Boomers and Blogging

President Obama is a Boomer. Let that sink in young, ageist death-wish folks. Yesterday on Twitter a journalist wrote something about his shock at the ageism that’s emerged from the COVID-19 virus fear. The resulting thread was full of “death to boomers.” Then some politician from Texas said he was sure that every 80 year old grandmother would be willing to die so her grandchildren could have a good economy. What?

The virus has brought some dark reality to the fore. In Spain and Italy there are not enough ventilators for all the desperately ill people so they’ve had to decide to ventilate younger people and the the elders die (or not). I see the logic, but I also think that has got to be excruciating for doctors who’ve vowed to preserve life. But such decisions are not new to human existence.

Narayama: Death Mountain — fantastic film, but harrowing

As a result of this, I’m going to attempt a social media “diet” as it’s called. I’m not optimistic of success, but I’m going to give it a shot. The main challenge is that I’m kind of hooked. I thank WP for that and a contest I found myself entered in (it was an honor). You might have noticed a “badge” on my page, “Annual Blogger Bash Nominated Blog 2018 — Best Overall Blog.”

It was the strangest thing. I was (as always) minding my own business and I got a notification that I’d been nominated for this award. What? If you won you got a prize and you could take yourself to a party in England. It was very cool because it had come out of nowhere. So, I followed them on Facebook and did all the other things I was supposed to. The contest was very active on Twitter so I became more active on Twitter, a strange, nasty, evil place — but addictive. I followed some blogs, voted for some blogs, and NEVER found whoever it was had nominated me. In the process I “met” two women I like very much. Erin who writes Unbound Roots and Shannon of Must Hike, Must Eat.

I learned a lot from the experience. I didn’t win, but it was fun being nominated. The next year I was contacted about participating, but the contest had changed. The blogs were separated into categories — cooking, the outdoors, child-raising — stuff like that. My blog doesn’t fit any category (that I can see).

As for Boomers — where I live Boomers keep everything going. There’s not much work here, so many young people (who aren’t farming) have to leave. There would be no food bank, no after-school programs, no museums if retired people didn’t step up to do those things. If the 80 year old who runs the Rio Grande County museum weren’t there, there would be no internship for the high school kid who LOVES history, the museum, and the chance to set up exhibits. What training that 17 year old is getting! The local food bank is begging for volunteers right now because it doesn’t think that the elderly people who do 90% of the work should be working now because of the danger of all that public contact. The quilt guilds (we have them here) have mobilized to sew masks and they are, yep, run by boomers.

The niche filled by boomers in my little world is very important yet delicate.
Many boomers are raising their grandkids. Some are substitute teaching. All over the place, they’re stepping in where someone needs it. Maybe we should all be sitting in our rockers on our porches, but we’re not. Well I am, but I figure after 35 yers teaching 10,000 people to write and think, helping save 5800 acres of chaparral wilderness from developers, working to raise funds for a mental health facility for Asian refugees, etc. it’s OK for me to savor the passing parade. My life has been — and is — so far from the stereotype as are the lives of most of the “Boomers” I know.

Featured photo: me walking down a hill at Penetente Canyon, 2017

Millennial and Boomer Communicate with Great Civility on Twitter. Details at 11

Yesterday on Twitter I had a brief and friendly interchange with a Millennial. I didn’t KNOW she was a Millennial until she told me. The dispute was how the Democrats should push a candidate in the upcoming election; who should they choose? Her contention was that, “We can walk and chew gum at the same time” meaning that the candidate can run on something more than just beating Offal. He or she can run on Medicare for All as well.

I contended that I wished this were the case, but to beat Offal, the candidate has to appeal to a very wide range of voters, those who voted for Offal just to get a dig at Hillary, those who held their nose and voted for him because they “always vote Republican,” those who had lost their faith in Offal. I said I thought anyone too far left would not capture those votes.

She replied that she is a Millennial, Millennials want healthcare, and they are the largest block of voters. I was about to reply that I believe healthcare is a right, that I spent most of my working life uninsured (exploitation did not begin with the Millennials) but this is not that election. When I hit “reply” I learned she’d deleted the comment. I was sorry. We were having an uncharacteristically civil conversation on an otherwise often enraged platform.

This young woman had retreated to the arbitrary definition of her herd. Later I thought about me at twenty vs. now. As time passed, I became less “passionate” in a way — maybe that’s what we do, what Hemingway decried in A Farewell to Arms where he sets the young male character up against an older man who says something about patience and the cooling of ardor and says, “That is the wisdom of old men.” This wisdom is criticized by Federic Henry who’s fallen in love with the British nurse who cared for him in the hospital. Frederic is willing to go AWOL to Switzerland to be with her…

As I became older I saw that many of our goals are not reached in one fell swoop, but over time, step-by-step. Sure, I knew that intellectually but what it meant in my own real life? It took a while. The idea for a novel is not a novel. A trail is not trod on a map. There are complications and turning points and hazards we don’t know about until we start out. When I was young — as this woman is — I didn’t KNOW this. And, what my Millennial interlocutor might not know is that Clinton ran on a universal healthcare promise way back in the 90s. We know how that worked out. Americans were upset that he was going to put his wife in charge of that! Nepotism! And Hillary is annoying!

One of the things that put Offal in office is the desire of his base to have it all RIGHT NOW and his willingness to promise that he could deliver it. Their appetite for instant gratification leads them to believe his lies. They know they can’t see the whole iceberg, so if he tells them Ivanka created 14 million jobs when the entire economy added only 6 million, they’re going to believe Offal.

Also my young Twitter friend doesn’t seem to realize that there are Millennials who support Offal. The Millennials alone are not going to fix this mess in the upcoming election. In fact, there’s the danger that — as happened last time when Bernie wasn’t nominated — if they don’t get the candidate they want, they won’t show up at all.

We have a huge mess and, in my opinion, it’s urgent that we get rid of Offal and most of the men and women currently in the Senate. In fact, keeping Offal and transforming the Senate would be a pretty acceptable alternative because it would paralyze him. The most important thing for any voter — whatever generation — to understand is this. None of the more liberal agenda (and I’m only marginally liberal) can take place without one of those two things happening. If both could happen it would be the best outcome. Once the power is restored to the majority of Americans (who either did not vote or voted Democrat in the last presidential election) we’re going to have a big job restoring our position internationally and convincing our allies (if we still have any) that we’re serious about renewing our ties. We’re going to have to come to grips for once and for all with an immigration system that doesn’t work right and we’re going to have to find a way to make things up to the families we’ve destroyed. There’s no reason in the world for this country to have the kind of whacky health care system it has right now and maybe Obamacare can be tweaked to function better as we work toward a more equitable system for everyone. The most important issue to me is climate change — but it’s huge. Maybe we can step back into the Paris Accord.

Offal’s reign has brought up the question of state’s rights, a topic that interests me very much after living in California for 30 years and witnessing the incredible difference between that world and the rural Colorado world in which I live now. How can we support and enhance those things which each state does well and offers to the nation as a whole? Doing that would promote unity in this massively divided nation. We should not be against each other. Being against the government? I get that. Je suis l’anarchie.

Here’s a very funny song for your listening pleasure…


I just got insulted on Twitter by being called a “Boomer.” Like I had anything to say about that? And where did that come from?

I’ll admit that, overall, I didn’t enjoy the last generation I taught very much. I didn’t “get” them and they didn’t get me. Raised in the world of “No Child Left Behind” and Obama’s equally egregious “educational” policy that focused on testing, this was a generation that grew up viewing teachers as adversaries and open questions as sadistic tricks. I left teaching 3 years before I’d planned because I no longer respected my students.

No teacher who feels that way should be in a classroom.

I’m very aware of the divide between the “young” and the “old” these days. It’s flamed by the media and in the eyes of the “young” we “boomers” are often equated with others who happened to have been born when we were — creatures such as Old 45 (known here as Offal, acronym for our fearless leader). The slam came when I agreed with Nancy Pelosi’s wise remark that the Democrats need to focus on winning the upcoming election, the presidency if possible, and seats in the Senate.

Nothing matters more. Right now the race is between Democrats competing for that slot on the ballot against Offal. When the primary circus is over, it will no longer be progressives vs. centrists. It will be Democrats vs. whatever the heck Offal is. I do not think he will be removed from office. The Repubs are viewing his selling out to a foreign power as “Just the way Trump does the Presidency.”

His machine is relentless and unyielding. It is completely subjective and not responsive to the rule of law. Behavior that should have had the Repubs shocked and dismayed seems to have had no effect at all. I truly (naively) expected them to turn around and say, “Offal, you can’t do that. That’s a crime. That’s a felony. That’s being a traitor.” But no. Politics trumped (ha ha) ethics. Whomever the Dems end up with will have to defeat Trump; they will have to get the Electoral College votes. Pelosi is completely right.

Pelosi made the point that what works in San Francisco won’t work in Michigan but what works in Michigan will work in San Francisco. Her focus there was workers rights. She was flamed by the young as being “over” and a closet Republican. She is making a case for strategy which is the right direction for any underdog.

What many young people don’t seem to understand is that 1) none of the progressive agenda can or will happen as long as Offal is in office; 2) once he is out of office and a transfer of power is made, the damage he’s caused will have to be repaired; 3) THEN the government can focus on the progressive agenda. None of this “boomer” stuff obviates the progressive agenda; it just very wisely points out that that agenda will not win enough votes in many states to get the electoral college vote.

So how do I, a Boomer, feel about the key progressive questions — ie. Medicare For All, the green new dal and free college? Well, since THIS is my bully pulpit, I’ll tell you. I think the Affordable Care Act — with all its flaws — is/was meant to be a step in the direction of health care for everyone. The “green new deal”? We’ve made more progress toward green technology than any shrieking 16 year old can possibly perceive. Can we do better? We have to. I support anything that will work. As for free college? I think high school should be better. I think elementary school should be better. Once people can graduate high school and go into the work force, then we can talk about free college, but as it is, high school is graduating people who cannot do anything. In my opinion, that’s a huge problem and one I’m very familiar with. I taught what was sixth grade English back in 1964 to college students in California in 2012. Truth. Our educational system is broken and it’s not, to me, about free college. It’s about returning power to teachers, getting parents out of the teachers’ faces, about nurturing curiosity and the willingness to try (and possibly fail). It’s about an end to constant standardized testing and an end to publishers determining curricula.

As for you young people? I’m not dismissing you with a label. I suspect that you are all individuals and, as you are young individuals, you’re going to learn a lot as time goes by.

We all do.


Lately I’ve been noticing ageism. Not directed toward me, but as an ambient part of our culture. As a person born in the years that mark the “Baby Boom,” I understand that two generations might not understand each other. But, at this end of the telescope I understand something else, too.

When we’re young, we generalize the WHOLE WORLD based on what we ourselves experience, perhaps more in our “break away” years than any other time in our lives. I understand that now; there is no way — regardless of how intricate, labyrinthine our painful was our childhood or youth — that we KNOW that we are generalizing or that our experiences of other people are limited just because our exposure is limited by the number of years we’ve been on the planet.

My own mom was extremely fearful, provincial and conservative. In many respects that’s not how she WANTED to be, but scary stuff had happened early in her marriage and she was holding on tight to what she had. I can’t begin to know everything that went on in her mind back when I was a teenager and my dad’s MS was rapidly worsening.

When I was older I understood it better. She grew up on a farm in Eastern Montana during the Depression in a family with 9 other kids. They were poor. My grandma was a Mennonite without a community. My grandad was a self-taught philosopher. Mom never learned to ride a bike and she didn’t drive until she was 42. What did her childhood experiences mean to me, in suburban America, the child of the upper middle class with everything I could possibly want? It meant nothing. I couldn’t begin to understand it. I could see that she couldn’t understand MY world. She’d never lived in it.

More important, she didn’t want to. Plenty of people in her generation moved forward with the changes; she didn’t. It was a while before I understood it wasn’t THEM. It was HER.

It can be argued that we never live in our parents’ worlds, but I think there was a very radical difference between life in rural Montana in1938 when my mom was 18, and a Colorado Springs suburb in 1970, when I was 18.

One big gap now is technology, or so says Time Magazine and I agree. I have had to keep up with technology because of my profession but now, retired, I choose what I don’t want to deal with and what I do. I honestly don’t want to deal with electronic concert tickets or Siri telling me to turn on my radio at 8:15 in the morning and suggesting a station. I don’t want “Alexa” or any of her brethren in my house. I’d LOVE an Apple Watch, but I can’t afford it. I even kind of hate my smartphone and often leave it behind. My voicemail doesn’t even work here in the San Luis Valley and I’m OK with that. I’m not obsessed with “connectivity” except, maybe, escaping it. Is that a Baby Boomer thing? I don’t think so. I think it’s a Martha thing.

MEANWHILE back to the original idea of this weird rambling post — generation gaps. I think Baby Boomers really took that idea to heart whether it was a real thing or not. I think they expect it now. Other generations? Well Gen X took theirs to heart, too. I don’t blame them when at least one good novel came out describing them (Generation X), an awesome film (Clerks) and, IMO, the BEST music. Sadly, it’s a generational distinction that put them under the shadow of hyper-achieving Baby Boomers. The thing is, there were a LOT of Boomers. Truly, the competition was already FIERCE. I was there. Born smack dab in the middle, well, it wasn’t always pretty. The older ones got the best jobs and there were still a LOT of us left to take the crumbs. Gen X, we relate. We kind of ended up in the same crowded, exploited, boat.

A friend of mine on Facebook invited me to join a group of older people who, in the way of some Baby Boomers, are seeking solidarity with each other, community, enlightenment, and cohesion. Their recent thing is, “How would we like to be labeled?” I don’t want to be labeled. Recently on Twitter an enraged Millennial went off on all the Baby Boomers who are — with the help of Grendel (old 45) AND Pelosi– NOT LISTENING TO MILLENNIALS and DISENFRANCHISING THEM.

I was thinking of what it would have been like for me to be a young person today with my same mom. Would she text me? Would she get involved in my COLLEGE education? Would we have the close/hands-on kind of relationship I know many of my Millennial students had with their parents? If she’d been a Boomer and I a Millennial, she would have learned to drive in high school and there would have been much more chauffeuring around than I experienced. I would have missed a lot of long walks and bike rides here and there. The autonomy I had as a kid was related to her not driving. There are probably a lot of other things that would have been different. I’m glad she wasn’t that involved much of the time. Shudder.

I know how it is to be young and want everything RIGHT NOW. I guess by 67 most of us have probably learned we’re not going to get anything RIGHT NOW and a lot of stuff never arrives at all… But these young people have gotten a lot of stuff RIGHT NOW thanks to technology.

Last night I was thinking that when we depend on others for our happiness were fucked. Seeing ourselves as a member of any generation is insipid and limiting. I was thinking that if we could drop the generalizations and expectations — or regard them as theories instead of definitions of reality — we could solve a lot of our problems. Racism would vanish. Women would be paid the same as men. People would be respected for their merit and achievements. Objective problems would become objective problems not matters of opinion. Kind of Utopian, I know, as it seems we’re living in a time that seeks to categorize and divide, not unite.