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My “Lost” Generation

May 5, 2012

Experts cannot agree when Generation X ended and Generation Y began. Some say X ended in 1977 and others conclude it ended in the early 80s. Most agree Y started in 1982. So if, like me, you were born between 1977 and 1982, where do we belong? Which generation should we relate to best? To better understand this gap (77-82), let’s explore what happened during this transitional period and why most experts agree that X ended and Y began during this timeframe.

The biggest obvious changes from 77-82 revolve almost exclusively around technology but pop culture was significant too. In 77, Apple II computers went on sale and GPS technology was introduced for the first time. Then in 78 cell phones were unveiled and the first BBS’s (bulletin board systems) came online. Bulletin boards in particular were significant because this is how peer-peer file sharing got started before the internet was a word. In 79, Sony releases the first ever tape-based Walkman player, paving the way for iPods decades later. That same year the snowboard is also invented. In 80, fax machines are first used in Japan. CNN becomes the first ever 24 hour news network. John Lennon is shot to death, bringing an end to an era of music where names like AC/DC and Black Sabbath now rule the air waves. Our country changed forever in 1981. The first ever space shuttle blasted off, the first test tube baby is born, MTV bursts onto the scene, IBM launches its first PC, Microsoft releases MS-DOS and most importantly the term “internet” is used for the first time. Rounding off our five year period, in 1982 Japan introduces the CD player, Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” is the computer and Michael Jackson wows the world with his “Thriller” album.

These events helped usher in a new generation of tech-savvy, pop culture-aware children. But I still haven’t answered my own question. Where do we belong? Which group do I belong to? And what if I don’t belong to either? What if I belong to both? Perhaps those born between 77-82 are XY children; affected by the historical calamities of generation X and comfortable with the technology and popular culture which have shaped generation Y.

For example, while I can’t relate to the early history of generation X (the 73 oil crisis, Iran-Contra, the Cold War, etc) I can relate to some of of it. I definitely remember the “Just Say No” campaign against drugs in the early 80s, AIDs becoming a national crisis, the space shuttle Challenger disaster and I was glued to my TV at the young age of 13 when Desert Storm was underway. I also vaguely remember watching Peter Garbriel (Sledgehammer) and Michael Jackson (Billie Jean) videos while MTV was still in its infancy.

Nintendo didn’t release its first gaming console in the United States until 1985, just as Atari’s system had worn out its welcome. Nintendo is definitely associated with generation Y children. At 34 years old, I was 8 when they released Super Mario Bros. Over the next ten years or so, my “lost generation” were literally raised with a controller in our hands. It became as familiar to us as a hammer is to a carpenter. In addition to gaming, I also relate to generation Y as a bunch of “internet kids.” I remember downloading an 8 MB game over a 2400 baud modem and it taking ALL NIGHT to complete. I was in high school just as Nokia were releasing their trendy cell phones. I was raised watching the Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and cartoons when cartoons were still cartoons; not this lame garbage which airs on Saturday mornings these days.

I remember taping music off of the radio in the early 90s but I’ve owned an iPod for ten years or more now. I’ve owned a VCR, a DVD player and now a Blu-ray gaming console. A gallon of gas may run you $3.50 or more these days, but I remember in 1992 when I was learning to drive, it was just $1.05. Facebook and Twitter have exploded amongst generation Y kids but I remember when e-mail was still a new concept and nobody was text messaging. Or at the very least, for a long time Americans had to pay for every single text they sent. Imagine a generation Y kid with a pay-per-text phone these days! I’ve seen TVs go from $1000 for a 32 inch tube display to $600 for a 50 inch flat screen. I can relate to late 80s pop culture but most of my movie & music tastes came out of the 90s.

Long story short, I relate to both generations because I was born at a time when both of them were relevant to me. And that’s the point of writing this. Even though I may be a generation X kid to some and a Y to others, I don’t fit into either box neatly. I embrace parts of each experience and I’m grateful that I grew up “on the bubble” so to speak.


My Timbers vs. Sounders Experience

July 15, 2011

Big Boi on the iPod had me all pumped up as I rode the Max through downtown Portland this past Sunday. Everyone on-board was so upbeat that I felt like I was on my way to a Blazers playoff game or something. The Timbers were hosting the hated Sounders for the first time ever at Jeld-Wen and I had a Timbers Army ticket. (Thanks Dave!) Nationally the game was broadcast on ESPN. Many in MLS circles called it the “league game of the year.” Only Sounders/Whitecaps has a more storied rivalry (by one year) in all of American soccer. The two teams played to a draw back in May at Qwest. Now it was the Timbers Army’s chance to show the country just how devoted this fanbase is. Several writers have done a far better job than I could at recapping the action so I’ll just stick to my experience at the game itself.

  • What an insanely nice day first of all. I literally can’t imagine better weather to watch a game outside. I think at kickoff it was sunny and 80ish degrees with a light breeze.
  • Some vendor outside wanted $35 for a Timbers scarf which says “Sound Proof” on one side. Sorry buddy. I can barely justify spending $20 for one. Which reminds me. I need to get a TA scarf. I’d actually pay $35 for one of those.
  • Because I was curious, I offered to sell my Timbers Army ticket to a scalper outside. The face value with fees was $30. He offered me $80 and I’m pretty confident I could have gotten $100. One of the guys I sat with who had been outside Jeld-Wen since 8 AM this morning told me he was offered $120 for his ticket. Extra time to resell equals more money offered.
  • The last time I visited PGE Park was early last season when the Timbers were still a USL squad. So I was excited to see what improvements Merritt Paulson had made. Apart from the seating areas and field itself, everything seemed relatively unchanged. The concourses are still narrow and the bathroom I used still had far too few urinals (I mean come on, SIX of them!?) in it to support 16,000 fans. Lines were long.
  • Even though ushers assured me there is no reserved seating in Timbers Army sections, strangely enough fans didn’t feel the same way. Imagine that! Initially I just found an open bench and sat down. Someone came over and told me that entire bench area was reserved for people who hadn’t shown up yet. I probably tried 5-6 more bench areas and got the exact same response. “We’re holding these seats.” So I asked the usher again, are you SURE this area is general admission? People can’t save seats right? The usher, almost annoyed now, says “Yes. You cannot reserve seats.” Rather than raise a fuss with fans who obviously ignore this rule, I just wandered around until I finally found a spot. But before I did, the usher who initially helped me said “We’re working to enforce the rules so people can’t hold seats.” I’m sure that will go over real well with the Timbers Army faithful. Good luck!
  • The pre-game signage was epic. Loved the “Quality over Quantity” banner and of course “King of Clubs.” Kudos to whoever creates that stuff. Not to mention the folks who organized raising these monsters after the national anthem.


  • I must have seen at least 50 middle fingers throughout the game. That figure may be a little low. It could have been closer to 100. How many times have I seen Blazers fans flip off the court? I’m sure I could count that on one hand and I’ve been to many more Blazers games. Soccer fans are an interesting bunch. And by interesting I mean slightly obsessed. In a good way! Sometimes.
  • Speaking of interesting, at one point a Sounders player went down with an injury (a real one) and the crowd started chanting “You’re-going-home-in-a-Portland-ambulance” while giving him the bird. There were three kids sitting behind me. None of them could have been older than 14-15 or so and the youngest was definitely under 10. Without going off on a tangent, let’s just say I was surprised to see children in such an adult-oriented seating area. That said, I was chanting too. So I can’t bag on fans too much. It was a funny moment!
  • Watching the Timbers Army officers lead fans in fight songs was pretty funny at times too. Whenever fan energy started to die down, they would get this concerned look on their faces and motion for people to pick it up! One guy actually looked annoyed! As I said, an interesting bunch. Hard to fault them for their enthusiasm though.


  • As people filed out after the game, I didn’t see any altercations between Sounders and Timbers fans. On the Max ride home, I caught a glimpse of the 500 seat section where (mostly) ECS fans were sitting. Nearly all of them were still there. Have to think that was the plan all along. Can’t have 500 Sounders fans mixing with 16,000 Timbers fans who just lost to their bitter rival at home.

Our team lost. Long story short, a red card in the second half killed them. The game would have at least been a draw without that free kick. Many hardcore Timbers fans probably walked away depressed that the team lost to the Sounders at home. I walked away grateful that I experienced something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I was at Jeld-Wen Field the first time the Timbers hosted the Sounders as MLS clubs. And if the atmosphere at Sunday’s game was any indication of future matchups, I’m sure someone will offer me $200 for my $30 Army ticket someday; and I still won’t sell it.

In Defense of Netflix

July 13, 2011
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is [or in this case ‘will be’].”
Paying just $9.99 for access to both DVDs through the mail and streaming content seemed too good to be true. On common sense alone I knew that price point was far too low for access to media. It wouldn’t last. And now that Netflix are asking subscribers to pay $7.99 for DVDs and $7.99 for streaming content separately or combined, some people are frustrated, confused or downright angry. Trouble is, most of these folks have no idea why Netflix decided on these changes in the first place. They think it’s just another way for them to boost profits. And while that is partially true, movie studios and cable companies are the real culprits. Allow me to offer my opinion.
Many of these big movie studios, Comcast, etc. are suddenly recognizing that they can make more money off of Netflix by taking a hard stance when re-negotiating future streaming content deals. In other words the price Netflix pays to say, Warner Bros, is about go up. And because Netflix have an obligation to their shareholders, they aren’t going to just eat that extra cost. Of course they’re going to extend that to the customer. When gas prices go up, do station owners continue selling it for the old price? Of course not. They have to extend that extra cost to the consumer. If gas prices go up, food prices go up because it costs more for trucks to deliver goods. Do we call Safeway to complain?
Instead of selling gas, Netflix sells access to DVDs and streaming content.

The number of people who own gaming consoles has exploded over the last year or two as they’ve gotten cheaper (you can buy a used Wii for what, $100-$150?) or even in some cases FREE. It has driven extra traffic through Netflix and facilitated the need for change. When the consoles were still $300-400, Netflix could afford the fees it was paying to large studios because relatively few people owned one. That’s just not the case anymore. And not only are more people than ever streaming content at home; they’re also streaming content on their smart phones. The way we access media in our country has changed dramatically in just a few years. Studios are scrambling to find ways to cash in on that.

Long story short, I’d guess a good 3/4 of Netflix’s media costs were associated with DVD & Blue-ray content in the past. Why so much more for disc rentals? ..because the content is newer and access to newer content costs more. Which is why they’d been able to offer both streaming and DVDs for such a low price in the past. Studios weren’t charging much for streaming content because they didn’t recognize how successful it would be. They were focused on making money off of DVD & Blu-ray rentals. That ratio is probably closer to 50/50 now or it will be very soon.

So don’t blame Netflix. Blame studios such as Warner Bros., Sony, Fox, Disney, etc.