Category Archives: Rants

Technology – 1/25/2018

My Dad was 93 when he passed a couple of years ago, but right up to his last weeks, he got on his computer and read emails, tried to forward some of the fun ones, but not always successfully.  He used to say, “I’m a low tech guy in a high tech world.”

As a brand new college grad, I worked at a local bank and one of my jobs was to give tours of the new highrise central offices of said bank including their computer area.  Half a floor of the building, raised cooled flooring to keep the house sized computer running.  Now I carry a “computer” slightly larger than a playing card that is probably as powerful, certainly more powerful that the guidance computer on the first manned space missions.  Soon after the bank employment, I was hired into education, my course of study in college and only a few years into that, the computer literacy initiative came in to being with first the teachers and administrators trained, then later the students.  It was a DOS system and I remember being so very excited that I could enter my test questions, draw from a pool of them and create multiple variations of my exams.  Soon we had a Tandy (1000?) at home, an expensive “toy” that allowed you to play some basic games by typing in commands. How things have changed in the past 4 decades.

About 3 decades ago, Jim was opening his own law practice after having been with Legal Aid for years.  He went to get a cell phone and was asked if he wanted a car mounted one or one he could carry.  Carry around a phone, really?  We got me a “portable” one, a bag phone I think they were called, the battery was the size of two bricks and weighed about as much too, but I was about to travel with 3 kids 5 states alone and felt it was necessary.

I type this on a tiny laptop whose screen can be rotated 360º to use it as a tablet.  The screen is a touch screen.  I carry a small smartphone that can use cell service or wifi to make calls, a near necessity in the rural area we live.

Though our cars are both more than a decade old, our daughter’s which is only a few years old has blue tooth build in and a back up camera.  Son the elder has a newer car and it has so many electronic screens that I just look on in fascination, not sure I could figure it out and technology generally doesn’t intimidate me.

Refrigerators that can send a grocery list to your phone.  Touch screen appliances, cars that drive themselves.  We were taxed to try to find a replacement washing machine recently that did not have an electronic control panel, even our decade old dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave have those.

Is it making things easier?  More expensive?  Harder to repair?  We recently went for 10 days with no outgoing cell phone service and even called our local landline phone co-op to add long distance service because of it.  We have to keep a landline for internet and can’t call out of our county without long distance, even to the town 15 miles away.  Our cell phones had some incoming calls, internet, and texting, but couldn’t even call 911.  It took 3 lengthy chatline sessions with tech support with folks who I suspect were not in the US based on their names to determine that the problem was on their end, not our phones and that they were working on it.  Oh how annoying those sessions were with their scripted responses.

I love technology, but for a perspective on what could happen with technology failure, read Providence, VA by Michael Abraham, one of our local authors.

What are we becoming?

I tend to avoid politically charged issues in my blog, but the current climate has me quite disturbed.  In light of recent comments attributed to the President and the ensuing days of talking heads commentary on those remarks and their meaning, we have had a few discussions here at home.

I am a senior citizen, I lived through the period of segregated everything, the marches and riots.  In high school, as a senior, I was part of a group of students who were taken to the segregated black high school to a symposium as the schools were to be integrated the next year. I was graduated by the time it happened and had gone on to college. I guess even then I stood out as seeing people as people, not as people who were different by color or religion.  My friends as I transitioned into adulthood and employment were diverse, we went out together, ate at each other’s homes, were in each other’s weddings and celebrated baptisms of our children in each other’s churches.  Those people were and many still are my friends.

The civil rights movement at least on the surface seemed to improve race relations, but in light of recent events, I think that maybe it just drove those who were racists, bigots,  and intolerant of others of different skin color or beliefs to become silent and less visible.

There have been a lot of changes in our society very quickly.  Changes that are good for the country, good for the people.  Changes that allow people to express their sexuality openly, changes that allow same sex marriage, changes that are supposed to make all people equal, give all people equal rights without regard to gender, color, race, or religion.

We are a country  founded by immigrants.  There are few in this country that are true pure Native Americans.  Our country has embraced a statue in the harbor of New York with this quote based on the sonnet by Emma Lazarus,

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It does not say to welcome only white, Christians.  It does not say to suppress the rights of those whose belief or color are different than yours

I fear that the current climate, though not a majority, just a very vocal minority, emboldened by our leader has determined that it is okay to be openly racists and bigoted. This saddens me, I had hoped that we had grown as a nation but fear that we are becoming a hated nation, a laughing stock.