Archive for January, 2013

tiresome ageism

Recently, while reading the PC magazine to which I subscribe, I came across a comment that the technology being discussed was something that you couldn’t expect “your parents” to be able to understand. Now, I’ve been building my own desktop computers for many years. The only PC I ever bought off-the-shelf was my very first one, back in . . . good grief – the early 90’s! (This does not count, of course, the Vic 20, Commodore 64, 128 or the very first, a Timex Sinclair 1000 – those do not qualify because none were a “PC” – an IBM PC or clone. Laptops also don’t count.) I’m of the age to be that author’s parent, but I can somehow muddle through the technical subject and handle it. But so what?

I don’t know. Maybe I just have a different perspective now, but I’m getting awfully tired of this inclination to deprecate senior citizens as doddering old fools who can’t handle modern society and are technologically stuck in the 60’s (or earlier). This is called “ageism” and sjust as tiresome as racism. I have a sense of humor, but when you start to become the butt of all jokes, it wears thin after a while. Are there older people who are incompetent, either or both physically or mentally? Of course there are. Do seniors have an exclusive claim on that? Hell no. Just check out some of the “reality” shows that reveal many young people as vapid, empty-headed goons or goon-ets. There’s a bell curve to pretty much everything. Let’s not treat everyone like they are at the bad end of that curve.

A special note to advertisers. We are a large part of the market and when you insult us, we remember. When you direct all your advertising to young people, we are alienated and more inclined to find alternative sources for your products that have the sense to include senior citizens as part of the overall market. When your product apparently can only be used by good-looking, hard-bodied young people, there is no reason for us senior citizens to take your product seriously. In spite of such bias, we seniors still buy and use technology.

Now, if I could only find my buggy whip I could get the hell out of here. Oh, wait . . . “Hey, son! How do I shut this damn electronic typewriter off? And what am I supposed to do with all this typing anyways?” I guess I’ll have to let him figure that out. I’m too old and stupid.

bookmark: devil in a blue dress

Devil in a Blue Dress – Walter Mosley

I don’t read much “detective” fiction. but I have hit a few of the classics. My son recommended this book and and I have faith in (most) of his recommendations. This was no exception. I was ready for a fiction break from my normal non-fiction reading and this fit the bill.

This book was definitely not like wading through War and Peace. It was a light and quick book, well-written in a very easy fashion (that’s a pun if you read the book). Not having been familiar with Mr. Mosley, I found that he is a best selling author and has won several awards. If you are into this genre, I would recommend this book, and I would guess that his other offerings would follow suit.

(Finished 1/6/13)

a memory deposed

She broke my heart worse than any woman has done since. Inconsolable, I came home from the dance and sobbed myself to sleep. My mother tried to comfort me, but I was alone in a sea of hurt and there were no lifelines strong enough to pull me to safety.

Was it just one dance, or perhaps two? The scent of Prell was fresh in her hair and the touch of her hand and the warmth of her body while slow-dancing had me in a heaven I had never before experienced. The girl I had longed to hold was finally in my arms. Little did I know it was to be short-lived. The music stopped and he stepped over and that was the last I saw of her that night.

What torture to then have to wait for your parents to come pick you up. Sitting as high in the bleachers as you can get just to avoid having to face anyone else. Watching him with her, seeing your own dream dissolve in front of your eyes.

Of course, I eventually returned to the world of the living, but the sorrow of that loss did not fade easily. In eighth grade your world is much smaller, and such events fill a greater proportion of that world.

Defining moments, we call those. Events that shape the rest of your life, often in ways that become so engrained in ones personality that there is no way to link the effect back to the cause. This was surely one of mine and I suspect that it has influenced every subsequent relationship I have ever had with the opposite sex.

They published yearbooks in my junior high school but I unfortunately either lost or disposed of mine. It’s funny how many things I got rid of over my life that I wish I had now. You never know what importance you will attach to something later in life.

Memories grow dim over the years and I have often wondered what that girl who broke my heart looked like at the time. I have a listing on Classmates/Memory Lane and the other day I got one of the usual promotional emails from them. Having nothing better to do, I clicked on through and browsed a little bit through my school history. They have a feature now where they have a limited selection of yearbooks available, depending on what members have contributed.

I saw a note that one of my classmates had yearbooks available. I checked to see what he had, but there were none for my old junior high. What about high school? My family moved when I was in my last year of junior high so I never went to the high school that all my junior high classmates attended. Lo and behold, there was a yearbook available for that high school, including the year that my class would have gone into high school.

Flipping through the online pages, I finally came to the pictures of the students. Scanning down through pictures that look so dated and yet so familiar . . . there she was! And if it wasn’t for the name next to the picture, I could have never picked her out of the bunch. How very strange to be looking at the face of the person who had hurt you more than any other person in your life, and to not be able to connect that face to the pain. In a strange way, it was kind of cathartic. As though that pain lost its relevancy to my life.

Of course, having gone that far I had to pursue the subject. Where was she now? From the yearbook I discovered that I had been misspelling her first name all these years. It is a somewhat unique name, so searching that name and the town I knew she lived in at the time led me to her current last name, and eventually to her Facebook page.

When we picture people from our past we tend to have them frozen in time. They will always look to us like they did when we last saw them. That is, until we see them again. It’s called the class reunion phenomenon. I had forgotten what she looked like, but the image had been renewed from the yearbook picture. The person I found on Facebook was nothing close to that woman child I knew.

I have been shocked into reality like this before when I saw a current photo of a woman I had an interest in back in college. It is an unsettling experience and brings the reality of your own age sharply into focus. Suddenly the loss of the young junior high girl wasn’t such a bad thing. If the experience of seeing her picture in the yearbook had been cathartic, this experience was positively liberating.

Don’t get me wrong, I was not still grieving over having had a young girl stolen from me at a school dance. Perhaps, though, I have carried a portion of that pain with me through all these years. If so, it is now released. If only all the baggage in our lives could be so easily unloaded.

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England – Ian Mortimer

Medieval times are well represented in our books and movies. We can each call up an image in our mind of what kings, queens, knights, lords, ladies and even commoners look like and how they act. But how accurate is that image? Going beyond being a background for a story, what would it really be like to actually live in that time period?

Things like that fascinate me. I like to look beyond the cardboard facade and see the real people, places and passions of the time. This book definitely helped me get there. The author’s descriptions, along with my imagination, let me flesh out 14th century England.

I suppose that could be boring to some people. There’s no “story” or plot, just a description of what people wore, what they ate, where they lived, how they traveled, what entertained them, and more. The only part of the book I had a problem with was a few of the words the British author used; words which I am sure his fellow countrymen are familiar with. That’s ok, a dictionary helps.

If this type of book appeals to you, I can recommend it. If I ever get transported back in time to this era, I think I might at least be able to fake it long enough to stay alive and adapt. The likelihood of that happening being pretty slim, it was still enjoyable to learn of the time, and a valuable resource to use when studying other history.

(Finished 1/3/13)