Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Best Laid Plans . . .

Well, my original plan was to post every day - both my sons have blogs and post fairly regularly. Unfortunately, I can't always agree with what they post, but at least they're out there articulating and thinking.

Well, it's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon (I hope this isn't copyright infringement). I've been both sick and real busy lately, so that's my excuse for not posting before now.

I'm in graduate school right now . . . OK, I'm almost always in graduate school. Some of us are just perennial students and I'm a big one. I love everything about being in college except the work. My mind works better when I'm in a classroom situation. Very interesting when you're usually the oldest one in the room (oftentimes including the teacher). I find that, in some ways, I am deferred to more by the other students simply because I am older. However, sometimes I find my more long-term and tolerant views are greeted with an almost tangible snort of derision . . . young people are so willing to think that things are either black or white too often. They don't understand or tolerate shades of gray.

I remember having tremendous arguments with my Veteran Generation father about things political and cultural. He was a farmer, a simple man who fought for his country when it was the right thing to do and who worked very hard his entire life and got very little in return for all that work. Then comes me, with my crystallized view of everything based on having read a few books and had a few conversations. How he tolerated me is beyond my comprehension - I don't have his patience. Now I see things a little more like he did. I've been alive long enough to realize that a lot of things that happen are just outside my environment and really don't affect my personal life, that bad stuff and good stuff happens to every generation and that we all sharesome common human experiences, but these commonalities have little to do with those things we seem to spend so much time arguing about.

Here's an interesting exercise. Select a time when you have a particularly vivid memory of your parent (either sex will do). Then identify a major generational event for that parent (for example, WWII for my Dad). Now figure how many years there are between that generational event and your memory. My time was when I was about six years old (1954)and I was playing soldier in the frontyard. I noticed my Dad watching me with the most curious look on his face . . . looking back, I'd describe it as compassion combined with revulsion and a dash of wistfulness. In 1954, World War II had been over less than 10 years and the Korean War was still hot. His little boy playing soldier had a whole different meaning for him and I only became more sensitive to this when I had children.

I had a similar experience once in about 1985 when I realized that the Vietnam War was about 10 years in the past, the same chronological distance as that faraway day when I caught my Dad looking at me with that unforgettable look.

TIme is an interesting phenomena. Speaking of time . . . Enough . . . it's late and tomorrow is coming like a freight train.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Pre-Thanksgiving Thoughts

My first post - not looking for literary fame, but I hope to share things of interest about my life and my perspective on daily events. Do not look here for long insightful political essays - I may share my political/ethical philosophies as part of my observations, but I'm definitely not trying to enter that Great Discussion.

What I offer is a running commentary on life from the perspective of one who is on the front edge of the Boomer Generation - in other words, an aging boomer.

In my work, I train managers on how to use different actions and approaches based on the situation and the person they are dealing with. I have noticed some things relating to generations in the workplace and our attempts to describe them.

There "ain't no such thing" as a completely monolithic generation - everything is along a spectrum. Beware of those who simplify by using generational tags, such as "Greatest Generation", "Nexters" or even "Boomers", usually accompanied by bullet-point lists of what the speaker thinks that group likes, dislikes and will do or need. While there is some truth to any of this, people are just too darn contrary to all be alike.

Particularly with regard to the Boomers - who many describe along these lines: "that self-absorbed group that has ravaged social culture predictions ever since they were born" (speaking of generalizing about generations:). Boomers births range from from 1964 (age 40 today) to 1946 (age 58 today). I can state with assuredness that Boomers differ significantly in their experiences and outlooks over that 18 year span. To put it in perspective, when I (a 1948 boomer baby) graduated from high school in 1966, my youngest colleagues in the Boomer generation were still in diapers. They graduated from high school in 1984. Eight tracks versus compact discs.

I recently attended a party for a couple I've known for 30 years - we are roughly the same ages, have many experiences in common and have kept in touch over the years - but we have significant differences when it comes to attitudes about labor versus management, social interests or government activities. Same generation - different people.

Well, it's snowing in the Heartland today (day before Turkey Day). Cold and wet - not the kind of weather that inspires anything beyond a fervent desire to stay in bed. I'm off work today - I have plenty to do, but I know from long experience that I don't get much done on the day before any holiday.

So here I am, waiting for the repairman to finish installing a new larger water heater for the three of us (me, wife, brother who came to live with us after Mom died last year). We're among the first in our group to move to condo living and it is good, although we've been in constant renovation since we moved - new master bathroom, new kitchen . . . soon to come, new floors in the living room. Of course much new furniture, as we doled out our prized "old crap" to one of our four kids and their significant others.

Never thought I'd be "downsizing" to a condo - lived in houses most of my life. Not a bad change, but one with angles to consider. More later - Happy Holidays to whoever reads this.