We learn with new gadgets


TREENA MIELKE / On The Other Side

I have always prided myself on being somewhat creative, choosing to forgive myself for lesser attributes that are far too lengthy and boring to mention here.

However, with new technology greeting me each day, my creativity is taking a beating.

An editor once told me to write as if my readers were blind.

“Create word pictures,” he said and I floated away from that session high on the feeling that I could and would create such pictures.

Unfortunately my intention fell by the wayside when I encountered a cranky computer that didn’t want to help me “create such word pictures.”

“Have you turned it on?” my co-worker asked me, with only slight sarcasm, which she was careful to mask.

“Of course,” I replied haughtily, waiting until she left the room to complete the obvious.

I talk to the computer gently, hoping it will comply with my requests to work with me to create beautiful word pictures now that it is actually “turned on.”

But in my mind I think back, way back to the early days when we used that word now pretty much obsolete in the English language.


I really don’t want to go back there to the days of whiteout and carbon paper and typewriters because, of course, they are obsolete and have no place in today’s modern technology. Plus, it is another obvious clue, similar to the word, grandma, as to how old I really am.

But, somehow even though I know these facts with my brain, I feel that I have landed somewhat against my will, in this day and age of modern technology.

And sometimes, I just want to get out and time travel back to where life seemed simpler, and, somehow, kinder.

For some of the population, especially those who are about 14 or younger, it’s no big deal.

The fact that we have E-Readers, IPhones, smartphones, Blackberries, all kinds of apps and digital cameras that do everything but walk and talk is not particularly challenging, or mind boggling or amazing.

It just is!

But for me, this stuff is kind of like rocket science and I have a hidden fear that learning it may require more brain cells than I actually possess.

I achieved my first real claim to fame in the elusive world of print media with a column I had painstakingly typed on a Remington typewriter that only “partially returned” each line.

It didn’t matter. I had arrived. I had no idea my challenge would not be “writing the news” as much as figuring out the level of technology, which would be required to do so.

The first photos I ever took that were actually published were taken by me holding a Pentax K1000 in somewhat shaky fingers, praying I had remembered to focus, set the aperture (a word I had learned in a crash photography course) correctly and most importantly, hold my mouth just right.

I developed the negative later in the darkroom, in great trepidation.

What if I should fail?

What if the picture was horrible, blurry beyond recognition? What if I should not meet the deadline, thereby subject myself to the wrath of the editor, and be considered “less than” by newsroom people the world over?

It turned out, it was OK, printable in fact, and once again I thanked a higher power, the trees, the grass and anything else in my way to be saved from the horrible fate that awaited me if any of that happened.

And so I became comfortable with the technology handed to me. Quite good, in fact.

But, in less than a heartbeat, things changed.

I can’t really remember the day my Remington typewriter was laid to rest and I’m not sure when my little Pentax K1000 became seriously outdated.

I only know that I have been transported here where “modern technology” has taken over and I have learned, once again, I have much to learn.

And so I keep trying.

I turn on my digital camera to take a photo.

The words, “no image” flashes across the screen.

After momentary panic, which causes my blood pressure to go off the Richter scale, I remember that thing about putting a card in. Apparently, a card is necessary, just like film used to be. I get it.

And I already understand a lot about the importance of good luck and holding your mouth just right and being in the right place at the right time.

I know this because as much as change is inevitable, some things will, forever and a day, remain the same.

And for me, that fact is and always will be, comforting and good!

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