Archive for September, 2013
Like everyone else on Facebook and Twitter, I read this article on HuffPo this week about Generation Y and their problems. And then I read the inevitable backlash from people in this age group. Some of the responses were stupid or trite, and some were well put. Fellow blogger ErinEph had a particually good response that got me thinking.
My feelings are split on the GYPSY article. I think that the article doesn’t ring true for a many people in the demographic it defines. It should have instead labeled the intended audience as Generation Y Entitled Idiots And Shithead. (GYEIAS?) I lots of friends in this age demographic and this label doesn’t apply to any of them. However, just because I don’t see it firsthand doesn’t mean it does not exist.
My lovely wife sees the behavior discussed in the GYPSY article on a daily basis. As a program director at a local non-profit, she feels that this definition applies to a majority of the GYEIAS that she manages. As someone who has to directly manage anywhere from 50-100 GYEIAS on a daily basis, she says that an inflated sense of entitlement is probably the biggest challenge to managing young adults today.
The point that I want to discuss today was made in Erin’s blog. She says and I agree that the deck has been stacked against 18-34 year olds and it was done by 50-75 years olds. The old American Dream of an opportunity for education, career, property ownership, and retirement has gone away. As a 35 year old, I consider myself one of the very last people lucky enough to grab the American Dream before it was snatched away from everyone. I have the opportunity to be the Unicorn Belching Rainbow and it’s the subject of this week’s #Friday5.
Top 5 Opportunities I Was Given That Are No Longer Available
1. Free College Education Paid For By The State
When I graduated high school in 1996, I was offered several financial packages to attend college. I was a solid student, but not the first in my class by any means. Accordingly, I chose to attend Missouri State University because I was offered free tuition. And I mean completely FREE tuition. Living expenses were not covered, but a combination of summer jobs and the low costs of living in Springfield, Missouri made living expenses manageable. After five years of college I walked away with a diploma and zero debt in 2001. Graduating college debt free is extremely difficult these days to all but valedictorians, and quite expensive for most kids. My brother Paul just started his second year of college, and I can barely fathom how expensive it is nowadays.
2. Graduate School On Heavily Subsidized Government Loans
While I was pursuing my Masters Degree, I was able to pay tuition and my living expenses using affordable loans from the Federal Government. When I graduated from UMSL in 2006 with my Masters, I did so without any private loans, and a very reasonable rate on my subsidized loans. Accordingly, I’ve never had a problem with making my student loan payments in the seven years since I graduated. Based on the large number of loan repayment horror stories I’ve heard from friends and read online, my experience is becoming increasingly rare.
3. Paid Internships
By pursuing my Masters Degree a few year before the Great Recession hit in 2008, I was lucky enough to find not one but two(!) paid internships. During the summer of 2005 between my first and second year of Graduate School, I had a summer internship that paid me and counted as class credit. After graduation in 2006, I moved to Florida to take a yearlong internship that paid well and gave me extremely valuable experience in the career I was pursuing. Since 2008 paid internships pretty much no longer exist.
4. A Career With Generous Benefits
When the financial crisis hit five years ago in 2008, I was a in a job that was about to be downsized. And then I hit the jackpot by finding my current job. The first real day of my career started in January 2009, and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. Right when the Great Recession started I somehow found an ideal job with extremely generous benefits. Not only do I have a great medical insurance, I have an actual pension. As in a full retirement package that is 100% paid for by my employer. This is pretty rare for someone my age; I don’t know a single person under 40 who will be getting a pension at retirement.
5. Owning A Home
While owning a home isn’t all that uncommon among my peers, I was one of the lucky ones who received considerable incentives to own a home. On top of the low interested rate I received on my home loan, I was given $8,000 for free by the Federal Government when I purchased my home in 2009. Like everything else on this list, I’m fortunate to have got in during a narrow window that has since closed.
I feel like one of the last people to be given a realistic the chance to achieve the American Dream. Granted, I had to work hard to get where I am today, and I will have to continue to work hard for the next few decades. But so many of my peers will have to work just as hard for a fraction of the benefit. I am equal parts grateful for the chances I’ve been given, and troubled that so few others are being offered the same. I’m proof that America can be the land of opportunity. I just hope that I’m not one of the last.
Last week I went to the Grand Canyon as part of my Year On The Road. This week I’m heading to the mountains for #WaybackWednesday
After leaving the Grand Canyon on a Sunday I drove all over the wild west for the better part of the next week. I went north through Utah and Idaho all the way to Butte, Montana. Then I headed south through Wyoming, made a stop a Yellowstone, and eventually ended up in Colorado. I drove across the state twice in two days, and finally made it to Denver by the weekend. I was a hell of a lot of driving, but that drive was absolutely gorgeous.
By Saturday I was exhausted but determined to go do something fun in Denver. I picked up the local Reader and discovered, as luck might have it, that there was an awesome show at Red Rocks Amphitheater. R.E.M. was headlining a tour with Wilco as the opening band! I had always heard that Red Rocks was an amazing place to see a concert, and now I was getting to see it first hand with two amazing bands! Here’s a view of the stage from September 13, 2003.1
If you’ve never been to Red Rocks, you need to make it out to Denver at least once to see it in person. Describing it does not do it justice. I knew ahead of time that it was an outdoor venue carved into the side of a mountain, but I had no idea how cool the view was from inside. Once the sun set, I could see the whole city of Denver laid out and glowing behind the main stage. And on that particular nite, the moon was hanging low, almost full, and right behind the stage. It was spectacularly beautiful, like this. And that’s to say nothing of the amazing concert that was also going on.
Wilco opened up and put on one hell of a show. Jeff Tweedy was still touring on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and played half the album that nite. Plus he mixed in a couple of my favorites from Summerteeth too. But he really brought down the house by finishing with California Stars. Perfect song for such a beautiful nite.
By the time R.E.M. took the stage I was freezing cold and ready to dance. If you may recall, when I originally left to begin this current trip I was headed to Texas in August. I packed accordingly, which meant that I only had one pair of jeans and a light jacket to keep me warm. The temperature that nite dropped into the low 40s, so I was frigid the entire show. Lucky for me R.E.M. brought the heat that nite.
The tour was booked as an all-request series of shows, in which fans emailed requests into the R.E.M. website and the most requested songs were played. This was a few years before social media, so the idea was extremely novel at the time. Using the power of the internet to communicate with a band was cutting edge, and the resulting show was amazing. But the band saved the best for last. The last song of the set was Man On The Moon, and Michael Stipe sung his heart out with a nearly full moon behind him the whole time. It was astounding, and it wasn’t even the encore!
The actual encore was even more brilliant, highlighted by a gorgeous rendition of Nightswimming. I walked back to my car shivering in utter disbelief at the beauty I had seen. When I returned to my hotel room, I felt like a genius for requesting a Jacuzzi tub at check it. I filled that bad boy up with steaming hot water and soaked away the cold in the tub for hours. Looking back ten years later, I can barely remember the cold. But I clearly remember staring at the moon with my feet on a rock and listening to Man On The Moon. Like so many times in 2003, I was in the right place at the right time. Amazing how things work out some times.
1. I didn’t actually take this picture, so thanks to Brian Meacham and his Flickr account for the visuals.
This week #2ForTuesday is once again dedicated to Captain Mike. I got an email from him in Afghanistan over the weekend. He said he’s up in the mountains and jamming out to Tricky’s wonderful new album. How awesome is that?!?
So here’s the first single, Does It, just for Captain Mike
Next up is a song I’ve been listening to a lot lately that makes me think of Captain Mike. It’s the first single from Beck’s new album: I Won’t Be Long
Here’s hoping that Captain Mike won’t be long either. Missing you buddy.
Yesterday at my neighborhood’s block party a board member from my homeowners association threatened me with some bullshit. I walked away from him and tried to cool off, but it’s been 24 hours since and I’m still angry. Before I talk about the many ways in which he was wrong, first some background.
There is a water pipe in buried in front of our house that has a slow leak. Water from the leak has been filtering down underneath our foundation and causing our basement pump to run since we moved into our house. At first it was just annoying, but over the last 6 months it has become a big problem. I’ve been trying for years to get the problem fixed to no avail. The water company refuses to fix the pipe, even though they own the pipe. They keep telling me that the leak is not their fault, when it clearly is their fault. With the leak has getting worse over the past 6 months we now have a large amount of standing water in our backyard due to our sump pump constantly running.
Enter the homeowners association board member who lives down the street from me. I’ll call him Nosey Old Asshole for short. NOA apparently has nothing to do with his time so he is super concerned with my problem. And for some reason he thinks that I’m not doing enough to fix this problem. Because apparently I love the fact that my backyard currently resembles a swamp. He’s called me twice to tell me to do something about the problem, and both times I explained the situation and told him that stonewalling from the water company was the problem.
This brings us to yesterday’s block party. NOA asks me again about my water problem. Again, I say that I’m having trouble with the water company and that I’m researching a few new ideas to get them to fix the problem. NOA listens to my story, and then completely ignores it by telling me I have to do something to fix it. In frustration, I ask him what he suggests I should do to remedy the situation. NOA then tells me that I should hire a contractor and pay to fix the water company’s pipe. I replied that I’m not paying to fix someone else’s property, especially when I’m not allowed to do so legally. NOA then tries to threaten me with saying that he plans to call a contractor on his own to fix the problem and send me a bill for the cost. I asked if that was a threat and he didn’t respond. And that’s when I got angry.
First off, why in the world would I want to pay $500-1000 dollars to fix a pipe that doesn’t belong to me. Secondly, no one is allowed to work on the water company’s piping except them. Third, how about offering to help instead of lobbing threats at me?
I wanted to rip him a new asshole, but instead I told him good luck with trying to send me a bill and then got up and left. I was determined not to lose my cool, and I’m glad I didn’t. But I have had enough. I know NOA is just a nosey old asshole, but next time he tries to threaten me with some nonsense I’m going to give him a piece of my mind. NOA thinks being a board member makes him king of the neighborhood but he’s sure as shit not the boss of me. I’m done being polite. The gloves are off, the wisdom teeth are out. Bring it on, Gramps.