DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS OVERALLS

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Don't be fooled

Don’t be fooled

As I recently mentioned, my first job after college was as the advertising and marketing director for an upscale condominium development in Fair Oaks, California.  Why they hired me, I’ll never know.  My only experience in either field consisted of placing a want ad to sell my 1965 Renault, a car that featured a push-button gear shift. It was so under-powered that Bob used to ask me whether I put it in “puree” or “blend” to climb up a hill.  I suppose that my ability to craft an ad that actually resulted in its sale did take a certain amount of talent.  And being part Irish gives me a significant leg up when it comes to shoveling out the blarney.  I suspect, however, that they hired me because I was willing to work for peanuts.  I learned a lot during my tenure at that job – newspaper ad positioning, how to write copy that lured in customers, how to drink coffee for 8 hours straight. But mostly, I learned about people.

My office was upstairs from the sales office and since they had the coffee pot I wandered down to sit with them quite often.  Have I mentioned that my boss was 400 miles away?  Anyway, there were three wizened sales people who were kind enough to take me under their wing and teach me a bit about real estate and what people look for when they’re searching for a new home.  I spent a lot of time listening to them transfix customers with their “spiel”.  I thought I had developed a sense for who was a “buyer” and who was a “tire kicker” until the day an older couple (probably younger than me now!) walked in to the office. They were both wearing overalls; he had a cowlick and she was devoid of make-up with a shock of unruly gray curls.  They had literally just walked in “off the farm”. I went back up to my office while the saleswoman took them out on tour.   When she returned  I said, “Boy, that must have been a waste of time; they couldn’t possibly afford to buy in here.”  Which shows just how judgemental and stupid I was. They signed the papers that day for the biggest, most expensive unit we had, with magnificent views of the American River.

A Shining Example

A Shining Example

I have been thinking about that incident a lot lately – how I judged people by their outward appearance before I bothered to learn anything about them as individuals. It was a very good lesson to learn early in life and it helped me in my subsequent career as a Human Resources professional.  Not that I don’t judge people any more.  I have plenty to say about the Kardashians without ever having met any of them and I’m pretty sure that my impressions are spot on.  But it seems to me that we as a society are increasingly judging people using broad stereotypes. Black, white, Hispanic, cops, youth, Christians, gays, Democrats, Republicans…the list goes on and on.  When did that happen?  Or, more importantly, why? I’m not sure there is any one answer and certainly it would take someone above my pay grade (which is $0) to figure it out.  If I had to guess I’d say it has something to do with the advent of 24 hour cable news and the internet, both of which derive income by staking out corners in the far reaches of an ideology and then catering to people who reside there.  My experience tells me that the vast majority of Americans judge people as people, regardless of their race, creed, religion, sexual preference or whether they drink Chardonnay or Budweiser.  But these days it seems my Facebook feed is bombarded with posts, or more accurately re-posts, of some half-truth that generalizes and paints an ugly picture of some group.  As a rule of thumb, any group that has “Occupy” or “Tea Party” in its name is not going to provide a completely truthful analysis.  I’m on Facebook less and less because of this problem and will be un-friending people who continue to “share” those posts.  I don’t even want to think about how much more vitriolic social media will become as we inch toward the 2016 election.  And you’d best believe that the people who are running the campaigns will count on the masses to spread the half-truths to further their cause.

So I say we just STOP!  Let’s not be manipulated by people who have an agenda.  Let’s refrain from posting or forwarding information that is partisan or with an obvious bias.  Let’s not lump everyone into an amorphous group – let’s think about people as the individuals that they are.  Except when it comes to contractors.  Given my recent experience with our bathroom remodel, they deserve every bad thing ever said about them.

 

The Mutation of Thanksgiving

by Bob Sparrow

1st Thanksgiving      The first Thanksgiving took place in 1621, a feast shared between the Pilgrims and the Indians. They ate duck and venison and played games together.  The cause of the celebration was the Pilgrims first harvest in their new land (the Indian’s old land), but unlike those who followed, rather than kill, capture or constrain the Indians, they invited them to dinner.  The invitation was probably a bit vague regarding dress, as the Pilgrims wore their formal black garments, white collars and funny hats while the Indians dressed a bit more casually; fortunately the ‘No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service’ admonition hadn’t been created yet.  Thanksgiving remained pretty much the same for several hundred years except for the fact that Indians came to be regarded as second-class citizen and relegated to reservations . . . not for dinner.

     Thanksgivings for our generation meant getting together with family and having turkey, which had thankfully replaced theNR duck and venison.   In the early 1950s another American tradition was added to this day of feasting and thanking – football.  Actually, football was added back in 1934 when the first game between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears was played on Thanksgiving Day, but that traditional game didn’t come into our living rooms until the early 1950s when television sets became a fixture in most homes.  From then on until recently, most Thanksgivings were about Family, Food and Football.

     Then another ‘F’ word started pushing itself into our Thanksgiving holiday psyche . . . Finance. Today, news at Thanksgiving hardly ever includes stories about how people celebrated or what we are thankful for, but rather how this year’s ‘Black Friday’ revenue will stack up against previous year’s – consumer spending-wise.  Before I give you the actual numbers for this year, you have to understand that ‘Black Friday’ statistics actually include retail sales from the Friday after Thanksgiving through the following Sunday.  No, wait a minute, recently that’s been amended to include Thanksgiving Day as well, as many retailers are telling their employees not to be so thankful and spend time with family, but rather to get into work – we’re open!

 black friday    This year shoppers spent an estimated $57.4 billion during the four-day ‘knock-your-neighbor-down-to-get-to-that-last-iPad’ event.  Sounds like a lot of money, but it was actually down 2.9% from last year.  Worse yet, God forbid, there was a 4% drop in that all important ‘spending-per-shopper’ category.

     In more ‘F’ news, Cyber Monday (another commercially aggrandized day to hype sales via the Internet) sales amounted to $2.29 billion – just for the day; that’s up 108% from last year.  And between 18-20% of that were purchases over a mobile device – Christmas shopping from your phone!  So while we still eat turkey and watch football, the media bombards us with Black Friday and Cyber Monday predictions and encourages us to spend, spend, spend.

     OK, this is turning into a rant; sorry, but these numbers tell me that we are getting further and further away from person-to-person contact.  I get it that this is probably just ‘old people talk’, but sometimes with age, come wisdom.  OK, I’m still waiting, but that’s another story.  I just listened to the lyrics of that classic Christmas carol, ‘Silver Bells:

           Children laughing, People passing, Meeting smile after smile

                                             and

          As the shoppers rush home with their treasures

     As numbers for Cyber Monday continue to grow, as I’m certain they will, it puts us on a slippery slope that ultimately leadscyber to no longer hearing ‘children laughing’ – how could you with your phone in your ear constantly. No longer will there be ‘people passing’ – unless it’s gas as they sit on their computers shopping all day. And you’ll no longer be ‘meeting smile after smile’ – there will be no one to smile for, unless you are taking a ‘Selfie’ picture to pass along to your friends on Facebook who couldn’t care less.  And as far as ‘shoppers rushing home with their treasures’ go, Amazon will take care of that, it’s got plans in the works to drop-ship your gift via drone, so they can eliminate the deliveryman altogether.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love my cell phone; wouldn’t leave home without it, but I love family, food and football more; so before this new cyber world completely takes over, maybe we need to declare this year’s next family gathering a ‘Cell Free Zone’ – we won’t have many opportunities left, as I’m sure the next generation of mobile devices will be imbedded in our bodies somewhere.  I think I have a suggestion as to exactly where they should put it.

     But I could be wrong.

happy face

POP’S CHRISTMAS ICE CREAM FIZZ

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Pop, near 80 years old, still making magic

Pop, near 80 years old, still making magic

There are many annoying things about Facebook but every once in a while it has a redeeming feature:  reconnecting with old friends and long-lost family members.  Such was the case with us this year.   We were fortunate enough to find three cousins with whom we’d lost touch.  Or maybe they’ve been avoiding us.  In any event, we’ve had fun exchanging old family photos and sharing stories.  Our cousin, Tracy Nutting Sanborn, reminded me that one of her favorite holiday traditions was our dad’s Christmas morning ice cream fizzes.  Or as he called them, “The Good Fairy Fizzes”.  In any event, in the spirit of the season, I am sharing a bit about the fizz and Pop’s famous recipe.

First, it’s important to understand that Christmas Eve at our parent’s house was always a rollicking affair.  Mom put out a buffet spread mid-afternoon and people began to arrive in droves.  Tons of their friends plus dad’s cousin and his family were there every year.  As we kids got older our friends would escape their sedate family gatherings to party at the Sparrow house.  There was always lots of laughter, joking, singing, and a virtual river of alcohol.  Somewhere in there we always opened our gifts.  Because we needed to get to some religious service at midnight, you ask?  Au contraire.  It was because the next morning our paternal grandmother, along with Tracy, her parents and her siblings would arrive for Christmas breakfast.

Now that I am older I look back on that tradition and think our parents were out of their minds.  The last of the Christmas Eve guests generally didn’t leave until the wee hours of the morning.  And then promptly at 10 o’clock, our relatives would arrive for breakfast.  And this was no Chinet paper plate or Red Solo Cup affair.  For some reason our mother was a bit intimidated by our grandmother.  Even after 30 years of marriage and, I might add, producing three spectacular grandchildren.  So we had to haul out the Wedgwood china and the good silver every Christmas morning.

Your authors, Christmas Eve 1971

Your authors, Christmas Eve 1971

Just imagine for a moment our mom, probably with a bit of a headache and definitely with too little sleep, up at the crack of dawn to make a three course breakfast.  Our dad, always the peacemaker in the family, tried his best to help but honestly, anything even remotely near the kitchen was not his strong suit.  So one year, after tasting an ice cream fizz at a friend’s house, he decided the drink was just the ticket to liven things up on Christmas morning.  He said he put his own “spin” on the recipe, which I think means that he added just a pinch more gin.  Whatever he did to it, the result was magic!  Suddenly, after just one glass of Pop’s Ice Cream Fizz, the world (and in particular, our mother) was in a happier place.  So as a public service, just in case you find yourself in need of some Christmas cheer, here is Pop’s recipe:

POP’S CHRISTMAS ICE CREAM FIZZ

Fill a blender 1/4 full with ice cubes

Add 6 jiggers of gin

Add 4 scoops of French Vanilla ice cream

Add 1 small bottle of soda water (the size you get in a 6-pack)

My brother Bob adds an egg so the white adds some froth, brother Jack doesn’t add an egg.  Personally, I’d add it just because you can then claim it’s a protein drink.

Just blend it well and – voila – you have a concoction sure to put a rosy hue on everyone and every thing!

Our mom served them in a wine glass with a dash of nutmeg.  As we got older we would conspire with Pop and ditch the wine glass for  a chilled beer mug from the freezer. Saved having to go back for seconds…or thirds.

We hope you and yours have a very happy holiday season and if you find yourself getting just a bit Scroogy, try Pop’s Ice Cream Fizz.  It’s a Christmas miracle.

 

 

Senior Social Media Moments

by Bob Sparrow

photo (8)First, I want to thank those who follow us here by subscribing to our blog and especially those who take the time to comment on the subject of the week.  Second, I’d like to sincerely thank those who have been following my quest to become Jauntaroo’s first Chief World Explorer, which you know by now has consumed me.  It has been an awesome experience, one that has helped me understand what I really want to do when I grow up.  OK, I’m never growing up, just growing older.

But I must say, in many cases, it’s been a real challenge to get my peers to ‘Like’ my video.  Not that they wouldn’t like it if they saw it, it’s just that they’re . . . how can I put this delicately, social media challenged.  Following is a sample of what I mean.

Me: “Were you able to see my video and ‘Like’ it?”

Senior: “Didn’t see it so can’t tell you if I liked it.  Where was it?”

Me: “You can pick up the URL on my Facebook page that will take you to the video link”

Senior: “Say what?  I don’t have Faceplant”

Me: “That’s Facebook”    OLD GUYS

Senior: “Whatever”

Me: “I also tweeted it on Twitter”

Senior: “You did what?”

Me: “Never mind. What about LinkedIn?”

Senior: “What about him?  I thought he was one of our greatest presidents”

Me: “Not Lincoln, LinkedIn. Did you see the blog?”

Senior: “The Blob, wasn’t that a ‘50s science fiction movie?”

Me: No, do you have an iPhone, iPad?”

Senior: “iRefuse”

Me: “Hey, I need your help here, I’m trying to get this thing to go viral”

Senior: “Sorry, don’t they have shots for that now?” road sign

Me:  “Yeah, thanks.  What about Instagram?”

Senior: “Is that Billy Graham’s sister?”

Me: “Pinterest?”

Senior: “No, I’ve lost interest, mind if I go back to reading my newspaper?”

OK, it’s not quite that bad, but it’s based on true stories.  To be fair, there are many of my peers who are very tech savvy, but risking their indignation, I’ve asked those over fifty to pass my ‘voting messages’ on to their children, and in some cases their grandchildren.

babyboomersHere’s the paradoxical thing about all this – the demographic that is now in their peak earning years or retiring, the Baby Boomers, have the time, interest and wealth to travel, yet it is the group that seems antidotally at least, the hardest to reach electronically.  The percentage of those 50 and older who get most of their news from the Internet drops significantly from the younger-than-50 group and the numbers for the 65+ group drop even more dramatically.  So, how does a relatively new travel company like Jauntaroo get the attention of this critical demographic?  I have some ideas, but they’re going to have to hire me in order to hear them.

If you’re reading this, you’re clearly not the people I’m talking about above, so as Jack Kennedy’s presidential campaign manager in Chicago said, “Vote early and vote often”. vote

At: http://www.bestjobaroundtheworld.com/submissions/view/4459

Thank you

 

 

LIVING IN THE AGE OF “TMI”

 

Let Me Have SomeBy Suzanne Sparrow Watson

This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of a wonderful little book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, by Reverend Robert Fulghum.  For those of you too young – or too old – to remember, it included an essay proposing that the basic rules we learn as children teach us everything we need to get along as adults.   It contains a list of 16 suggestions for a better life, ostensibly gleaned from the copious notes   Fulghum took while still in elementary school.

I re-read his essay the other day and had to admit that there were some real gems on the list:  play fair, clean up your own mess, and a current favorite of mine  – take a nap every afternoon.  All in all, I think his essay has held up pretty well after 25 years.  With one notable exception.   Reverend Fulghum’s #1 piece of advice was “Share Everything”.

It would appear that this particular tidbit has been taken a bit too literally.  At some point between 1988 and now, it has become fashionable to SHARE EVERYTHING.  Been in a public place lately?  I’m betting that people on cell phones have “shared” lots of information with you.  I’ve heard conversations about cheating husbands, women who neglect their children, steamy dating details and so many medical updates I could write for Web MD.  Put a cell phone in someone’s hands in the public square and suddenly no detail is too intimate to share with the world.

Facebook is so enamored with the notion of sharing that it has a “Share” button, which makes it easy to delight our friends and family with an up-to-the-minute status of our activities.  Personally, I love seeing pictures of my friends and Facebook Sharetheir kids and animals.  I even enjoy vacation pictures.  But like everything else, some people have taken it to excess.  I’ve read about colonoscopies, induced labor and ear wax.  One particular bugaboo of mine is people who take pictures of their dinner plate at a restaurant and immediately post it on Facebook.  Frankly, I could care less that some chi-chi chef has curled radicchio around a terrine of goat’s liver.  I don’t even care about seeing a triple bacon cheeseburger, although that’s more to my liking.  Here’s my take – if I wanted to see food on a plate I’d subscribe to Gourmet magazine.

But the most flagrant offender of over-sharing  is Al Roker.  He recently released a book outlining his journey through gastric bypass surgery.   I have nothing against Mr. Roker or even gastric bypass, for that matter.  But in the course of an interview Mr. Roker cited a passage from his book about the White House dinner he attended shortly after his operation.  He then proceeded to tell the interviewer that – well, I won’t go into detail here but suffice it to say that he soiled his pants.

Talk about TMI!  Why in the hell would someone go on national TV and admit that?  I can tell you one thing based on personal experience:  you will never look at Al Roker in quite the same way again.

But back to Reverend Fulghum’s book.  The “share everything” bit notwithstanding, I do think there is a lot of common sense in his list and God knows that is something that is in short supply these days.  So in the interest of sharing and promoting common sense,  here is his list:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

And while we’re thinking of sharing, why not share this blog with your friends and ask them to subscribe?  Thanks!

Here’s To A Super Weekend

Headlines: ‘The Donald’ Has Spoken

The list of presidential candidates is getting fairly thin,

As Mr. Trump has just stepped up to tell us who should win.

He’s just backed Mr. Romney with his self-important flair

And Mitt’s not sure that it’s a plus to have the backing of ‘The Hair’

Money: Facebook IPO – Because $3.9 Billion in Cash Isn’t Enough

We’ve watched the Facebook story and how their profits spike,

And with their recent IPO we can really show we ‘Like’.

Is this investment for the rich, the young or empty nesters?

Oh, never mind, it’s only open to those privileged investors.

Sports: It’s Super Weekend . . . For Madison Avenue

This weekend there’ll be football, you can hear the final roar,

For Sunday is the Super Bowl or perhaps the Super Bore.

As many times the game is dull and often times it’s bad;

So pay attention at timeouts, as it’s then you’ll see the ads.

Life: Gives A Whole New Meaning to S.A.G.

Madonna is the half time show for Super Bowl this week;

At 54 it could be that she’s slightly past her peak.

But malfunctions of her wardrobe is of no concern, unless

The sight of her support hose can be seen beneath her dress.

 

 

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

Headlines:  Did Meg get a signing bonus?

 Once the champ of the Silicon Valley,

HP’s stock hasn’t seen much of a rally.

So they’ve hired Meg Whitman to save the day,

Or, at worst, she can auction it off on EBay.

Business:  Is Facebook trying  to make it more confusing?

 On Thursday, Mark Zukerberg announced a new look,

New music, new games and a “Timeline” for Facebook.

                       Most of us are still reeling from the changes we just got,

Labeling all our friends as “close” … or not.

Sports:  Did Michael or Scottie care?

Dennis Rodman, the Chicago Bull who was just a bit dotty,

Now says he never spoke to Michael or Scottie.

Jordan or Pippen didn’t care, is my guess,

They were too amazed by Rodman’s wedding dress.

Life:  Beyonce will not have your mother’s pregnancy.

 Beyonce sparkled this week at her perfume’s debut,

Said her pregnancy would not be matronly or subdued.

We’re thinking she’ll eat right and try to stay fit,

And not want to put an onion ring on it.

We do poems for all occasions – if you’re in need of a tribute or roast visit our site at:

www.redposey.com