Archive for the ‘Gen Xer’ Category

The Day After   1 comment

There were two generations of kids who grew up in the Cold War. The first generation was the Baby Boomers, who were taught to duck and cover. Their parents built fallout shelters, and tried to figure out how to surive a nuclear war. I’m a member of the second generation, the children of the Boomers. We were a bit more fatalistic: if there was a nuclear war, we would likely not survive. I remember very animated discussions where classmates debated the dark question that lurked in every Gen-X mind: if there were a nuclear strike, was it better to run for the hills (and try to eek out an existence), or towards the blast, for a quick death?

Looking back, 1983 was perhaps the scariest year of the Cold War. Reagan took office in 1981, and started a weapons build up, ratcheting up the tension between the United States and its rival, the Soviet Union. In September of 1983, Korean Air Lines 007 was shot down, mistaken for a US spy plane. Later that month, a Stanislav Petrov, a Soviet air defence commander, came close to responding to an erroneous RADAR reading with a nuclear attack. The Soviets were convinced that the Able Archer 83 exercise was a prelude to a first strike, and made preparations for a response. That the Soviet Union would fall by the end of the decade seemed laughable.

I was twelve in 1983, when the movie “The Day After” was aired. It was billed as a relatively realistic telling of a nuclear attack on a college town in Kansas (a card at the end aparently noted the effects of the attack were downplayed for the sake of the story). It aired thirty years ago today, and, at the time, was quite the sensation. Toll-free numbers were set up for people who had concerns after the broadcast, and a panel discussion followed. President Reagan was even affected by it, changing his thinking on nuclear war. It’d be a stretch to say that this movie alone ended the Cold War, but it definitely help cool the fires that were burning.

I actually didn’t get to see it. My parents didn’t allow me, fearing it would give me nightmares. In the short term, they were probably right–it would have had a lot of immediate worry and sleepless nights. However, it also prompted me to read anything I could get my hands on about nuclear war and its effects. I’m not sure if it was comforting or troubling. Gradually, the obession faded, along with the threat.

I’m actually rather surprised that the thirtieth anniversary is not being marked in any way. I haven’t seen any articles on the web, much less an anniversary airing with a special explaining context. It just seems like other relics of the Cold War, everyone is content just to put it behind us.

I still haven’t seen the movie, aside from a few clips here and there. It pops up from time to time on SyFy, almost as a B-movie. Part of me still carries the worry of nightmares and panic. However, as it has moved from warning to a cautionary tale of what might have happened, I’m glad to let it be something so absurd as to seem like a waste of time.

Posted 2013-11-20 by Mr. Guilt in Gen Xer, Interesting, rant

Thumb Around   Leave a comment

Having a kid is a great excuse to pull out various “skills” you had prior to adulthood, but have little reason to use today. I amazed my wife when I demonstrated I could make balloon animals. This weekend, I showed my daughter I could do a “thumbaround.”

As I may have mentioned, I was on the debate team in high school. For whatever reason, folk who did competitive speech in Louisiana in the mid-eighties all “twirled” their pens. I learned it sometime my freshman year of high school, throwing my Pilot BP-S around my thumb. The key thing was to get to the point where you could set it up, twirl, and reset with one hand consistently–otherwise, you were just trying too hard.

If you were really good, you could do both left and right hand simultaneously.

Don’t ask me to explain how I did it–it is somewhat like trying to explain how to tie your shoe. I know I was doing it in college, using a Cross Century ballpoint I was given as a high school graduation present. Once I started using fountain pens, I became worried about both damaging the nib and flinging ink everywhere. I rarely do this anymore.

Every now and then, though, when presented a supply cabinet pen, I give it a twirl, just to show I still got it.

Star Wars Interjections   Leave a comment

Posted 2013-03-05 by Mr. Guilt in amusing, Geeky, Gen Xer, SciFi

So Are They All, All Honorable Men   Leave a comment

So I looked up the eulogy from Julius Caesar, to see how I did compared to what I kinda remembered in my last post. I did…not too bad for the bit I remembered. It was Mark Antony who gave the speech. However, it went on for quite a bit more. I had forgotten all about Brutus, and his being an honorable man. At least I knew it when it counted, and was able to get a decent grade on the assignment.

Italics are the part I got.

ANTONY. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.
The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious;
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest-
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men-
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me;
But Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And sure he is an honorable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause;
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Photo credit to Andrew Bossi.

Posted 2012-03-16 by Mr. Guilt in Gen Xer, Louisiana

Friends, Romans, Countrymen…   4 comments

My tenth grade English teacher numbers among my favorites. He had a very unique way of looking at the world, a quick wit, and did well to hold our attention. I remember the day, when diagramming a sentence, he ran out of room on the board, so he continued on the wall. The chalk marks where there when I stopped by his room two years later.

We studied Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that year. Every student had to memorize Ceaser’s eulogy.* His standard was strict: once one person sat down, another was to stand up. He was very clear that this is what he expected. I remember I went towards the front of the line, and got through it. After about hearing half the class recite the speech, there was no “next person” standing up. After a few beats, he shrugged, and started on to the next thing. Those who hadn’t recited the lines were, as I understand it, given an F for the assignment.

Today is the Ides of March. I was reminded of this, in part, because this teacher posted about Julius Caesar, in the form of a picture of a performance of the play, on Facebook. Several former students, myself included, posted about the eulogy. He seemed delighted to have an impact twenty years later.

From memory:

Friends, Romans, Countrymen
Lend me your ears
I have come to bury Caesar,
not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them
The good is oft interred with their bones.
So let it be with Caesar”

I intend to look it up later, and will report. For now, I’m trying to work my way through it on memory. Still, I find it amazing what an impact has been had on me and my peers.

*I want to say it was Marc Anthony, but not 100% sure, and not looking it up, as I want work only off my memory, for the moment.

Posted 2012-03-15 by Mr. Guilt in Gen Xer, Louisiana

Reading Glasses   Leave a comment

Perhaps it’s been happening for a while. My desk is by an east-facing window, so, during certain times of the year, the Sun is right in my eyes. With the building of Queen City Square, it’s become twice as bad, as the reflection of the setting sun hits me again. Writing off tired eyes as glare-related is easy.

I turned fourty, and, a few months later, I noticed occasionally having to move things a bit further back to read them clearly. I made a mental note to see an eye doctor, though I don’t think the promise was that sincere.

But this year seemed worse. Then, I was issued a new laptop around Thanksgiving. Perhaps that’s what triggered it. As December wore on, I found myself coming home with more and more headaches. They seemed to start earlier and earlier in the day. A few hours of not looking at screens or books (cooking supper, eating supper, etc.), and it went away, only to start to return with my pulling out my personal laptop. After the first of the year, I decided to actually schedule the appointment.

There were no appointments for four weeks. I didn’t think it an emergency, so I dealt with it. As the four weeks wore, I actively looked forward to the eye appointment–something had to provide relief. By the time I was getting to the bus in the evening, I just wanted to sit with my eyes closed.

The scheduled appointment arrived. I checked my new insurer’s web site–the eye doctor was listed. However, it turns out actual eye care was handled by a different company, that the doctor didn’t take. It was rather confusing, but I went with it. I scheduled an appointment for the weekend (about a week ago, as I write this) with a different optometrist.

I was diagnosed with an astigmatism, and given a prescription. I spent some time picking out a new pair of glasses, having very little to go on.

Self Portrait with Glasses

I’m actually amazed at the difference. The prescription is quite mild, and I can read without it for a quick glance. However, after a week of eight-to-five (or more) at work, plus any reading at home, and the difference is dramatic. I no longer have headaches at the end of the day–I don’t feel the need to revert to a near-ludite state when I get home. This makes me happy, as I can do some of the things I loved doing (such as putting up blog posts about wild cats). However, it definitely is a sign of getting older, which makes me a bit sad.

It happens to all of us, I guess.

Posted 2012-02-20 by Mr. Guilt in Family, Gen Xer

Friday Afternoon Dance Party: Good Feeling   1 comment

It’s a high school dance. Not a particularly special one–just a random weekend night sometime between homecoming and prom. The debate team needed to raise funds, so they hired a DJ, charge five bucks at the door, and another dollar for a dixie cup of warm, flat coke from a two-liter.

You were at a school event earlier, and came with a couple of friends. You’re dancing in a group with a few other people, some vague notion of partners present. Some are established couples; you’re dancing with a girl you kinda know because you sit kinda near her in Civics. As near as you can remember, that’s the only class you have ever had in common.

After two or three dances, some sense of chemistry is there. Not quite sure if it’s the music, the night, exposure to aforementioned established couples or simply being a teenager. So, when the music shifts to a slow song to end the night, dancing closely with her doesn’t seem anything but the thing to do.

The whole group will walk out to the parking lot together, chat for a bit, and split off. Monday morning will come, and you’ll go back to being somewhat aware of her in Civics class. Until then, it will seem magical to you, and you’ll choose to believe it was mutual.

Not exactly autobiographical.

Sunshine on a Stick   Leave a comment

Posted 2011-06-11 by Mr. Guilt in Gen Xer

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