Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Fall Behind!

Posted by Terry McNichols

My 86-year-old father recently got very excited about a catalog filled with pictures of World War II aircrafts.  He taught flying during that war and had piloted many of the airplanes in the catalog.  His major occupation these days is talking about his flying days and reminiscing about all the accidents and near-death experiences.  I have made mailing labels for my dad for years with clip-art pictures of airplanes, but this time my dad wanted me to put the actual pictures of the planes he had flown on the labels (we're talking very small, return address labels).  So my dad was busy cutting the pictures out of the catalog and mailing them to me to see what I could do.  I realized immediately that there was a much quicker way to handle this task and went online to the catalog and downloaded the pictures myself.

This task, however, opened up my eyes to the wealth of information online about said airplanes that could keep my father involved and excited for the next several years.  The problem?  My father doesn't own or know how to operate a computer.  I am saddened by his inability -- or unwillingness -- to take the steps necessary to put the information world at his fingertips.  In defense of myself and my siblings, we have tried several times to set my parents up with a computer.  The one someone donated ended up in the dumpster and the one I set up for them sat idle for a year before I donated it to a school.  My parents do use WebTV for email, but getting on the internet is painfully slow.  I have begged, nagged, cajoled both my parents to use the computer in the community center or the library.

But this time, I started copying entire web pages and emailing them to my father.  I also signed up for the blogs of grandchildren to show up in their email inbox.  And I introduced my father to the google search engine.  Even on WebTV, he was able to read about some of his airplanes and became very excited.  "I never heard about google before," said my dad.  (Seriously, we all tried!)

My point, once again, is the importance of keeping up with the medium of the times.  If you are reading this blog, you can't imagine not knowing about google.   And you can't imagine what the next technology wave will be and how behind you will get if you refuse to keep up.  I must admit that I'm having a hard time getting excited about Twittering, but I at least know what it is, how to access it, and will keep an eye on it to see if it is going to be important in my life.  May we never stop learning....

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