I am behind the times. I will be 50 this year, and I still don't have a clue how to retrieve messages from my cell phone - they are mostly spam anyway or some Mexicans who get the area code wrong and keep asking for 'Marisol'. I didn't have a prayer of getting my power point done for my Spanish class last semester without the able assistance of my 17 year old daughter. And, I really do thank the pilot after a successful flight; how could anyone get used to crossing time zones and continental divides like it's just a walk in the park?
My family tells people I am easily amused. I prefer to think of myself as exceptionally appreciative. While I fully admire my kid's ability to text message and photo shop and MP3 MySpace Adobe PDF whatever - (I admit I can't watch a DVD by myself because I don't know how to turn it on), they probably wouldn't have coped very well with the way things used to be.
Take the physical effort of manual typewriters, for example. Gotta love that precious carbon paper to make copies - or better yet, hand-cranking the ditto machine to roll out wet, chemically saturated copies that somehow looked like an abstract watercolor after about the 30th sheet. Having some kind of cordless communication device was only for 007 or Maxwell Smart. Power windows were only in Cadillacs, color t.v's were usually only in someone else's house and hauling laundry in from the clothes line a standard family chore. People were afraid of microwave ovens when they first came out; what about the deadly 'microwaves'? Remote control was a little brother, and tape recorders had reels of 1/2" wide tape almost as big as salad plates. We had our Hi-Fi stereo as a basic furniture item, and when we said, "I'll dial the number," - we really meant it.
Even though she has been away from home for 11 years, I rely on my oldest daughter for some of my more critical technical needs. She and other young professionals like herself are communicating across the continent on a daily basis. They are doing things and getting things done. They are sharing ideas and networking their resources for everything from recipe advice to small business marketing. Always, they are posting 'pics' and videos and transposing their world into a 3D conduit of what appears to be very fun, very cosmopolitan lives and life experiences.
We have a beautiful encyclopedia set. We sacrificed to purchase it when a local supermarket offered it at a great price. About 6 months later the iron curtain fell, rendering much of it obsolete in an instant. I still feel more comfortable reaching for a quick, tangible reference search on the printed page than I do 'navigating' the web with its dizzying array of choices. However, if I really need information yesterday, I call Robin.
Recently we had the sad urgency to ask for very specialized help; did she know anyone who spoke Romanian? A little part-member family in our Ward suffered the sudden loss of their dad to a heart attack. He escaped communist Romania when he was 24, somehow dodging barbed wire and armed guards surviving for several weeks on roots and berries. Most of his large, immediate family eventually followed him to freedom in the U.S., settling in the ethnic neighborhoods of Chicago. It was for them we wanted to sing the last verse of "Abide With Me" in their native tongue. With a flick of the electronic wrist, Robin had a 'shout out' to her 'peeps'. Within hours we were communicating with 3 different Romanian speakers who were friends of a friend of a friend. Thanks to the 'hook up', the next day we sang perfect Romanian to a surprised group of mourners.
I appreciate the kind generosity of these young, technically gifted and well-traveled bloggers and e-mailers. It was an impossible request, given the time-line especially, yet total strangers rallied to the cause and gave grief a backseat to a 4 part harmony message of comfort.
Times change. And I am glad they do. Thank goodness for boxed hair color that can be stocked like food storage, reading glasses from Walgreens and those new girdles promoted by Oprah. Being a Grandmother is an incredible joy. These are great times when light and knowledge 'flood the earth' ~ and time, space and culture really can be bridged with the human touch. "Ramai Cu Mine".
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