It’s a Ding Dang Miracle

John W. Pinkerton

Computers and the internet and printers and cell phones are all magic to me.  As a youngster, and for that matter most of my life, none of these existed.  I'm not sure how any of them work, but work they do.  All I must do is shell out a little money, and, shazam, I can call a relative while standing in the middle of a corn field, can compose essays on a computer and have them printed with the push of a button, can write and receive notes from people living far away, can make purchases, can sell items, can do research, and track down people long lost to me.

I suspect I've written about this subject before, but I'm drawn to it again because as an older person, my appreciation for the wonders of computers and computer related stuff is much greater than that of  young people who were born with cell phones in their hands.  Older folks remember how difficult many tasks were before the computer generation.

Now, you youngsters have grown up with these conveniences and have no idea how wonderful they are.  I, on the other hand, am old and was born in the era when we had to walk five miles to and from school and it was uphill both ways.

As a youngster, phones were rotary, and, frankly, many were heavy and one certainly couldn't carry one in a pocket.  They were attached to cords; when one had a long cord which one could drag into another room, that was a little piece of heaven.  Then we got cordless home phones.  Holy moly!  This is where my participation in the march of progress halted. Linda has had a cell phone for years.  We purchased it as a safety device because Linda is on the road much more than I am.  She had it for years, and I referred to it as a steam driven device.  Finally she broke out with a fancy iphone.  She loves it; I now realize that the steam driven model was a gateway drug.  As for me, I depend on a 1940's rotary, but I do appreciate the fact that Linda's phone makes life more enjoyable and efficient for her.
Before the computer, I had to type my writing on a manual typewriter or later an electric typewriter; if I wanted a copy, I needed to use a sheet of carbon paper with a second sheet of plain paper.  One tried hard not to make mistakes because the early typewriters had no erase button.  Later with electric typewriters, a lift off tape was available, but one really had to pay attention to the errors or after you were finished, it was too late to make the corrections and one ended up using white out and handwriting or typing over the error.  At the time, this was fine.  That was what was available.  Today, of course, one can delete, select and delete, select and move until one is happy with the work, then push a button and have a copy printed or two copies or a hundred copies.  It's a ding-dang miracle.

Good typists were much in demand in the old days.  Somewhere along the line, schools quit teaching typing skills or “keyboard” skills.  Of course that was a mistake.  Now you have people pounding away at keyboards with one finger  or one finger and a thumb…animals!

In the old days, if I needed to do research, I needed to trudge to the library and figure out the Dewey Decimal system to find  what I was looking for.  You know what?  Those damned books didn't have a “find” button.  One had to go to the card catalog to find books on the subject I was researching. Once I found a likely book, I had to read the table of contents or the index as a guide.  Today if I want to get some facts on a subject,  I just do a find and voila a whole page of resources come up.  Then I can do a find within the chosen site, and, once again, voila.  It is absolutely amazing.

If I need to know what something or someone looks like, I do a search using images.  Oh, that's what it, he or she looks like!  Again, a friggin' miracle.  In the old days you probably couldn't find out what Obama looked like when he was in high school.  Now push a button and there he is as a teenager in all his glory.  I can admire it, print it, or send it.

In the old days, many of us were really quick in doing math in our heads.  Then along came calculators which provided some assurance that our calculations were correct, and we could carry it in our pocket.  The old mechanical calculators were clumsy, large, and just as accurate but limited in the kind of math one could do.  Now I have a calculator on my computer screen as well as a calendar.  Amazing.  I don't even have to go to the hallway to check the date on our wall calendar. 
In ancient times we used plastic film to take photographs.  We had to load the film in the camera, take the picture, take the film to a processor, and hope for the best.  Now with digital cameras, we can download the digital images to our computers where we can improve the images without a lot of messy chemicals.  If we choose we can print photos from our computers to our printers on photographic paper or send them through the internet to a friend or to a Walgreens or other store to have them processed into hard copies.  We can email copies to relatives, create memory books on line and have them delivered to our homes in a few days.  Hell, I've even created art books this way.  Hallelujah!  Do I hear an “Amen”?
If I want to buy a new television, lawnmower, shower cap, whatever, I just go to a store on the internet, do a quick search, read the details (Just joking; I never
read the details.) and order using a credit card, or debit card, or some other nifty way to pay the bill.  A few days later, a fellow drives up in an ugly truck and drops my purchase on the porch.  In the old days, I had to get dressed for public viewing, drive my vehicle for miles (one of the few disadvantages of living in a rural area), search the store for my item, talk to a teenager about the product (usually a useless process), and pay by cash or check or credit card after standing in a line of fellow customers.
In the old days if you wanted to track someone down, perhaps a long lost relative or long lost friend, about all one could do was look out your window and wonder where they had gotten off to.  Now your chances are pretty good you can find them through the internet.  They may be dead, but at least you can read their obituary.  If they're alive, you may be able to rekindle an old friendship.
GPS devices have replaced maps.  I haven't taken advantage of these yet; however, my wife, Linda, is always using her fancy phone to locate destinations and routes to them.  It's come in handy a couple of times, but I still prefer the lost-but-making-good-time method.

When those jihadists blow up the internet, I'm going to miss it.

I'm sure I've left out some important computer-related stuff currently available to us which makes our lives easier, but I wonder what time saving, labor saving, magic wonder will pop up tomorrow.  I know I'm looking forward to it.

I celebrate being old because I have an appreciation for the magic devices and programs which have become available to us and all of the wonders ahead.

By the way, if the Apocalypse does come and none of this wonderful stuff is available, old folks will rule the world because they can touch type, do math in their heads, know how to operate rotary phones,  can read maps, and won't get bored to death.  I ain't wishing for this; I'm just saying.


HOME page>                  NEW STUFF page> 
          WRITING CONTENT page>       GUEST ARTISTS page>Home_1.htmlNew_Stuff.htmlEssays.htmlGuest_Artists.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3