One of the things that I wish I had a better time capsule of from the start of my life is a window into the world as it was then. So for this letter I will cover what the world is like right now.
We are in the middle of a “peaceful transition of power” with President Obama handing over the reigns to President-elect Donald Trump. I won’t get on a soapbox here other than to say our country is quite a mess. There is a lot of division and many people just want to see a complete overhaul of the government. The United States used to be considered a superpower. We are still a great country and a leader in the world, but the world is catching up and innovating, and at times, surpassing us. We are a two party system: Democrats and Republicans. There is so much that separates these two parties and getting anywhere in politics is like trying to scale Mount Everest in a bikini with only a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in your hand. We shall see how this new era of government plays out. Richard Nixon was the president when I was born, and within the first four years of my life there were three presidents: Nixon, Ford, Carter. It was a crazy time then, as it seemed like the head of the government was in flux. After the past few presidential elections, I just hope that the positive actions of many individuals can counterbalance some of the mess that is larger groups of activists who may not always think clearly with their heads but rather be stirred by mob mentality. Study mob mentality and beware of it, it is scary stuff to witness, and especially here in our country it is very unnerving. Anyway, we currently have a national health care program which may go away. We currently have environmental and climate change mandates in place, which may also go away. The middle class, as I knew it growing up, is evaporating and in the gap more people struggle to make ends meet while the rich get richer. The governor of our state, Bruce Rauner, is a rich businessman turned politician and there is a lot of strife around that. The Mayor of Chicago is Rahm Emmanuel, who was a former Washington D.C. power player. He gets a lot done it seems. Even though we live in the burbs, your dad was from Chicago so we still follow the city scene. I guess if I had to sum up our government it would be: ugly, hateful, and a tinder box. So many things are just always stirring the hornets nest. I hope that this all changes, but there are a lot of very hurt feelings out there and a lot of bad water under the bridge. Your dad and I still seriously consider moving us somewhere else just because we are both apprehensive of this toxic atmosphere that seems to be spreading from the top down.
The world has also seen a lot of heartache in the past year. There were constantly stories of police shootings. As a result there are all kinds of activist movements: Black Lives Matter, Police Lives Matter, and more. There have been terrifying terrorist acts, one of the most shocking to me was a huge truck driving through a crowd of people celebrating a Bastille Day. There was also a massive shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida. Just recently, a huge warehouse fire killed 36 people in Oakland, California where the building was never approved for residential use. There was a huge scare with the Zika outbreak. Pregnant women who were infected delivered babies with microcephaly (small heads). That one worried me a lot as I was outside all summer. Your dad reassured me I would be okay, he is a mosquito expert. President Obama visited Cuba, reopened the embassy there and then just recently their long-time leader, Fidel Castro died. Cuba will become a big deal soon as it continues to open up. Great Britain left the European Union in the historic Brexit vote, which sent foreign markets into a turmoil. There was a smartphone game called Pokemon Go which caused me several mini-heart attacks when kids would just run into streets in the dark of night heads locked on screens and not paying attention to cars. The summer Olympics were held in Brazil, which is a first for the Olympics going to South America. It was all about the U.S. breaking tons of records. There was a devastating Category 5 storm in the Caribbean: Hurricane Matthew. The famous rock artist Prince died. So did Harper Lee who wrote one of my favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird. Of course, the big story for your dad and me was that the Cubs finally won the World Series.
It is probably harder to capture technology. Right now the virtual reality goggles are starting to take off. That is still in its infancy, but given how fast things advance, you will probably have all kinds of VR in your everyday life. Google and Amazon are launching integrated smart home systems. We don’t have that….yet, your dad is a gear geek so I doubt it won’t be long before we have that. iPhones are still the most popular smartphones. Samsung was a close second until their Note 7 had a complete recall for fire issues. We have Samsungs, but not the ones that blow up. Online shopping is more extensive and giving “brick and mortar” stores competition. This year, since I am stuck at home, we did all of our presents online. There are apps and gadgets for everything and I am sure we will use several for you when you are born. One tracks pee and poo, yes, for real. TVs continue to improve. Now we have SUHDTV…super ultra high definition. I was just thrilled to have a 32” color television when I was a kid. Streaming services like: Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and Spotify are big players in the entertainment world. Your dad and I still have CDs, tapes, and BlueRay discs, but those are fast going away as streaming replaces the need to have that stuff as physical stuff on a shelf. Drones are everywhere – your dad wants one so much. The options for electric and hybrid cars are still expanding, but they remain expensive for the average family like us. Amazon is launching a pilot “grab and go” grocery store where there is no check out line. Those jobs may be something that is lost to technology such as that. We continue to utilize wind and solar energy sources in lieu of pollution-causing resources (well for now, as the new government is not pro environment). Even in my career, tennis courts are wired and loaded with cameras to give players all kinds of technological feedback on their stats. I have yet to use that. I am certain you will witness all kinds of amazing technological advancements. Just with all of the monitoring for you as an embryo, fetus, and baby technology has been a huge part of your story.
I was born into a time of huge economic uncertainty: the inflation crisis of the late ‘70s. Prior to that, the economy was more stable. Now economic rollercoaster shifts are the norm. Right now, post election, the DOW has surged over 19,000 points. That is crazy, because I also remember watching my 401K evaporate in the recession of the early 2000’s. This is why your dad and I want you to be smart with money, because money is a scary thing these days…and many things impact its value every day. The Trump victory has been messing with the markets, but the US still has a huge – HUGE – national debt. As of December 1, 2016, the official debt of the United States government is $19.9 trillion ($19,901,545,151,127) – a figure I can’t even wrap my brain around. The stock market is still a risky deal with huge gains and catastrophic losses. The price of food continues to ramp up, which when GGF was alive, the cost of milk was more than she made for a week’s worth of pay as a nanny. The economy is dependent on our consumption. That is a little frightening as it used to rely on innovation. One of the biggest threats to us is still a large scale cyber attack. So much of our economy relies on computer technology, so that threat is real. The US dollar is okay, but not as strong as it used to be. Right now we still have pennies. I wonder how long into your life that will be the case as there is a movement to get rid of the penny.
Currently the top careers at this time are different from when I was born. An Occupation Therapy Assistant is in ever-increasing demand as the population ages. Given how crazy our monetary systems are, an Accountant continues to be in demand. Also as the population ages, being a nurse or doctor is a stable career. With all the advancement in GPS technology, careers in Cartography are booming. A career that was never around when I was born is Web Development, which continues to be something people use more and more. Additionally, being an Operations Research Analyst is huge now that we have more technology available to companies so that they can be more efficient and profitable. So the top careers are in technology, finance, and medicine. I imagine will be the case for a while.
As far as entertainment goes it all over the place. People still enjoy movies in the theaters…Aunt D and myself included, your dad not so much. TV and Film has been rehashing franchises…with re-makes, sequels, and spin-offs. Your dad and I love HBO’s Game of Thrones. I think this will be the final season for that show. Lately we have also just enjoyed the 1st season of HBO’s Westworld too. Movie stars still have a sort-of social ladder status above TV stars, even though there is a lot more crossover now. Music is also super eclectic. Electronic music is ever-popular with a big following for talented DJs. Reality TV shows are still crazy popular. In my opinion there is just way too much visual overload these days. “Screentime” is something that I worry about for you (and honestly for your dad and me too). It is way easy to be consumed by entertainment and there is just so much out there. It can be very isolating…I know this first hand right now as I am home with the TV on almost all day long. I used to be very into all of the glitz and glamour of film and television…I actually wanted to pursue a career in it. That didn’t happen, but it is very seductive so hopefully you will have some balance with how much it controls your life.
I am sure I could go into other things like animals that are currently endangered, but that list would be crazy long. I hope that the environment holds up, if not improves in your life. That would be great. Anyway, there is your “End of 2016” review through my eyes. You are due in the 1st quarter of 2017, so we will see how things shift with the new year. The world is moving at a breakneck speed, so hopefully we will be able to slow it down enough to enjoy the magical moments of your newborn moments. Hang in there Four!