Anachostic

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Tag Archives: generational

How Staples Is Enticing Me

I get emails from Staples because sometimes they’re pretty good with coupons and whatnot.  They show up just about every day.  What isn’t very good about them (aside from the frequency) – and this is a rapidly deteriorating condition – is their subject lines.  I have a pretty deep-seated hatred for click-bait headlines, and running close behind that is a distaste for pointless headlines.  Here’s a bunch of recent examples:

  • ⌛ You hit it big! Open asap for a COUPON!
  • We need your attention! 20% off toner
  • Access: GRANTED.  Buy 1, get the 2nd 50% off!
  • Don’t waste this ☞ You’re first in line to get this COUPON for 20% off…
  • We dare you to miss out: Your sneak peek is here.
  • You’ve unlocked it! It’s official, you’re in. >>Save 60%<<
  • You were chosen: Last-minute gifts inside.
  • You checked your inbox just in time: Get up to $280 off.
  • Let’s see you resist this: COUPONS inside! You hit it big.
  • You rock! You checked your inbox just in time: Get up to $300 off laptops!
  • 🙂 Yes, it’s true! What are you waiting for?

This goes on and on.  Each time I think I have enough examples, they just keep coming…  Who the hell is writing this garbage?  Are they speaking to children?  Is anyone going to be fooled into thinking that they are getting some sort of exclusive offers?  So many questions.

You know when this started?  10/16/2015.  And it was identifiable by the first emoji ever used in the subject line of their emails.  This suggests that the marketing person is young and hip.  Young and hip doesn’t always mean smart.  Just as the younger generation is failing to learn proper composition in its many forms, they are woefully ignorant about business communications.  Staples is a business supply company and primarily communicates with professionals.

Regardless of the target audience, which is being completely ignored here, there are some simple rules with regard to correspondence, whether electronic or physical.  The rule being shat upon here is: “The subject line identifies the context of the letter”, as in “This letter is regarding…”  This is not achieved with “You were chosen” or “We dare you to miss out”.  Seriously, you, a company, are extending a challenge to me, a potential customer, to not purchase something from you.  I don’t think you realize just how easy that is to do.

Ok, I’ll admit, I don’t know if the marketing person/people are “young”.  But they definitely seem to be “young” in experience.  To be honest, the subjects really seem like they were written “offshore” by spam/scam professionals.  I can say that Staples trying to portray itself in this fashion is definitely a turn-off.  If I want to shop at a goofy store, I’ll go to Ollie’s Bargain Outlet.  Not even Big Lots has such corny emails.

Hopefully I Remember When I’m Senile

After reading: http://ascii.textfiles.com/archives/4825

I’m actually not sure how to present this idea because in today’s hyper-sensitive world community of “activists”, anything can be construed as evil, manipulative, or exploitive.  So, I guess I will have to say that this is my idea for myself, but if anyone else thinks it’s a good idea and can run with it while dodging whatever arrows are fired by the SJW’s, have at it.

So the premise of the article is that there is an unbelievable amount of data that needs archived into some non-degradable, digital format for preservation.  I’m certainly not opposed to it, despite whatever posts I’ve made about “anchors”, “baggage”, “simplification” and so on.  And it’s something that I would like to help with, but right now, I am in a generally busy part of my life.  This is a very labor-intensive task, and it has a degree of drudgery.  Maybe 20 years ago, I would have been able to devote large chunks of time to the cause, and maybe in 20 years I will have that opportunity again, when I am retired.

That’s when it hit me.  There are a lot of people out there that are… hmm, have to be sensitive about this… underutilized.  Those people could find a purpose by contributing/donating labor to the archival project.  In the spirit of my previous post, they could do archival work.  Maybe (hopefully) they might find the work fulfilling and be driven by the same purpose.  Then they could be archivists.  For many of the people in the demographic I am envisioning, the archival process could also be a nostalgic endeavor.  This could be a potential source for metadata in the archives.

It’s a pretty well-known fact that people who end up in retirement homes fade away quicker because they lose a sense of purpose, the knowing that you are needed and the feeling that your contributions have value.  So, what if archival stations were set up in some retirement homes?  Give some of the residents training on use of the equipment, let them know the benefits their efforts are providing and let them do as much as they wish to do?

The hardware is certainly not a problem.  Hardware is cheap now.  It’s the labor that is  expensive, unless that labor is donated.  I hope I can remember to do what I can when I am too old to contribute in the fast lane of technology.  Just get me off the highway and into the rest area with a bunch of data for slow processing and I’ll do what I can.

What You Know, In Your Favor

Last night, actually early this morning, like 3 in the morning, I was driving home after returning from vacation.  It was late and dark, and I was tired.  Surprisingly, I was not the only person on the road at that hour, even though I was driving secondary highways.  Usually, it was nice to have another car on the road to keep my focus and pace, but sometimes it wasn’t, with people racing up behind me or pulling me faster than I was comfortable.  In those instances, I had the usual thoughts of “idiot” and “moron”, but I got to thinking about why people drive like they do.

Usually, you can attribute slow drivers behavior to a unhurried lifestyle.  Where I live, there’s no shortage of old people to drive 10-15 under the speed limit because they have nowhere to go.  What else?  Tourists, we have plenty of those, too.  People that are looking for something in particular among the clusters of business along the road.  Those are both understandable cases.  What about the cautious and the reckless, though?  That’s the situation I was in.  I was being cautious and I felt others were being reckless.  And my mind wandered to the concept of wisdom, earned by experience.

The conclusion I came to is that living life is a perpetual game of risk management.  Let’s put this in a totally different perspective.  If presented with an opportunity to walk a tightrope between two buildings, most normal people would do a risk assessment.  “I have never walked on a tightrope before, so my experience in this endeavor is zero.  Let’s then say that makes my chances of success, zero.”  A moderately skilled tightrope walker would do different evaluations.  “I’ve walked that distance before. The winds would be stronger than what I’ve experienced, and the height might cause some extra distraction.  I have a decent chance of success.”  A skilled walker would only have to do a quick evaluation.  “I can do that.  Distance and height aren’t an issue.  What’s the weather going to be like?”

I consider myself an experienced driver, so my evaluation of driving conditions is pretty quick.  However, experience has taught me that there are many variables that need to be considered.  Road debris and wildlife are chief among those concerns.  Driving late at night in the woods doesn’t give you much reaction time.  Yet, some people drive like it’s broad daylight. 

I assume these drivers just don’t have the experience I have.  And you don’t even have to experience something personally to gain from it.  Have you ever had a moment of thought like, “If I’d left a little bit earlier, that could have been me.”  Or maybe “If I’d left a little bit later, that could have been me.”  After enough of these moments, the wisdom comes.  “It doesn’t matter when I leave, it can be me.”  And so you have to be aware of what could happen at any time.  Maybe these drivers haven’t seen enough yet.  “I’ve never seen a cop on this road” is popular.  Replace that with “never seen a tree down”, “never seen a deer”, “never blown a tire”,”never slid on a turn” or any number of other things that I’ve seen or done in my years.

But experience brings wisdom.  I was once in their shoes.  As a reckless youth many years ago, I was driving on a slushy highway up north.  Inexplicably, I had the cruise control on.  Even more incredibly, when I caught up to a car, I simply moved into the passing lane – up a hill, on a turn, with the cruise control on – and promptly lost all traction.  My car spun 360 degrees around, and the other car slowed down to give me room to do my thing.  Now in front of the other car, I spun another 180 degrees, slid off the road backwards and slammed into the mountainside.  The other car slowed down enough to make sure I was ok when I got out of my car, then promptly left me there to die.  Middle of winter, probably 20 miles from anything and long before cell phones existed.  It’s a really good thing people were more helpful back then.

Since then, I’ve grown up a lot and put a lot of experience into my mental file as to what could happen when you do the wrong things.

English, Motherfucker, Do You Write?

Ok, you idiots.  You want a job?  Do you know how to get a job?  You have to present yourself well.  No, you have to present yourself as perfect as you can be.  There’s a lot of conflicting advice as to whether you have to answer questions 100% perfect in an interview or whether you should just be yourself.  The answer is both.  Be yourself and be 100% perfect.  If you’re good, this should be easy for you.

Now, the reason for this bitching is because I’m doing interviews now.  These are interviews for decent jobs.  I don’t actually know the pay scale, but 50-80k is not out of line.  The jobs are for computer programming, so a level of precision is somewhat expected.  Why then, of the last four resumes, do I see spelling and grammatical errors?  Why, you stupid people? 

The two resumes I got today each had at least five mistakes in them, and I even purposely ignored punctuation and poor sentence structure.  How can this happen?  The one resume was five pages long – which is ridiculous to begin with.  Apparently, all the technical terms were generating spell-check warnings, so spell-checking was probably turned off for the document.  Stupid.  Are you in some kind of hurry?  Do you not understand proofreading?

You’re not solely to blame, either.  Your resumes are being submitted by recruiting firms.  They missed the errors as well!  Do you realize you are literally giving money to people who are doing nothing but sitting between you and an employer?  This recruiter is doing nothing for you.  They copy your resume text into their template and call it a day.  In one of the two resumes from today, the document formatting changed midway through.  The recruiter’s standards are just as low as yours.

It gets better.  The first interview for today has cancelled.  You don’t cancel an interview unless you got a great offer.  Someone out there looked at the resume, either didn’t notice the mistakes or didn’t care about them, interviewed this guy and hired him.  This is what we’ve come to.  We’ve had candidates come in wearing business casual clothes instead of a suit.  We have resumes submitted with multiple mistakes.  We have to accept these shortcomings from candidates because if we don’t someone else will snatch them up?  Screw that.

But I’ve been instructed to not point out these problems in the interview.  So go ahead, fools, see how low you can take the standard.

They Eat Their Own

I’ve been steadily increasing my ire towards the effects of the Boomer generation.  I know that once this generation passes, the world will be a better place.  Unfortunately for my generation – Gen X – we will be in a wasteland by that time and Gen Y will also have to help clean up the aftermath.  Gen Z has a chance at success by middle-age.

I’m keeping a close eye on news stories of financial scandals, as they always seem to be led by baby boomers.  No matter the time frame, whether the 80’s, the 00’s or the current 08 meltdown, a boomer is always at the head of the greed.  There are plenty of other blogs out there that share my impressions of that generation, so I won’t soapbox it.

A news story caught my eye today about how boomers are being scammed in record numbers by Ponzi retirement schemes.  This disheartened me.  I thought to myself, “Come on, Gen X’ers.  We’re not like that.  There’s no need to act like them.”  So I researched the scheme described in the article.  It was alleged to be run by James D. Risher, who happens to be 61 years old.

Oh.

Left To My Own Devices

I’m sure I could be described as both complex and inconsistent.  I can be difficult to figure out a lot of times.  I know this because I spend a lot of time trying to figure myself out.  My latest interest in myself was raised by my new gadget toy.

I am a latecomer to the e-reader party.  I have joined the Kindle camp and I’m somewhat excited about it.  My reaction caused me to question why I was getting excited over a device.  I hadn’t had a similar feeling since I got my first Zune many years ago.  And that parallel is very odd and really spurred my curiosity.

I have always been a Zune fan, which has always been the underdog compared to the iPod behemoth.  But when buying an e-reader, I chose Kindle, which is the far-and-away leader in that industry – the iPod of e-readers.  Kindle users are passionate about their devices, much as Apple users are about their products.  Why would I buy in to the industry leader, Amazon, while I have such a disdain for Apple?  And why the Kindle and not the Nook?

Let’s start with a Kindle/Zune comparison vs. a Nook/iPod comparison.  The Kindle is a dedicated reading device, much as the Zune was a dedicated media player.  The Nook, in its popular Nook Color model, is a hybrid device for books, video, internet, and games, like the iPod.  So on that level, it is clear that I prefer a dedicated, specialized device to an all-in-one (something I’ve recently considered to be a generational thing).  Nook users talk up the positive points of their chosen device – the wider format compatibility, the expandable memory, and the color touch screen.  Kindle users just shrug and say “that’s not important to me.”  I sympathize with that.  All the iPod users hammering on “apps” didn’t mean anything to me, because that’s not why I bought my Zune.

The e-reader community doesn’t seem to have as hostile a membership as the portable media community.  It is more forgiving, like most of the motorcycling community, where if you’re on two wheels, you’re cool.  There’s no feeling of “you don’t have an iDevice, so you can’t experience things like I do.”  So, from what I can tell, Kindle and Nook owners pretty much respect each others’ choice, with iPad owners feeling superior to both.

So, being a supporter of the underdog, why would I choose Amazon over Barnes and Noble?  This is more difficult to answer, but I suspect it’s simply because I have used Amazon for so long and never had a single problem with them.  I’m sure B&N is good, too, but I just don’t have any history with them.  In this case, it’s inertia keeping me in the Amazon ecosystem.  And to have the “industry-standard” device to go along with it is a bonus.  Amazon is kind of the Wal-Mart of internet shopping, but somehow they manage to not have the same stigma.

Then, so far, I’ve identified that I like a device that is specialized and I like a community that isn’t perceived as elitist. I get both owning a Kindle and a Zune.  And I don’t feel I’m supporting an evil company by being tied to Amazon.

So what if Microsoft made an e-reader device?  That’s an interesting question.  If there’s one ecosystem I’m tied to more than Amazon, it’s Microsoft and .NET.  Although I would know deep down that the product wouldn’t be a huge success and that it would be dropped a few years down the line, I suppose I could enjoy it.  But I can’t think of any software that I could write to make use of the e-books, unlike the Zune and Windows Phone.  It’s just not that much of interest to me.

What Will Utopia Be Like?

We are always building robots to make things easier for us and to take care of us.  Once we create robots that can repair and maintain themselves and built more of themselves, we will no longer have to work.  We can have robots to farm for us, clean everything, transport us anywhere, create and build anything we want. They can monitor and maintain our health for us.

Once we reach that point, we won’t need to work. The robots will do everything for us and will keep us healthy.  The robots will keep themselves in working order and can build replacements as needed.  And we won’t need to have to take of them.  We will be free of any responsibility. 

What will that be like?  Initially, only the rich will be able to afford robots of that scale.  Will there be a crisis during the transition period where all work is replaced by robots, but the concept of currency is not obsolete?  I mean, it will be difficult to let go of that measure of self-worth.  At what point will robots be able to provide all the food and medical needs for a population?  I suppose once robots could build more robots, the time would compress very quickly.

It all sounds good.  But would life be like under the care of robots.  What would it be like to be the robots’ house pets?

Look at your cat or dog with jealousy at the simplicity of their lives. Look at how you take care of most every aspect of their care.  Eventually a robot will be doing that to you.  Maybe you don’t want that lifestyle; maybe you want to be “free”.  You’d run away and become feral, surviving in groups with other feral people.

And then finally, maybe we’ve have some actual population control.

Congratulations, You’re Obsolete!

Hooray! I finally took the plunge and ordered a Kindle two days ago.  Hooray! Amazon announced their next generation of Kindles today!

One of the big news items about the new models is that they are much cheaper.  Geez.  Initially, I was bummed when I saw this.  But now that I’ve read the release and seen the new Kindles, I’m glad.  These new devices eliminate the keyboards..  I don’t understand this desire to eliminate physical keyboards from everything.  So, although I’m paying $140 instead of $80, I think I’m getting a better device.

The new devices are smaller.  Now, how small is too small?  Everything nowadays has to be thinner and lighter, it seems.  When researching covers, I read reviews by people saying they ordered a cover that would add heft to the device.  I would agree with that.  Until we get to the point where we can carry a device the size of a small tape measure that can be stretched out into a 10” multi-touch screen, then collapsed back into its 2” square dimensions, everything else seems less usable to me.

And it’s no surprise that these new devices are adding web capabilities.  Now they are competing with phones and tablets.  I had a thought a while ago about a distinct perceived difference in generations, where Gen X people treated going on the Internet as a scheduled event.  They would go to their office and get on the Internet.  Later generations didn’t have this concept.  The Internet was and is always available on their phones.  Taking this a bit further, older generations have other “events” that they feel are best served by distinct devices.  You want to listen to music, you have an MP3 player.  You want to read a book, you have an e-reader.  You want to get on the Internet, you have a laptop or tablet. You want to make a phone call, you have a phone.  You want to do something, you plan to do it, you gather the tools to do it, and you do it.

Newer generations look at this behavior as complete inefficiency.  They don’t want to have to choose what they want to do at any particular time.  They want to be able to do anything at any time, which necessitates the need for an all-in-one device.  Is it any wonder younger generations are so attention deficient? 

When did it become normal to be so dissatisfied?  You could be hiking somewhere in the mountains and come upon an incredible view.  This should be a personally inspiring event.  At some point, people said, “I wish I had a camera so I could share this when I get home”, then “I wish I had a phone so I could share this with someone right now”, then “I wish I had internet so I could share this with everyone right now.” And when each of these needs wasn’t met, there was disappointment.  What technology is going to come along when we have the pressing need, “I wish I had all my friends right here so I could share this with them right now.”

I guess I’m just one of those lame, old people that wants technology to stop once I buy into it.  In some ways, I pity the early Kindle adopters, who bought in at $400.  I think I’m getting in at just the right moment, before some functionality was sacrificed in the name of saving millimeters, grams, and pennies.  And I don’t regret buying a dedicated device, since I’m still not in the mindset of “do anything, anywhere, at any time”.

No More Forever

A question about a perceived increase in divorces got me thinking today.  I’m not really interested in doing research and finding hard facts about if the numbers are rising.  It’s personal experience.  When it happens more frequently in your circle of friends, it seems like it’s happening everywhere.  And it generally all seems to happen around the same time, whether the marriage is 5, 10, 15 years old.  It’s somewhat age-dependent, and even more experience-dependent.

Our modern culture allows us to experience so many things that previous generations could not.  This allows us a much greater chance of finding things that we really want to experience that are not compatible with our partner.  This can result in either a separation of activities or resentment if those activities are denied.

Our social industry is constantly bombarding us with messages to "just do it", "why not", and more to make us choose to not deny ourselves; to indulge every wish; to really live life.  It’s no surprise that we respond to this by wanting to do more things.  We can research online and find communities of people that enjoy activities that you enjoy or want to enjoy.  You can build a bond with these people on a common interest that you don’t share with your partner.

A couple generations ago, there wasn’t a great amount of these diversions, especially among the middle class.  You’d hear about some millionaire getting divorced on occasion.  Maybe because the millionaire felt limited in his relationship and had many opportunities to do other things with different people.  Average people would stick around their home towns, maybe travel one a year, had a smaller circle of actual, physical friends and stayed on the same wavelength without temptations of novelty.

And these activities are novelties.  Sure there can be some long-lasting hobbies that form, but a lot of things are for the experience, and then you move on to the next one.  It’s somewhat selfish and hedonistic, which are accurate descriptions of our current society as a whole.

The younger generations are proving the trend out.  They are developing even more relaxed relationships, with brief intimate relationships forming between friends, then with friends of those friends.  Even the new design of social networking shows this fragmentation of relationships.  With Google+, some “friends” go in one “circle” and others go in another “circle”, with no intention of them ever meeting.

Certainly not to say that friendship used to be an “all or none” prospect.  There’s always been “layers” of friendship, or if you want to visualize using the modern metaphor, it would be circles, but those circles would be concentric, as opposed to the modern star topology of friendship.  For example, it used to be assumed that if you were going to have sex with someone, they would be classified as being in one of the most inner circles of friends, with the same trust level and access to emotions as family.  But with the new, disconnected model, you could have a circle of sex partners that don’t have the same trust levels as close friends that you share your personal secrets with.

So to wrap this all up, as we discover more things we want to do, create circles of friends that share these activities, indulge our fantasies without recrimination because of the social barriers we define as circles, it’s no surprise that soon you have more interests that don’t involve your partner than interests that do.

And when that happens, you’re just friends.

Brave New World, Indeed

This gay student suicide is a pretty hot topic.  Given the trend for social networking and over-sharing,  this seems like growing pains to me.  It seems to be a social progression to share more and more of your private moments.  Some people – probably along generational lines (including mine) – aren’t able to handle that.  This student addressed his inability to handle it in an extreme fashion.

Eventually,  through elimination or extinction, the only ones left will not have any shame about sharing their most private moments.  Maybe at that time, prejudices will be eliminated.  It’s going to be a painful transition with more incidents like this, but, is it a cost to pay for a more positive future?  Everyone sharing everything?  Maybe bad.  People not getting stigmatized for their unique beliefs, hobbies, preferences?  Pretty good.

Obviously each of us has pretty narrow vision of how things are since we don’t live too long, relatively speaking.  Give it a few more generations and you won’t even recognize us.

Indirectly related, I wonder what’s going to happen when the current generation of over-sharers starts running for public politics.