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Kiwi Konexions: Use It Or Lose It

...But it is not just the body, but the mind, which we must keep working as we strive to hold back senility. My husband tackles the cryptic crossword in the paper, each morning, and worries if he doesn’t finish it in twenty minutes. He worries even more when he comes up with a difficult clue and I give him the answer straight away Minds work on different wave lengths I tell him...

Glen Taylor is using her brains to stay in step with fast-striding new technology.

“Thirty minutes a day you’ve got to push play,” goes the advert on tele, as the nation is encouraged to keep fit. Our local GP hurries his eighty-plus year olds to the gym or to physiotherapy in an effort to keep them out of rest homes and you see folk, in fact you are one of them, striding out with swinging arms around what we oldies call the four mile block, none of this metric stuff for us.

But it is not just the body, but the mind, which we must keep working as we strive to hold back senility. My husband tackles the cryptic crossword in the paper, each morning, and worries if he doesn’t finish it in twenty minutes. He worries even more when he comes up with a difficult clue and I give him the answer straight away Minds work on different wave lengths I tell him.

It gets even harder, as technology encroaches, for those of us who are used to working with pen and paper, not keyboards, and who work out things by mental arithmetic, rather than calculators, in the supermarket. “Is the big one really cheaper than two small?” Very often it isn’t. However, like it or not, we have to embrace this modern world or fall by the wayside.

When our first computer appeared on its desk in my study I looked at it in horror and wondered what it could do. As I did with my first micro-wave, many years ago, I pressed the start button and quickly stepped back in case it blew up. Still if my six year old grandchild could handle one surely I could. I took myself off to “Computing 4 free,” and that’s another thing, 4 not for, and spent many happy hours, in fact days, weeks and months, finding out just what this thing would do.

It is very useful. It will come up with all the information I need PROVIDED I word the question very carefully. It can’t think laterally and I am sure cryptic crosswords would be beyond it. However it will check my spelling, as long as it is not to/two/too and other such words, and it screams at me, with green lines, if I try to “fragment” sentences in the interest of poetic licence. You can’t beat a pad of A4 and a pen for proof reading and I prefer to do my creative stuff in the comfort of an easy chair with a cup of tea beside me or under a tree on a sun lounger, it helps the muse. But of course, eventually, I have to sit at the desk and type out the finished article.

All this is now routine and I felt I could rest on my laurels and just coast but, no, another piece of technology has appeared. We used to have an old cell phone, our grandson called it “the brick.” It did what we required, you pressed a button to switch it on, you pressed another to text a message and then pressed send and if you wanted to speak to some one you pressed a different button for “call,” all very easy, nothing to it. It lived in the glove compartment of the car, in case one of us was going to be late or had broken down, and it went on holiday with us when we couldn’t use a “land line,” even though the message goes by satellite. It’s all this new language, gigabytes and megabytes. But the brick was deemed obsolete by one of our daughter’s friends. We needed to be in contact “day and night,” so he very kindly presented us with two “state of the art” cell phones plus thick instruction booklets, obviously translated from Chinese or Japanese by some one who couldn’t speak English, probably an electronic wizard, I think they call them IT specialists these days.

This phone will do anything, except wash up. It takes photographs, makes videos, translates into different languages and it is all there in the book, if you can follow it. HA HA. First you have to find out how to switch the thing on. It plays a merry tune to say it is working and plays the same tune when it switches off. With a bit of luck you may be able to find the right button to bring up a picture of all the things it will do and with even more luck you may be able to select the one you want. Woe betide you if you don’t, it throws a fit and does all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

I persevere. A passing friend says, “hand it to a twelve year old he’ll sort it,” He probably would. Finally, having studied the instruction book from cover to cover, found I had to jump from page to page and learn words I had never heard before, I could make a call, hopefully to the right number logged in the phone book. Make sure you highlight the right one before you press send, (which button was send?) I can also text. Here we have T9 or not T9 and it is most confusing to switch from one to the other. “T9 off” means that I can use 4 for for or U for you, etc and, would you believe it, some folk in ivory towers are actually suggesting that pupils should be, (sorry B,) allowed to use “text language” in English exams. Imagine, “2B or not 2B, that is the?” I think not.

Having mastered the thing well enough to call folk, another problem presents itself. To make things work you have to be “in line of sight” with the transmitting tower. In Golden Bay these masts are few and far between, Telecom fine, Vodaphone not so fine. To talk to my daughter I have to wait until low tide, take my chair to the beach and, like Canute, tell the waves to retreat as I aim my phone, which tells me I have four bars of reception, in a certain direction, before I can actually talk to her. Many a strange look comes my way as I sit there talking to what seems to be myself. Such are the wonders of the new age which I have finally joined.

But what is this? It is my birthday and I have been given a digital camera. I don’t need to load a film and take it to the chemist to be developed when finished, I can “download” it onto the computer, and look at all these buttons and symbols. It does video too and, “HELP,” it has six instruction booklets all translated from the Japanese.

At this rate my mind will blow a fuse rather than become senile, but then my mind doesn’t have a fuse so I dare say it will cope.

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