Adapting to life’s challenges, mastering the club sandwich and the exciting world of fountain pens, because we only write about the most important stuff..
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The speech that every new college graduate needs to hear, but they won’t, because the international educational conspiracy has cancelled me once again.
On behalf of the trustees, the faculty and our staff, and especially on behalf of our sponsor, Subway, I extend my warmest welcome and congratulations to all of our graduates, your families, your friends, and your emotional support gerbils.
Today’s graduation ceremony is unlike any other in the history of our university, because yours is a graduation class that is unique. You began your journey in these ivied halls in 2019, gaining the wisdom passed down through generations and enjoying the opportunity to study together at one of the many Subway restaurants that we are so proud to host on our campus.
Your time on campus was interrupted in 2020 and 2021 as the Covid crisis forced us to shift to remote learning and required so many of you to make the difficult adjustment to ordering your Subway sandwiches delivered to your parent’s basements.
I should note here that the university makes no judgments regarding Covid, whether it was real or not, whether it came from a lab or an animal, assuming it existed at all, or whether the university truly deserved the $22 billion we received in emergency funding from the federal government. We are quite justifiably proud of our ability to continue providing the valuable educational enrichment that is our hallmark and for our success in rejecting refunds for the campus housing you paid for before we sent you home.
All’s well that ends well, though—as you might have learned if we still taught the writings of dead, white, foreign men—because you were able to return to campus for this, your final year of studies, and enjoy the camaraderie of friends and colleagues, especially during study sessions at Subway.
Beyond the disruptions caused by Covid, which might or might not have been real or justified, your class is unique in many other ways. Yours is the first graduating class to spend four years without ever having to listen to a any speakers you disagreed with or take classes with any instructors whose opinions did not match yours 100%. As you move forward into the working world, we know this singular focus on your needs, your sensitivities and your triggers will serve you well in your dealings with co-workers and employers.
Of course, your advancement into the working world will also be unique, since 94 percent of your jobs have already been replaced by the same artificial intelligence you’ve all been using to write your term papers. Whether you planned to enter the field of marketing, law, accounting, or pretty much anything else, your skills became obsolete on day three of your junior year.
Yes, we were aware of it at the time and we did not tell you or change our curriculum, but you all clicked “agree” on our Terms of Service and there will be no refunds. I know this will disappoint some of you, but we like to think of it as one final lesson that we can provide in our continuing and often thankless mission to give you the kind of education you so richly deserve.
I know that many of you are already feeling nostalgic for the university experience, or at least that’s what it says in the speech draft that I ordered from Chat GPT, so let’s go with that idea. Even as you must depart our hallowed halls, after paying the full damage deposit for the dorm room you might or might not have occupied, we offer you a special opportunity to continue your education through our new graduate degree program.
Our new Masters of Adulthood program is a forward-looking, multi-discipline amalgamation of educational opportunities that have not been available to you until now. Through our unique curriculum, you will learn how to balance a checkbook, mail a letter, repay your student loans, distinguish between real people and deep fakes in both print and 3D, move out of your parents’ basements, and repurpose your Subway sandwich wrappers to make eco-friendly underwear.
Tuition for our new graduate program is payable in advance, in cash, because we know you’ve all maxed out your student loan limits and you really have no job prospects at this point. Think of this as your first important lesson in being an adult, and it is totally free to you to gain this tiny morsel of wisdom.
Also totally free, we have created a lifetime membership for each of you in our alumni association, so that we can stay connected and you can maintain your support of our fine institution in this life and beyond. Just to be clear, you will have to pay the full costs of membership for the rest of your life, but we did not charge any administration fees for enrolling you and clicking “agree” on the Terms of Service. You are so very, very welcome.
Finally, in closing, and accordance with our consent decree, I must say is has been a pleasure and an honor to provide you with an invaluable educational opportunity here. As you continue your life’s journey, I know we will always be connected by our shared mission and values, as well as your alumni association membership. I know we can rely on you to represent our university with pride, with integrity, and with donations, and that you will always, always remember to Eat Fresh.
Now that all the university presidents have read this speech, I know I’ll be busy making appearances at hundreds of campuses next year. I’ll provide a sneak peak at my 2024 invocation for subscribers, so click here and you’ll be the first to know.
I turned 70 yesterday and I recognized my actual birthday for the first time in a decade.
It’s not that I’ve been pretending to be young for the last bunch of years, as if anyone would be fooled by my futile imitation of youth. Instead, I opted ten years ago to move my officially sanctioned birthday from May to June, forsaking the day that mom chose to toss me into the world.
Mostly, it’s been a nice shift. I get to pay lots of attention to all the moms on my roster on Mother’s Day and I have my own little moment for celebration that I don’t have to share with anyone else. There have been complications, though, including the fact that I can’t always remember exactly which date I picked for my new birthday observance. So, when people ask me to remind them of my new date, I have to stop and look it up. As I get older, this situation is not likely to improve.
Then there’s the issue of social media, with Facebook inviting people to send me greetings on my actual nativity date and declining my attempts to change their records to acknowledge my new benchmark. I suspect they’d allow me to change my gender at this point, but birthdays are absolutely non-fluid. So, on May 13, I get B-Day wishes from some people and questions about the “real” date from others and I get the feeling people think I am even weirder than they thought before. As if that was possible.
And it has become just a bit uncomfortable when I exchange greetings with people who have the same birthday as me, including one of my cousins. They all know I’ve deserted them and, TBH, I’ve started to feel just a bit guilty about my betrayal.
The final straw, though, is the aging process itself. I’m not quite at the point where George Burns announced, “At my age, I don’t buy green bananas,” but I’m getting closer all the time. The idea of delaying a birthday celebration, even if only for a few weeks, just keeps getting dumber and dumber.
So it’s back to Friday the 13th and conflicts with Mothers’ Day and weather that isn’t nearly as warm as it is in June and restaurants that haven’t opened their patios yet, because this is my day of infamy and I can rely on Facebook to remind me when it arrives.
Of course, my reversal of my reversal is turning a lot of people into really bad friends. If you didn’t wish me a happy birthday yesterday, you are seriously late and there is no excuse for your failure to remember my very special day. Yeah, you’re going to whine that you didn’t know and I just told you today, but the truth is that you were never a good person to begin with and you’ve let me down yet again. Honestly, I don’t know what I ever saw in you.
Of course, you can make it up to me with a belated birthday gift that reflects the level of your remorse at your transgression. Just as a reminder, I wear a size 42 Armani or a 911 Porsche.
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I paid $13 for a hot dog and fries the other day. That’s probably a record, and I was actually happy about it.
There’s no such thing as cheap eats anymore, including the delicacies that the hip folks refer to as “street food” in Chicago. Some of it is due to food costs, which have already leveled off or started to decline, but mostly it’s a shortage of labor. Suddenly, even lower-level workers are getting a living wage for working 40 hours a week, instead relying on food stamps to compensate for their McJobs. We were paying that price before, of course, but now there are fewer bureaucrats in the middle.
This is gonna take some getting used to, especially for people who are still trying to fill today’s job openings at yesterday’s wages and complaining that nobody wants to work anymore. We had a shortage of eggs over the past year and nobody got mad at the chickens, but everyone seems to be angry with the workers who are suddenly in short supply.
I get it. I really do. For small business owners, every extra expense is truly coming out of their pockets. It’s not like a public company, where the shareholders lose some earnings per share when benefits go up for employees. In most small businesses, there’s only one shareholder, and that shareholder needs every dime to pay his own mortgage.
Even if a guy has mortgages on two or three houses and his kids are going to Harvard on his dime, he still resents the clerk who’s demanding an extra buck an hour. You can’t complain to your buddies at the golf club that some chicken is picking your pocket, but you can absolutely complain about the fry cook and everyone will nod in agreement.
And it’s not just the greedy capitalists who are upset at the idea of paying workers a living wage. One of the newer trends in the service economy is tip baiting, a practice of entering a substantial tip online when ordering something and then cutting the tip after the items are delivered. Convenience is worth the extra fees for Uber Eats and Grub Hub and all the other middlemen who add 35% to every food order, but the poor schmuck who delivers the pizza is 100% screwable.
I’m rooting for the pizza guy, though, especially in comparison with the tech bros who developed all the apps that add 25-40% to every bill in a race to make your grocery order cost as much as Taylor Swift tickets. The American Dream has devolved from a house with a two-car garage to the needing only one job to put food on the table.
We’ve seen this play out before, of course. After the Great Depression and World War II, millions of GIs came home and went back to work in one of the few countries that hadn’t seen its factories bombed. Family formations exploded and more than a decade of pent-up demand was suddenly unleashed. Inflation soared as factories shifted from war production to consumer products and workers benefited from higher wages as the economy boomed. It was a once-in-a-millennium event that truly built the Middle Class and made it possible for factory workers to buy homes while working just one, often unionized, job.
Right now, it looks like we’re seeing a small replication of that economy. The pandemic caused major retooling of production, enormous shifts in demand patterns, and all types of shortages, leading to deflation and then inflation and a release of pent-up demand during the recovery period. Inflation rates soared and a labor shortage is driving wage growth for the first time in forever. The federal government added to inflation, absolutely, by throwing $trillions into the economy over the past three years, but it looks like there’s going to be a payoff as U.S. manufacturing starts to recover from more than a half century of neglect.
The politicians will work their hardest to screw it up, of course, and the Fed has already announced its preference for recessions—and unemployment—over inflation, but the invisible hand just might be strong enough to swat away their meddling. One can only hope, because the fundamentals are actually looking better than they have in a long, long, long time. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, no doubt, but it’s actually possible that things are moving in the right direction.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.