Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 711 Technology - Keeping up(Updated)

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

"The picture is terrible!" so says my son. And then my daughter chimed in, "Yea, Dad. It is bad. You need a new TV." It was the day before my 69th birthday. The annual family gathering was just getting going and technology was coming to call once again.  I responded to my daughter's agreement with, "Oh no, not you too?" I knew I was sunk. The next day there was a wide screen HD TV given to me on my birthday. It was a combination gift from the kids and my wife. The 'I Got Junk" truck was soon in the driveway and my old faithful TV disappeared. (Nine years have passed since I wrote this. Talk is now circulating about replacing it with a new one. Not exactly why. I guess todays picture is clearer and the screen is bigger. Maybe there are other things: like a smart TV - whatever that is.)

My old TV was exactly 10 years old. I thought it gave me a good picture until I saw the picture on the new set. Amazing! It is so strange how we get used to something and don't recognize the usual wear and tear or deterioration of it over the years. This is one of the best things about having children. They recognize when the old chair sags or the picture on the TV just isn't doing the job.

Keeping up with technological change is not easy for anyone today. And the tendency has to be that the older folks get left behind.  My son always says, "You want to keep up, Dad, or you will just get left farther and farther behind". I know that it is true. I also know that "keeping up" can be demanding but make life much more interesting.

. Nine years ago,while drinking coffee in a Vancouver, BC coffee shop I took a call from a friend of mine on my cell first phone ( I had just gotten one in April of that year). He had biked from Bellingham to Bar Harbor and tweeted his trip. I had joined Twitter about a year before that but never used it. He told me that he was going to use it to keep people posted about his trip. It was a great way to share a bit of his experience on a daily basis. I found myself looking forward to the short description of his experience. I never thought I would use Twitter but I did and it was fun. We arranged to meet in two days and talk about his bike trip. Again, technology that I had refused until just lately came to be of value. I sure looked forward to hearing some stories and without the cell phone connection it may very well not have happened. Disconnecting our land line and going totally cellular has had it's advantages.  (Today when I want a similar experience I use Messenger or texting: texting pictures, video or articles. It is all so easy(Like I said; nine years have passed since I wrote this podcast. Today I’m on my third or fourth iPhone. And It does everything. It is like a powerful computer we keep in our pockets. We can even watch a movie on it. Or read the New York Times. And of course almost all of these features are also available on my third or fourth iPad. It is amazing how this stuff piles us. Today we use the phone and iPad for Facetime or Zoom to keep in touch with our children, grandchildren and friends. I also take music lessons using Facetime or Zoom with my instructure who lives in Vancouver, BC. 

The day after my birthday both kids mentioned that my wireless signal in the house was not working well. It seemed to be irregular. A new router was needed. A quick trip to Best Buy solved the problem. My son set up the new Apple router which he said transmitted with more strength and reliability. So far so good. (Now router has now been replaced by a modem/router installed by my internet service company).

I recognized it's importance one evening when our usual conversations paused for just a minute while we sat around the living room. There were seven of us in the room and at that very minute there were seven screens lit. Everyone was on a different site. There was conversation but everyone was doing something different. I know it sounds sort of weird but it only lasted a minute or two. I guess it would be no different than a family gathered around watching one particular program on for instance. Only in this case, everyone was watching whatever they wished. It did seem a bit weird and when I mentioned it everyone laughed and the screens soon went dark. 

The last bit of technology that came my way was an Apple TV that my son bought and put in our condo. We have had a TV there for years but it was never hooked up to cable or anything other than a DVD player. We used it for watching movies. My son thought we  might really enjoy this thing called Apple TV. I had no idea what it was. Last night we found out. We downloaded and watched our first movie through itunes. Then just today I looked under podcasts and found that he had downloaded some of my favorites including this one, Retirement Talk. (That Apple TV rests unused today and has been replaced by a Roku that allows Amazon Prime, Netflix, Britbox and Hulu to flow steadily into our house when requested.)

Today our most frequently used technology is our Amazon Alexa. Music, news, and answers to questions can all be accessed using only our voice. It is like magic. And then the Apple watch has been added to tell me details on my exercise  (heart rate, distance traveled, daily history, etc). I can also access phone calls, receive text messages, find the temperature, set an alarm, and pay for my groceries with this watch. I use this thing a lot).

It all sounds crazy. I’m amazed when I write it down. But I like it. "Keeping up" with technology certainly has its advantages. It makes life more interesting. It allows us to communicate in ways we can hardly imagine. It keeps doors and windows open. It ties families and friends together as past generations could have never envisioned.

This is Retirement Talk.

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