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Things That Confuse Me About the Last Decade
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of papers. Here's this week's:

I started this year confused about a lot of things. First, I don’t even know what decade we’re in. Did we just start a new one? Or are we in the last year of the old one? Inquiring minds want to know.

But assuming the decade is now over, I’m trying to figure out how I started it with toddlers and ended it with teens, while I haven’t aged at all.

I don’t understand how communication technology has exploded at exactly the same time as spelling and reading comprehension have cratered. LOL.

I don’t get Carrot Top.

I’m scared of Lunchables, especially those pizza and sub ones. If it contains meat, it should be refrigerated. If it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it isn’t meat. So that begs the question: what is it? And why do so many people buy it? I’m actually afraid to know the answer to that one.

Here’s another one that scares me: how can an entire generation be glued to the television to watch people make fools of themselves? The last decade ushered in reality shows, where anyone can claim the spotlight, even—and perhaps especially—total losers. Why do they want to? Why would someone who looks ridiculous want to be a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance? The nineties saw us watching Elaine on Seinfeld dance as if she were having a seizure, but at least we knew it was acting. This is reality. And we can’t get enough of it.

Why can we figure out how to put a computer chip in a phone, how to operate on a baby while it’s still in utero, how to grow new body parts with stem cells, and we can’t figure out how to create an artificial sweetener that does not carry potential health risks for my preferred carbonated drink? Come on, scientists. I need my Diet Pepsi, and aspartame isn’t cutting it.

How can we begin the decade with nineteen jihadist terrorists attacking the United States, and end with a jihadist terrorist attempting to attack the United States, after boarding a plane without proper passport checks, paying for a one way ticket in cash, carrying no luggage, and having been turned in by his own father. I’ve flown frequently throughout these last ten years, being singled out for special treatment on numerous occasions. I’ve seen my knitting needles confiscated, my nail clippers seized, my Diet Pepsi being poured out, and I have learned to leave the belts and big jewelry at home. But what have the powers that be learned? Perhaps this is the decade that should better be termed The Years That We Learned Nothing At All Except How to Take Off Our Shoes At the Airport.

Another thing that really perplexes me: if global warming was the huge, urgent threat of the last decade, and in this decade it threatens to consume us all if we don’t Take Urgent Action Now, why do all the honchos flock to annual environment conferences in private jets? Over the last decade, I’ve figured out how to participate in online conferences so that I don’t have to leave my home. I can even teach seminars in my bunny slippers. But Prince Charles has to lecture us on our carbon footprint after leaving one himself the size of Idaho. If the Al Gores and David Suzukis and Barack Obamas of the world truly want us to take it seriously, perhaps they should stay home next time. Or at least fly coach with everyone else. Although then, of course, they’d have to share in the indignity of taking off their shoes at the airport.

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At 8:21 AM , Anonymous Kathryn Lang said…

While I can understand your confusion of Carrot Top, I must protest. I ENJOY Carrot Top, or did back two decades ago when he was doing the Comedy Club rounds. He's like our generation Gallagher.

All the rest - I am right on board with you!


At 10:34 AM , Anonymous Timmy said…

Right now, the thing that confuses me most is what I call the last decade.

You've got the 80's, the 90's and...the Zeros?

I feel bad for my son. He's a zero's kid.


At 10:38 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

You've got a point, Tim! What do we call this decade?

I remember walking around university and seeing everybody with the last two numbers of their graduating year on their jacket. So I had 92, other people had 96, etc. And I always thought it was so funny the people walking around with "00". Ha ha! You guys are zeroes!


At 11:35 AM , Blogger Vaughn said…

As long as it's airtight, bacteria can't grow. It's the same method used in canning, except that it's in a plastic bag instead of metal cans.

I find Carrot top hilarious, but then I did Gallagher as well. An acquired taste?

We enjoy watching people act ridiculous because it makes us feel smarter. "I'd never do that!"

In 2001, I said to myself "We'll panic for a couple of years, then we'll go right back to the same way of doing things." [sigh]


At 12:30 PM , Blogger Civilla said…

It's hard to know what to call the last decade. The "oughts" like my husband's great aunt said they called the 1900's (I was born in "ought eight, or whatver).

We are in a new decade, though. We have COMPLETED 10 years (2000 through 2009). Now we start, or are INTO a new decade. For instance, if you are 40 years old, you have COMPLETED 40 years -- you are now INTO your 41st year. Get it?

So, we are INTO the next decade, that is we are starting it now in 2010.


At 12:31 PM , Blogger Civilla said…

Maybe that is spelled "the aughts"??? I call the last decade "the two thousands."


At 6:39 PM , Blogger Bobble said…

Regarding Civilla's comment, Your age starts at 0, so that, as you said, when you turn 40, you have completed 40 years. However, there was no year 0. It went from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. so when 2 A.D. began, only 1 year had been completed and when 10 A.D. ended (and 11 A.D. began) 10 years had been completed and the second decade began January 1, 11 A.D. Ergo, December 31, 2000 was the last day of the millenium and we still have almost a year to go in this decade. (I realize that most people don't think this way and, for example, say that the 1980s began Jan. 1, 1980 and ended Dec. 31, 1989 and I'm OK with that.) I don't want to sound picky, but since you brought it up... :-)


At 6:43 PM , Blogger Bobble said…

BTW, Sheila, I always thought those lunchables did need to be refrigerated. They are found in the refrigerated sections in the grocery stores around here. I figure they're still safe after a few hours in an insulated lunch box when I send them to school with my kids.


At 8:33 PM , Anonymous Kiesha @ Highly Favored said…

I'm feeling you own the artificial sweetner! I hear this new stevia (Truvia or whatever) is supposed to be better because it's made from a naturally sweet plant, but it's just so expensive - I can't seem to fit it into my budget :)


At 4:32 AM , Blogger Kathy said…

I've heard lots of people calling the last decade the "noughties". Its fairly stuck in my mind now!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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