Change is life, and life is change.

Remembering the old days of the newspaper business before the advent of computers.
Remembering the old days of the newspaper business before the advent of computers.

My coal-fired computer is gone – the one that supplanted the horse-drawn computer before it.

My new computer is, uh . . .

I started to say my new computer is state of the art, whatever that is.

But I know better.

I know better because before I got out of the computer store door with my new computer I knew for certain there was a truck at the store’s back door delivering an updated generation of computers – probably computers powered by some just-discovered energy source from the moon.

And in only a couple of days, an even more advanced version will arrive at the store’s loading dock that is powered by some new, superior energy source from Mars.

Change comes rapid-fire these days.

Didn’t used to be that way.

Roger Summers
Roger Summers

I remember, for instance, when I went to work for a big city newspaper.

I was given a manual, Royal typewriter with which to work.

Had maybe a couple of million words on it when I got it.

Maybe, in my time there, I added a couple of million more words.

My typewriter sat on a wooden desk, which I guessed dated to the time of hand-made desks.

Later in my time at the newspaper, I was granted permission to buy that old desk and that well-worn typewriter for $5 each.

Figured that when the newspaper originally bought the desk and typewriter it paid less than $5 each. So the newspaper not only got decades of use from each but made a profit when it sold them to me.

In any event, change came one day.

The newspaper gave me an electric typewriter to use.

Talk about going downtown.

Later still, the newspaper bought a scanner to “read” what I wrote on the electric typewriter.

So now we were uptown.

Then came full-blown computers.

We then were in a computer high rise in uptown.

So the newspaper sent us to training classes to teach us how to use computers.

Faster and faster came more advanced computers.

And more training sessions.

More and more the emphasis went from covering and writing the news to using the computers and learning to use the next generation of computers.

Next thing we knew, there was little time left for actually covering and writing the news.

Computers ruled us, ruled the newsroom.

Change is like that.

So now I have my next generation of computer and our daughter, our high tech genius, has it all expertly set up and ready to go for this Luddite.

But even as I begin to use my new computer, I wonder how far behind I already am in computer technology.

Should I have waited a week or two so I could have gotten the Next Big Thing –perhaps a computer attached to my eyeglasses? On in the form of a wristwatch?  Or one that will write my words as I speak them out loud? Or, even better yet, as I think them?

(Ohmygoodness! Believe it if you will, but just as I typed the above paragraph, a box opened on my computer screen and asked: “Do you want to enable Dictation?”  Then another box opened and told me: “When you dictate text what you say is sent to (the computer company) to be converted to text.” And if I want to do that, I can click on a slot that says “Enable Dictation.)

Downright scary.

My new computer not only seems to be tracking what I write but responding to it.

In real time.

Who is in charge here?

Me?

Or the computer.

I think I know.

Uh-oh.

Change can be like that.

Change bosses.

Change forces.

Change overruns.

Change controls.

Change usurps.

I think of my first car – a stick-shift car in which you had to shift gears with one hand and then roll down the driver-side window with a second hand and then give turn signals with a third hand . . .

Wait a minute. That’s too many hands. And I still need a hand with which to steer the car.

Now we have – or are projected to have – cars that drive themselves, park themselves; cars that are so technologically advanced and loaded they free you from the chore of actually driving so you can watch a movie, track your kids, monitor for burglars at home, place your food order at the restaurant that your car, with assistance from its GPS, is automatic pilot-like taking you to.

Think I have a better idea.

Next time I am inclined to upgrade my computer, I will get out my $5 Royal typewriter, set it on my $5 wooden desk, pound out my tome, put it in an envelope, affix the proper number of “Forever” stamps (taken from my investment stockpile of Forever Stamp Futures), get me a stick-shift car, then use my four hands to drive it to the post office and mail the envelope – assuming the post office still is in business.

Just dump the whole kit and caboodle (as we used to say in the day of the $5 typewriter) off on my publisher and let him deal with it.

Figure he can easily do that, since he has state of the art computers.

Probably some of those that just arrived seconds ago at his place.

Those fueled by the latest energy from, say, Jupiter.

Meanwhile, I will go back to remembering what I realized back in the days when I wrote on that manual typewriter on that wooden desk –and even before that, really.

It is the only constant, the only absolute I have ever known, or ever will, no matter how you write it.

Change is life.

Life is change. 

Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He is the author of The Day Camelot Came to Town and Heart Songs From a Washboard Road. He can be reached at wrs_author@summersights.com

Washboard Road

Please click the book cover image to read more about the short story collection of Roger Summers in Heart Songs from a Washboard Road. Not all of it was written on a computer.

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