How in the world did my grandparents survive way out in the boonies of northcentral Florida without any links to the outside world, other than the children they bore, most of whom did venture out a bit further to bring back teasers from that world. I remember seeing in my grandmother’s house from time to time some proof that a world was indeed “out there” somewhere. Tiny plastic chickens with white feathers and blood red combs who laid plastic eggs when pushed down in a nesting position found their way there all the way from China (or was it Japan)… there was a ship encased in a wine bottle that I marveled at even after it was explained how such a feat might have been accomplished. I wondered sometimes about that world. Did other people we didn’t see or know, those who made plastic chickens and stuffed tiny wooden ships into glass bottles, eat the same foods as we?
Even in school I sometimes felt alienated from the “normal” of my classmates in our tiny country school because I was interested in things that seemed far less fascinating to my classmates, such as looking at the pictures in National Geographic magazines on the school shelves, practically my only exposure to books and periodicals at the time. (The only magazines we had at home were the Progressive Farmer and Country Gentleman, and I only found the cartoons of interest in those.) What this confession is leading to is the fact that I remember dreaming of a “learning machine”, when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade, that actually came to fruition for real when my own children were in grammar and high school. (It’s quite possible there were rumors at the time about computers that I picked up listening to the grownup talk around me. I’m not sure but I can still see that learning machine with the fold-out blinders that would shield me from classmates who were more interested in poking each other in the sides and causing other commotion without getting caught by the teacher.)
That invention of course, and I realize this now, was the computer, except that “my learning machine” was a cubby-like arrangement of desks with a movie screen and fold-out blinders on each side. There would be one for each child who could then study and learn whatever they wanted instead of taking the “democratic” route that my teacher at the time, Mrs. Bailey, decreed. She was quite keen on taking a vote for what we wanted to study after all the reading, writing and arithmetic were done, and nearly all the time my vote was single and therefore useless. The Weekly Reader of the day was my one salvation and link to the bigger world.
Needless to say, when my own exposure to computers and the internet came about in the 1980s, I took to it like the proverbial fish to water. My biggest complaint would be when a new version came out and I’d be back to the beginning, trying to learn all over again “how this one works.” Why can’t they leave well enough alone!? Eventually I adapted to each new change, however, and now I cannot imagine my life without computers and internet access. Even if there were no more changes or improvements, I could go on to use and enjoy the setup I now have forevermore, feeling quite blessed that my world has expanded so much more than that of my grandparents. But, wonders never cease! Now there’s something even newer that I could never have dreamed.
Yesterday, an old friend and fellow writer who now lives in San Francisco, the city of her birth and growing up years, sent me a link to the newest technology (or is it?) to come from Microsoft. It’s a glasstop table that looks much like a coffee table but it blows my mind as I watch this demonstration of what it can accomplish. Having recently gone through frustrations of my own learning to properly upload and publish photographs for this blog effort without using up all the space, I was astounded to see that all you’ll need to do to download and resize pictures with this invention is place that camera on the desktop. The photo will then pop up on the desktop surface. Immediately. By moving it around with your hand, it can be resized almost effortlessly. Even more amazing, this new technology will likely be available in late 2007.
So many things have changed so rapidly during my lifetime it’s no wonder my brain is constantly coping to keep up. I cannot even imagine the possibilities of things yet to come during whatever is left of my lifetime, let alone imagine the world in which my grandchildren will live and the technology they’ll take for granted when they’re my age! I wonder if either of my grandparents has turned over in their graves yet?