Friday, November 15, 2013

Beware the Kids of America

For some reason the Queen and I decided that the Princess needed some schoolin'.  She just turned three and she pretty much learned everything that I could teach her.  It seemed that we either let her perform her very own frontal lobotomy on the dog, or find some sort of professionals that could stimulate her brain cells.  We chose the latter.  So every Tuesday and Thursday either the Queen or I drive the Princess 30 minutes from our house to her Montessori school, which, as I am told, is totally worth the inconvenience.

When the Queen drives her, she spends the rest of the day at the nearby university working on her PhD.  When I drive her, I spend the rest of the day "working" at whatever restaurant  has free WiFi and will let me sit in the corner nursing an unsweetened ice tea for five and a half hours.  Most of the time I pick the golden arches, but today I decided to try out Chef Lin's Asian Cookery and their $4.99 all-you-can-eat lunch buffet.  And that's where our story begins. (That's right, the last two paragraphs were superfluous.)

Two young women from a fairly selective public college walked into restaurant, paid their buffet fee and sat down at a table.

And they sat there.

And they sat there.

And they sat there.

Finally after like 20 minutes the cashier finally said, "You know you can get food whenever you want."

To which they replied in all earnestly, "You mean we can just walk up and take whatever we want? Can we go up more than once?"

It's statements like these that make me weep for the younger generation.  These women should possess a relative amount of intelligence, at least enough to know how to eat at a buffet restaurant.  Are these the future leaders that we want handling our nuclear launch codes?  Or reforming our educational system?  Or selling us a Sham-Wow?

This incident ranks itself right up there with one of my former college students asking if San Francisco was located in California.  Another almost burned down the student union by putting a metal bowl in the microwave.  The favorite excuse for missing a homework assignment or failing an exam coincides with a "I'm not going to lie, but I just didn't do it."  Like either they were to lazy to think of an excuse or I should give them a pass because of their honesty.

Reputable experts call this generation the most self-absorbed, lazy and entitled ever.  These folks would rather take a selfie in a public bathroom than put in an honest days work.  If it isn't instant, then it's work, and that's right out.  Of course these same experts called Generation X an apathetic group of slackers who would rather listen to a Smashing Pumpkins album in the dark than put on a clean T-shirt.  And didn't similar experts give another generation the nickname "hippies"?  I'm sure that when the Millennials get old and crusty, they'll have a good time writing articles disparaging the new generation of degenerates.

So instead of hanging my head in despair, I'm going to list the top 5 reasons I'm optimistic about our future leaders:
  1. My three-year-old knows more about the iPad than I do (and I have a computer science degree).  With such technology savvy, perhaps we'll the next generation will be smart enough to not click on a link containing a virus that wipes out your bank account.

  2. The vast majority of young voters refuse to pick a political party.  Perhaps the bickering of these old guys will stop when we get some new, feel-good Millennial blood in Washington.  After all, everyone's a winner!

  3. They know how to "keep it real."  While Gen X hid behind Daria-like sarcasm and the Boomers specialized in passive aggressive "Bless their hearts," the new wave of crazy kids just spout whatever is on their minds.  While its sort of like listening to someone with honesty Tourettes, I have to appreciate knowing exactly what they think of me.

  4. The spacial bubble expands exponentially.  When I look at most 20-something's Facebook pages, I'm blown away at the amount of "friends" from different geographic areas and cultures.  They may not know how to leverage this network yet, but once they do, watch out!

  5. Our generation sucked and we turned out fine.

Monday, November 4, 2013

When Halloween used to be fun

Forgive me as I put on my maroon bathrobe and flannel lined heal-less slippers and play the part of Grumpy Old Man.


When I was young, Halloween was just one day.  We would wake up in the morning and scrounge for old clothes from the parents' closet so we could dress up like an army guy or a disco dancer or a bum.  If you were rich, you bought a $0.75 mask from the drug store that was held together by a strand of rubber floss and had a mouth slit that tried to cut a second breathing hole into your chin.  The only costume shop we would ever think of visiting was Goodwill and the only make-up we needed was found in our sisters' medicine cabinet. (The bruising looked so life-like.)

We could dress up for school, but our teachers remained unimpressed with a "nice costume, ass, here's your math test."  There may have been a costume parade, but mostly it was an excuse to dress like an army guy or a disco dancer or a bum at school.  No one really cared what you came as; unless, your sister forced you to dress like a girl so convincingly that it prompted the principal to ask about the new girl, thus scarring you for life (or so I'm told).

And then we came home, we grabbed the biggest pillow cases we could find, and Trick or Treated.  We even had the gall to Trick or Treat in the dark. By by the time we got back at 8:00 pm or so, we had so much candy that our mothers made us store whatever didn't fit in the candy drawer in the freezer. Of course that's after we sorted all the candy on the floor by like/dislike and ate so much sugar that by the time we went to bed, we fell asleep with our eyes fully open and limbs twitching like the last DumDum sucker we just ate was a taser.

Now-a-days Halloween is about theatrics.  Store decorations start the day after Labor Day and merge with Christmas about October 15th, in what I call Bloody Santa Claus.  A trip to the pumpkin patch as a kid was:
  1. Go to pumpkin patch
  2. Buy pumpkin ($3.00)
  3. Leave pumpkin patch
Now it's:
  1. Go to pumpkin patch
  2. Take hayride ($5.00/person)
  3. Go through haunted --but not scary -- house ($2.00/person)
  4. Eat "homemade" barbeque sandwich ($6.00/person)
  5. Pet animals at petting zoo ($1.00/handful of goat nuggets)
  6. Go through the corn maze ($2.00/person)
  7. Pick out pumpkin (FREE)
  8. Wind through gift shop with overstimulated 3-year-old who wants to buy every piece of "ol' fashion" candy she sees (up to $1,000,000,000)
  9. Buy pumpkin ($3.00)
  10. Take pictures of child with pumpkin (FREE if you remember to bring your own camera or don't lose your phone on the aforementioned hayride)
  11. Go home
And there's something Halloween-y EVERY WEEKEND!  Amusement park Scarefest, Boo at the Zoo,  Trunk or Treats, it goes on and on.

That's because Halloween isn't a day anymore, it's a season.  What we knew as Halloween has become Beggars Night, and it may or may not reside on October 31st.  To find out when its "legal" to Trick or Treat in your neighborhood you need to consult some sort of oracle (like a wife who reads the newspaper).  When we were kids, we all knew that October 31st was the one night where we could shake down our neighbors for some of the sweet stuff--even if it was a school night!  Now, if October 31 isn't the official Beggars Night, your neighbors have a full legal right to give you a Mars Bar full of resin, or worse, canned vegetables.

I could go on about how the "fun sized" candy have gotten smaller (they're more like "sad sized"), or how all women's costumes make them look like prostitutes, but I won't.  Instead, I'll just stick to those holidays that haven't been ruined by The Man.  Holidays like Arbor Day or National Penguin Awareness Day.  Although I know its just a matter of time before Skyscraper Appreciation Day becomes Skyscraper Appreciation Season.  Pretty soon we'll all forget that August 10th is the day we should commemorate William Van Alen, the primary architect behind the construction of the Chrysler Building, and instead spend the week shopping at all those Skyscraper Day appliance sales.