Born in the 80s

Table of Contents

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For many people in the United States, the late 1970s were a troubled and troubling time. The radical and countercultural movements of the 1960s and early 1970s, the Watergate scandal, the Vietnam War, uncertainty in the Middle East and economic crisis at home had undermined Americans’ confidence in their fellow citizens and in their government. By the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, the idealistic dreams of the 1960s were worn down by inflation, foreign policy turmoil and rising crime. In response, many Americans embraced a new conservatism in social, economic and political life during the 1980s, characterized by the policies of President Ronald Reagan. Often remembered for its materialism and consumerism, the decade also saw the rise of the “yuppie,” an explosion of blockbuster movies and the emergence of cable networks like MTV, which introduced the music video and launched the careers of many iconic artists.

The 1980s: Rise of the New Right

The populist conservative movement known as the New Right enjoyed unprecedented growth in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It appealed to a diverse assortment of Americans, including evangelical Christians; anti-tax crusaders; advocates of deregulation and smaller markets; advocates of a more powerful American presence abroad; disaffected white liberals; and defenders of an unrestricted free market.

Historians link the rise of this New Right in part to the growth of the so-called Sunbelt, a mostly suburban and rural region of the Southeast, Southwest and California, where the population began to expand after World War II and exploded during the 1970s. This demographic shift had important consequences. Many of the new Sunbelters had migrated from the older industrial cities of the North and Midwest (the “Rust Belt”). They did so because they had grown tired of the seemingly insurmountable problems facing aging cities, such as overcrowding, pollution and crime. Perhaps most of all, they were tired of paying high taxes for social programs they did not consider effective and were worried about the stagnating economy. Many were also frustrated by what they saw as the federal government’s constant, costly and inappropriate interference. The movement resonated with many citizens who had once supported more liberal policies but who no longer believed the Democratic Party represented their interests.

The 1980s: The Reagan Revolution and Reaganomics

During and after the 1980 presidential election, these disaffected liberals came to be known as “Reagan Democrats.” They provided millions of crucial votes for the Republican candidate, the personable and engaging former governor of California, Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), in his victory over the incumbent Democratic president, Jimmy Carter (1924-). Reagan won 51 percent of the vote and carried all but five states and the District of Columbia. Once a Hollywood actor, his outwardly reassuring disposition and optimistic style appealed to many Americans. Reagan was affectionately nicknamed “the Gipper” for his 1940 film role as a Notre Dame football player named George Gipp.

Reagan’s campaign cast a wide net, appealing to conservatives of all stripes with promises of big tax cuts and smaller government. Once he took office, he set about making good on his promises to get the federal government out of Americans’ lives and pocketbooks. He advocated for industrial deregulation, reductions in government spending and tax cuts for both individuals and corporations, as part of an economic plan he and his advisors referred to as “supply-side economics.” Rewarding success and allowing people with money to keep more of it, the thinking went, would encourage them to buy more goods and invest in businesses. The resulting economic growth would “trickle down” to everyone.

The 1980s: Reagan and the Cold War

Like many other American leaders during the Cold War, President Reagan believed that the spread of communism anywhere threatened freedom everywhere. As a result, his administration was eager to provide financial and military aid to anticommunist governments and insurgencies around the world. This policy, applied in nations including Grenada, El Salvador and Nicaragua, was known as the Reagan Doctrine.

In November 1986, it emerged that the White House had secretly sold arms to Iran in an effort to win the freedom of U.S. hostages in Lebanon, and then diverted money from the sales to Nicaraguan rebels known as the Contras. The Iran-Contra affair, as it became known, resulted in the convictions–later reversed–of Reagan’s national security adviser, John Poindexter (1936-), and Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North (1943-), a member of the National Security Council

The 1980s: Reaganomics

On the domestic front, Reagan’s economic policies initially proved less successful than its partisans had hoped, particularly when it came to a key tenet of the plan: balancing the budget. Huge increases in military spending (during the Reagan administration, Pentagon spending would reach $34 million an hour) were not offset by spending cuts or tax increases elsewhere. By early 1982, the United States was experiencing its worst recession since the Great Depression. Nine million people were unemployed in November of that year. Businesses closed, families lost their homes and farmers lost their land. The economy slowly righted itself, however, and “Reaganomics” grew popular again. Even the stock market crash of October 1987 did little to undermine the confidence of middle-class and wealthy Americans in the president’s economic agenda. Many also overlooked the fact that Reagan’s policies created record budget deficits: In his eight years in office, the federal government accumulated more debt than it had in its entire history.

Despite its mixed track record, a majority of Americans still believed in the conservative agenda by the late 1980s. When Ronald Reagan left office in 1989, he had the highest approval rating of any president since Franklin Roosevelt. In 1988, Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush, soundly defeated Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis in the presidential election.

The 1980s: Popular Culture

In some respects, the popular culture of the 1980s reflected the era’s political conservatism. For many people, the symbol of the decade was the “yuppie”: a baby boomer with a college education, a well-paying job and expensive taste. Many people derided yuppies for being self-centered and materialistic, and surveys of young urban professionals across the country showed that they were, indeed, more concerned with making money and buying consumer goods than their parents and grandparents had been. However, in some ways yuppiedom was less shallow and superficial than it appeared. Popular television shows like “thirtysomething” and movies like “The Big Chill” and “Bright Lights, Big City” depicted a generation of young men and women who were plagued with anxiety and self-doubt. They were successful, but they weren’t sure they were happy.

At the movie theater, the 1980s was the age of the blockbuster. Movies like “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Return of the Jedi,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Beverly Hills Cop” appealed to moviegoers of all ages and made hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office. The 1980s was also the heyday of the teen movie. Films like “The Breakfast Club,” “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Pretty in Pink” are still popular today.

At home, people watched family sitcoms like “The Cosby Show,” “Family Ties,” “Roseanne” and “Married…with Children.” They also rented movies to watch on their new VCRs. By the end of the 1980s, 60 percent of American television owners got cable service–and the most revolutionary cable network of all was MTV, which made its debut on August 1, 1981. The music videos the network played made stars out of bands like Duran Duran and Culture Club and made megastars out of artists like Michael Jackson (1958-2009), whose elaborate “Thriller” video helped sell 600,000 albums in the five days after its first broadcast. MTV also influenced fashion: People across the country (and around the world) did their best to copy the hairstyles and fashions they saw in music videos. In this way, artists like Madonna (1958-) became (and remain) fashion icons.

As the decade wore on, MTV also became a forum for those who went against the grain or were left out of the yuppie ideal. Rap artists such as Public Enemy channeled the frustration of urban African Americans into their powerful album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.” Heavy metal acts such as Metallica and Guns N’ Roses also captured the sense of malaise among young people, particularly young men. Even as Reagan maintained his popularity, popular culture continued to be an arena for dissatisfaction and debate throughout the 1980s.

10 Things About Life In The 80’s That Todays’ Generation Wouldn’t Understand

Technology is changing at a breakneck pace. Every few years, it feels like some new device come along and completely changes the way we live. Can you imagine life without smart underwear? None of us can.

This is why the children of 2018 are having a completely different childhood than you and I did–so different that you and I might as well be from colonial times. Here are 10 things about growing up in the 1980’s that kids today can’t even begin to comprehend.

1. You had to watch TV commercials.

Photo Credit: Like Totally 80s

2. If you wanted to watch a movie, you had to go to a video store and rent it. And if they were out, well, too bad.

Photo Credit: Flashbak

3. You knew how to type, on a keyboard, using your fingers AND your thumbs.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

4. You memorized several people’s phone numbers.

Photo Credit: Throwbacks

5. If you wanted to know information, you had to actually look it up.

Photo Credit: Smithsonian

6. If you took a picture, you had to wait before you could see it.

Photo Credit: Throwbacks

7. If you wanted to hear your favorite song, you had to wait for it to play on the radio.

Photo Credit: Throwbacks

8. If you wanted to hang with friends, you had to be in their physical vicinity.

Photo Credit: Throwbacks

9. Instead of spending hundreds on a prom dress, you made one yourself.

Photo Credit: Throwbacks

10. You used the phrase “roll down the window.”

Photo Credit: Pinterest

h/t: Throwbacks

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American History: Life in the 1970s and ’80s

STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION — American history in VOA Special English. I’m Steve Ember.
This week in our series, we look back at some of the social issues and cultural changes in America in the nineteen seventies and eighties.
►Listen to this story in high-quality 192kbps audio (or right-click/option-click to save)
In some ways, the nineteen eighties seemed like the opposite of the nineteen sixties. The sixties were years of protest for social justice and change. Many Americans demonstrated against the Vietnam War. Blacks demonstrated for civil rights. Women demonstrated for equality. Many people welcomed new social programs created by the government.
By the nineteen eighties, however, many people seemed more concerned with themselves than with helping society. To them, success was measured mainly by how much money a person made. People wanted to live the good life, and that took money.
The changes started to become evident during the nineteen seventies. For a while, these years brought a continuation of the social experiments and struggles of the sixties.
But then people began to see signs of what society would be like in the eighties. There were a number of reasons for this change.
One reason was the end to America’s military involvement in Vietnam after years of war. Another was the progress of civil rights activists and the women’s movement toward many of their goals.
A third reason was the economy. During the nineteen seventies, the United States suffered a recession. Interest rates and inflation were high. A shortage of imported oil as a result of tensions in the Middle East only added to the problems.
As the nineteen seventies went on, many Americans became tired of economic struggle. They also became tired of social struggle. They had been working together for common interests. Now, many wanted to spend more time on their own interests.
This change appeared in many parts of society. It affected popular culture, education and politics.
ARCHIE (CARROLL O’CONNOR): “Lemme hear your idea again.”
MICHAEL (ROB REINER): “OK, I want us to watch Jack Lemmon and a group of famous scientists discuss pollution and ecology on Channel Thirteen.”
ARCHIE: “Good. And I wanna watch football highlights on channel two. Now guess what’s gonna happen.”

Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton starred as Archie and Edith Bunker in the CBS television show “All in the Family” One of the most popular television programs of that time was a comedy series that often dealt with politics and serious social issues. The show was called “All in the Family.” The family was led by a factory worker named Archie Bunker. Carroll O’Connor played Archie, and Jean Stapleton played his wife, Edith. The Bunkers lived in a working-class neighborhood in the Queens borough of New York City.
Archie represented the struggles of the blue-collar working man against the social changes in America. He loved his country and was socially conservative — in the extreme.
ARCHIE: “What about John Wayne? And before you say anything, lemme warn you –- when you’re talking about ‘The Duke,’ you ain’t just talking about an actor; you’re talking about the spirit that made America great.”
MICHAEL: “Are you kidding?”
His opinions on subjects like race and women’s equality were always good for an argument with his liberal daughter and even more liberal son-in-law.
MICHAEL: “Good. I can mail my letter today and it’ll get to Washington by Monday.”
EDITH (JEAN STAPLETON): “Washington – Are you writing to Washington?
GLORIA (SALLY ANN STRUTHERS): “That’s right. Michael wrote the president.”
ARCHIE: “Write to the president, about what?”
GLORIA: “All the things we’ve been talking about – the pollution of our air, the pollution of our water, the way us housewives have no protection from foods without nutrition, how they make products with harmful things in ‘em. Like you saw what happened to Michael from that shirt.”
ARCHIE: “You, Michael Stivic, Meathead, you have the nerve to write to the president of the United States about your rash?”
Edith would always try to make peace.
EDITH: “Maybe he knows a good skin man .”
(MUSIC: “Happy Days” theme Song)
Another popular program, “Happy Days,” about family life in the nineteen fifties, offered an escape from the social issues of the day.
Music also changed. In the nineteen sixties, folk music was popular. Many of those folk songs were about social issues. But in the nineteen seventies, there was hard rock and punk.
TV Master of Ceremonies: “Here is Wonder Mike, Hank, and Master G, The Sugarhill Gang.”
And in nineteen seventy-nine a group called the Sugarhill Gang brought rap music to national attention with a hit called “Rapper’s Delight.”
(MUSIC: “Rappers Delight”)
In bookstores, the growing number of self-help books offered another sign of social change. These books advised people about ways to make themselves happier. One of the most popular self-help books was “I’m OK — You’re OK” by Doctor Thomas A. Harris. It was published in nineteen sixty-nine and led the way for many other popular psychology books throughout the seventies.
Politically, the United States went through several changes during the nineteen seventies. For most of the sixties the nation was governed by liberal Democratic administrations. Then in nineteen sixty-eight a conservative Republican, Richard Nixon, was elected president.

Nixon won a second term four years later, but had to resign in nineteen seventy-four because of the Watergate scandal. Nixon’s vice president, Gerald Ford, took his place. Two years later, Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter, a Democrat who until then was little known nationally.
The election showed that Americans were angry with the Republican Party because of Watergate. But they soon became unhappy with President Carter. They blamed him for failing to improve the economy and for failing to end a crisis involving American hostages in Iran. He lost his re-election campaign to Ronald Reagan.
RONALD REAGAN: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
President Ronald Reagan signs a major tax cut bill at his ranch near Santa Barbara, California Reagan, a Republican, won two terms and led the nation during most of the nineteen eighties. For many people, the Reagan years offered a renewed sense of economic opportunity. Reagan reduced taxes, which increased his popularity. But the national debt grew as he raised military spending to put pressure on the Soviet Union.
The self-centeredness of many people in the seventies and eighties gave rise to terms like the “me” generation.” And there was the rise of “yuppies” — young urban professionals remaking older neighborhoods in cities, often displacing poorer people.
Popular entertainment at that time was often about financial success.
TV ANNOUNCER: “Premiering Sunday, April second, ‘Dallas,’ where money buys power and passion breeds conflict.”
(MUSIC: “Dallas” theme)
“Dallas” was a television drama about a very rich Texas oil family “Dallas” was a TV drama about a Texas oil family with more money, and more problems, than they knew what to do with. It became a hit not just in the United States but around the world. Actor Larry Hagman played J.R.
J.R. (LARRY HAGMAN): “Your daddy lacked the killer instinct. He forgave those who transgressed against him. People just weren’t afraid of him. And he overlooked ol’ J.R.’s golden rules.
CASEY (ANDREW STEVENS): “And what might they be?”
JR: “Don’t forgive and don’t forget. And do unto others, before they do unto you. And, most especially, keep your eye on your friends, ‘cause your enemies will take care of themselves. Oh, and one other thing – the oil business is a little bit like a poker game. It’s good to get caught bluffing early on, ‘cause, after that, somebody’s gonna call you when you’ve got a winning hand.”
(MUSIC: “Dynasty” theme)
“Dynasty” was another popular series about rich people behaving badly. One of its stars was veteran actor John Forsythe.
JOHN FORSYTHE as Blake Carrington: “Those banks are going to find out that they’ve got more than they can handle. Denver Carrington is Blake Carrington, and they’ll come begging to me to run the company again. I know they will. And I’ll make them get down on their knees when they come begging.”
There was also “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” a series about real-life wealthy people, hosted by Robin Leach.
ROBIN LEACH: “Our bustling capital city combines the chic with the freak, the ‘Oh, God’ with the avant garde. So let’s go ‘upper deck’ with a couple of my good friends, and run away with the rich and famous…”

And at the movie theater, there was the nineteen eighty-seven film “Wall Street.”
GORDON GECKO (MICHAEL DOUGLAS): “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works.”
Michael Douglas played a character named Gordon Gecko, who earns his wealth by raiding companies and illegally trading on inside information.
MICHAEL DOUGLAS: “Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed – you mark my words – will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A. Thank you very much.”
(MUSIC: “Rambo” theme)
Good triumphed over evil in the “Rambo” action films starring Sylvester Stallone. He played a troubled hero who had fought in Vietnam. The films were violent. But they represented a more positive view than society had shown in the past toward veterans of that unpopular war.
In the nineteen eighties people came to fear a new disease that could be spread by sex or blood. It was the rise of the AIDS epidemic.
At the same time a new drug — crack cocaine — started a wave of violence in American cities.
Technology was also on the rise.
TV ANNOUNCER: “You don’t have to be a genius to use a computer. Let Computer Land show you how easy it is to manage your own small business or home finances with the Atari Eight Hundred. Record keeping, information, communication, and a world of new ideas from Atari.”
Personal computers appeared in more and more offices, schools and homes.
The nineteen eighties brought stardom to young entertainer Michael Jackson.
(MUSIC: “Beat It”/Michael Jackson)
And no history of the eighties would be complete without noting the rise of Music Television — better known as MTV.
(MUSIC: “Money for Nothing”/Dire Straits)
You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I’m Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION — American history in VOA Special English.
Contributing: Jerilyn Watson

Born in 1980? A mathematical surprise awaits you in 2025

I’m looking forward to celebrating my 45th birthday that also contains a rare, mathematical coincidence as long as I don’t have to wear one of those stupid hats. Video screenshot by Danny Gallagher/CNET

I’m starting to believe I was born under some kind of magical sign.

It all started back on June 8 when I wrote a CNET story about a study examining the correlation between birth month and certain diseases. It found that people born in May had a lower risk for contracting ailments such as ADHD and heart disease.

The subject still needs further study and a much wider pool of patients to reach broader conclusions, but I didn’t care. I have a May birthday — May 9, 1980 to be exact. It was like learning I was the Last Starfighter without having to waste all those quarters on an overrated video game.

The good news just keeps on rolling my way. I just came across a news video that reveals another significant anomaly connected to my birth. Matt Parker, a self-proclaimed “stand up mathematician,” author and host of the web series Numberphile, explains in the video below that he and all of the other people who were born in 1980 are part of a very unique, mathematical group.

Ten years from now, in the year 2025 when us old fogies will turn 45, our ages will line up with our year along a very rare mathematical line in which our age equals the square root of that exact year. The last time that happened was for people born in the year 1892 when they turned 44 in 1936, and it won’t happen again until 2070 when the people born in that year turn 46 in 2116. That’s assuming some kind of alien invasion that enslaves all of humanity won’t spoil our fun by then.

Now, you may just be calling my good fortune coincidences and you’re probably right, but being in the right statistical birth month and a rare, mathematical year that happens once every century still feels empowering. This is like learning that I’ve been chosen to be in the Green Lantern Corps — minus the power to conjure any object at will or fit in spandex without looking like an overstuffed sausage.

If you’re a fellow 1980-ian or just want to understand the math behind why this year is so unique when it comes to numbers, Parker will do the math for you in the video below.

I know I shouldn’t compare my teen years in the ’80s and ’90s to my kids’ teens years but I can’t help it. It’s too much fun to look back and see how my friends, sisters and I spent our time versus how my kids spend their time.

I know some say kids these days are spoiled and have no idea how good they have it, but we all remember our parents saying the same to us and so on and so forth. Clearly, this will be a thing until the end of time.


When I was a teen in the late ’80s and early ’90s, I went shopping for a prom dress with my friends, or my mother made me a dress for a special dance with fabric she found on sale at the local fabric store after picking out a pattern together. Then I’d pray for the best outcome possible. Occasionally parents would buy a dress in those days, but lots of girls I knew (including myself) had to earn the money themselves if they didn’t want to wear a hand-me-down or a homemade gown. A group of us would get together at someone’s house and do each other’s hair and makeup while listening to Michael Jackson and Madonna in a cloud of hairspray.

These days there are expected prom proposals. It takes months to plan and decide which dress to purchase. The average teenager spends $600 one this one night. Back in my glory days, that was enough to buy a car.

Notes on Paper

We used to write notes to our friends explaining our deepest thoughts. There were words exchanged in these sordid letters we’d never dare say out loud. We put a lot of thought into them. We would erase and rewrite, reach for a new sheet of paper and number the pages. Now teenagers send a quick text full of abbreviations I don’t understand. They speak a shortened version of the language I used to with my friends (I think?). Then, everything must have a hashtag. I remember when we used to play tic-tac-toe on hashtags.

Music on the Radio

They have the luxury of downloading the latest music before anyone has heard it on the radio while we used to all huddle around a big speaker and hope and pray the D.J. would play our favorite song. Then we’d get our blank tape ready and try and hit play record at the perfect moment. Oh, and remember the weekly Top 40? That was the highlight of our week. We were guaranteed to hear all of our favorite songs in one night. What a treat.

Talking on the Phone

Teens of the 80s and 90s would call their best friends (on a rotary phone), and if we got a busy signal we stayed strong and kept dialing over and over until we got through.

Today, this would be a travesty. First of all, teenagers don’t know anyone’s actual number. And if they send a text to their BFF and if they don’t get a reply right away, they Snap them, send them a message on Instagram, then try Facebook messenger.

The ’80s and ’90s were a time we told our friends about our epic adventures by talking to them when we saw them in real life. Now there’s pressure to document and compare everything, teens never get a break from each other. If they want to know what one of their friends did 5 seconds ago, all they have to do is check out their story on SnapChat.

School Supplies

The hottest school supplies in the ’80s and ’90s consisted of a Trapper Keeper. These days all my kids have is a laptop with everything the need, and apparently everything I need. Long gone are the days when parents got reports cards and the occasional call from school if we were naughty. Now, I can look to see how my teens are doing every day. I know exactly what their grades are, if anything is late I can see it. I can check up on them if they tell me there’s no homework. I’m not sure if I love it or hate it. Honestly, I’m leaning towards the hate part, it makes me anxious just thinking about it.

TV Commercials

We had patience because we were able to sit through commercials. These days kids can’t handle that kind of waiting. Nobody has two minutes to spare. We must get to the show, get to the music, get to the movie. As far as my kids are concerned, commercials were what people watched in the “old days.”


Now, kids spend lots of their time getting just the right selfie, then they can throw a filter and some script on that bad boy and they have a masterpiece. In my day, you were lucky if your parents took a few pictures of you before you headed out the door for a dance or date with your friends. Then you had to wait a dog year to get the film developed and hope everyone’s eyes were open. Then you’d pin or tape them to your wall or back of your door. Now everyone has exactly 74 albums in their phone with hundreds of pictures documenting every moment of their life.


On Friday or Saturday night we’d get together and browse in the movie rental shop after having some frozen yogurt. If what we wanted wasn’t there, we were out of luck and would settle on something mediocre. There wasn’t anything to download. And don’t forget how we had to rewind the movie when we were done lest we get a fine and be banned from the store.

TV and AC

I know my parents thought we had it really good, especially the years my dad put a tiny black and white television in my bedroom, “Boy, do you have it good,” he said as I snuggled in bed and watched Mary Lou Retton do gymnastics one summer night while eating a salami sandwich in my bed as I blasted my fan because it was 95 degrees outside. It’s one of my favorite memories, but if my kids had to experience it, they would certainly wonder why they were looking at a tiny gray box that was fuzzy and wonder where the hell the air-conditioning was.

I wonder what they will be telling their kids about their childhood. Every generation thinks the one after them has it much better and I hope I’m around to listen to my kids tell their kids about the time the WiFi was down and they had to “rough it.”


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I interviewed people in their 80s about how they cope with aging. Here’s what I learned

When I started interviewing for the book, I expected to find that all of those I interviewed would have many health problems. So, I was surprised that there was a sizable group of those whom I interviewed who, like me actually, had few or no health issues. This was one of my first “aha!” moments. Eightysomethings can be healthy. However, of course, most people in their eighties do have health issues. One of these eightysome­things summed up her life as “patch, patch, patch.” And a whopping 52 percent of people in their eighties have four or more chronic conditions, according to the Consumer Reports National Research Center. It is how they cope with their health issues that interests me most.

Doug, at eighty-six, is an example of a healthy man. He takes no prescription medicines at all. A former engineer, Doug and his wife have lived in the same house for over fifty years. Three years ago, one of his daughters and two small grandchildren moved in with them. He loves having them in the house and he happily helps out, taking one of the children to daycare each day. He admits that he has somewhat less energy nowadays, so he only goes on walks about twice a week. And he only skates a couple of times each winter. After telling me this, he commented, “I am almost embarrassed by my good fortune; I will probably fall apart all at once.”


Hugh, eighty-eight, a Christian Scientist living in Connecticut, is another amazingly healthy person. A trim man, Hugh was wearing shorts the February day I interviewed him and he was just back from his daily walk. He told me that he has not been to the doctor since 1964. I must have looked shocked because he added quickly, apparently to reassure me, “I have been to the dentist though.” When his wife died several years ago there was no funeral service and no mention of her death. He explained to me that she had just moved to another stage of life.

I couldn’t help but wonder about the factors that explain Doug’s and Hugh’s amazing good health. Is it merely good genes and good luck? In Doug’s case, I can’t help but believe that being immersed in a multigenerational family where his help is needed contributes to his well-being. And for Hugh, I believe that his faith has much to do with his continued good health.

After interviewing many other eightysomethings who were less healthy, I discerned that people fall into five main groups according to how they cope with their health issues. Deniers, Stoics, Complainers, Worriers, and Realists. The coping style does not seem related to the severity of their health problems.


Deniers refuse to acknowledge their problems even when they are obvious to all those around them. They ignore chest pains and refuse to go to the doctor when they have shortness of breath. They continue to drive despite cataracts that should have been removed months before. They continue to eat quarts of ice cream despite their obesity. They drive their spouses and children crazy.

Andrew, eighty-eight, is a good example of a Denier. He is a small but intimidating man who was the CEO of a large company. He retired twenty-seven years ago. Five years ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and he and his wife moved to a retirement community in New Hampshire. His daily routine includes time in the wood working shop each morning. Despite his tremors, significant cognitive impairment, and tearful pleas from his wife, he refuses to stop using the power tools. He insists he is careful.

Unfortunately, it usually takes some kind of a calamity to get Deniers to pay attention to their bodies.


Stoics make up the largest group in my eightysomething sample. Stoics are like the literary character Pollyanna—remaining good-spirited and cheerful, even when they face situations that are painful and life-altering. At my retirement community, Stoics come to the dining room sporting bandages, crutches, and slings. As one woman said to me, “Why miss dinner just because you have a black eye and a large bandage around your head?” For these Stoics, it is definitely “stiff upper lip’” and “keep on moving.” Regina and Cassy are both Stoics, and both have many serious health issues.

Regina, who was born in Italy, now lives with her husband of sixty-six years in a retirement community in upstate New York. She weighs a mere ninety-four pounds and takes dancing lessons three times a week. She mused, “I think the main reason I have lived so long, and am so healthy at eighty-four, is that I have taken care of my body. My mother was a nutrition nut. My whole childhood was her telling me ‘eat this fish for your eyes, those carrots for memory.’ I was given tonics and I survived typhoid as a child, so I must be a tough cookie. Today my hearing is not so good and my heart has major electrical problems. Even so, I keep dancing and am very energetic.”


Yes, Regina is a fine example of a Stoic. She knows she has health problems, but she minimizes them. I have a hunch that as long as she dances she will survive for many more years.

Cassy, another example of a Stoic, is an eighty-seven-year-old diminutive woman with bright blue eyes and a radiant smile. She lives in New York state, about a hundred miles from New York City. She told me, “Everything changed for me in my eighties. I have had two hips replaced and gotten two new knees. My arthritis is a problem. I have done the falling thing, too, and was on a walker for several months. Now I can walk just fine, but I have serious lung and breathing problems and I’ve had skin cancer. Doctors’ appointments keep me busy. Still I try to exercise forty minutes a day and I can see just fine—that’s a gift. I have been so blessed.” Cassy is so filled with joy and good spirits that she had me believing she was okay despite the many issues she was dealing with.

Complainers are those who tell anyone who will listen about their back pain, their acid reflux, their recent diarrhea, and on and on. This is an extremely tiny group at my retirement community where complaining about your health runs counter to the prevailing culture and puts you on an imaginary black list where people may begin to shun you. It is okay, however, to complain at length about the weather and the fact that the chairs on the terrace are uncomfortable. Complainers are also a small minority of those eightysomethings around the country whom I interviewed.


Bunny, an eighty-five-year-old woman, is one of the Complainers. She began our encounter with the proverbial organ recital: “Katharine, I am having an awful time. My back aches all the time so I can’t walk. I can’t eat anything that tastes good. My heartburn is horrible. My hearing is so bad I really can’t have a conversation. And now, my daughter has moved to Colorado and left me high and dry. I can’t believe she did that to me. I have no one to talk to now.” It is hard to be empathic when there is a never-ending tale of woe. Her daughter told me when I interviewed her a few months later that it was quite a relief to be able to be out west.

Maud is one of the Worriers I spoke with. She lives in affordable housing in western Massachusetts. During our interview in her tiny apartment stuffed with furniture and artificial flowers, she told me, “I can hardly get up when I am on my knees and I worry about what I will do if it gets any worse. I stopped traveling because I was afraid I might get sick and, of course, I can’t afford to travel, anyway. I don’t go out often because I am afraid I might fall.”

I know this type because my husband John was one of them. Although in public he appeared relaxed and carefree, in private, he was a Worrier. In his early eighties, when he was still fairly healthy, he worried about falling. So, he always walked with two hiking sticks to feel secure. He thought they made him look sporty rather than impaired. He worried about getting sick, so he took his blood pressure every day for years and would take to his bed with the slightest runny nose.


A short riff about falling. Almost all people in their eighties (except the Deniers) worry about falling. Eightysomethings hold onto the railings when going up and down stairs and rarely emerge out-of-doors if there is ice on the streets. And for good reason—because 40 percent of eightysomethings fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in this age group. Everyone who is over eighty has a friend who has fallen and broken his or her hip and never really recovered. It is part of the culture of aging.

Lastly, we have the Realists. They are those wise souls who appropriately acknowledge their health conditions and their seriousness. They acknowledge their pain but don’t dwell on it. They complain if it’s bad. They pay attention to how their body feels and note changes and new symptoms. They go to the doctor and the dentist and they are not reckless. You do not have to second guess a Realist.

Ralph is a good example of a Realist. He is a tanned man with curly white hair. His energy level, however, is totally different from his ninety-year-old girlfriend’s, as she continues to climb mountains and to ski. He spoke in a husky voice so softly that I had to keep asking him to repeat what he had said: “I had prostate cancer two years ago, needed an operation. Since then I have had urinary problems and sex with my girlfriend is not at all the way it was before the operation.”

Ralph continued,


After the cancer, then the next thing that happened was that my balance was off. I kept teetering around and banging into walls. It turned out I had fluid in my brain and I needed a shunt. The procedure has worked quite well and my brain seems okay. I also have neuropathy that has affected my feet. I take fourteen different kinds of medications each day and I can only walk about a block.

We don’t drink alcohol or eat red meat. Put bluntly, though, it’s a lot of work. It’s very tough. But each morning I wake up and say to myself I’m here, I am alive.

Some of the ways we cope depend on our ethnic background and culture. I recommend Monica McGoldrick’s book, “Ethnicity and Family Therapy,” for anyone interested in pursuing this topic. For example, she explains that Irish people are likely to deny they have any pain while English are just stoic about the pain they feel. She has lots of fascinating material about how different groups experience and deal with health issues.

By the way, I see myself as a Stoic. My father didn’t go to a doctor for thirty years. No one in my family got much attention for being sick, so as a child I didn’t take to my bed or stay home if I felt a little off. As an adult I used to go to work when I was sick and several times my colleagues would take a look at me and send me home. Now in my eighties I like to think I am more sensible. I do go to the doctor much sooner now, but I probably still carry on a bit past the point that it is reasonable.

What else did I learn from my 128 interviews about eightysomethings and their health? First, I am convinced now that their attitude and usual coping style have more impact on their behavior than their actual health status. And most importantly, I observed that a decline in health in one’s eighties is not always—in fact, is not usually—accompanied by a similar decline of good spirits. Many in their eighties feel happy—some happier than they have ever been before. This is the little-known fact about eightysomethings that we will explore and expand upon throughout this book.

Younger family members often have trouble understanding how their eightysomething relatives actually feel. They are sure they would be totally depressed if they had half the health issues that their eightysomething parent or relative is living with. Yet Cassy glows with joy and Ralph reports he has never been so happy in spite of how tough it is for him. Somewhere in the decade of their eighties, many people begin to see the glass half full. If they do not have dementia and are not in constant pain, eightysomethings count themselves lucky. They are able to take pleasure in what remains—they are alive.


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Excerpted with permission from “Eightysomethings: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness” by Katharine Esty, PhD. Copyright 2019 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

What If Today’s Big Brands Were Born In The ’80s?

“It was acceptable in the 80’s, it was acceptable at the time”

Yeah, the lyrics from the famous Calvin Harris song kind of sum up how we feel about outdated design. As with fashion and food and all other forms of everything-ness, graphic design changes with the times too. If you look back at your favourite television shows, your favourite clothing stores, your favourite snack packaging, essentially everything you could see – every detail looked different.

Trends have a huge effect on the way we see the world around us.

There’s a reason that business choose to rebrand after a period of time and what it all boils down to is the simple fact that they’re moving with the times. Their current logo may now – 10 years on – seem outdated. In fact, you may have noticed some big brands have adapted their logo numerous times to stay ahead of the games. Heavy hitters such as Apple, Starbucks, Dell, Burberry, but to name a few, have all undergone drastic changes to their brand to remain current, modern and appealing to the masses. But…

What would today’s big brands have looked like in the 80s?

Just a few short days ago, design “FuturePunk” who self-professes to make “art & music and deals memes on the side” uploaded a pretty impressive collection of logos. These weren’t just your run-of-the-mill average logo designs. No, FuturePunk has reimagined today’s big brands as they might have been presented to the public over 3 decades ago. His 80s-styled retro logo designs have hit the press and quite rightly so because if you have a look, it’s pretty clear that he’s hit the design nail on the head with this one!

Have a look at the FuturePunk‘s retro-styled remakes below.

Which one is your favourite?

Pretty impressive, right?

You can totally see it too. If you grew up in the 80s (which we’re sure a lot of you did), you could certainly see some of these logos gracing your homes in one way or another. They would fit right in to the aesthetic of the decades. Whereas now, they would be filed under the categories of either retro or simply outdated. We still think they’re pretty cool though. Nostalgia, after all, is a beautiful thing.

Looking for a brand new logo design?

We guess you’re not on the hunt for a retro logo design, or maybe you are, but whatever you’re looking for, we’re here to help. Our super friendly and seriously skilled team of designers are always on hand to chat about your branding ideas and everything in between. Please feel free to give us a call, drop us a line or pop into the office to discuss your requirements – coffees on us as always!

Psst! For more of this artist’s work, check out ‘FuturePunk’ on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.