News of the Week: Winter Is Here (Really), Millennials Are Burned Out, and Nobody Needs a Smart Toilet

There is (finally) some snow in the news, for the week ending January 11, 2019, as well as accurate tech predictions from the 1990s, a new holiday, a smart toilet, and more.

Cars in a snow covered city.

Weekly Newsletter

The best of The Saturday Evening Post in your inbox!

SUPPORT THE POST

Finally, Snow

It seems rather silly to complain about the lack of winter weather here. After all, winter only began three weeks ago. But by this time we’ve usually had really cold weather and/or a couple of inches of snow. It usually “feels” like winter by now. We’ve had too many rainy storms and temps in the 40s for anyone to consider any part of Massachusetts a winter wonderland.

But it snowed this week! Sure, it was only a dusting to a couple of inches, but there was actual white stuff on the ground and a chill in the air. It wasn’t a blizzard or even a general snowstorm, but it was enough to remind me, “Hey, I better get those snow shovels out of storage.”

Just now I looked up from my computer and out the window and noticed the big tree across the street in the park. You can have your green summer days. Winter is the most beautiful season. The snow-dusted tree against the cold, gray background is almost like a picture print from Currier & Ives.

The Burnout Generation?

Every generation complains about the generation before them. It’s some sort of law and the right of every generation. Generation Z (or Centennials) complain about Millennials; Generation X thinks the Baby Boomers ruined everything; and Baby Boomers probably complained about … the Silent Generation? Or whomever they complained about back then. But it seems the Millennials get the most attention and scorn these days, particularly from crabby Generation X columnists for America’s greatest magazine.

It might be because young people can’t seem to stop themselves from writing long articles that aim to explain what it means to be a Millennial and why their generation is frustrated or broke or the most socially aware or just generally anxious. Or in the case of this BuzzFeed News piece, why they’re burned out. (Maybe they’re burned out because they overanalyze everything?)

There are many interesting points in the article, about how this generation has a lot of debt, how it’s hard to make a living, and what it’s like to move into full “adulting,” a word that would make someone from the Greatest Generation punch you in the head if you used it around them. Of course, one could say that every generation has had problems with money and marriage and being a responsible adult, but … well, there is no “but.” Every generation has had the same problems. You can argue the nitty-gritty details, and there certainly are problems unique to this generation. (I believe that if we had Twitter and Facebook 75 years ago society would have crumbled.)

The part that’s irritating about this piece and many others about Millennials is that they seem to have problems with the normal, everyday, traditional things we’ve always had to do. We already know Millennials would rather text than talk to someone, they’d rather swipe right than find a partner the old-fashioned way, they don’t eat mayonnaise or like to pay for music, being without their smartphone for a day is the equivalent of going without food and water for 24 hours, and they don’t like to eat cereal because it’s too much of a hassle to wash the bowl. But the BuzzFeed article points out an important — and you know it’s important because it’s in the very first paragraph — problem I honestly had never considered: Millennials are upset about having to mail something.

Yup, Millennials are actually anxious about ordinary tasks like putting something in an envelope and mailing it. And that anxiety can affect other things they have to do, like going to a polling place and voting in an election. It seems to be a combo of ADHD and just not being accustomed to using paper and snail mail? The author points out that she and her partner have this same problem, and actually lost money because they couldn’t fill out and mail their insurance forms. One person reports leaving a package in the corner of their room because they couldn’t bring themselves to mail it, and yet another person is stuck with clothes that don’t fit because they’re too anxious about returning them. It seems that no combination of avocado toast and Netflix can help.

One thing to remember is that Millennials aren’t teenagers anymore. Many of them are well into their 30s. At what point do we go from “Gee, that sounds like a real problem” to “Oh for God’s sake”?

This is the part where I have to ask all of my smart, nice, good-looking Millennial colleagues here at the Post to weigh in below about this phenomenon. Do you actually hate snail mail? Does it make you anxious? Do you do everything on your phone and computer? Do you have a full life and career but find it hard to finish a to-do list? Do normal everyday tasks give you what the BuzzFeed article calls “errand paralysis?”

Being stressed out about putting a letter in a mailbox reminds me of my grandfather. Every time he sees an emoji he has flashbacks to the Battle of the Bulge.

Early ’90s Ads Predicted Today’s Tech

One series of commercials I fondly remember are the AT&T ads narrated by Tom Selleck. The Magnum, P.I. star talked about all of the incredible technology advances that were coming our way, from video chats to long-distance learning via screen to controlling your home security via smart device. The catchphrase used in the ads was “You will,” as in “Have you ever watched a movie the minute you wanted to? You will.” All of those things came true. Now, AT&T didn’t actually invent most of that stuff, but they predicted them!

The company is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the campaign by getting a group of futurists and other experts together to predict what the next few decades will bring. One of them says that in 25 years we won’t be using cars anymore and I don’t believe that for a second.

I’m Happy with My Dumb Toilet, Thanks

Have you ever wanted your toilet to connect to the internet? You will.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show took place in Las Vegas this week, and Kohler wants to change the way you go to the bathroom with the Numi 2.0. No longer will you just have to sit there, bored, completely analog. Now your “intelligent toilet” will have mood lighting, surround-sound speakers, temperature-controlled seats, and it will also be hooked up to Amazon’s Alexa. “Alexa, order more Charmin.”

If anyone ever tells you that all technology is great, please point them to this news.

Kohler actually wants to make over your entire bathroom as a bathroom of the future, so they’ve also come out with smart mirrors and smart showers as well. They want everything in your bathroom, including your toilet, to offer a “fully immersive” experience.

By the way, I never want to see the words toilet and fully immersive in the same sentence ever again.

A New Holiday?

As you know from reading this column, there’s a holiday for everything (scroll down for next week’s celebrations). There’s International Tuba Day (May 3), National Pig Day (March 1), the ever-popular Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (August 8), and there’s a holiday for every single food or drink that you could possibly name. But it’s not enough. The Atlantic wants to create a brand new holiday, and it needs your help.

The magazine is asking readers to send in their suggestions for new holidays. They want to know the name of the holiday, how and why it should be celebrated, and when it would fall on the calendar. But hurry up! The deadline is today!

What about “Saturday Evening Post Day?” It can be February 3, the day that Norman Rockwell was born.

RIP Christine McGuire, Gene Okerlund, Herb Ellis, Sylvia Chase, and Mary Kay Stearns

Christine McGuire was the oldest of the McGuire Sisters, the popular singing trio who had several hits in the 1950s and ’60s, including “Sincerely,” “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight,” and “Sugartime.” She died last month at the age of 92.

Gene Okerlund was also known as “Mean” Gene Okerlund. He was the interviewer for the World Wrestling Entertainment broadcasts for many years and was almost as famous as the wrestlers he interviewed. He died last week at the age of 76.

Herb Ellis was a veteran character actor who appeared on such shows as Peter Gunn, Perry Mason, The Andy Griffith Show, and Bewitched, as well as movies like The Killing, The Fortune Cookie, and He Walked by Night. He was also a radio announcer and helped create the classic Jack Webb series Dragnet. He died last month at the age of 97.

Sylvia Chase was an Emmy-winning journalist who worked for a number of shows, including 20/20, Primetime, CBS’s Magazine, and NOW with Bill Moyers. She was also a longtime anchor at KRON-TV. She died last week at the age of 89.

Mary Kay Stearns was the star of one of the earliest TV sitcoms, Mary Kay and Johnny, which co-starred and was written by her real-life husband Johnny Stearns. It started on the now-defunct Dumont Network in 1947, before even I Love Lucy, and later aired on CBS and NBC. Not much footage of the show still exists, as most networks in those days threw away the tapes. She died in November at the age of 93.

Word of the Week

This is the week graupel entered the New England lexicon.

What’s graupel? It’s a German word for soft hail or granular snow pellets. I’ve been watching TV weather for several decades and had never heard the word before but suddenly — suddenly! — it has become very popular. I was watching a local station this week and one of the meteorologists used it several times and explained what it was.

Here’s the odd thing: Two minutes later, I changed over to another local station and their meteorologist was using it too (with no explanation as to what the word meant)! Maybe all the weather people got together at a big meeting last week and, being excited that it finally snowed here, decided, “This is the week we finally start using graupel!”

Quote of the Week

“It’s a familiar smell, but also somehow exotic. Like going to a mall in a different town.” —Teddy, smelling something he couldn’t identify, on Bob’s Burgers

This Week in History

Ice Skater Nancy Kerrigan Attacked (January 6, 1994)

This week marks the 25th anniversary of one of the more bizarre incidents in sports history, associates of skater Tonya Harding whacking opponent Nancy Kerrigan in the leg.

Richard Nixon Born (January 9, 1913)

The 37th occupant of the Oval Office appeared on several Post covers over the years and, hey, maybe he was even a great president.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Fox River Ice Skating (January 11, 1958)

Fox River Ice-Skating

If you look closely you can see a sign that says “No Whacking People in the Leg.”

National Hot Tea Month

I don’t know how many “recipes” there are for tea, beyond the stuff you can add to it, like honey or lemon. But January is National Hot Tea Month, so I thought I’d at least point you to our guide to tea basics (with a recipe for cinnamon-rosemary tea), our exploration of all of the other great teas like Yerba Mate and Rooibos, and this guide to tea infusers, if you’re going the loose tea route (this has always been my favorite).

And even though the holidays are over, you could spread a little hygge by giving the gift of tea to someone you know.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Dress Up Your Pet Day (January 14)

But don’t overdo it. You don’t want to embarrass your dog or cat or goldfish.

National Nothing Day (January 16)

If you really want to celebrate this day, you really shouldn’t celebrate this day.

Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now

Comments

  1. Glad you’re happy with the snow situation in MA., Bob. Here in L.A. it’s been quite cold (by our standards!) and a heavy downpour all this week of January 14th. Naturally all the rain (which we desperately need) started AFTER the horrendous fires in November, of course.

    I have to tell you, I’ve run into some very nice, helpful people of the ‘M’ generation at Sprout’s and other stores when I’ve needed help finding this or that, or getting recommendations of a different company’s version of a certain product they feel works better.

    One was for a natural sleep aid. The guy and young lady both told said they were tired from having to work two jobs because the cost of living keeps going up, but not their incomes. I said I started working a 2nd job myself last Sept. for the same reason, and that my dad kept working up to age 92, just weeks before he passed away in Jan. 2008. It’s a gig economy, likely to stay that way, and it’s not their fault.

    This conversation was just last week, and the guy mentioned being a millennial was a drag and both nodded (rolling their eyes) their dislike of the term and all the baggage it had. I told them to be themselves and correct people that call them by that media created word by simply smiling and saying “I’m Chris” or “I’m Lisa”, which is true. They liked that. While I’m sure there is a percentage of ‘M’ word people that do have the characteristics mentioned here (like the cereal/dish washing thing) not all people of any generation fit all stereotypes. I have several friends born in the ’70s that love the music, movies, cars and styles of the 1920’s-mid ’60s, but not so much after that.

    ‘Saturday Evening Post Day’ aka ‘Norman Rockwell Day’ is a fantastic idea! 2/3/19 is the 125th anniversary of his birth. Let’s get a media blitz going on this! It’s wrong most Americans are still stuck in early 1969 regarding this publication, when it only had a brief 2 year re-organizational, re-formulation hiatus. Shame on NPR for continuing to perpetuate the lie it’s defunct for YEARS! A lot of years!

    My mom used to listen to NPR, and in fact heard this in herself in July 1975 with the issue of the beautiful young woman on the cover right there on the living room table! Yeah! I wasn’t home at the time, but she told me later. Who knows how many times they’ve said that over the past 4-plus decades? So no one there has ever put in the magazine’s name on this thing called the internet we’ve had for the past 25 years now for some fact checking? Obviously not! All media needs to be utilized to get the word out, especially television, the biggest factor that caused the disruption in the first place. THEY OWE this to The Saturday Evening Post big time, to say the least.

    It’s a little too cold to be dressing your pet up in anything beyond a sweater for a brief walk, Bob.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *