On the House: Laughable look at the year ahead

Posted: December 25, 2011

I've got less than a week to finish off everything I started during 2011.

I'm one of those people who need a clean slate at the beginning of every new year. I don't think I've ever actually achieved that goal, but I always make the effort with great enthusiasm.

However, I don't believe in greeting the new year with a list of resolutions. For example, when I decided in 2003 to lose 90 or so pounds (which I've been able to keep off for almost nine years), the effort began in July.

When I gave up smoking in 1978, it happened in September, not January.

Still, most people decide to start to change their lives on Jan. 1, and that's fine, too. It means that, for most of January, Atkins bars and shakes are on sale, and I have to wait 15 minutes at the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill for a vacant elliptical machine.

By February, I can walk in and do my 35 minutes on the elliptical without waiting, though I'll pay full price for Atkins bars. The world is full of trade-offs.

I tend not to follow the crowd, so when I'm inundated by countless news releases telling me what to expect in the next year, I tend to deep-six them.

This one made me laugh, though, so - as a treat from me to you, for whatever holiday you celebrate - here is what JWT of New York, which represents public-relations accounts ranging from Schick to Shell, tells us to expect in the coming year:

Marriage optional. Now, they tell me. After 32 years, I wouldn't trade my wife for anything - even a contractor-grade table saw - but JWT says, " 'Happily ever after' is being redefined as a household of one, cohabiting, or single motherhood." The latest census data found that 30 percent of all U.S. adults had never been married, the highest percentage in 60 years.

Everything's becoming a screen - from outdoor ads to menus to walls to mirrors to floors - and we'll increasingly be able to interact with those surfaces, too, by touch, motion, or mobile devices. iPad, iPad on the wall, who's the techiest of them all? Interactive mirrors are appearing in changing rooms. Customers can try on items, request assistance, and snap photos to send to friends. Too much information? Yes.

Food as "eco-issue." As more regions battle with food shortages and spiking costs, smarter practices around food will join the stable of green "best practices." Let go my eco. In my house, we interview the chickens before we eat the eggs, the turkey before we make meatloaf . . . you get the picture.

Celebrating aging. At 61, I look at old photos of my relatives in their 30s and can't believe how ancient they look in comparison. I do think I've reached the age where birthdays don't matter. I almost forgot about the most recent one, but I think that, too, has something to do with aging.

"Reengineering randomness." I know what you're saying, I don't get it either, but it has something to do with this: "Living in various social networks leaves people dedicating a lot of their day to a space where they are receiving a curated worldview." I've "unfriended" so many people who give me blow-by-blow descriptions of the kinds of spices they put in their pasta sauce. Garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and a cherry pepper. That's it. Basta!

The rise of shared value. "Rather than simply doling out checks to good causes, some corporations are starting to shift their business models, integrating social issues into their core strategies." That's a nice thought, especially at this time of year, but I can't help but be suspicious of the motives.

Some 2012, huh? I don't know about you, but if anyone sends me a photo of themselves in the department-store fitting room, I'm going to delete it without looking and pray hard that 2013 gets here really, really quickly.


"On the House" appears Sundays. Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472, aheavens@phillynews.com, or @alheavens at Twitter.

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