Altar Call – O-A News

Walter Albritton

November 17, 2002


Old folks should enjoy the benefits of this amazing age of electronics


            It is not easy to keep up with the continual outpouring of electronic machines produced by our culture. However, it is fun to try.

            I well remember the first time someone asked me for my fax number. I had no idea what he meant.

            That embarrassment spurred me to learn about fax machines. I still don’t have a fax number, but I did persuade the church to buy one. And I learned how to use it.

            When televisions came on the market, back in the fifties, I had barely finished college. One day I surprised my wife by bringing home an RCA television. I suppose that was before Sony discovered America.

            The price was a little over four hundred dollars. We bought it on time. By the time we eventually paid it off, that TV must have cost us eleven hundred dollars.

            Those were the days when 33 and 1/3 records were popular. We bought several pounds of those records, some with songs recorded by Johnny Cash, and others with better music by artists like Mantivani and his orchestra.

            Naturally, we had to buy a record player. So we kissed some more money goodbye and purchased a combination radio and record player, AM and FM.

            I figured it would become a collector’s item. Instead, a few years back I paid a fellow to haul it off for me. The old records are still in a closet. We are too sentimental; we just cannot throw them away.

            When John Herbert Orr came out with a tape player called an “8 Track,” guess who bought one. Yes, before it became obsolete I had one in my car.

            Now, I would not want to drive a car or a truck without a cassette tape player. Moreover, a CD player has become standard equipment for my car, if I expect my wife to ride with me.

            In our home, we now have a wheelbarrow load of electronic beauties. We have a receiver, a tuner, an amplifier, a tape player, a VCR, a DVD player, and even a set of headphones.

            Have I given in to the urge to own a cell phone? You bet. I have one. My wife has one too. Neither of us knows much more than how to say “hello,” but we are learning.

            Young folks are always a mile ahead of me. They are not as intimidated by electronic gadgets as most people my age. Nevertheless, I am not about to give up and waddle my way into eternity.

            I spent thirty minutes the other day inviting a nine-year-old boy to explain his “Game Boy” to me. He was sharp. He loved it. He used it to avoid conversation with adults. I decided I did not need one.

            I may be slow but I am one old codger who does not intend to settle for anything less than the best in electronics – if I can afford it.

            I finally broke down, for example, and bought me a Bose radio. Paul Harvey is right. It is a good radio, every bit as good as he said it is.

            In my pocket, I also now carry a Palm Pilot, or PDA.  In an instant, I can open my address book, find a phone number, check my calendar, or add new information I may need to remember. The Palm eliminates having to carry around a pocketful of those 3x5 cards that Earl Ballard taught me to use.

            With my Palm, I can check my e-mail on the road, and when I am bored, I can play “DiddleBug,” one of several games that Jimmy Allen “beamed” to me one day from his Palm Pilot.

            Jimmy has solved the problem of how to endure boring meetings. Just break out your Palm and play a game. Hold it in your lap and most of the other people at the table will not know that you have tuned them out.

            Programs may be beamed from one Palm to another without wires or any physical contact. All I can do is laugh and say, “Amazing!”

            This new world of electronics separates the good guys from the bad ones. The bad guys now are the ones who do not have e-mail. How can we stay in touch as a family if one of us does not have an internet address?

            Staying up to speed these days can overload the brain. After all, how many user names and passwords can one human being memorize? On the positive side, exercising the brain is good for you.

            Presently, while I am composing this column, Dean is nearby, in another room, on her computer, checking her e-mail and playing “Rockin Robin,” some wild music Grady Rowell e-mailed us.

            My computer permits me to play music also while composing this document. So I have turned up the volume on my Dell 8200 so Dean can know that I am enjoying a jazzed up version of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

            She yells, “Are you going to answer the phone?”

            Now I notice my cell phone is ringing. I glance first at the Caller ID screen. I may not answer it. I do have a choice.

            What a world! What an amazing time to be alive, whether young or old!

            Old folks especially should learn to enjoy the benefits of this marvelous age of electronics. It is a lot more fun than sitting on the front porch trying to keep a rocking chair moving.