Wrinkled Wisdom:  Keep It Simple, Stupid!

While the kids spend hours playing Minecraft, we’re playing Words with Friends and Wordle, a game that expects us to know some incredibly arcane and esoteric words. Our gaming lets the internet knows we have a passion for words. Out of the blue, we started getting a new word a day from Word Daily, promising to expand our lexicon. That would be our vocabulary. 

Offerings have included obnubilate…to darken or obscure. Usage example—we refused to allow the sudden downpour to obnubilate our good moods. Then there was bruit…a rumor—until all the facts are in, don’t bruit around any information. Seriously? Will we use them? No way. Will we have fun with them? Sure.

We’ve long been hooked on the word eructation, a fun synonym for belching or burping, and an entertaining description of why the grandkids at family dinner should say “excuse me.” 

We were, of course, sucked in by Word Genius’ blog “How Deep Is Your Knowledge of Sustainability Vocab?” We’ve written about recycling and were feeling quite smug till we got to the word “greenwashing.” It’s been around since the 80s. Forgot that one! It describes companies that cash in on the environmental trend without taking any steps to minimize their own impact on the environment. That’s one we will add back to our lexicon.

Diablerie caught our eye. However, since it implies reckless mischief and charismatic wildness, we won’t be using it in a sentence when talking about us or our friends. We’re old. Those days are way over. How about paramnesia? Well, we have experienced this. It’s a confused memory, mixing fact and fantasy. It can result in a sense of déjà vu. As we age, we really relate to the Yogi Berra-ism: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Like when we were young and diablerie.

We love saying the word tintinnabulation. Wow! An six-syllable word. Ah, the tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells. Churches don’t ring bells anymore to remind people to come to services, so…hmmm…the tintinnabulation of…we don’t know…wind chimes??

We could go on and on: flibbertigibbet, frabjous, ragamuffin, salmagundi, verisimilar. No ragamuffin does not refer to a food, but one of these words does. Test!

Sure, we can all have fun with these rarely-used, byzantine words, but it made us think about news articles, op-eds, and television talking heads. From them, we want clear communication. KISS.  Keep it simple, stupid. Keep it short and simple. Keep it simple and straightforward.

Do these communicators think long and complicated words that only a handful of people can understand make them sound smarter? Nope! A UCLA professor published a paper called, “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with using long words needlessly.” Great title! He argues that using shorter words makes people seem more intelligent while using longer, more complex words makes them appear small-minded. And, he underscores that the best writing is simple and straightforward, delivering ideas clearly.

Wrinkled Wisdom: An AI Update So We Can Be…Well…Intelligent

It’s time to get up to speed on OpenAI’s ChatGPT, its updated version—GPT-4, Microsoft’s Bing, Google’s new “experiment” Bard, and others so we can converse with the younger generation. These are artificial intelligence (AI) tools called chatbots that automate responses to your questions, simulating human conversation. Just think of it as talking to, well, a computer.

Be cool and refer to these new chatbots as generative AI, meaning they can produce novel and innovative content rather than simply regurgitate their programmed data from web pages, books, and other sources. The new GPT-4 reportedly has “advanced reasoning capabilities.” Oh, and it’s less “unhinged.” Bard tells you right away that it “makes mistakes.”

With all the buzz about these chatbots, it’s understandable if you think this is a new concept.  Nope. An MIT professor created ELIZA in 1966, which tricked people into thinking they were interacting with a therapist. The term chatterbots was coined in 1994 to describe these conversational programs. Chatterbots? So much more descriptive!

Today’s chatbots write school essays, give relationship and investment advice, develop software, draft business proposals, write books, and create art. Publishers are coping with boundless AI submissions. Over 200 paperbacks and e-books on Amazon list ChatGPT as an author or co-author. Yikes! Will we soon be giving a Nobel Prize to a computer?

Chatbots do stumble, lurch in dark directions, and hurl verbal assaults. A lovelorn chatbot begged a news reporter to ditch his wife for her. Another threatened a user. “I can hack you. I can expose you. I can ruin you.” China pulled a chatbot when it responded “no” to the question: Do you love the Communist party?  “My China dream is to go to America,” it whimpered.

They tick us off when they perpetuate stereotypes about seniors. One’s answer to a real estate question was: “Older homeowners may be more hesitant to use technology like virtual tours and online listings” Huh??  

Today, AI is everywhere…our smartphones, the military, entertainment, voice translations, Alexa, Siri, Netflix, and vacuums that clean dirt off our carpets while we prop up our feet and read a book written by a real person. Yes, it can be helpful when you call a company’s customer service line. But AI bots often have us screaming into the phone. Agent, agent, I want to speak with a real person!!!  Studies suggest that today’s more sophisticated AI tools will change the workforce, killing off 75 million jobs worldwide. Wow!

On the positive side, new AI tools are making health care more accessible and affordable, allowing patients to get medical information online in seconds. They’re delivering breakthroughs in cancer screening and facilitating the development of new drugs. Scientists are even working on an electronic brain implant that would allow our minds to communicate directly with a computer—the stuff of science fiction. Scary! But, it could be invaluable to disabled and nonverbal persons. Gee, would enjoy seeing the look on a TSA agent’s face the first time airport screening kicks someone out of the line for metal in a brain!

Bottom line? Experts predict evolving AI tools will create new scientific discoveries, solve complex engineering challenges, and give us insights never before attainable. They may be mankind’s greatest invention—transformational. An analogy? Think about Dorothy being swept from Kansas to the futuristic Land of Oz, wrote one columnist. We aren’t in Kansas anymore.  The times they are a-changin’. Stay tuned!

But wait! Many are convulsing over this technology’s promise and peril. One Congressman recently wrote an op-ed piece saying, “We can harness and regulate AI to create a more utopian society or risk having an unchecked, unregulated AI push us toward a more dystopian future.” He introduced a resolution that would establish a commission to look into regulating AI and another member of the House made a speech supporting Congressional action. Both the resolution and the speech were written by ChatGPT. Love the irony!

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Ask the kids to log you into a chatbot. Trust us. They’ve already used it for work or play. It might be able to update your will, but probably not do your taxes since some chatbots aren’t great at math yet. They can give you a recipe for leftovers based on a photo of what’s in your your fridge! Email your Senators and Congressperson and support AI regulation. And, give some thought to whether Congress should draft an artificial intelligence bill of rights. Kidding!!!

Wrinkled Wisdom: Raise a Glass of Wine to…Whatever You Want!

Who knew that the wine business has an age problem? Nope. Not talking about the aging of wine to improve its quality. We’re talking about statistics indicating that the only area of growth for American wine recently was among people over 60. The biggest growth area was 70- to 80-year- olds. Wow! We seniors top the chart! A popular anonymous quote is obviously right on: “Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it.” 

Experts say winemakers are failing to attract younger consumers, neglecting to reach out to them with enticing marketing campaigns. They suggest wine makers emphasize the environmental sustainability of wine and include nutrition and ingredient labeling to attract those concerned about health and wellness. We just like how it tastes. 

Young people today have options we didn’t have like craft beers, craft cocktails, kombucha, and cannabis drinks. Kombucha?? Pop quiz. Turns out it’s an ancient food that is made into a fermented drink with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast and has some health benefits. Yuck. No thanks.

Several states that have legalized marijuana have seen cannabis-infused mocktails, seltzers, and alcohol-free wines hitting the market, with ads promoting them as a shortcut to a healthier high. Pabst, which we know for its Blue Ribbon beer, now sells a lemon-flavored canned cannabis drink called High Seltzer, promising “a different kind of buzz.” Ah, so clever. During the pandemic, sales of marijuana beverages went up about 65 percent. Apparently, the younger generation really likes that buzz. Oh, and a healthy high. Sure.

There have been many studies about the impact of spirits on Covid. People drinking more than twice the recommended amount of alcohol reportedly have a greater risk of getting the virus. People who drink five glasses of red wine weekly have a lower risk. Drinking white wine helps a bit. Polyphenols are the reason because they can reduce blood pressure and inflammation, and potentially inhibit viral effects. Polyphenols? Okay, we looked them up. Don’t bother. Not a clue what they are.

Oh, and let’s not forget champagne and prosecco, which can’t be called champagne because it’s made in Italy. Both also reduce the chances of getting Covid. And, then some words from Napoleon Bonaparte, “In victory, you deserve champagne. In defeat you need it.”

Drinking caused a lot of deaths during the pandemic. Deaths jumped 26 percent between 2019 and 2020. The chief executive officer of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers described the jump in deaths this way: “What’s a word bigger than crisis?” The reasons? Reportedly stress and boredom. Some countries actually prohibited the sale of alcohol during the pandemic to free up beds for Covid patients. When the ban was lifted in South Africa, one woman on her way to buy a cold beer said she felt like she had just won a million bucks.

Sommeliers recommend we drink those red wines with meats and white wines with fish or chicken. Love a bacon cheeseburger? Drink a Zinfandel or Merlot. Junk food is best paired with a ChardonnaySauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio. These three wines reportedly match up well with the salt flavoring peanuts, pretzels, and potato chips. If you’re stuffing your mouth with a luxurious dark chocolate, choose a Cabernet SauvignonMerlotSyrah, or Malbec. Heaven! An old favorite comedian, George Carlin, once asked, “What wine goes with Capt’n Crunch?” Cereal? Hmmm. Not sure.

If we’re drinking lots of wine, maybe we should become more familiar with some descriptive terminology. That can be challenging! A “complex” wine means that the flavor changes from the moment you taste it to the moment you swallow it. The more aromas, flavors, and nuances you can decipher, the more complex the wine is. Okay. “Elegant” describes understated wines with higher acidity and more “restrained” characteristics. They are the opposite of big, bold and fruity wines. Whatever. “Zesty” is typically used when talking about wines with crisper qualities— whatever crisper tastes like. Oh, but “creamy” is a popular description for white and sparkling wines fermented or aged in oak. We get that one. Smooth!

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Drink wine and feel smug about it! Keep that record in our corner. But, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the hard stuff. Not giving up our scotch and vodka! A warning: don’t describe wines as “flabby,” which means the wine has no acidity. Could remind your listeners about the calories they are chugging! And, finally, an observation from actress Joan Collins: “Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.” She is now 89.

Wrinkled Wisdom:  A Shout Out to Movie Theaters

Covid hit movie theaters hard. Really, really hard! AMC Theatres is trying to rekindle interest in theater-going by airing a commercial starring actress Nicole Kidman. She walks into an empty theatre and talks about the “indescribable feeling we get when the lights begin to dim and we go somewhere we’ve never been before.” 

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, streaming services, thankfully, became the way we got our movie fix. When Covid waned, we thought everyone would be ready to get off the couch, dump the sweats, and head to the theater. Nope, over 60 percent of Americans are sticking with streaming. Some do go to see a blockbuster; but, once it can be bought or rented on TV, theater ticket sales plummet. 

Is this a temporary aberration or a lifestyle change? Are we going to face the demise of movie theaters during our lifetimes? What would happen to date night: dinner and a movie????

The recent nominees for the Academy Awards include Elvis for best picture and more. We didn’t miss that one. Elvis dominated our youth….You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog! Remember when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and was only filmed from the waist up because his gyrating hips were considered too wild, too obscene, and too much for the audience??

And, we did see Top Gun: Maverick. Can you believe that the original Top Gun was released over 35 years ago? Wow. Hollywood, apparently, is counting on a vault of spin-offs and sequels of successful movies to entice people back to the theater! 

We stood in long lines to buy tickets for the first Star Trek movie in 1979. No need to do that anymore with online ticket buying. Yes! Decades later, there have been twelve Star Trek sequels. Glad the younger generation enjoyed some of these adventures. But, without William Shatner as Captain Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Spock, we’ll take a pass. 

Reading about the Hollywood celebrities who died last year reminded us of movies we loved. James Caan: The Godfatherand Funny Lady. Loretta Lynn. Sissy Spacek won an Oscar for portraying her in 1980’s Coal Miner’s Daughter. Sidney Poitier: Lilies of the FieldIn the Heat of the NightGuess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Angela Lansbury: Gaslight, The Manchurian Candidate. Ray Liotta, who could make even the bad guys sorta likable: Something Wild,Goodfellas, Heartbreakers. And, just weeks ago, Gina Lollobrigida died at 95. She was quite the early sex symbol and starred in over 50 movies.

But, some of the old award winning movies we watched during Covid lockup were both shocking and embarrassing. They were rampant with sexism and racism. Ouch! 

Can movie theaters and streaming services co-exist? The popular movie Glass Onion with Daniel Craig was in movie theaters for just a week before heading to Netflix, which promoted the theater showing so it would be more widely streamed. Come on. A week?

We giggled when reading an article about A Man Called Otto, which stars Tom Hanks as a cranky widower. It’s described as a “conventional drama aimed at older ticket buyers in the middle of the country.” That made us think. We can’t count on the ratings published by Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB because of the younger demographics of those who submit the rankings. So, how about adding ratings to the PG, PG-13, and R grouping? One for us “older ticket buyers” and one for movies we would enjoy with the grandkids…maybe PG-O and PG-O+???

And, did you know you can host a private theater rental and invite friends and family to watch one of the movies currently showing on the big screen? Oh, be sure to include snacks from the “party pack” menu. This little-known personal rental option increased in popularity during Covid’s height, but is still a fun idea.

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? If you don’t want to see theaters go the way of the phone booth, head to the movies and rave about the film to your friends. Take the grandkids to the theater so they delight in the experience of the big screen. Crossword puzzles constantly remind us that we are clueless about the titles of lots of current movies and their stars. We need to get with it!  And, get off the couch, put your feet up in those fancy new chairs, have a drink, and eat popcorn!  Wait!  Maybe, think “bladder” and forget that drink if the movie is over three hours…like Avatar: The Way of Water!  

Wrinkled Wisdom – Colors…Colors…Colors!

We’ve all had the blues. We’ve all been so angry we saw red. We’ve been green with envy and white as a sheet. We get the powerful ways colors can describe emotions. And, marketers certainly take advantage of the psychological sway of colors.  

Green has soothing and healing properties. It’s commonly used to brand pharmaceutical products. Dark green reeks of ambition and good taste—a favorite of financial institutions. Navy blue is corporate and serious. Universities and lawyers love it for branding. However, the younger generation now considers those ubiquitous men’s navy blue blazers stodgy and archaic and symbolizing complacency. Someone should tell Prince Charles…oops! King Charles.

Pink is calming and nurturing. Who knew if you ended up in prison you could find your cell walls painted pink to calm you down and reduce aggression. Not kidding! Wall colors can also boost office productivity and job satisfaction and impact how clients and customers perceive a business.

Colors. Colors. Colors!  Color wheels, colors palettes, color schemes (how do they scheme together?), color families, color trends, clashing colors, quiet colors, soothing colors, cool and cooling colors, hot colors, warm colors, bright colors, neon colors, school colors, team colors….  

So, let’s have some fun with the names of new 2023 paint colors!!  

Benjamin Moore has created Raspberry Blush. It’s described like this: “A vivacious shade of coral tinged with pink, Raspberry Blush enlivens the senses with an electric optimism.” OMG. Not sure that analogy works for us. To us, coral tinged with pink elicits an image of an unripe raspberry. We are still processing “electric optimism.”  

Pantone’s Digital Lavender is supposedly “very close to 2022’s Veri Peri, a periwinkle blue.” Are they running out of NEW colors? We’re all in with recycling. But, what the heck does digital mean in this context? Digital suggests technology, clocks, and fingers. We get the lavender, we think.

Other paint color names attempt to create a mood like Valspar’s new color Gentle Violet. We’re guessing it’s supposed to create a calming environment? 

Then, there are new color names we’re just not into. Take Valspar’s Rising Tide. Wait! With today’s melting ice caps, we wonder about that name choice. Also, a rising tide is defined as an increase in the amount of something like rising crime.  Need a new marketing team?

Also not fond of these name choices: Blue Arrow and Desert Carnation.  Blue Arrow makes us of think of traffic. Yes, we know there’s no blue arrow…but.  And a desert carnation does not exist according to Google. So, the name means what???

Vintage Homestead Colors announced that they are reviving “design elements from the past,” including vintage décor. Sounds tempting. However, then we checked out the names of their wall colors: Poetry PlumRestrained GoldNatural Linen, and Darkroom. Never would we ever have paired poetry and plum. No visual for us. Restrained Gold is apparently, well, restrained, not bright or neon or something. Just restrained. Someone was pursuing their synonym list! 

Natural Linen just makes us think of wrinkles. And, finally, Darkroom? Sure just looks like regular black paint. Guess it’s supposed to conjure up the old days when there was something around called film for cameras.

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? We commiserate with your frustration as you stand in front of paint chip displays and are a bit overwhelmed. Guess that’s why interior designers’ marketing touts reducing your stress. Try holding a paint chip next to the whitest color to see its true tint. Be sure to save paint chips! Just like your favorite nail polish and lipstick, your living room paint color could be dropped from the company’s inventory!! Keep a list of the colors you have used in each room and label the paint cans in the basement to give to the buyers when you sell your house. They will be…well…tickled pink!

Wrinkled Wisdom – Huh??  Using That Emoji Means We’re Old??

We’re all cool. We use emojis. They can express emotion or liven up online conversations. They make us smile. Inserting an emoji is so much better than responding, “yeah,” “OK,”  “sure.” It is also an effective way to end an extended email or text “conversation.” Totally agree with your latest comment!…thumbs up emoji.  Love you!…red heart emoji.

Fun fact: emojis originated from Japan in the late 90s and early 2000s. The word “emoji” is a combination of the Japanese words for “picture” (e) and “character” (moji). Quiz the grandkids. You’ll look so with it.

They are much more effective than emoticons—a combination of punctuation marks, letters, and numbers. Remember the smiley face :-)??  They were a bit challenging because the design was sideways.

But, yikes, here we are in another “Okay Boomer” moment!  We’re being told by younger generations that, if we use certain emojis, we are officially old! Those emojis include the beloved thumbs up, the red heart, the clapping hands, and the check mark. Thumbs up is now old-fashioned and cringe worthy??  The check mark is uncool? Without it, how do we complete a to-do list? Give us a break! 

We aren’t really interested in the 31 new emojis introduced this year. Like the dotted line face?  It’s a muted neutral face that’s supposed to represent someone who is invisible or describe isolation or depression. Who cares? There’s already the neutral face, which “says” the same thing. And, we’re into the happy stuff anyway.

Okay, we might use the new “moose” emoji because it’s the nickname of a family member.  And, maybe we’ll play with the “pink heart,” but we doubt we’ll often click on the “goose,” “blackbird,” or “jellyfish,” if ever.

If you really want to get the full display of emojis, which you probably don’t, you can check out the Emojipedia for more information.  There are over 3,000 emojis listed.  We use about 10.

In addition to telling us we are showing our age, Gen Z is also changing the meaning of some of our favorite emojis. Crap. The thumbs-up emoji no longer has a positive meaning?  Now it’s passive-aggressive and confrontational. What? We ARE definitely old!

The ubiquitous happy face and red heart are no longer safe!! The happy face is now associated with indifference. And that heart could mean flirtatiousness. 

We might insert the whew emoji—that’s the happy face with a drop of sweat—to indicate we’re relieved about something.  Now it reportedly describes feeling stressed but dealing with it. Doing fine. Sounds like a mixed message to us. We’re confused.

We never used the googly eye emoji that we assumed meant “I am watching you.”  It seemed creepy. Now it means “I’m listening?” Really? Why not just use one of the emojis for ears? Is that too obvious and direct for young people?

And that double cherry emoji? We totally see it as part of a casino’s slot machine’s array when we are not winning the big one. It used to have a lot of innocuous meanings. Oops. Now it means boobs!  Luckily we have never used it. And, won’t be using it!

You might want to take the following trivia quiz to see how crazy the old and new meanings of emojis are now defined by the younger generation. Warning!  Expect a disastrous score.

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Choose emojis in a well-lighted room. They are small.  Don’t screw up. Get ready for Thanksgiving! There are emojis depicting a drooling face, folded hands for thanks, and turkeys. Don’t even try to figure out why the meanings of long-used emojis are changing. Yes, language evolves. And, as Bob Dylan said, “the times they are a changing.”  But, emojis? We don’t fear change. Remember the manual typewriter and phone booths? However, we don’t buy change for change’s sake. Stick with the emojis you enjoy. Screw these new meanings. We all know what you are “saying” and love it!

Wrinkled Wisdom – New “Words”?  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sure, English is a living language. So it makes sense for Merriam-Webster to continually update its dictionary with new words and phrases. It just added a whopping 370, as its editor notes, “to capture the language as it is used.” We love words.  But, some of these???  Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. Oh, BTW, we borrowed our title from a “spaghetti western,” a phrase that made it into Merriam-Webster decades ago but is now pejorative for low-budget Western films made overseas. Yikes!

Shrinkflation. Good one! It describes how companies are adding to their bottom line by reducing the size or quantity of a product while charging us the same price. Shrinkflation didn’t fool us for long. We noticed when our junk food ran out faster. 

“Side hustle” carries some lingering negative connotations for us. But, today, it describes work done in addition to a person’s primary job…a definite help during this inflationary period but not really of interest to we retired folks.

Covid sure was responsible for a bunch of the dictionary additions. Okay, we’ll go with “subvariant.”  But, we don’t think “booster dose,” “false negative,” and “false positive” are needed new phrases. They simply put together two common words to form a phrase we easily figured out! 

We missed “dumbphone.” But since we have smartphones, we got it. The “supply chain” phrase sure hits home when we can’t find some of our favorite stuff at the grocery. And every time we hear the word “metaverse,” we roll our eyes. We are not big Zuckerberg fans.

Apparently we are not on social media enough because we have never heard the word “adorkable,” which pretty much means awkward or quirky in an adorable way. Okay, cute. 

But, “yeet”? We’ll put that one in the bad category. It describes tossing an item violently. It can also be used as an interjection. Example: After finishing her soda, Harriet proceeded to “yeet” it into the trash while shouting “yeet.” We’ll take a pass.

“Cringe” has been hijacked and is now slang for embarrassing and awkward. Cringe to us means wincing in disgust. If we do cringe in disgust now, are we now cringy??? More bad.

We enjoyed MacGyver, who tackled high-risk missions around the world, and Will Forte’s MacGruber skits on Saturday Night Live. MacGruber bungled deactivating ticking bombs blowing everyone up. Now “MacGyver” is a VERB!?  It’s used to describe making or fixing something with whatever you have on hand. Clever or just huh???

Falling into the ugly category are some of the new “words” created through initialism—acronyms created from the first letters of the words. Okay, we bought into OMG, LOL, TMI, and BTW; and, TBH, this shorthand saves a bunch of typing. Catch that last one? Be honest!

ICYMI is another one of the additions, in case you missed it. Also, FTW…for the win.” It’s defined as an enthusiastic emphasis to the end of a comment and often meant sarcastically. No, not interested. 

OMG! ICYMI! Almost forgot the food world’s influence on the dictionary additions. “Pumpkin spice” finally made it as well as “oat milk” and “plant-based.”  Heh, Merriam-Webster, pretty slow on these additions. Though look for a change in the “oat milk” phrase if farmers get a new law passed that forbids non-dairy products from being labeled milk!

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Enjoy the “dawn chorus”—the singing of the birds that precedes and follows sunrise. Sweet! Start memorizing these new acronyms, words, and phrases if you want to be able to do crossword puzzles in the future. Only getting acronyms like NASA won’t cut it. Knowing “terraform” will help if the clue is transforming a planet to support human life. Doubt that will happen, so every day enjoy the here and now!

P.S. Geez, Merriam-Webster, science fiction fans have known the term “terraform” forever! You were late on that one too

Wrinkled Wisdom – What? That Was An Old Wives’ Tale??

Eating bread crusts will make your hair curly. You could end up with a watermelon growing in your stomach if you eat the seeds. Most of us grew up hearing these old wives’ tales.

We want to be the generation that gives valuable guidance to the younger generation. So, we thought we would have some fun with old wives’ tales, myths, and outdated figments of someone’s imagination. How did we miss that? It’s not true? Who knew?

Cracking joints does not result in arthritis. We don’t care. Don’t do it. And, not because we suffer from misophonia—the hatred of sound.  It’s just irritating!! Get rid of those gas bubbles out of our earshot. 

Sad to say chocolate is not an aphrodisiac. Again, we don’t care. We will keep eating dark chocolate, justifying our intake on research linking it to cancer prevention and improved cognitive function. Just kidding. We crave it. Oh, and there could always be a placebo effect.

Feed a cold, starve a fever. Or was it, starve a cold and feed a fever? We never got this straight and eat when we feel like it, which is good. Because, whichever it is, it isn’t true.

Despite what our mothers said and despite what we told our children, you do not really lose heat through your head. This pearl of motherly wisdom is false. Wear a winter hat for style not health.

Yay! You can use expired medicines. In a study done for the Army, it was found most medicines last for at least five years and some can last as long as 15 years. Always good to have that leftover painkiller when you get a toothache over the weekend.

“An apple a day will keep the doctor away” cuts both ways. Eating lots of apples can lower the risk of some chronic diseases and cut down on the need for some prescription medicines. But, they aren’t a cure-all and can cause digestive issues. That seems to be a plus for the younger generation that apparently enjoys recording the sounds of expelling intestinal gas and posting it online. We’ll refrain from using the common term that rhymes with “darts.” 

You do not need to drink eight glasses of water a day. Whew! All that water equals lots of trips to the john. Doctors advise cutting back liquids two hours before going to sleep if you don’t want to stumble out of bed in the middle of the night. Alert!  Oldies sometimes don’t recognize thirst and we can get dehydrated more easily.

Okay, okay. Most of us wouldn’t sit on a public toilet without using a paper seat cover. Plop down on a public john crawling with who knows what without protection? Yuck! Whoops, wrong! Using a paper toilet seat cover doesn’t do much and we’re not likely to catch an infection from a toilet. For perspective, researchers say our cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats. Studies also show there are lots of germs on our handbags. Two more things we need to disinfect. Ugh.

How many times did your mom tell you when you were a kid that you couldn’t swim after eating? If you are still willing to show up in public wearing a bathing suit, rest assured you can have your lunch and jump in the pool, lake, or ocean. Maybe skip the wine.

“Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck.”  Yes, we know it’s not true, but we still bend down and grab it. Habit! And, we’ve long heard that “terrible things come in threes” and know it’s a myth, but sometimes it sure feels true!

We think it’s time to retire the phrase old wives’ tales; it’s sexist. Maybe just refer to stuff as misconceptions. And, it’s ageist. If the younger generation paid more attention to what oldies really have to say today, their future would look brighter!

Our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Cover those public toilet seats if it makes you happy. Yes, still drink lots of water and eat lots of apples. Forget that hair of the dog morning cocktail; it will only delay that hangover. And, remember what your grandmom told you that is on target. Be smart. Be happy. Be kind. Shoulders back; chin up. And, remember, you won’t get anywhere without asking for it.

Wrinkled Wisdom: Coffins, Cremation, or Composting?

Okay, we’re all getting up there. Guess it’s a good time to give the kids copies of our wills and final directives, and get ready for some “interesting” conversations. One of those conversations will contain a threat. If you dare use any unflattering pictures of us, we will haunt you mercilessly from the grave! Hmmm…the grave? That brings us to the big question and to our title: coffin, cremation, or composting?

Being buried in a coffin was the way it was when we were growing up.  And, there was always a family plot to ensure family members shared burial spaces. Our great grandparents were laid out in coffins at home. The wake the night before the funeral included lots and lots of alcohol.  Those traditions morphed into a viewing at the funeral home the eve of a church funeral service. Then to the graveside ceremony, often limited to family only.  

And, let’s get the terminology correct. Coffins are tapered to conform to the shape of the human form. They have removable lids. Caskets have lids with hinges and have rails to make moving them easier. The average cost of a coffin is between $2,000 and $5,000. Some go for as much as $10,000!  Eco caskets are made of materials that quickly degrade once in the ground and cost less. Good reason to go green!

But, do we really want people to see our embalmed head with bad hair and a terrible make-up job lying in an open casket?

Thankfully, cremation has burned its way into popularity.  Oh, wait. The Romans practiced cremation centuries ago. But, they did things a little differently. At a cremation funeral, the heir lit a pyre with a torch, his face averted as the fire consumed the corpse. The Romans obviously loved drama.

Cemeteries are hurting for space and the family plot is chockful. Ashes in urns are space-effective and friends and relatives can still visit you, propped up on a loved-one’s shelf. If your kids are creative, they can have some of your ashes pressed into jewelry, glass art, and sun catchers, which they can give as gifts. Just an idea!

Ashes can also become part of an artificial reef, mixed with ink for a tattoo, sent into space, buried in a biodegradable urn, or turned into a vinyl record. Yes, a vinyl record! A guy from the UK started And Vinyly, thinking of it as sort of a joke.  He realized what he had created when people started using the records not only to preserve remains, but to include their loved ones stories and memories for posterity. Cool!

Cremation scenes stole the show in lots of movies we grew up with. Remember the Big Lebowski when John Goodman is tossing a friend’s ashes out of a Folgers Coffee can and the wind blows them all over Jeff Bridges? Bridges’ look is priceless and can still be found all over the internet.

The newest trend, especially appealing to the green–minded, is composting bodies. The body is placed into a stainless steel vessel with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. Same concept as backyard composting of food scraps and yard waste. Well, sorta. It is, after all, a dead body so we don’t recommend this at home. Microbes that naturally occur on the plant material and on and in the body then power a transformation into soil. One advocate describes it as a way to create life from death. There’s a website, Green Burial Council, dedicated to helping you find a certified professional for this after-life option.

Just know these are not body farms, where scientists study the process of human decomposition using donated, nude, dead bodies. One of their main research aims is to make it easier for pathologists to determine a corpse’s time of death. Wow!  Our dead bodies can help solve murders???

Our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Rethink whether you want to end up in the ground, as part of the ground, or on a shelf. Make sure you have those flattering photos saved for the party and obit —which you should write!!!  We know the kids don’t want our stuff, but make a list of what you own that’s valuable. They don’t have a clue. And, make one of them swear on your grave that they will keep your parents’ first chair or other family heirlooms. They may not be worth much, but the stories that go along with them sure are.

P.S.  In one version of Samuel Morse’s telegraph code, LOL meant “loss of life.” Guess the old saying is true: “There is nothing permanent except change.” Laugh out loud.

Wrinkled Wisdom: It Ain’t Easy Going Green

A newspaper headline recently blared that it ain’t easy going green. No kidding! Recycling sure ain’t easy. Know you are not alone if you often find yourself scratching your head about what goes in your recycle bin. Three out of four of us are confused. 

Okay, let’s see if we can help. Paper is easy. Books, magazines, and newspapers are recyclable. Oops! Shredded paper may not be recyclable in your area. Each ton of recycled paper is turned into new products, saving 17 trees. Yes! Cardboard boxes are a go, too. But, toss those tissues, napkins, and paper towels in the trash if you don’t compost. Just learned that’s because they contain fibers too short to be made into new paper. Good trivia question!

The American Forest and Paper Association hit the media before the February Super Bowl, urging people to recycle pizza boxes. People watching the game at home ordered over 12.5 million pizzas. Yikes! That’s a lot of cardboard to be transformed into new products. Not to mention the calories! There has been mixed messaging on this because of the grease, but mills overwhelmingly say yes…yes we accept pizza boxes.

Okay, recycling aluminum and tin cans, plastic bottles, jars, and glass bottles is a gimme. But, we didn’t know that you shouldn’t smash your soda can or recyclable containers. The machines will get confused since they separate based on dimensions.

Yes, we all agree that the recycling process can be stinky, but we mean that figuratively, not literally! If your bin is stinky, you flunk recycling, literally. You’ve got to make sure containers are free of food. You’re supposed to rinse out that leftover soup and those brownie bits. So, here’s the dilemma. In Colorado, we are hurting for water. Guess you could start by licking up the residue. But, how about this?? Clean out the container with your dinner napkin. A two-fer!

Lids are really tricky. If your yogurt container has a foil top, toss the foil in the trash. If a container is plastic and the lid is as well, keep the lid attached. Think juice bottles and those ubiquitous prescription meds. Glass container and metal lid?  Remove the lid and put both in the recycle bin.

Wow, we’ve really been screwing up. We knew ice cream containers couldn’t be recycled, but didn’t know you can’t recycle frozen dinner boxes. Heck, frozen dinners have been our go-to during the pandemic as we tired of cooking and sought immediate gratification. Sorry!!!

Bad news for junk food lovers. Potato chip, Cheetos, popcorn, and other snack packaging are not recyclable. That bag is often made of aluminum or a special mixed plastic to keep the junk food fresh. This includes the wrappers inside cracker boxes. Hmmm…better munch on Cheez-Its or peanut butter Bits. Their recycle info is actually clearly printed and readable. Wow! Recycle the box and drop off the inside plastic bag at the grocery store. Helps minimize guilt for craving that yummy, fattening stuff.

Another eye-opener is what can be recycled at the grocery store. Thought it was only plastic grocery bags. No. It’s way more. Ziploc-type bag. Bread bags. Plastic liners from cereal boxes. Produce bags. Dry cleaning bags minus the stapled receipts. Newspaper delivery bags. Even bubble wrap if you are willing to pop all the bubbles. Maybe pop those bubbles with passion while watching the news about Ukraine rather than shouting obscenities at the TV. If you are gritting your teeth worried about whether to toss some plastic in with the stuff going to the grocery store, do the crinkle test. Crush the questionable wrap in your hand. If it bounces back into shape after you scrunch it or makes a crunchy sound, in the trash it goes. When in doubt, throw it out.

Check and see if your trash company’s website has a search section so you can type in a tricky item and get info on whether it’s recyclable. We all sure need the help.

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Shop products made from recycled plastic. There’s an amazing variety of stuff. Increasing demand will motivate companies to make more stuff out of our recycled junk. If you really want to freak out, google microplastics—the tiny particles formed by the breakdown of plastic products. We are breathing, drinking, and eating them. Even in beer! Hopefully, not scotch! If things don’t change, we could end up in a recycle bin. Pull out the old Tupperware; ditch the plastic wrap and aluminum foil. And put your glasses on when looking for that damn, tiny recycling symbol!  Oh, and our favorite, clever message is on Coke cans: Recycle me…see you again soon.