The next rebels

I belong to the generation that followed the boomers. No, not Generation X. That other generation. The small one that is considered boomer but really isn't. We're just the tail at best. We aren't the ones that rebelled. As my high school history teacher said: We're the nothing-happened generation.

There's a lot of good to be said for the Baby Boomer generation. They changed the rules, making it possible for patients to get a second opinion, to have sex (and babies) outside of wedlock, to get women into management and politics and marathons. A lot of important things started before the boomers became old enough, but they were the first generation to live the change as teenagers or college students or young adults. I admire their chutzpah and appreciate their efforts. My "tail" generation, c. 1958 to 1966, just followed along and got the fruits of the "older kids'" labors.

Now they're approaching retirement or have retired. They're still in jeans and I see the contours of the next mark they're going to set on society: Wine and rock-n-roll in nursing homes.

The boomers that have become CEOs, rich patriarchs, well-established, safe and settled, owning their own home (and members of my generation are in there, too) have also become the ones that don't want to share or accept change that others want. Conservatism is not specific to boomers, however, but is just something that seems to be more and more common as we age. What's not good is when conservatism is born out of fear of loss, rather than complacency or satisfaction.

The generations after the boomers did not rebel in the same way. Generation Jones (the "tail"),  X and Y (the millennials) have their identities but did not protest loudly. My history teacher said what he said right after he said, "It's all been done." Somebody else had already fought. Somebody else had already protested. Somebody else had already demanded. Somebody else had already gotten the changes.  So by the late 70's/early 80's, there wasn't anything in our society that needed placards and megaphones.

There is now. There is a new protest generation: Generation Z. Like the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The ones who got fired up after they got fired upon. These kids haven't backed down yet. They have the necessary staying power. They are rebeling and will continue to rebel. They have a good cause. They see that society has let them down and they want change. I am proud of them, I have faith in them, and their voices are necessary. I am impressed by their intelligence, their focus and their stamina. I recognize a generational change, one that will alter the 21st century, like the boomers altered the 20th, and I welcome it.

In a home or a garden you need to get rid of the clutter or the weeds so it won't choke out healthy life. When a society gets too full of itself, has too many unhealthy laws or behaviors, the ones doing the tossing are the rebels. We need our next generation of rebels.


The Daily Prompt: Rebel

Operating systems: Organic versus digital showdown

Prologue: On the way home from a midnight birdwatching session, I saw two tawny owls. First one by the side of road, and another atop a lamp post. Beautiful birds, calmly staring back at me. The myth is that old dogs can't learn new tricks. The truth is, we can, but we might need a bit more coaxing. And coffee.

Last year, I was forced to switch jobs and with that, learn a whole new set of skills. I was wondering how my then 53-year-old brain would handle it. Turns out, it handled it just like a 23-year-old brain would: With patience, notes, and lots of coffee and candy. Because heavy-duty learning is exhausting! I hadn't realized that. I just thought you're tired in college because of not enough sleep or something. Turns out you're tired because learning several new things every single day is like running a marathon every single day—but brains need more energy and more recovery time than bodies do.

The brain marathon hasn't ended. There's always something new to learn, previous knowledge to hone and the teaching of others. Like when we got the Windows 7 update at work this past week.

I spent the better part of Wednesday, tweaking settings for myself and a couple of co-workers, trying stuff first then guiding them through the new things. My fearlessness is driven by satisfying my curiosity. The saying goes, "Curiosity killed the cat. Satisfaction brought it back."

At home, where I use Apple products, I happily updated both OS X and iOS with my usual trust and abandonment. Over 20 years of reliable updates will do that.

Then I plugged in my Samsung camera to unload photos, and had a firmware update to do there. Which I've done before, too.

But the biggy was the OS update to Lollilop on my Android phone. I found myself dealing with an operating system and world I wasn't familiar with, and on a device I did not want to brick. So while I searched for information on the update, I wondered whether or not to just ignore it or at least join an Android forum somewhere. Turns out you can't ignore the Android update (you can, but only for a maximum of 3 hours at a time, not forever), and the Android world is so full of different phones, carriers and versions that I could see joining a forum might be a waste of time, not an aid.

Eventually I found a way to back up my Galaxy Note 3 (the app SmartSwitch), and after having read a few posts on what others had experienced, I made a second double coffee for myself and updated my phone. It actually went without a hitch. Success! Whew! Another win for this middle-aged woman.

We were talking about this at work, about how we who entered the work force in the 80's will be the first generation of seniors not baffled by computers and therefore will not be thwarted by technology; we already netbank. But that said, I can see that being able to handle updates myself is and will be a huge advantage. And perhaps a way to keep my brain active.

Charcoal drawing of an owl that I bought

Charcoal drawing of an owl that I bought

Epilogue: An artist was working on a charcoal drawing. From where I was sitting, the owl was looking straight at me, not unpleasantly, but rather like an invitation. In Celtic myth, the owl represents the old woman, the wise crone, the future for us post-menopausal women. Perhaps wisdom is exactly what is needed for updating computers. I will ask the owl later. I am buying that picture.