Friday, February 24, 2006

Those Were the Days

Much has been written – and undoubtedly there is more to come – about the Baby Boom generation and how it has changed American society. I’ll bet there are many people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s who already clap their hands over their eyes and ears and yell, “Enough already with the Boomers!”

But to those who lived through the duck-and-cover drills, the bra-burning and anti-war protests, and who still remember how Elvis and the Beatles raised parental hackles, here’s a link for you. The January 2006 issue of Smithsonian Magazine has an article that looks at the life of one of the first of the generation, born in the early seconds of January 1, 1946. She can’t be called typical – I don’t believe there is such a thing – but her life experiences so far will resonate with many in this unruly group. If there is one characteristic that you can say is found in many Boomers, it’s the refusal to “age gracefully” and to live up (or is it down?) to society’s expectations of what a “senior citizen” should be.

Which, now that I think of it, explains this manifesto that’s been popping into email inboxes for some time: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body. I intend to skid in sideways, dark chocolate in one hand, rum punch in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Make your ride worth a good "Woo Hoo!"

Friday, February 17, 2006

And Now the Latest Scientific Discovery…

We depend on scientific research for new medicines, healthier lives, and a cleaner environment. I was glad to read yesterday that there is new research on the environmental front that may lead to a creative use of waste materials. CNN reported that researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have had success using a repellant made from tiger poo in warding off wild goats.

While you are chuckling, consider that the goats along with other “pest” animals, like kangaroos and feral pigs, cause hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to Australian agriculture. Talk about a ready market! The scientists believe their new poo repellant might work to ward off deer, too. That would be good news to a woman I know who collects her grandson’s used diapers and places them at the edge of her garden; she swears the dirty diapers deter the deer. I know you can buy deer repellants that contain the scent of other predators – coyote and fox, for example – but somehow I prefer the image of a majestic tiger protecting my plants.

Monday, February 06, 2006

And She Doesn't Mince Words

If you are a writer there are two things you must do every day: writing is one and reading is the other. For the latter, my morning starts with Mount Washington, Tai Shan, and Miss Snark. Those weather geeks on top of the mountain think 100 mph winds and whacking ice with a sledge hammer are great fun. The panda cub is just plain cute. I can get rolling without either of them if I have to, but Miss Snark is a must.

Her Snarkness is a literary agent in New York who answers questions about writing, editing, and publishing with refreshing honesty. She does not suffer fools or nitwits, and yet is patient with newcomer questions, and often laugh-out-loud funny. But be warned - Miss Snark is habit-forming.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

She Was Not Well Behaved

One of the most hated and revered women of the late 20th century died yesterday – Betty Friedan. She had the revolutionary idea that getting married, having children, and keeping a nice, clean home, were not enough. Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, took the position that women should have identities of their own as individuals and not just as Mrs. So-and-So or Bobby’s Mom.

It was the start of a revolution that has benefited all women. Today’s 20- and 30-somethings cannot even wrap their minds around the idea that women might not be allowed to do or be anything they want. In less than 50 years we have finally started to tap the vast reservoir of talent in women.

In the 1960’s there were three jobs for a woman: nurse, teacher, secretary. And, of course, those were only until she snagged a man, got married, and had babies. Today’s women are astronauts, engineers, scientists, university presidents, doctors, lawyers, politicians, and yes, wives and mothers. The difference is choices, and we are so much richer for them.

I have a sign on my bulletin board: “Well behaved women rarely make history.” - Laurel Thatcher Urich. Women of every generation can be grateful that Betty Friedan was not well behaved.