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News of the Week: Retro Tech, YouTube Stars, and the Dangers of Working from Home

Published: June 2, 2017

Can Pagers Be Far Behind?

Pager

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It seems that a lot of old technology is making a comeback. We’ve seen a new fondness for typewriters, retro video games, and even vinyl records. Maybe pagers and butter churns are next, but in the meantime we can enjoy the return of cassette tapes.

This Boston Globe article gives a rundown of how “the kids” are getting their music these days. In my day, we had to walk four miles through the snow to buy our music, but now kids have formats like streaming and YouTube and iTunes. But for some reason, cassette tapes are also becoming a little more popular than they were 15 years ago, when no one cared about or missed them.

Okay, so cassettes are back. What I want to know is, what the heck do you play them on? If they still make tape decks, I can’t imagine spending money on one. I remember spending a lot of time picking out various stereo components when I was in my teens and 20s and spending extra money for the premium blank tapes, but the cassette is one technology I don’t see a need to bring back. And I really don’t want to hear that 8-tracks are back.

YouTube Killed the Medical Star

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid, but I distinctly remember also wanting to be a baseball player, a detective, and a stuntman. Those seem like old-fashioned goals now, as many kids now want to grow up to sit in front of a screen.

A poll by the travel company First Choice, in which they surveyed 1,000 kids aged 6 to 17, reveals that 75 percent of those kids want to grow up to be YouTube stars, vloggers, and bloggers. Occupations such as doctor and lawyer placed lower on the list, and “TV presenter” came before writer and athlete. I don’t know how “TV presenter” got to be a thing, but I guess we should be happy that “reality show star” isn’t on the list.

Hopefully, kids understand that most people who are on YouTube or blog don’t make a lot of money. Not everyone can be PewDiePie.

7,000 Letters

As a big fan of handwritten letters, this is my favorite story of the week.

Ninety-eight-year-old Alleen Cooper, from Lakewood, California, has been writing letters to American troops since World War II. She has written over 7,000 of them, and she writes them all by hand. She’s up there in age but she says she doesn’t plan on stopping because the men and women overseas appreciate them so much.

I bet those 7,000 letters are approximately 7,000 more than most people write these days.

Homework

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A lot of people think that working from home is a perfect situation. You can make your own hours! There’s no office politics! No commuting! You can come and go as you please!

As someone who has worked from home for many, many years, I can tell you that while it’s great that I don’t have to put on a tie or shave every day, it’s also difficult to concentrate on work when you have a TV and couch calling you, visitors coming to the door, the phone ringing all the time, and no coworkers pushing you to work and helping you concentrate.

This NBC News piece focuses on another problem with working from home: loneliness. You’re isolated from other people and you don’t have the interaction and feedback you get working with other people someplace else. This may seem like a good thing — you can focus on your work — but it often doesn’t work out that way. The internet and social media? They can help but can be a distraction you don’t want.

I think people who work from home should get a dog.

RIP Gregg Allman, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Deford, Denis Johnson, Jared Martin, Jim Bunning, and Manuel Noriega

Gregg Allman was a rock legend and leader of The Allman Brothers Band, who had classic songs such as “Ramblin’ Man,” “Whippin’ Post,” “Midnight Rider,” and “Melissa.” He died Saturday at the age of 69.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter and was author of several political books. His daughter is Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. He died last Friday at the age of 89.

Frank Deford was a veteran sports journalist and commentator, writing for Sports Illustrated for 30 years and appearing on NPR, NBC, ESPN, and HBO. He passed away May 28 at the age of 78.

Denis Johnson was the acclaimed author of the story collection Jesus’ Son as well as several novels, plays, and poems. He died last week at the age of 67.

Jared Martin played Dusty Farlow on Dallas, was a regular on The Fantastic Journey and War of the Worlds TV series, and appeared on dozens of other shows. He died last week at the age of 75.

Jim Bunning was a Hall of Fame pitcher (he threw no-hitters in both the American and National Leagues) and former Republican senator from Kentucky. He died last weekend at the age of 75.

Manuel Noriega was the former Panamanian dictator who was eventually sent to prison in the United States, France, and Panama for drug charges and murder. He died Monday at the age of 83.

This Week in History

John F. Kennedy Born (May 29, 1917)

This week marked the 100th birthday of our 35th president. Here’s our December 14, 1963 issue, with a cover portrait by Norman Rockwell, in which we reprinted a piece that originally ran when Kennedy was running for president.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band Released (June 1, 1967)

The classic Beatles album was released 50 years ago this week and changed rock ’n’ roll forever. Can you name all of the people on the cover?

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Charles M. Schulz’s First Appearance (May 29, 1948)

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This was the very first comic that Schulz published in The Saturday Evening Post, two years before the debut of Peanuts. It’s interesting that the 17 cartoons that Schulz drew for the Post don’t have titles, even though he was drawing a strip calledLi’l Folks for the St. Paul Pioneer Press at the time.

National Turkey Lovers’ Month

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There is no sensible reason why National Turkey Lovers’ Month should be celebrated in June. Turkey is not a June food. Sure, we eat sliced turkey in sandwiches during the summer, but turkey is a fall and winter food, a Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition, not something you eat wearing shorts. And who wants to have the oven on all day long in June?

So what I’ll point you to this week are some recipes for turkey sandwiches, like this Turkey, Cheddar, and Green Apple sandwich from Martha Stewart, this Turkey Sandwich with Cream Cheese and Bacon, and this California-Style Turkey Sandwich, with avocado and Monterey Jack cheese.

If you insist on cooking a turkey, then you can make Monica Geller’s famous Moist Maker. Just make sure you don’t leave it in your office fridge.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Yo-Yo Day (June 6)

It’s celebrated on June 6 because Donald Duncan Sr., who started the Duncan Company, maker of yo-yos and other fine toys, was born on this day in 1892.

Donald Duck Day (June 9)

Here’s another person with the initials D.D. we celebrate this week. He made his first appearance in the cartoon “The Wise Little Hen” on June 9, 1934. This means I have two things in common with Donald Duck: we were born on the same day and we both usually walk around without pants.​

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  • Part II. Bob, you’re wonderful for running the feature on Alleen Cooper. What a terrific, loving, caring, great American she is. I’d never know she was 98 either, and sharp as a tack!

    I really believe her daily handwriting since World War II has a lot to do with it. Eye/hand coordination is very important, and handwriting gives you both. The younger generation of soldiers too, have an appreciation for handwriting they might not have otherwise, and will hopefully teach their children. God knows the schools won’t!

    I never really thought about the drawbacks one could have working from home. This feature should help a lot of people that do, find a compromise in combating loneliness. My 2nd job (part-time) is in an office within a home, where there are two big Dobermans. They’re 2 year old brothers and it’s great having them walk in periodically for some petting, cuddling and letting ’em lick my face. As far as any aggression goes, there are occasional squabbles with each other only. Just saying “boys!” gets them to stop immediately.

  • Part I. That’s interesting about the cassette ‘revival’ Bob. I have an Aiwa brand CD/cassette player from the late ’80s that works great. I usually listen to relaxation and New Age CD’s, but don’t use the cassette. I’ve got some good ones in storage I’ll have to get out again.

    The 6-17 year olds that are aspiring to be future Ryan Greedcrests and the other things you mention, will probably need to re-think their goals. Just as in every other category of show business, very few ever make it in and succeed.

    As a rule, it’s never nice to kick someone when they’re down, but Kathy Griffin’s doing a great job all on her own; dousing herself in lighter fluid. She’s someone I barely knew existed with absolute zero appeal, but do now unfortunately. She’s now vowing to go after Trump and Melania even more than ever! THEY’VE destroyed her career after all.

    I would imagine she’ll go to People for damage/spin control, SNL and the sickeningly sweet Ellen also. Oh, and let’s not forget about Gloria Allred! None of that is likely to prevent what surely has to be an ‘accident arrangement’ already in the works, to get rid of a serious nuisance.

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