I’ve Got Food, But Not Everyone Does

Yesterday I pondered how any effort to curtail water usage on my part could serve to help those halfway around the world who are thirsty. Alas, there is no direct solution (but I did suggest a course of action).

This discussion reminded me of the prodding I heard as a child to eat all the food on my plate because there were starving children in India.

Well, I thought to myself, just send them my food; I’ve had enough and don’t want any more. As a tiny lad, I even envisioned placing my unwanted food in the mailbox for the kids in India. Unfortunately, viable solutions are not so simple.

Not only are there starving children halfway around the world (and a plethora of organizations who provide sponsorship opportunities), there are also hungry people in your local community. Many are homeless, relying on homeless shelters and food kitchens for their daily sustenance. A couple of bucks will provide a meal for one of them. The results can be even more significant in feeding the hungry in impoverished third world locales, where a few cents can provide a basic meal.

So, I can go out to eat at a moderately priced restaurant — or feed 10 people at the local shelter — or 180 people in Uganda.

Think about it — I sure do.

Fire

When I went to my bank last week, there was a commotion at the car wash next door. A number of trucks were parked haphazardly around the building and a couple of fire trucks were along side. The folks at the bank confirmed there had been a fire. Apparently, someone had carelessly flung a cigarette.

It seems a bit ironic that a business that uses mass quantities of water would fall victim to fire, but that’s what happened.

The good news is that the fire department is across the street. The bad news is that it is a volunteer fire department. That means that although the equipment was nearby, the people to operate it weren’t. As I understand, when the alarm sounds, the volunteers amass at the station until enough have arrived to operate a truck and then they take off. The rest of the volunteers converge at the fire, hence the random positioning of trucks.

The fire damage was obvious, with blackened doors and an open roof, but the majority of the building was standing and intact. Even so, the fire department had encircled the building with yellow “caution” tape, thereby shutting down the business.

This week, it has re-opened.

I recall that when I bought my house and insured it, my agent explained that my rate was in the highest category because I was served by a volunteer fire department. Statistically this results in slower response times and greater damage. I somewhat sarcastically remarked that if my house caught on fire, the insurance company must assume it would be a complete loss. My agent cautiously concurred.

Fortunately, based on what I witnessed at the car wash, that is not necessarily the case.  Thank you volunteer fire fighters!

Wasteful Packaging

I continue to be amazed at the way certain products are packaged. There is often waste and much more packaging material than is needed or justified. The black hose fitting below is accompanied by the blue holder. Both made of plastic, the holder, or packaging, is about 25 to 33% of the size if the fitting. This would suggest that of the dollar I paid for this product, 25 to 33 cents was actually for packaging. One might argue that there must be some means by which to hang the product on the display, but alas, they were all lying loose in a bin. Although I don’t understand it, oil is required for plastic, so why are we wasting oil for unnecessary plastic packaging?

Wasteful Packaging - Hose Attachment

Another perplexing packaging arrangement is HP printer cartridges. This is wrong on many fronts. The box is much bigger than it needs to be, a cardboard insert is needed to keep product from sliding around in the over-sized package, a sealed “recycling” pamphlet that accomplishes little, and a foil wrapper. (Dell just uses a foil wrapper for their cartridges — why can’t HP do the same?)

Wasteful Packaging - HP Printer Cartridge

KFC meals are a third example of an excessive amount of “packaging” material. The quantity of none eatable product that goes straight to the landfill on every meal is shocking. It is so much that I find it hard to enjoy their food. (I thought about going to KFC and buying a meal so that I could take a picture of all the packaging used, but wouldn’t that make me an unnecessary contributor to the problem?) Other fast food outlets have figured a way to minimize their food packaging, why can’t KFC follow their environmentally friendly practices?

The Exciting Millennial Generation

It seems that I’ve recently heard a lot of complaints about this “younger generation,” known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y (those born after 1984 — or between 1980 and 2000 — depending who’s doing the explaining).  Employers moan that Millennials don’t want to work; they arrive late, lack motivation, and do not make good employees.  Customers complain than Generation Y doesn’t seem to care and looks strange.

True, each successive generation causes angst and head scratching from their elders.  However, with Gen-Y there is an additional factor at play — the emergence of a postmodern mindset.  (See What Does Postmodern Mean?)  Generally, Gen-Y, and to a lesser extent Gen-X that preceded them, have postmodern perspectives on life, whereas prior generations are more likely modern thinkers.  Herein is the rub that causes the above frustrations.

One element of the postmodern outlook is that they want meaningful work and to make a difference in the world.  Career, wealth, and possessions tend to have little draw to postmodern people.  And this excites me.

I recently asked a 21-year young lass if she would soon be graduating from college.  (This was a bad assumption on my part.)  She hemmed a bit and then admitted that she had just dropped out of cosmetology school — her second post-high educational effort.  She realized that a career in cosmetology would be a shallow and meaningless pursuit.  She wants to make a difference in the world by helping those in a third-world country — she leaves in two months.

Another acquaintance abandoned her career path as a paralegal and is cranking through grad school — so she can join the Peace Crops — and then aid governments in developing countries.  Another 20-something friend is wrapping up a yearlong stint in Russia.  Even though he’s not yet back to the States, he is already planning on a return trip as soon as possible.  A fourth simply desires to travel the world — to help the people she meets.

I could go on and on about this “younger generation” who are set on making a difference, have forsaken materialism, and seek meaningful work — and it excites me greatly — Gen-Y has the potential to make this world a better place.

What Does Postmodern Mean?

I was talking with a 20-something friend and tossed out the phrase “postmodern.”  His ears perked up and he asked what it meant.

“You’re postmodern,” I spontaneously asserted.

“I know; that’s what people tell me,” he replied, “but what’s it mean?”

“First there is one aspect of postmodernity that doesn’t fit you,” I clarified.  “Most postmoderns do not accept absolute truth; to them all things are relative.  The only thing they accept with absolute certainty is that there are no absolutes.”  (Don’t think about that too long — it will give you a headache!)

“The rest of the profile seems to match you,” I continued.  “In general, postmodern people value relationships and relish experiences — for them, the ‘journey is the reward.’  They want work that is fulfilling and allows them to make a difference in the world, but they guardedly balance work with their personal life.  They tend to not be materialistic and money doesn’t mean as much to them as a “modern” person.  They are decidedly non-religious, but are quite open to spirituality and metaphysical dialogue.”

He concurred with my assessment that he was postmodern.  “And what about you?” he queried.

There is a propensity for younger people to be postmodern and older people — like me — to be modern.  It’s not a life stage phenomenon, but more a lifelong mindset.  Being on the tail end of the baby boom generation, I should be modern, but in reality, “I skew towards postmodern.”  He smiled at that; I guess that’s why we get along so well.

If you work with or manage postmodern people (typically generation Y or the Millennials, born after 1984), you will likely be challenged beyond anything you’ve experienced.  Keeping this brief overview in mind, might help you to better understand them.  But don’t assume they think and act like you (unless you are also postmodern) or you’ll never really connect with them!

Goodbye Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer died last week and was buried on Monday.

A chess grandmaster, he earned world-wide recognition when he beat Borris Spassky in 1972 to win the World Chess Championship. He was the first and only American to do so. His win was viewed in the USA as a decisive victory in the cold war with the USSR. Because of this and his chess-playing genius, his sometimes unpredictable actions were generally overlooked.

As a teenager, I read his monthly chess column in Boy’s Life magazine. I also latched onto the book, “How to Beat Bobby Fischer.” At the time, I looked up to him and was inspired by his accomplishments and world renown.

From this platform and high level of notoriety, he could have supported any number of noteworthy activities or advocated worthwhile causes. Unfortunately, he chose not to.

With his refusal to defend his title in 75, his bright star faded and his increasingly eccentric behavior became less tolerated.

He would disappear from public view for long periods of time, only to suddenly emerge to make anti-American jabs or spew forth perplexing tirades. Ultimately, he renounced his US citizenship and settled in Iceland, where he died at age 64.

In death he has inspired me one last time. As a result of his poorly played endgame in the game of life, I am motivated even more to make sure that I end well, playing wisely and diligently to the very end. Who knows who might be looking at my example – and I don’t want to let them down.