As Old As You Feel


Feeling Old?

God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do, and the eyesight to know the difference.

Beloit College "Mindset List" for the Class of 2006

Most students entering college this fall were born in 1984.

  1. A Southerner has always been President of the United States.
  2. Richard Burton, Ricky Nelson and Truman Capote have always been dead.
  3. South Africa's official policy of apartheid has not existed during their lifetime.
  4. Cars have always had eye-level rear stop lights, CD players, and air bags.
  5. We have always been able to choose our long-distance carriers.
  6. Weather reports have always been available 24-hours-a-day on television.
  7. The "evil empire" has moved from Moscow to a setting in some distant galaxy.
  8. "Big Brother" is merely a television show.
  9. Cyberspace has always existed.
  10. Bruce Springsteen's hit, Born in the USA, could have been played to celebrate their birth.
  11. Barbie has always had a job.
  12. Telephone bills have always been totally incomprehensible.
  13. Prom dresses have always come in basic black.
  14. A "Hair Band" is some sort of fashion accessory.
  15. George Foreman has always been a barbecue grill salesman.
  16. Afghanistan has always been a front page story.
  17. There has always been an heir to the heir to the British throne.
  18. They have no recollection of Connie Chung or Geraldo Rivera as serious journalists.
  19. Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Tom Brokaw have always anchored the evening news.
  20. China has always been a market-based reforming regime.
  21. The United States has always been trying to put nuclear waste in Nevada.
  22. The US and the Soviets have always been partners in space.
  23. Mrs Fields' cookies and Swatch watches have always been favourites.
  24. Nicolas Cage, Daryll Hannah, Eddie Murphy, and John Malkovich made their first major film impressions the year they were born.
  25. The GM Saturn has always been on the road.
  26. The "Fab Four" are not a male rock group, but four women enjoying Sex and the City.
  27. Fox has always been a television network choice.
  28. Males do not carry a handkerchief in a back pocket.
  29. This generation has never wanted to "be a Pepper too."
  30. Ozzy's lifestyle has nothing to do with the Nelson family.
  31. Women have always had tattoos.
  32. Vanessa Williams and Madonna are ageing singers.
  33. Perrier has always come in flavours.
  34. Cherry Coke has always come in cans.
  35. A "hotline" is a consumer service rather than a phone used to avoid accidental nuclear war.
  36. The drug "ecstasy" has always been around.
  37. Genetic testing and DNA screening have always been available.
  38. Electronic filing of federal income taxes has always been an option.
  39. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has always been available to doctors.
  40. Trivial Pursuit may have been played by their parents the night before they were born.
  41. The US has always maintained that it has a "clear right to use force against terrorism."
  42. The drinking age has always been 21 throughout the country.
  43. Women have always been members of the Jaycees.
  44. The centre of chic has shifted from Studio 54 to Liza's living room, live!
  45. Julian Lennon had his only hit the year they were born.
  46. Sylvan Learning Centers have always been an after-school option.
  47. Hip-hop and rap have always been popular musical forms.
  48. They grew up in minivans.
  49. Scientists have always recognised the impact of acid rain.
  50. The Coen Brothers have always been making films.

And in 1984, perhaps it was "Too Soon to Tell"...

bulletTechnology analysts questioned the need for briefcase-sized computers.
bulletThe National Children and Youth Fitness Study announced that children were overweight and underactive.
bulletA CPA organisation heralded that computerised audit systems were being used to avoid errors and they were doing much better at spotting mistakes and providing internal audit controls.
bulletFilm critics declared that George Lucas was looking for new directions because Star Wars interest was waning.
bulletVideotape technology was said to be killing the film industry and slowing cable network development.
bulletAnalysts stated there was no market for Direct Broadcast Satellite systems.
bulletThe US Supreme Court declared sleeping to be a form of free speech.

The list from 2 years ago:

bulletThe people who are starting college this fall across the nation were born in 1982.
bulletThey have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan Era and probably did not know he had ever been shot.
bulletThey were prepubescent when the Persian Gulf War was waged.
bulletBlack Monday 1987 is as significant to them as the Great Depression.
bulletThere has been only one Pope.
bulletThey were 11 when the Soviet Union broke apart and do not remember the Cold War.
bulletThey have never feared a nuclear war.
bulletThey are too young to remember the (first) space shuttle blowing up.
bulletTheir lifetime has always included AIDS.
bulletBottle caps have always been screw off and plastic.
bulletAtari predates them, as do vinyl albums.  The expression "you sound like a broken record" means nothing to them.
bulletThey have never owned a record player.
bulletThey have likely never played Pac Man and have never heard of Ping-Pong.
bulletThey may have never heard of an 8-track.  The compact disc was introduced when they were 1 year old.
bulletAs far as they know, stamps have always cost 33¢ (or more).
bulletThey have always had an answering machine.
bulletMost have never seen a TV set with only 13 channels, nor have they seen black-and-white.  They have always had cable.
bulletThere have always been VCRs, but they have no idea what BETA is.
bulletThey cannot fathom not having a remote control.
bulletThey were born the year that the Walkman was introduced by Sony.
bulletRollerskating has always meant inline for them.
bulletJay Leno has always been on the Tonight Show.
bulletThey have no idea when or why Jordache jeans were cool.
bulletPopcorn has always been cooked in the microwave.
bulletThey have never seen Larry Bird play.
bulletThey never took a swim and thought about Jaws.
bulletThe Vietnam War is as ancient history to them as WWI, WWII and the Civil War.
bulletThey have no idea that Americans were ever held hostage in Iran.
bulletThey can't imagine what hard contact lenses are.
bulletThey don't know who Mork was or where he was from.
bulletThey never heard: "Where's the beef?", "I'd walked a mile for a Camel", or "de plane, de plane."
bulletThey do not care who shot J R and have no idea who J R is.
bulletThe Titanic was found?  They thought we always knew where it was.
bulletMichael Jackson has always been white.
bulletKansas, Chicago, Boston, America, and Alabama are places, not groups.
bulletMcDonalds never came in styrofoam containers.
bulletThere has always been MTV.
bulletThey don't have a clue how to use a typewriter.

Do you feel old yet?

Source: © 2002 Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin

To tell you the truth, lists like these bored me when I was younger.  Now that I'm older, I guess they still do.  I suppose they have some value in helping to put rate of change into perspective.  The trick is not to expect anything to be around forever because it won't.

Baby Boomers' Driving Days Dwindle

by Kathleen Fackelmann

By the year 2030, about 7 million baby boomers age 85 and older will have stopped driving and will be forced to rely on other forms of transportation, says a new study.  Such dependency will raise a host of issues for freedom-loving baby boomers, their families and society as a whole, says study author Dan Foley of the National Institute on Ageing, part of the National Institutes of Health.  His study appears in the August 2002 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Foley and his colleagues studied nearly 5,000 men and women, age 70 and older, who had a car and were still driving in 1993.  For the next two years, they noted each time someone in the study stopped driving.  The findings are based on drivers in the 1990s, so it is possible the number of seniors who stay behind the wheel may change in the coming years.  But based on this study's predictions, men and women ages 70 to 74 can expect to drive a car for another 11 years, Foley says.

The findings indicate that women, after turning in the car keys, will spend about a decade finding other ways to get to the grocery store or go on other errands.  For men, the findings mean about six years of scrounging for other forms of transportation.

This study suggests that more than 600,000 Americans stop driving each year, a number that will rise sharply in the coming decades as baby boomers begin to retire.  Seniors stop driving for a variety of reasons, including poor eyesight, memory problems, or other health issues that make it difficult for them to get behind the wheel says Jeff Runge, the administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Many of those same problems make it difficult for seniors to rely on buses or other forms of public transportation, Foley says.  A very frail older person may have trouble walking a few blocks to catch a bus, he says.  Older people with lots of health problems may need help getting in and out of a van or car.  Some communities have services that provide such curb-to-curb service.  But in many places, seniors must turn to family or friends to get them to and from their daily activities, Foley says.

For an older person, the loss of the car can be a huge inconvenience.  But it also can lead to more serious problems.  For example, seniors who can't drive may have trouble getting timely health care, and they may get sick as a result.  And Foley notes that American seniors are travelling more and driving more miles than ever before.  He says some studies suggest that older people who quit driving run a risk of depression.

There's no set age at which older adults should give up driving a car, Runge says.  He says that the warning signs of a driving problem can include difficulty seeing or cognitive problems such as getting lost in a familiar place.  But adult children often have trouble talking to Mom or Dad about the possibility of taking the car keys away.  He suggests that families take a hard look at the situation before a crisis occurs.  Often a trusted doctor can assess the situation and help break the news to an older person who is no longer fit to drive, he says.

Source: USA Today Tuesday 30 July 2002

Unfortunately, the truth of this article has been brought home recently by an incident at an outdoor farmers market in Santa Monica, California on 16 July 2003.  An 86-year-old man killed 10 pedestrians and injured 69 when he apparently hit the accelerator rather than the brake as he had intended.  Fatal crashes involving drivers over 70 are increasing as older drivers form a greater percentage of the population.  Older drivers are twice as likely as younger drivers to die at intersections where judgments of speed and distance have to be made quickly.  Since the old now make up about 15% of the population, it is apparent that some steps need to be taken.

For People Born before 1945

We were born before television, before penicillin, before polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox copiers, plastics, Frisbees, contact lenses, and the pill.  We were before radar, credit cards, split atoms, lasers, and ballpoint pens; before pantyhose, dishwashers, clothes dryers, electric blankets, air conditioners, drip-dry clothes, and before men walked on the moon.

We got married first, and THEN lived together.

In our time, closets were for clothes, not for "coming out of".  "Bunnies" were small rabbits, and "Rabbits" were not Volkswagens.  "Designer Jeans" were scheming girls, and "having a meaningful relationship" meant getting along with our cousins.

We thought "fast food" was what you ate during Lent, and "outer space" was the balcony of the Riviera Theatre.

We were before house-husbands, gay rights, computer dating, dual careers, and commuter marriages; before day-care centres, group therapy, and nursing homes.  We never heard of FM radio, tape decks, CD players, CD-ROMs, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, word processors, yogurt, and guys wearing earrings.  For us, "time sharing" meant togetherness, not computers or condominiums.  A "chip" meant a piece of wood; "hardware" meant hardware, and "software" wasn't even a WORD yet!

When we were young, "Made in Japan" meant junk, and the term "making out" referred to how you did on your exam.  We never heard of pizzas, McDonalds, or instant coffee.

We hit the scene when there were "5 &10¢ stores" where you could actually BUY something for 5¢ or 10¢.  Ice cream cones were a nickel for one scoop, or a dime for two big scoops.  For ONE nickel you could ride a street car or a bus, make a phone call, buy a large Pepsi, or buy enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards.  We could buy a brand-new Chevy Coupe for $600... but who could afford one?  (A pity too, because gas was only 11¢ a gallon!)

In our day, cigarette smoking was fashionable, "grass" was something we mowed, "coke" was a cold drink, and "pot" was something you cooked in.  "Rock music" was a lullaby that Grandma sang, and "aids" were helpers in the Principal's office.

We certainly did not come before the difference between the sexes was discovered, but we we came before sex change - we made do with what we were given.  And we were the last generation that thought you actually needed a husband to have a baby!

So, next time you find yourself pondering how today's "generation gap" could possibly have come to exist, re-read the above, and begin to understand.  But we've survived, still a valuable resource to be treasured.  (And don't let anyone tell you otherwise!)


At least this is somewhat more amusing than a bare list.  And it's the last of this subject - I promise!

He'll Know Soon Enough

His BMW hidden discreetly under the moonlit trees, Dr Morrison embraced Sally in the unlit entrance to the Nurses' Home, but as she stared into those wonderful bedside manner eyes, she wondered if she should mention that recently her genital area had become very sensitive, easily irritated and intensely itchy, and that it was also sore and dry and she had begun to find bladder control difficult.

Source: Terry Chapman, Waiatarua, Auckland as quoted in Dr Brian Edwards' Top of the Morning Worst First Sentence of a Novel Competition 1999

For Clues to Ageing and a new definition of what it means to believe alive, see Cell's Recycling May Yield Clues to Ageing.  For lots more on ageing, including feats that can be accomplished and a non-spiritual look at what happens after death - funerals, jerky, popsicles, fertiliser, ashes, orbit or dust - see Older and Under, the section on ageing and beyond.

For articles related to lifestyles including guns, television, extortion, hair, handbags, parenting, time bind, desserts, fitness, feasting, friends, happiness, ageing and more, click the "Up" button below to take you to the Index for this Lifestyles section.

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