Senior Connections Senior Connections Dec. 2018 - Page 9

Turnabout: switching roles Curmudgeon’s Corner IVAN RACONTEUR • EDITOR The passage of time has an unpleasant way of adjusting our attitudes with the abruptness of be- ing slapped upside the old coconut with the busi- ness end of a large halibut. This occurred to me recently while I was basking in the glow of a small victory over tech- nology, which, in my world, is something that doesn’t happen often these days. I had just successfully programmed one of those universal remote controls to replace three that had been cluttering up my side table. There are 131 total buttons (I counted) on the three remotes I replaced, and since I haven’t the faintest idea what some of them were for, I am confi dent that I won’t miss them. The programming probably took me several times as long as the manufacturer envisioned the job would take, and my digits were sore from pushing all those buttons, but this minor accom- plishment made me as giddy as a lamb in spring- time. I was surprisingly proud of myself for this accomplishment. It occurred to me that there was a time when I wouldn’t have given a second thought to such an insignifi cant event, but time has changed all that. As anyone who is north of 40 knows, dealing with electronics gets tougher with each passing year. First of all, I have paws not unlike those of a grizzly bear of the Rocky Mountain region of western Montana, and pushing and holding the correct tiny buttons in the right order, and con- tinuing to hold them while pushing other tiny buttons and watching to see when the power but- ton lit up and when each device responded was a challenge. Then, there is the memory thing. I can remem- ber things that happened 20 years ago with infi - nite clarity, but remembering a string of instruc- tions that I just read taxes my meager abilities. Finally, there is the reading issue. It is not so much a matter of comprehending the instruc- tions; it is a matter of seeing them. Companies are printing instructions much smaller than they used to. I know that for a fact. Reading six pages of instructions in four point type took all of my concentration. I must have looked like a demented owl as I peered at the instructions while trying to accom- plish manual acrobatics with the remote. My vision is excellent. The problem is my arms. They aren’t always long enough to hold things far enough away for me to read them. In this project, there were four or fi ve different ways to program each device, and it was neces- sary to work down the list to at least the third option in each case. That is a lot of button-push- ing. I persevered and achieved victory, a victory that was sweeter because we did not have to re- sort to any bad language, did not hurl the remote out (or through) the nearest window in frustra- tion, and we did not have to call a kid for help. It was about that time I realized that I used to be on the other side of this equation. I have never been a technical wizard, but when I was younger I tackled this kind of thing with the confi dence of St. George slaying that drag- on. The world is so arranged that people of a cer- tain age look to younger people to help them with technical and electronic challenges. This is the natural order of things. It wasn’t so long ago that I was one of the people who was offering the help. I was always happy so to do, but I admit to experiencing a small internal sense of superior- ity when I was completing these trivial tasks for others. I was horrifi ed to realize that soon I could be the one who has to ask for help whenever some young person visits. Part of the diffi culty is that they keep making things small- er. Cell phones used to be the size of bricks, and keyboards of all kinds were actually big enough to accommodate one’s fi ngers. Things are getting so tiny they are diffi cult for some of us to use. I could easily press three keys at a time when typing on my phone (and sometimes I do). This can lead to outcomes that are less than satisfactory. Senior Connections HJ.COM Senior In the arrogance of our youth (or near youth), we used to laugh with great gusto when we saw advertisements for those phones with simple con- trols and giant buttons designed for old people. We reveled in our smug sense of superiority, because we were sure we would never need these devices that were marketed for the old-timers. For some reason, those commercials don’t seem so funny as they used to. We have seen the writing on the wall, and it spells danger. I will relish my victory over the universal re- mote, but I realize that even though this battle may have gone my way, the war is far from over. I will continue to combat technology, the mor- tal enemy of aging. Whatever the cost may be, I will fi ght it on the beaches, I will fi ght it on the landing grounds, I will fi ght it in the fi elds and in the streets. I will fi ght it in the hills, but I shall never surrender. I can’t help wondering though, how many more victories I will achieve before I am forced to relinquish control of my technical affairs and put my trust in a student. Connections December 2018 9