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Slightly Retired

"I feel lucky to be around at the start of the 21st century. It would be fun if we could predict all the changes ahead. We've already seen many of our highly prized treasures of the 20th century become obsolete. How many of us still have a Hi-Fi record player and stacks of 45s and 78s to go with it? We can be sure new innovations will arise to meet our desire for material acquisitions and our keepsakes will be headed for retirement. For instance, gone are the cozy family evenings in the kitchen with the sweet smell and taste of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Cookie making is now left to a little sister or a great grandmother; good tasting ones can be bought at a store or bakery. It's simply difficult to bake cookies while watching TV or playing on-line. The new all-American eat-treat is microwave popcorn. It's fluffy, tasty, takes only minutes to prepare, doesn't make a mess, comes in neat little bags in several flavors which will keep in a kitchen cabinet forever.That wonderful phrase, Mom and apple pie, once the favorite of every politician, has disappeared. Now moms are busy doing other things, probably more important, than baking apple pies. If a craving for apple pie arises, a quick stop at the freezer section at the market can supply an overly-sweet, doughy tasting pie, not like Mom's, and probably not even made in this country, but serving the purpose,Instead of a slice of apple pie, people go for the the big enchilada now. The one made with only organic, unmodified vegetables, with enough added vitamins to last a week, plus sufficient Prozac and caffeine to keep the purchaser contented. No loving fingers, particularly not Mom's, have ever touched this creation. It is served with nightshade root chips, guaranteed to reverse the aging process, not too far, only to the mid-30s or early 40s.The Jolly Green Giant has definitely gone into retirement. He cheerfully ho-ho-ho'ed us into eating his frozen green peas. We did and they tasted pretty good. But, alas, in his place has come giant organic blue corn, which has secretly been genetically altered so it not only grows gigantic ears, but cute little hands all over its stalk to swat away any invasive bugs or animals. The DNA also includes a small brain for getting on-line and playing video games.The richest man in the world, Bill Gates, has seen his best years. The new wealthiest man about to surface will be the President/CEO of Scrooge Industries. He will emerge with gigantic stockpiles, having quietly cornered the market 15 years ago, of outrageously expensive tanks of oxygen, cartons of toilet paper, and bottles of pure spring water.Oh yes, the nice person we know as our doctor will soon be retired. The one whom every mother wanted her son or daughter to grow up to be or at least marry. The one with the perfect profession: financial success, knowledge and compassion. What parents want their kids now to run up hundreds of thousands of dollars of educational debt only to end up working for a miserly, mean HMO?The new professional is the young, acne prone, somewhat pudgy, unkempt founder of an Internet company. He/she lives at home, usually in a crowded, dark converted basement apartment. Mom does his/her laundry and Dad repairs his/her car, that is, when they're not vacationing at his/her condo in Hawaii.Remember how in the 20th century we adored such movie stars as Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Robert Redford, Gene Kelly, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall? We thought if only we could meet them, get their autograph, have them say a few words to us, look in our eyes--that would be enough. But in the 21st century, virtual movie star partners will be possible, even a virtual life. Smarter-than-ever computers will create scintillating conversations. The possibilities are mind boggling.Surely the 21st Century will bring great things, cures for the many cancers, AIDS and other tragic diseases, world peace, understanding, tolerance and space travel. Maybe we'll even see new oil fields in Texas and Florida, instead of in Alaska's Wildlife Preserve. "

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