Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

July 23, 2013

John Cannon: March more into 21st century: 07/24/13

ASHLAND — My children and grandchildren continue to push me further and further into the 2lst century with my wife serving as a co-conspirator.

Just about every Father’s Day and birthday they give me something  that did not exist a decade ago and I often did not even recognize when I first open the gift.

My first step into the then-new century came years ago when my wife, children and grandchildren decided I would enjoy having a MP3 player and gave me one for my birthday.

I had not asked for an MP3 player for the simple reason that I did not know they existed. Thus, when I opened the gift and held up the tiny device, my first response was not one of excitement but to ask: “What is it?”

It was understandable why my family thought I would enjoy an MP3 player. At the time I was walking a lot while I listened to books on a cassette player with earphones.

I may have been the Boyd County Public Library’s most loyal borrower of books on tape. In fact, in order to break my habit checking out books I had already listened to, one year I started writing down every book I listened to. As best I could remember, I checked out 62 books that year causing me to boast to friends that while I may not have been well read, I was well listened.

Thus, because of my propensity for listening to novels, I was an ideal customer for the new MP3 players. In fact, if I had known they existed, I probably would have asked for one.

Needless to say, I loved my MP3 player. I soon discovered that I could download books from the library onto my MP3 and that’s what I started  to do.

However, over the years, I started using my MP3 players less and less because I was not walking nearly as much as I did. One reason is because job changes made it necessary to use my car at work more often, making it impractical to walk to work like I once did.

The other reason I am walking less is that old age has not been kind to me. I can still walk, but it takes me a whole lot longer to walk from Point A to Point B than it used to take. About the only living creature with the patience to walk with me today is my dog Prissy. Old age also has slowed her down, making us a perfect pair.

When the library discontinued books on cassette tapes, I still had a car that only had a cassette player. Thus, when the library offered its old cassette books for 25 cents each, I purchased nearly the entire collection. But when my car was totaled in an accident, I replaced it with a car that only had a CD player, so all those books on tape I had purchased joined my old 8-track tapes as stuff I still owned that had become obsolete.

I eventually threw all those books on tape I had purchased in the trash, but not much later, I purchased my current car that has both a CD player and a tape player. However, I have yet to use the tape player and probably never will.

On this Father’s Day last month, my family purchased a Kindle for me. Not only did I know what it was, I actually wanted one.

As this is written, I have had my Kindle for a month, and I am finally getting used to it. I admit that it has been something of a struggle, but slowly and rather uncertainly, I am getting there.

First of all, I love reading on my Kindle. The first thing I did was download a book from the library on it, something I don’t think I could have done without the help of my daughter.

I find it much easier to read a book on the Kindle than to read a real book. The Kindle is easier on my eyes and it never loses my place. In one way I hate saying this, because I know Kindles are one of the technological advances that are making the newspaper that arrives on the front porch every day obsolete. Since newspapers have put food on my family table for more than 40 years, I think they are too valuable to the life of any community to disappear. But, nevertheless, I love reading on my Kindle, but I feel a bit guilty for saying that.

Learning to play games and listen to audio books on my Kindle did not come as easily for me as simply reading.

I have fat fingers. That’s why I don’t text and have no interest in having an iPhone.  At my computer, I am a good typist. At my Kindle, I type like a first- grader. Or maybe more like my dog would type. Instead of hitting just one key, I will hit three or four.

One night, I was playing a word game on my Kindle and was beating the tar out of some stranger I was playing on the Internet. However, I would have been beating her much worse if I had not kept hitting the wrong letters.

Finally, I found a solution to my problem. I convinced my 3-year-old granddaughter to sit on my lap and type in the letters for me. Not only did it help me win the game, it helped her learn her letters.

Not all of my family’s pushes into the 21st century for me have worked out as well as the MP3 player and the Kindle. I have a Facebook page, but I rarely look at it and have never written on it other than to respond to a few things others have written. I know a number of Facebook addicts, but if it disappeared tomorrow, I would not miss it. In fact, I probably would not even notice.

As this is written, my wife and I are about to take another long car trip, but a terrible thing has happened. The battery died in the car and knocked out the coding for the sound system. I have the code but have yet to find someone to punch it in

I’m not leaving on the trip without the CD player working. With no radio, CD player or tape player, my wife and I would have to TALK to each other for 900 miles. Perish the thought!

JOHN CANNON can be reached at jcannon@dailyondependent.com  or at (606) 326-2649.

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