Translate this posting

Saturday, December 6, 2014

We've Moved

Paradise Diaries has moved to my new author website.

Please click on the link to read this week's blog.

Future Paradise Diaries blog postings will also be at my new site. 

I hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bic Generation

The Bic lighter at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Made in Japan used to mean the product was junk, until W. Edwards Deming brought his message of quality to Japanese manufacturers. We need another Deming--this time for China.

Made in China has become code for cheap--in the most negative connotation of the word:
  • Appliances with a useful life of three to five years
  • Napkins and tissues that shred in my hand
  • Plastic bottles too thin to grip
We live in a disposable culture, where dumping something when it breaks is cheaper than fixing it.

I call it the Bic Generation, derived from the pens and lighters that started us on the road away from a fix culture to a dump culture.

Zack Whittaker writing in ZDNet, called it the iGeneration, with the "i" representing both the types of mobile technologies being heralded by children and adolescents (iPhone, iPod, Wii, iTunes) plus the fact that these technologies are mostly "individualized" in the way they are used.

“The iGeneration don't care about products lasting,” Whittaker noted. “They just want something here and now, that will do the job and something they can dispose of without it hurting their wallets when that moment comes.”

The worry, though, is not just that every thing is disposable in today’s Bic Generation. This mentality sometimes extends to every one.

The University of Minnesota, for example, found that the divorce rate hasn't declined since 1980, as was thought. When the university’s researchers controlled for changes in the age composition of the married population, they discovered that the divorce rate actually rose by 40 percent.

In reporting the story, The Washington Post wrote: “The flipside of this finding is the relative rarity of divorce among younger Americans today. In the 1970s, a couple might get married at 25 and be divorced by 30. But today, that same couple would be more likely to simply live together for a few years and then head their separate ways when things go south.”

“When things go south.” It can apply to our children, too.

Last week the National Center on Family Homelessness found that the number of homeless children in the U.S. has surged to an all-time high--nearly 2.5 million children homeless at some point in 2013. That’s one child in every 30.

The blame? The center pointed to our high poverty rate, the lack of affordable housing and the impacts of pervasive domestic violence.

But I wonder how many of these young people were thrown out of the house because they were considered “broken”--gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or pregnant?

An independent film shot last year, titled The Disposable Generation, sought to capture the writer/director’s view that today “numbness is a virtue … an apathetic youth favors the modern American dream, which doesn’t necessarily involve being awake any more.”

There might be hope. A recent Twitter exchange that I saw went like this:

We’re the “everything is disposable” generation. We dont like it we replace it. If its broke we throw it out. If its too hard we quit on it

Not quite. Dnt like it? We make it better. Broke? Make it so it doesnt break again. Too hard? Make it easier

In my next blog, “A Light from Within

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving at Hope Lodge

I am a counterfeit cancer patient. Not by choice, but by chance. And it's illuminated my idea of Thanksgiving.

As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous blog posts, my wife is a breast cancer survivor of 15 years. Each month, she and I visit Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan for a few days of appointments, during which time we are accommodated at Hope Lodge.

Hope Lodge is a truly wonderful endeavor of the American Cancer Society–and largely run by volunteers. The ACS maintains 31 of these free, hotel-like accommodations in cities across the nation for patients and their caregivers who must travel long distances from home when their best hope for effective treatment is in another city. Not having to worry about where to stay or how to pay for lodging enables patients to focus on getting well.

At New York City’s Hope Lodge, a significant portion of the patients are recovering from bone marrow transplants–a regimen typically lasting some 100 days, when extreme precautions must be taken to protect severely compromised immune systems.

Of course, these patients--both men and women--have lost all their hair. In addition, almost all the other patients at Hope Lodge are undergoing some measure of chemotherapy, which has stolen their hair as well.

My wife’s medication is hormonal. So she still has her thick crop of blonde hair. I, on the other hand, have a shaved head. When we meet people in the corridors or the lobby or the dining room, they invariably acknowledge us with the unvarying greeting of cancer survivors who have learned to take life one day at a time: “How is it going today?”

Except–when they ask this--they are looking at me, not my wife.

At first I thought this was funny, that they think I’m the one with cancer.

Not anymore. Especially not with Thanksgiving upon us next week. In fact, I cringe when I think of how little gratitude I offer heavenward that I am not the one bound up in the struggle against the scourge of cancer.

The bald men and women at Hope Lodge who are our new friends are thankful every day. In the dining room or the lounge, it’s not uncommon for them to join in applause for a fellow patient who is having a “good day,” or has announced some fragment of positive news about their progress.

What is most shocking to me is that so many of these are young people:
  • Tom, a bone marrow transplant patient, with four small children at home near Boston
  • Maria from upstate New York, anxious about properly caring for her thirty-something husband, just out of three days in ICU following his transplant
  • Chris, a Long Island metastatic breast cancer survivor herself, serving as caregiver for her husband, Michael, who is frightened about undergoing yet another facial surgery
These valiant people, and millions more who deal with cancer, are thankful for each day they prevail. For them, as it now is for me, every day is Thanksgiving Day.

To make a tax-deductible donation to Hope Lodge: 

In my next blog, "Bic Generation"