Saturday, April 25, 2015

Old Dog--New Tricks

Ok--I'm 79. Time to kick back, take it easy. Just coast. You would think. But noooo-all the how-to articles in US Today, Time, Newsweek--not to speak of Dr. Oz, Oprah and the ocean of information that keeps seeping into my computer saying: "Want to stay with it? Not lose what grey matter you have? Not be forced by your children into a nursing home or take away your car keys. Well--you've got to keep exercising your brain. You've got to stretch whatever you have up there. No rest."

Scary business. Or as we say in the South: "bid-ness." I tried Sudoku--didn't work. Crossword puzzles. No. Can't jog anymore--lousy feet. Read, read, read. But--the articles all say you've got to learn new things when you're old or you will be toast. New things? Sounds exhausting.

Well, it is. My children, desperately afraid that people on the street will think their parents have lost it or have slowly but surely turned into dorks--tell us what not to wear--what kind of shoes not to buy--not SAS! How to get your hair cut--and stop listening, for God's sake to, say Lawrence Welk retreads. (We never did.) Maybe Eva Cassidy, Nat King Cole and Aretha. Reckon I could add Johnny Cash?

So with the encouragement of my son who has been insisting for a year that I ought to get an Apple computer--I finally, reluctantly gave in. "That old thing you are using is crap--you need to trash it. Don't you know they are hopelessly out of date in five years." Five years?

It didn't matter that I had an I-pad, an I-Pod, even, at long last an I-phone. "Why people on the street see you with that flip-top thing and they'll laugh all the way home." So--I broke down and got this new I-phone which, truthfully I am still having trouble with. Longing, most days for my old flip top. "Not up to date, " he says.

So--I went to the Apple store and looked around and all the new-fangled treasures that glitter on every counter top. I hardly knew what to ask. Finally I settled on a desk-top. I think they call it an I-Mac. All the young people working  the Apple store kept saying: "You're going to get a desk-top?" Well, yes I am. One guy even sidled up to me and talking out of the corner of his mouth said a little too enthusiastically, "You gotta get an I-watch, too!" I shook my head. That thing was not only expensive, it was scary.  A computer on my wrist? Well, no. (Maybe next year--perish the thought!)

So I brought the thing home in a box--Big box. I was scared to open my new challenge.  Finally I carefully took it out of the box and tried to figure out what should happen next. A friend came by and told me I now needed an Apple ID and, of course a new Password. He fixed this. Knowing I was hopelessly lost I had signed up (another $99.00) for a year's tutorial and the promise that they would transfer all my information from my aging antique to this new with-it computer.

Thirty miles away is the closest Apple store. I took my hard drive and my new computer and left them. A week later I went to get my new computer and have my first tutorial. I had carefully written down passwords and Id's, etc. But--when my teacher at the store asked for my Apple ID and new Password--guess what? I had left them at home. Somehow, miraculously he was able to open up this new challenge and gave me yet another password.

I came away from my first session know just a little more than when I got there. The guy was great. His pupil was--well--slow and nervous and asked strange elementary questions.

Back at home I tried a few kindergarten undertakings. Then I branched out. E-mail. Now I could do this. But if I wanted to attach something from my documents--this was hopeless. Where was the Spell Check? If I wrote something how would I know it was saved and if it was--how do I access it tomorrow?

I'm doing better. A little. I have even typed this pathetic piece on my brand new machine. (I call it a machine ever since the Anita Hill hearing when Senator Strom Thurmond leaned over the table and said, "Miss Hill--please speak into the machine.") Well--I didn't talk to "the machine" but I did do a pretty good job of typing.

Practice makes perfect. They used to say about my piano lessons. And just about every new thing I ever tried to do. But this old dog is finding this new undertaking quite a challenge. I guess I will get there and will probably be on Oprah or Dr. Oz talking at age, say, 100 about how an old dog really just might learn new tricks.

--Roger Lovette /

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