Tag Archives: Change

The E of A

As an observer of people and language, and an expert in neither, I enjoy watching the changes that take place in how people identify things.  Over the years we’ve become much more comfortable with acronyms, and the proliferation of texting has made the increase in acronyms even greater.

Acronyms aren’t new, of course.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation has always been the FBI.  The importance of the NAACP’s acronym is so great that they keep the words “Colored People” in their name in order not to mess with those initials.

There has certainly been an “E” (evolution) of “A” (acronyms) over time, and sometimes it is hard to keep up with them.

Kids who are out of control used to be called “wild.”  Over the years that has changed to ADD or ADHD.  We could add a letter to that if a person was considered to be “Type A.”  ADHDA is unpronounceable, but maybe we can buy a vowel so it could be.

The area of sexuality has been in the news a lot over the past, oh, forever, but especially the past year or so.  At one time, people were thought of to be “normal” or homosexual.  Then, as society became more accepting, the term “Gay” became popular, with other people being “straight.”

When I was in college, the acronym “LGB” emerged, covering people who were lesbian, gay, or bisexual.  Sometime between then and now the transvestite community joined in, placing a “T” at the end.

Much more recently – a day I must not have been paying attention – the letter “Q” was added.  I understand that it means “Questioning.” If it were up to me, I’d have picked “U” for undecided, but it clearly wasn’t up to me.

In some respects I think Facebook got it right when they provided the “It’s complicated” option under the category of “relationships.”   The world of gender surely has become complicated.

So, with LGBTQ as the acronym for that “community,” I wonder if there are more letters to come.  There could be an “A” for androgynous, a “D” for disinterested, or an “R” for retired.

Honestly, I have no concern over what people do as individuals or what they decide to call it.  At this stage in my life the acronyms that most concern me are things like CD’s, SSA, IRA, FDIC, NASDAQ, and PSA (prostate specific antigen).

I’ll stay tuned for updates in the world of acronyms, though, so I can pretend to be knowledgeable and on top of things.

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Filed under 2016

A Normal Life

When it gets to be summertime, I think of summers from my childhood.  That first week after school let out was unparalleled by any adult experience.

I was thinking about what normal was like back then, as opposed to today.  It was normal for any kid older than seven to ride bikes almost anywhere in the town where I grew up.  We’d tell our moms where we were going, but there was no fear of unsavory characters accosting us.  I’m sure they were around, but we didn’t know about them.

And, most of our moms were home.  Some worked, but most didn’t.  So, not only did we answer to our own moms, but to the other kids’ moms as well.

There were also dads to be answered to if we were bad.  They came home from work before dinner, except for those who had jobs that required shift work.  Only one of my friends had no dad at his house.  One other friend’s dad had been divorced, but had remarried.  So, 8% of my elementary school class came from families of divorce, and 4% were raised in a single parent household.

I don’t know of anyone in elementary or middle school who was gay.  Actually, that word wasn’t used in that way until high school, if I remember right.  I’m sure some friends and classmates were gay, ultimately, but it wasn’t talked about.

Food stamps existed, but if anyone in my neighborhood got them I didn’t know about it.  It was far from a wealthy neighborhood, but I think every family had an income.

Fast forward to modern times.  According to a US Census report in 2009 (and I’m pretty sure things haven’t improved since then) 26% of children live in single parent homes.  It says that 33% of single parents get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program payments.  By the way; 18% of the single parents were men.

In terms of kids’ freedom of movement, some people in Maryland recently had their children taken from them because the kids were allowed to walk home from school.  They were described as being “free range children.”  And, while it’s true that some parents are overly protective, the number of predators seems to have grown dramatically over the years, so more caution is a good thing.

Being gay, or bisexual, or transsexual, or “gender creative” seems to have become something that parents worry about in their elementary school students.  In an effort to prevent closed-mindedness and bullying, the topic of sexuality seems to creep into almost everything.  I read about one kid who felt guilty for not being gay.

It’s startling how much things have changed since my childhood.  Certainly there have been many good changes.  Some changes aren’t good or bad. Some are probably bad.

People talk about “the new normal,” which may be a fair assessment.  In some cases, I think normal hasn’t really changed, but we’re told that it isn’t a valid measure of people or society.

As I age, I can better understand now why my parents were wary of the social changes that were happening in the late 1960’s.

It turns out that change isn’t hard at all, but in fact very easy.  Assessing which changes are good and which aren’t is the hard part, and hindsight is the only sure way to judge.

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Filed under 2015

Happy New Year!

By now you’ve probably been wished “Happy New Year” by several dozen people, with many more to follow in the weeks to come.

All the wishing in the world won’t help us deal with the challenges that we carry over from 2012, or the new ones that are sure to come up in 2013.

Wishing also won’t help anyone lose weight, become more organized, or accomplish other goals and aspirations.

Religious people take the concept of wishing to a higher level, using prayer to help in the process of making changes for themselves and others, sometimes including asking for courage and strength to do difficult things that are hard to face without help. Praying can’t hurt, and for many it’s a help.

The famous “Serenity Prayer” comes to my mind quite often, even though I’m not a graduate of any 12-step program. To paraphrase: Help me change what I can’t accept, and accept what I can’t change, and give me the wisdom to know the difference.

Taxes and the economy fall into the category of things we can’t change – at least we didn’t when we had the chance last fall. So, it’s best to accept those things — for now, anyway.

The things we can change and can’t accept mostly include someone very near and dear to us: ourselves. Starting new good habits and losing old bad ones doesn’t involve the government, your boss, or a family member. Only you can take the actions needed to be more productive, healthy, dependable, and financially responsible.

In my experience there are some people who blame themselves for everything bad that happens, and other people who blame others when things aren’t going well. Truthfully, most of us fall somewhere in the middle. On balance, though, I think more and more people these days look outside themselves for the causes of and the solutions to their troubles.

Unfortunately, problem solving costs money, and our government doesn’t have any. Actually, we passed the “not having any” stage $16 trillion ago.

So, whether your strategy is wishing or praying or complaining or hoping, it’s likely that the best chance of having a happy 2013 is for you to take personal responsibility for it.

The good news is that when our efforts to improve our lives are successful, we get to take the credit.

Speaking for myself, 2012 was pretty good, but to say I have plenty of room for improvement in 2013 would be the understatement of the year – even though this year is still pretty young.

So, let me wish you a Happy New Year, again. And good luck to you if you’re hoping to make some changes, or deciding to accept things the way they are. Either takes strength and serenity.

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Filed under 2013

Don’t Blink

If it seems like things are moving pretty fast these days, you’re not imagining it. At a conference the other day several people were talking about some technical improvement, and one of the participants piped up, “Well, back in the day…” The thing is, he was talking about three years ago, not 1940.

In certain circles these days, it’s expected that each individual must have complete access to all of their friends, music, videos, and the knowledge base that is the internet at all times. Thinking about going to a record store to buy an album, bringing it home, and playing it on the stereo has the sense of the Stone Age about it. By comparison, now it takes seconds to download a song and listen to it, and then share it with a friend. It can be any song from virtually any era. Listening to Gregorian Chants on an Ipod may seem like a paradox, and I guess maybe it is.

Some groups of people seem to be obsessed with being connected. Most are younger, but some folks well into adulthood are losing their fingerprints due to the wear and tear of constant texting. I know people who are frequently short on sleep as they try to keep up with Tweets, Facebook posts and texts. They wake up with a phone between their faces and their pillows. That can’t be good, can it?

It would be befitting of a person my age to launch into a diatribe about the fast pace of technological progress, but I won’t do it. I remember my own parents rolling their eyes at The Beatles and transistor radios and the like. Technology happens, and things that are proven useful tend to survive, and other things fade away.

Not many people carry pagers, for example. And fax machines are an endangered species, soon joining typewriters on museum shelves with dial phones and 45’s.

Common sense (an oxymoron) should play some role as we embrace evolving technology, but it often doesn’t. Video or computer games are fine for those who like them. Playing them at the expense of hygiene and social interactions is probably not well advised. And, the benefits of reading or experiencing the non-virtual world can’t be overstated.

I guess that’s the main thing that’s on my mind. The appeal of these new technologies is great, but our ability to use them appropriately is something we haven’t yet learned. If being completely connected and in touch all the time becomes an obsession, well, it’s an obsession, which implies an unhealthy state of mind.

I expect that at some point more and more people will withdraw from some of the technology excesses. Already some people are leaving Facebook, and I’d bet that Twitter will someday be the answer to a trivia question. But, who knows?

Television isn’t new, but it was a revolutionary invention. There are many things I wouldn’t now know if it hadn’t been for TV, but I wonder how many things I don’t know because of it. Re-runs of Hogan’s Heroes may be mildly entertaining, but reading a book about World War II would be more edifying, and unless the war was more amusing than I think it was, more accurate.

I, for one, won’t become a slave to technology. In fact, as soon as I save this document to a folder and attach it to an email and send it, I’m going to defrag my hard drive so I can update my media files more efficiently. And if there’s time, I might go outside.

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Filed under 2012

Change or die… or not

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Filed under 2009

Changing Time

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Filed under 2008