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Whatís new? (01/11/2009)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Itís out with the old and in with the new! Up with the price and down with the perks!

Every century features new innovations, products, trends, and advanced research. A great deal is geared toward a risk-free society. Thereís, also, been lots of green action to heal and to preserve our natural resources. Pampered people with todayís ďwhy not?Ē mindset simply go for it, with no concern about the cost.

That thought crossed my mind as I reclined on a lounge in a cozy room, where winter sunshine flooded through a window, my bare feet sticking out of my jeans. Soon a pleasant face with its striking white smock entered the space and sat on a stool to tend to my 63-year-old toenails. I remarked to Dr. Nachtigal that it would be more seasonably-friendly to be treating myself to a holiday pedicure instead of a ďmedicure.Ē Driving home past the recently shaved-down rock bluff near the Arches on Highway 14, I thought of my deformed, senior toenails. Everything needs a trim, an uplift, or TLC once in awhile. I laughed at the stoneís buzz cut!

Germ control is big! I canít get comfortable with a product that is advertised to spray away all the pathogens and microorganisms in the home and frig, not to mention eliminating the unmentionable, odors and all! No elbow grease?

Shopping cart blues? I heard a report on the Today Show concerning germ-riddled shopping carts, which harbor more live germs than public restrooms. There are now plastic handle protectors on the market that you can snap over a cart handle. If thereís a child onboard, a colorful, padded seat designed to fit in the front of the cart is now being sold. No protection was mentioned for the stubborn, howling, kicking little kid who insists on sitting in the back of the cart. Some big chains are going to the huge expense of regularly power-washing carts. (Watch for another price hike!)

I suppose all these articles Iíve been reading concerning fossil-fueled consumerism and the frightening reality of global warming should shame me. I admit it: I drive a fuel-guzzling van. Iím not one of those 60-something, wonder women who flits everywhere on a speed bike! Besides, peek-a-boo spandex pants donít come in my size!

A great deal can be said for bike shops sprouting up everywhere. Housing development now includes bicycle-friendly planning in urban areas. ďLeave the driving to usĒ is making a comeback. Americans have racked up nearly 85 million more public transit trips in the first quarter of 2008 than in same period last year.

Chances are slim that Iíll ever get that sleek, black Corvette Stingray with the spoke wheels Iíve always dreamed about. Besides, that would be too much wind beneath my wings now. Automakers are developing small cars with stronger, safer structures. The emissions-free, two-seated Tesla Roadster is an all-electric sports car which accelerates from zero to 60 in four seconds. (Not suitable for transporting children or Grandma, or delivering meals-on-wheels.)

Are social skills going down the tube? With every advancement in technology there are always downsides to counter the benefits. Dr. Gary Small, a psychiatrist at UCLA, believes that continuous use of the Internet and smart phones can alter how the brain works, leading to social awkwardness.

I get the point. Sonny canít pick up on Dadís facial expression and sweaty palms when he e-mails from college for more cash ASAP. Thereís no hand holding, or raised eyebrows, fashion statements, or frustrated sighs in most cyber exchanges, so we forget how to interact face to face. Social ineptness can hinder a job interview and can bungle that first date with someone you want to impress.

Small contends, ďItís important to help the digital natives improve their social skills and older people Ė digital immigrants Ė improve their technology skills,Ē to be a player in todayís wired society. Fire up! Wire up!

Itís such a relief that some things never change. Love is all you need! (and an occasional pizza to go!)

Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com. 


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