Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Thirteen

Since it's a new year and everything is fresh and peachy smelling, I thought I'd sort of wander backwards and list 13 things that have changed since 1981. Why 1981? It was 30 years ago. It was the year I graduated high school. It has a nice sound to it.

1. Portable technology. I can remember when a Walkman was a big deal; look around now at the iPods and IPads, MP3 players, cellphones, Blue Tooths (Blue Teeth?), and laptops. It used to be we went to the world. Now we take the world with us. Better? I don't know.

2. Hair. Remember the Farrah cut? I had one of those, along with 3/4 of the girls in my class. Boys had longish hair then, too, sometimes it feathered! No crew or bowl cuts unless you had decided to join the Army.

3. Dress code. When I graduated high school it was blue jeans and a little skin. Now it's all skin. Girls in particular look like they're 26 when they're 12. It's a little scary. Guys now wear their pants down around their knees and show their undies. That's just weird.

4. Music. As I ended high school, disco was close to coming to screeching and crashing halt and the beginning of punk, metal, and hip hop was on its way. But I think the biggest change in music has been the absolute disintegration of it as a way of bringing people together. Since no one listens to the same songs anymore, there will never be another Elvis. Why do you think older bands like The Rolling Stones can tour and bring in 100,000 people. Will the new bands do that? Maybe a break-out like Green Day, but I seriously doubt that there will ever be music that touches as many people as the sounds of earlier generations. Even my young-adult-aged nephews admit that "those old songs" are better - and that's what they choose to hear.

5. Poverty and class. The gap between those who have and the rest of us (those who don't) widened significantly in this last 30 years. Unlike some who think too much government is the problem with the economy, I peg this as the major source of ills. The downturn of the middle class will one day be looked upon as the death knell of the nation, I fear.

6. Loss of privacy. I remember when no one knew where I was and it didn't matter because they knew I'd turn up eventually. I miss those days.

7. McMansions. I think this trend may be going away because no one can afford these big houses anymore, but watching these things spring up like mushrooms on what used to be farmland about broke my heart in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I'm really glad I don't have one to clean.

8. Job descriptions/vanished trades. I used to be a secretary. I don't know that "secretary" even exists anymore. I used to run a transcription machine and take dictation. I suppose these jobs may still be around in some places but they are not high on anyone's radar. It used to be a goal, to be a secretary. I wonder what has taken the place of that?

9. The rising cost of health care. A very long time ago, you paid the doctor with eggs from your chicken. Now you sign over your soul to some nameless corporation and hope for the best.

10. The computer. My first computer was a Commodore Vic 20, which came out in 1980. My mother bought it and I quickly confiscated it in the way that children do. I soon graduated to a Commodore 64, then on to a Tandy T1000 (Radio Shack brand). These were all DOS based computers. I didn't move up to a Windows version until about 1992, with Version 3.1. I really hated that because while I understood DOS I found that I had less control over Windows. When Windows messes up, I can't fix it.

11. Progressive lenses. Changes in vision correction might not make many people's list, but when you have trouble with your eyes it's a great and wonderful thing to be able to put on a pair of glasses and see. Contact lens improvements, light-weight frames and lenses - these are the kinds of small changes that make a huge difference in my world.

12. Polarized partisianship. To be sure, the bickering has always been bad in this country, and I know this because I'm an amateur historian who has spent time in newspaper archives reading letters to the editor from folks who would be akin to Limbaugh and Maddow in this day. Everybody has a gripe and everybody is right and the middle ground is always the first thing to die. The Internet and 24-hour TV has made this squealing louder and much more insane, and it's not very good for the country or anybody's sanity. I don't see it changing for the better any time soon.

13. The loss of books. Well, we still have books and probably always will, but the days of books like I knew books are gone. Books will be on little machines and the machine will house 30,000 titles, giving everyone the equivalent of an entire county library at their fingertips wherever they go. The scary thing about this is that some giant corporation can swoop down and yank the words back, so people will soon begin self-editing for fear a diatribe about something will cause the company to retaliate. It's human nature to feed the beast, not oppose it. It's highbrow censorship and we won't even know it's taking place.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here.  I've been playing for a while and this is my 173rd time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.


  1. Did you know that research suggests that things which are too easily read tend not to be retained as well in the memory? The effect of Kindle could be worse than we suppose.

  2. What a difference thirty years makes!

    Happy TT,


    13 PsiCorps Terms

  3. Wow, can we even fathom what the future holds? Scary.

  4. it's interesting to see how the world has changed in your eyes. i wonder what other people's lists would look like.

  5. Hear, hear on number 5.

    Secretary....It was probably right about 1981 and this was my career aspiration. Granted I was in 1st grade but I thought being a secretary would be awesome- so smart, and pretty and organized! I had 20/20 but I tried to fake bad vision so I could get glasses because it looked more secretarial. (Didn't work)

    Books.... as an early adopter of the Kindle, I gotta say meh. (About the Kindle.....and e-books in general.) I think there are enough people like me out there that books won't go away. There is a real loss of pleasure AND usefulness from e-books.

    Great list! Made me think this morning.

  6. I graduated 2 years after you, so I relate to this. The progressive lenses kinda cracked me up because I need them now! Books. I dunno. I have a Nook, but I still enjoy actually holding a book, too.

  7. No way I'm going to pay for words that i can't put in a place - flash drive or what have you - that no one but me can get at. Yank the words back? Think again!

  8. Sis,
    Great list. By the way,
    Secretaries turned into Administrative Professionals and now even have their own day! April 27th. Now they all expect me to take them to lunch that day, which with seven of those girls, get expensive!!

  9. Oh I so remember those Farrah hair styles! Oh my how I wanted one too. But who in the world had hair like hers?

    I agree with the McMansion thing too. I was so sad to see so many trees pulled down for those plans. I am so glad I don't live in one, either. There is just something about the charm of older homes.

  10. My mother died in 1982. I often think how much things have changed in the time since.

  11. An interesting persepctive of the last 30 years. I agree that number five is one of the most serious issues facing America right now. We need to being manufacturing back to America, and force those that have to pay their fair share (ha! fat chance, right?).

    As for music... A friend has a 16-yr old son. While he does listen to a lot of rap/hip hop music, he has lately started getting into the music of the 80s. A week doesn't go by without him asking if we know this artist or that. Makes you feel old, but gotta love it at the same time!

  12. You had the Farrah do while I had the Jane Fonda shag. I will never get over men walking with their pants down and their underwear showing.

  13. I remember as well. I graduated in 84, so I have seen some of the same stuff you have. What's amazing is to look back and remember that we rode bikes without helmets, stayed out all day playing in the yard, walked to grade school alone...etc. And we lived to tell about it! Great musings. Keep up the good work!


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