Editorial: Old and New Can Co-exist

If you grew up in a certain era you probably remember the admonition from your mother: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Perhaps it is that memory that has prompted Karen and me to hang on to things in today’s disposable society. I still have my original issue Army combat boots that I wear at veteran’s rallies. In the winter, Karen occasionally wears her grandmother’s old sweater.

We’ve never had an old A.B. Dick 360 or Heidelberg Windmill to stash at the back of the shop like a lot of printers I have known. However, we do have an electronic graveyard in the room next to our office. I recently took a brief inventory of that room and found, among other things: three defunct monochrome laser printers; two burnt out CRT monitors; three keyboards; a Gateway CPU with slots for 3.5" floppies, a ZIP drive, and CDs; a Dell CPU with slots for 3.5" floppies, 5" floppies, and no CD slot; a US Robotics 14,400 modem; and Karen’s old Supermarine Spitfire gyro horizon that she acquired as a souvenir during her aerobatic days.

The most interesting thing I found proves that I am not the Luddite some suspect, but that I sometimes do make dead-end technology decisions. The object in question is a Sharp TM Mobile Mail device that allowed users to send and receive email over any standard phone line in the world. Back in the days when banks of pay phones were everywhere and wireless was in its infancy, this thing seemed to make sense. With its 512 KB flash memory you could send or receive email simply by dialing an 800 number and holding the device up to the phone’s handset. I was ahead of my time for once, at least for a little while.

Now don’t get me wrong, just because we hang on to stuff doesn’t mean we don’t change with the times. We have DSL and WiFi in the house, three office computers, my Netbook, and Karen’s new Toshiba laptop, which weighs about the same as my Netbook and has 16 gigs of memory – the same as our LG smartphones. We have digital picture frames, flat screen TVs, and a surround sound system. We’re wired for bear.

We also have a collection of cassette tapes but nothing to play them on and shelves full of photographs I know will never be digitized. Oh, and we have books – shelves and shelves and shelves of books. We do not have a Kindle and have no intention of getting one. We prefer real books, which don’t have to be recharged and can be read before the airplane gets to 10,000 feet. Of course, when we do get above 10,000 feet I sign on with my Netbook to GoGo inflight wireless to check email, write what needs to be written, and, in season, keep up with football scores. Then I sign off and read my book. I have the best of both worlds.