Recognized for generations by its familiar yellow cover, The Old Farmer’s Almanac is back for 2004 with its signature mix of timeless wisdom and timely predictions. Read an excerpt below.
FASHION AND STYLE
Good-bye, Dress Codes
Fabrics and colors have broken through all seasonal and style roadblocks: Winter whites are hot in the cold months; fur is chic when it’s warm; and tweed’s time is summer. Also, don’t be surprised to see cocktail dresses at the office and sportswear in the evening, skirts over pants, vests over jackets, and plaids mixed with stripes.
The Canadian Perspective
“The whole peasant look is dead,” says Jill Maynard, editor in chief of Style Communications. “We’re back to the classic look, with slim silhouettes and luxury fabrics in blues, greens, and pinks that run the gamut from Easter-egg pastels to neony hues.”
Kids fashions have invaded grown-ups’ closets like never before, with circus elements, cartoon characters (Betty Boop and Felix the Cat), and superheroes in big, bold colors.
New electro-textiles will be able to transmit signals and may incorporate transistor radios or MP3 players directly into the washable fabrics, or an electronic T-shirt could track the wearer’s vital signs and transmit them wirelessly.
Other future fabrics will be capable of transforming clothing materials into clothes that perform superhuman functions (a soldier’s pants could become a leg cast, or the stored energy in his shoes could make it possible for him to leap walls of 20 feet).
ON THE HOME FRONT
Laundry to Love
A customized laundry room, also known as a “family studio,” has become a high priority for many homeowners. In addition to the usual appliances, the studio usually includes a fold-down ironing station, a computer workstation, a drying cabinet where clothes are air-dried, a sink spa for hand-washing delicate items, and the new personal valet clothes-vitalizing system. (This small-closet-size appliance removes wrinkles without ironing and freshens clothes without dry cleaning.) Watch for this wrinkle-removing appliance to become as ubiquitous in future homes as microwave ovens.
A Lighting Revolution
The light-emitting microchip, expected to be available for home use by 2007, will save us billions of dollars each year and last up to ten times longer than standard lightbulbs. It will revolutionize our experience of indoor light by creating the effect of natural light (clouds moving across a room, the shifting light of a sunrise), thereby stimulating us or soothing us.
Smart homes are getting smarter. Today, wired networks enable a whole house to communicate with itself and its occupants and stay connected to the Web 24 hours a day. So if the doorbell rings, your vacuum cleaner will turn itself off and your TV will show you who’s there. Your refrigerator will call you in your home office to tell you that you left its door open. The house will open and close the window shades as the Sun passes overhead; picture windows will become digital multimedia flat screens to show DVDs after dark; filtering systems will screen out allergens and bacteria to make homes healthier habitats.
SKY NEWS & VIEWS
The Next Big Gadget
Night-vision technology will soon be available to more than just high-paying, avid astronomers. Watch for night-vision devices that include headstrap goggles that let you see in the dark and night scopes that let you drive without lights.
Imagine Earth having a head-on collision with a comet or satellite. Scientists are keeping close watch via satellite and are considering ways to have rockets (or future nanobots) ready to nudge space rocks in another direction or explode them into dust if necessary.
TO YOUR HEALTH
Hot Fitness Trends
Freestyle Jump-Roping. This is a way to mix traditional jump-roping with music, dance, and natural body movements.
NIA (Neuromuscular Integrative Action). It’s a combination of modern dance, tai chi, aikado, and kick-boxing, done barefoot and with loud New Age chants, which encourages improvisational movement and personal interpretation as a way to self-healing and transformation.
Detoxifying treatments. The modern-day milder version of bloodletting to get purified of anything unhealthy includes everything from lymphatic drainage to pore-vacuuming facials.
Coffee. UCLA researchers report that female coffee drinkers have more memory in old age.
What’s Bad for You
Dillydallying. The Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa says that stalling not only makes you late but also makes you more susceptible to digestive problems and cold and flu symptoms. How to change that? We’ll tell you tomorrow.
Sleeping — too little or too much. We already knew that the sleep-deprived were more susceptible to heart disease (getting five hours or less per night means a 39 percent higher likelihood of heart disease) than those who sleep eight hours, but now researchers have found that sleeping too much (nine hours or more) raises your likelihood of developing heart disease by 37 percent.
As more activists push for pets’ rights, watch for these trends to follow:
An increase in law cases involving “animal companions”
More law schools around the country adding animal-law courses to their offerings (over a dozen already do)
More cities and states adopting laws that identify people as “guardians” rather than “owners,” thereby shifting the legal view of pets from property to companions
A Mixed Message
While we are feeling more protective of our personal space (with gated communities, home-security systems, personal-safety gear, guard dogs), we are also embracing more privacy-invading technologies (Verichips, biometric identification, global-positioning devices). “There is this feeling of vulnerability right in the center of where Americans tend to feel most confident, our sophisticated technological systems,” notes John Staudenmaier, history professor and editor of Technology and Culture. “For Americans, it’s almost like being homeless. It leads to an identity crisis.”
Excerpted from “The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2004” by Old Farmers Almanac (Editor). Copyright © 2004 by Old Farmers Almanac. Published by The Old Farmer’s Almanac. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.