Ron Judd

Congrats, grads! You're really not that special, but there's always hope

Valuable life advice from editor/former dog owner
June 8, 2022 at 6:00 a.m.

Executive Editor

Greetings, esteemed graduates of the Class of 2022! It is a high honor to be standing not before you (because nobody ever asked), but to be sort of barging in to the seat next to you on the city bus of life, via the newspaper.

Please know that in spite of this massive invitation fail, my bullheaded decision to indirectly address you reflects my abiding commitment to the future of the human race — and also, the historical record shall reflect, my lack of a better column subject for June 8, 2022.

The traditional graduation speech is an occasion where some learned person with an official title, a compelling life story — or better yet, a big, fat donor checkbook — informs you that you are all special, and “the hope for the future.” As Richard M. Nixon (Wiki this dude) would have said: This has the added benefit of being true. But only partially.

Fact is, despite what you might have been told — ad nauseam — you’re really not any more special than previous generations of graduates. I know, sobering, yes? Sorry, not sorry: First the pandemic, then this. It never ends!

In fact, some cranks might argue that you have spent so much time shopping for Nike crap and posting videos to social media for most of your lives that you have shed more brain cells than you have added over the course of your educational careers.

With exceptions, of course. So it goes.

The sooner we all agree that you’re just the latest models — with all sorts of quality compromises dictated by the marketing department — to roll off the clearly flawed homo sapiens production line, the sooner we can get to the life-advice stuff.

Note: The following advice will be worth exactly what you paid for it, but maybe there’s a nugget or two here. Unlike many of the rest of us, you’ve still got ample time to unplug, reboot and reinstall, so don’t lose hope as you consider the following schmears of wisdom and fatherly guidance from a man who is not a father, but has shepherded many dogs and interns with varying success:

Forget bitcoin. Stock up on maple syrup. The real kind, made in Vermont, Lake Placid or even New Brunswick, from tapped trees, drip-by-drip. Given our dietary evolution and climate change, aged private reserves of this bronze liquid gold will be the coin of the realm in 20 years. Trust me. 

Learn how to make a fire and put one out.

Figure out how to grow stuff. 

Please monitor all the lightbulbs in your family homestead. A lot of us middle-aged or older folks have spent years replacing housefuls of incandescent bulbs with LED models that promise 15,000–50,000 hours’ use. Fact check: Most of us only have about 10K lightbulb hours left, tops. If the bulbs fail after we’ve gone but before they’re supposed to, please do the American thing and sue the pants off the manufacturers. It’s in your hands.

At some point in your life, spend an ample amount of time making something with your hands. It matters.

Take chances. The older you get, the more is at stake, the higher the walls of resistance. The big leap you make with no net probably won’t lead to your dream job, a dream life, a dream partner or even a dream boat. But it might.

Think seriously about reparations of various sorts for various things.

Follow the money.

Be not just wary, but trigger-wire suspicious of any person, organization or creed that elevates faith over reason.

Drop the generational angst. Fate has handed you a crummy hand, and you’re headed into an unpredictable future, made more daunting by mistakes made by previous generations. All true — and absolutely not unique in human history. But you’ve also been handed unprecedented amounts of knowledge and technology to solve problems — assuming you can convince your own generation to muster the political will to abolish, renew and start over. (Sorry, little evidence of that in voter rolls to date.)

Important addendum: You read that correctly: your own generation. Trust us older folks on this: Every generation of Americans has included those who are selfless and community-minded — and others who are selfish, bigoted, delusional, entitled and 100% ready to stab the greater good in the back. They’re among your ranks, as well. You just don’t see them yet. Your battle to thrive and survive in the future isn’t one against older or long-gone Americans. It’s against human nature.

Read. And not on your goddamn phone. It makes a difference.

Measure twice, cut once. This applies equally to carpentry and caustic emails and group text threads. 

If you ever own a home, kill the lawn. Completely unnecessary and burdensome. In the grand scheme of things, if you accomplish nothing else in your life, you’ve done the world a favor.

And speaking of needless grass: Don’t play golf. It’s an anal-retentive pursuit with water-hogging implications. Just say no. Besides: Have you seen the pants and shoes? 

Don’t fear wolves, which have no interest in hurting you. Same with bears. Usually.

Make peace with your mask. You’re going to need it. 

Some time or another, visit New Zealand. Don’t mess it up.

Remember that you are under no obligation to procreate. The earth is not short of people.

Whenever you start to get depressed about your station in life in general, drive to North Dakota and back. Relativity is magic.

And for the love of all that is holy and good, keep right except to pass.

All the best, Uncle Ron.

Ron Judd's column appears on Wednesdays. Email:; Twitter: roncjudd.

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