A Cup of Coffee and a Newspaper

by Bob Sparrow

selfie

The news is mostly about ‘self’!

I read in the newspaper last week . . . yes, I still read a newspaper; I realize I’m in the minority, as both newspaper sales and newspaper advertising revenue are falling like a prom dress. If you ask the younger generation where they get their news they will invariably tell you ‘on line’, but all I see is faces buried in their phones while ‘tweeting’, ‘liking’, ‘Instagraming’ or posing for ‘selfies’. Their ‘news’, I suspect, comes more from ‘You Tube’ than the ‘Boob Tube’. Which means, they may not really care that much about the news – which I understand as it is mostly depressing.

Call me sentimental, but I like knowing that the Orange County Register staff worked late into the night to gather the registernews, print it and deliver it to my driveway before I get up the next morning.   I do understand that newspaper news is a day old, but do I really need the up-to-the-minute scoop on what the Kardashians are doing or what political figure bashed what political figure today? It’s not like someone is going to ask me to weigh in on our Middle East policy. Do we even have a Middle East policy? Besides, can you line the bottom of your birdcage with your computer? Can you roll up your iPad and admonish your dog? Can you get a fire going by lighting your cell phone? I think not!

I stare into my computer at work, I’m glued to my laptop when I’m writing or perusing social media and I read books on my iPad; my eyes are thankful for the respite from the bright glare of electronic devices and welcome the act of sitting down with a cup of coffee, relaxing and reading the morning news, smug in the knowledge that my newspaper isn’t going to ‘crash’, ‘freeze’ or ‘lose its connection’.

latte

This is NOT a health drink!

A cup of coffee! That’s what I started to write about before I so rudely interrupted myself with this newspaper rant. Coffee’s history is quite the opposite of newspaper history; sales are increasing as well as prices, especially for that ‘Venti Half-Caf Caramel White Chocolate Mocha Cookie Frappuccino Latte with a shot of Espresso. Again, I know I’m in the minority here, but I still like a plain cup of coffee and as I started to say, I read in the newspaper last week that coffee, which has had a mercurial reputation, is now once again, good for you!  The article I was reading was from New York Times writer, Aaron E. Carroll, and he, like many of us, grew up in a time when our parents drank coffee, but told us not to because it would stunt our growth. For the most part we believed them and didn’t drink coffee until we thought we were tall enough. We’d see midgets, jockeys and the Seven Dwarfs and think, ‘coffee drinkers’.

Carroll sites numerous studies that show the benefits to coffee drinkers; lower rate of virtually all cardiovascular disease, lower risk of liver cancer and lower risk of prostate and breast cancer. For those who already have liver disease, coffee is associated with decreased progression to cirrhosis. Coffee intake was associated with lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, lower cognitive decline and a potential protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease. Coffee (all these studies refer to ‘black’ coffee, no sugar or cream, but can be caffeinated or decaffeinated) was associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Pretty impressive I think! But we don’t drink coffee as a ‘health drink’, although a regular brewed coffee has 5 or fewermug calories and no fat or carbohydrates; we drink it because it taste good and perhaps because we’re hooked on caffeine and need that ‘legal stimulant’ to kick-start our day.

OK, give your eyes a rest, you’ve been staring at your computer long enough, turn it off (Oops, first ‘share’ this blog with a coffee lover you know, it will make them feel better about this morning’s cup of coffee), grab a newspaper and another cup of coffee and relax, that is if coffee doesn’t give you the jitters or make you run to the bathroom. Hey, nothing is perfect!

 

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