Once a Reporter, Always a Reporter

Once I was a straight reporter. Then my husband became a politician. That made me a political spouse with bad habits, some of which are exposed here. Others are located at www.VIKIVOLK.com

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Location: St. George Island, Maryland

Visit www.VIKIVOLK.com for all you could ever want to know about me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What Are They Thinking?

Let me get this straight. The air was tested safe minutes before a Massey mine exploded and killed 29 miners and ripped at the soul of a big chunk of West Virginia.

Let me try to wrap my head around that explanation. The tools said everything was hunky dory minutes before an explosion unleashed gas that remained for days in lethal concentrations.

What I hear at that report is a jingle in my head. "Everybody's doing it, doing it, doing it. Everybody's doing it, doing it, too."

That sort of explains it all for me. For example, it is how this entire economic meltdown has been explained. Isn't it? As I grasp it, because Everybody was playing with Everybody else's money the very fact that everybody was doing it made it impossible to allow it to stop happening. If one collapsed they all collapsed.

That's it, right? Everybody doing it, doing it ....

It even explains the 401K set-up to the meltdown, another thing I never fully fathomed. Once that first company abandoned its pension plan to instead use those retirement funds to dabble in the stock market, it wasn't a blink of an eye before everybody was doing it. Within less than five years pensions were anachronisms and everyone employed knew the code words, 401K.

"Everybody's doing it," accompanies the shrugs of dismissal. As if responsibility were no more within our control than the weather. As if responsibility was beyond human reach. If things break, well, they will be replaced.

Which brings round another rhyme in my head. "All the kings horses and all the kings men can't put Humpty together again."

Now that seems to more accurately explain what happened at the mine in West Virginia.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Everyone on Facebook is 35

Everyone is 35 on Facebook. Did you already notice this? Probably. But for me, naturally, it took a mistaken identity involving a replacement wife to provoke my typical foot-in-mouth epiphany.
While chewing on and attempting to explain the foot in my mouth, it came to me how easy it is to mistake a generation or two in Facebook. Almost every little photo on my Facebook Home page looks, well, 35.
There are my 20-something daughters. They seem to always be posting photos of themselves looking 35. What do they think? Hiring executives won't look at those other campus party pics where everyone looks 6 at the end of a high-glucose, bad day at the playground?
I certainly post any 35-year-old photo of myself that I run across. My scanning skills have become sensational since joining Facebook. I've been thinking of ordering PhotoShop.
All of my rediscovered childhood friends and even sorority sisters (who would have guessed) look 35 on Facebook. Well, that's not exactly true, there is that solid contingent who post photos of themselves in high school and junior high so we can recognize one another. And then they sometimes also post photos with their significant other which mandates their true ages appear at least briefly. This is where I have gained photo splicing skills I would be happy to share with any of my Facebook friends.
Because, really, who among us Boomers and Boomlets wouldn't want to be 35?
Sure, plenty of Boomers might not want to be much younger than that, forced to relive the abandonment of our Whole New World movement for day care and mutual funds. But just dropping 15 years off the current date could put us back before 9-11 and Baghdad-the-Recent and even the embarrassment of the whole 2YK misjudgment. (And the government is surprised we don't react to Amber Alerts? Did no one read Peter and the Wolf to these folks?)
As for the Boomlets, adding 15 years should theoretically carry them past the current employment and financial disaster our mutual funds and leveraged greed brought upon them. Fifteen years and they are well into their own universe. Might not be any prettier, but at least us old, self-consumed and greedy oldsters will have largely moved on.
I continually have this image of the Baby Boomers as a lump the size of a jack rabbit making its way through a snake. The image always makes my stomach hurt.
My father, when asked -- at the time in his mid-40s -- said 30 was the best age because you were old enough to know what you wanted to do and young enough to still have time to do it.
So who wouldn't want to be 35?
Now if I can just remember where I put that box of old photos I think I'll go update my Facebook profile.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

So Much I Don't Get

There is just so much I do not understand.
I don't understand how Google makes money on me writing this.
I am savvy enough to know that somewhere, somehow, somebody makes money for letting me send -- well, what? Blog-ese? And sending where? Cyber-Neverland? I guess so. I think so.
Maybe Blog-ese is just something in the air, virulent and free, like Bubonic Plague.
Regardless -- whether it's the Odyssey or the garbage -- I don't understand Whose reaping What for sending My Blogese into a Permanent Repository--somewhere.
So of course I don't understand how certain ads land on My Blogs. And I don't understand how you could ever effective filter them if the Reader's computer impacts the selection. How do I know what a reader's cookie are about?
Sheesh. Suffice it to say that there is  a tremendous amount I don't understand about cyber-advertising-networking-linking algorithms -- which is the best understanding I have of what Monetize does.
What I did come to understand clearly was this: There is no opting out, no sign-out button to click, no ctrl-alt-delete.Acceptance  came to me when the only opting-out program I could find contained 'jihad' in its name.
The single cyber-warning granted me from a younger generation old hand was, "Just remember, it's there forever. That's really the only thing."
I started slowly.  I get the New York Times online. I joined Huffington Post even word-a-day and watch the e-mails accumulate. Today I waded in. I read about Michelle Obama and what she wore to Haiti.
I looked at every photo.
There is just so much I don't understand.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Baby Boomers Can't Grow Up

We're all screw-ups. Our parents lived too long and they held power for too long.

That's my sister's view of why we Baby Boomers keep, well, screwing up. Let's not quibble. Let's just put the words "Greed" and "Self-indulgent" right here and concede that as a generation we don't appear poised to leave a strong legacy.

Not every last one of us is a screw-up, of course. Indeed, a few of us are brilliant and, then again, a few of us are colossal screw-ups. But for the most part we're middle-management screw-ups who, a sage once pointed out to me, left our so-called revolution to tend houseplants and sell insurance.We are indeed the pinnacle of bait and switch -- driving Suburbans to fossil fuel protests and joining Save the World organizations and flushing into the nearest tributary.

My sister claims our failure to grasp Real Life stems from our parents' generation refusing to hand over the reins. I contend that we don't want them. Regardless, she says, we never learned what to do with them. We never learned how to be adults.
Try not to picture Lord of the Flies.

As is the wont of Baby Boomers my sister places the blame for this arrested development squarely at the feet of someone else. In this case; the Greatest Generation, those Americans who came of age believing they had already saved the world which their Depression-addled parents had bankrupted.

"They named themselves the Greatest Generation," my sister says, meaning what novelist Tom Robbins meant when he pointed out that the brain is what tells us the brain is the smartest organ.

As the 1950s opened the newly minted middle class (that would be one returned GI plus one stay-at-home wife) moved into suburban homes bought on the GI Bill. The men went off to work somewhere and the women consumed, which was what their new homes were designed to do. Many of their own mothers ran complicated home economies in their more rural and decentralized times, but those times were over.


So the Greatest Generation had babies and the women stayed home to pamper and educate us to become consumers in a way unimaginable to anyone coming before.

They made us, my sister says, but "they never trusted us. Our parents thought our way of thinking was BAD," my sister drags this out over the telephone. "We didn't follow the rules. We didn't play kiss-ass."

Even those of us who were and are prodigious rule-followers, we really didn't follow their rules. We may have left the revolution early, as my sage suggests, but we really were different.

They started, the Greatest Generation's overhaul of the framework of America had our economy based on things that hadn't even existed before the war. Rather than start listing them -- plastics, appliances, pantyhose -- consider this one thing that didn't exist before the Greatest Generation returned from World War II: Garbage.

"Garbage is a new invention," my grandmother would say as my grandfather carried food scraps into the garden. Once a week they had a fire in a small cylinder for those rare items worn beyond repair -- the only things I recall in the ashes would be an occasional tin can from the store. My sister probably won't remember this. She is younger. Garbage, as a commodity, caught on quickly.All that was needed were consumers. Boom.

No matter that  if you did or didn't grow up to look like them, vote like them, scold like them -- think back. Remember your father's face when you brought home James Brown's first album? Remember the Walrus? Remember whatever then slipped from your short term memory and is now stored somewhere in your long term? And the biggest punchline: Vietnam, a war without a point. Remember?

My sister is right: We were and remain a different commodity, and our parents not only didn't want to give up the reins to a society that mocked them, they really and truly didn't believe we had the moxie to keep it all going. And looking around I have to wonder, maybe we don't.

We stand ill equipped my sister contends, to take on what we all pretty much still want to see -- equality and access and free Internet and unlimited gadgetry. Nobody hungry. Nobody tortured. Peace. We still by and large believe all that stuff, we just wish he grownups would come back and take care of it all. And a darn good thing, some of us are thinking, that are kids are showing signs of early rein-taking.

We're busy supporting the economy.
It's what we're trained to do.

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