers and their parents were fed a sci-fi diet of funk and fear: a 50-foot woman rampaging through town exacting revenge on all who wronged her when normal (a harbinger of women’s liberation?), or huge mutant ants crawling up sky scrappers in search of tasty human prey, especially young ladies in flimsy nightgowns. A thinking man’s science fiction movie was an oxymoron.
Now considered a brilliant classic, A Space Odyssey met with less than instant and unanimous approval. Although Kubrick was nominated for Best Director, the movie was not among those considered for Best Film. The plot was obtuse, the pace glacial, the ending incomprehensible, not a word uttered for almost half an hour and then only 40 minutes of dialog throughout.
There was a generational rift over the movie, a younger boomer audience more receptive to the innovations and enigmas. Many of the favorable reviews appeared in college newspapers. In a 1972 re-release, the movie attracted a pop culture cult following among baby boomers attracted to its new age mysticism and surrealism.
On a secret mission to uncover a mystery artifact buried millions of years ago by intelligent extraterrestrial life, the story is perhaps best remembered by the human interaction with HAL, the supercomputer designed to run the ship. HAL attempts to take over from its handlers only to be defeated and disconnected. Kubrick was one of the first to focus on a theme that has come to fascinate the boomer generation and dominate contemporary science: are we on the verge of creating computers with the ability to control us against our will?
Kubrick is rightly credited with designing the model for “sophisticated” science fiction, such as baby boomer favorites Blade Runner, Encounters of the Third Kind, Silent Running, ET, and Star Wars.
A conversation between the main character and HAL:
Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Dave Bowman: What’s the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave Bowman: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.
HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.
Dave Bowman: Where the hell’d you get that idea, HAL?
HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
Dave Bowman: Alright, HAL. I’ll go in through the emergency airlock.
HAL: Without your space helmet, Dave, you’re going to find that rather difficult.
Dave Bowman: HAL, I won’t argue with you anymore. Open the doors.
HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.
Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.
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