Posted by: nickgerlich | April 1, 2008

Anti-Aging Formula

In the past year, I have made disparaging remarks about a number of new products, companies, and activities. From my lofty perch in the towers of academe, I suppose it is normal for a veteran prof to weigh in on anything and everything. After all, we get paid to think.

But unlike the popular t-shirt slogan, I can’t just sit back and say, “I think I’ll have another beer.”

The other day I stepped back from the forest to see some of the trees I had felled. I realized that if I’m not real careful, I could topple a young forest the size of Washington State, leaving behind only the stately old trees that had weathered the storms of time. Those darn saplings always get in the way, don’t they?

Except that those stately old trees have a way of falling on their own once they reach a certain age.

So here I sit, a mere 10 months away from the half-century mark, and I found myself sounding rather fossilized. In spite of trying to reside on the cutting edge of everything technological, I found myself drifting over to the dull side of the blade.

Since Spring is a time to start anew, I figured this is as good a time as any to put down the chain saw and see if I could get some of those saplings to grow again. If you’ve been with me for two semester or more, you will recall my diatribes against the things discussed below. And even my first-timers will be able to relate, because one of my earliest blogs this semester ridiculed this practice.

And so in an honest effort to turn back the pages of time and get with the program, I submit to you the following changes in my life, effective immediately:

Texting1. I caved in and bought an iPhone. Yeah, the 16GB model. A year ago I wondered aloud who the &#%$ would ever want an all-in-one device like this? As it turned out…um…me. I do not go anywhere without a cell phone. When I am on my bike (15+ hours a week), I always have my 60GB iPod. And when I am on tour somewhere, I also carry a digital camera. All that weight was slowing me down on the hills. Add in PDA functionality for my cobwebby brain, and I have everything I need at less weight than the original iPod. Yes, convergence is good. The only problem is that they converged to take a nasty bite out of my wallet. My only regret, though, is that I did not buy into this sooner.

2. So in reference to (1) above, I upped my text messaging allowance to a gazillion. Yeah, I know…I lambasted everyone earlier this semester for thumb-typing themselves silly, but I see the applications now. Why, late last night I ham-fisted sweet little nothings to my wife who is visiting her Mom in Indiana. I may be armed and dangerous, but now you have another way to reach me if necessary.

Just don’t expect sweet little nothings in return.

3. And to top it off, I opened an account at Twitter. Alas, though, I don’t have any followers yet. What’s that saying about hometown prophets?

But I am beginning to see some possibilities for Twitter. Last week I read this article and watched the related video about using Twitter in the online classroom. I am intrigued, to say the least, and since I pride myself on still being somewhat of a pioneer around here when it comes to distance learning, I figured I had better check it out.

All this newness has my head spinning, almost like a kid on Christmas morning. I even purchased my first song at iTunes and synced it to my phone. Man, I could save a fortune here real fast by not buying all those CDs and just cherry-picking the good stuff.

Oh yeah…I think I hit on that in my earlier missives about legal music downloading. It’s just that I didn’t actually do any of that stuff. Until now.

The nice part about change is that it can be infectious. Yesterday I was speaking with my Mother in Florida. Mom handed over her old laptop in disgust and frustration to my nephew a couple of years ago, mostly because she couldn’t figure it out. But she and Dad had just come from the funeral of their 92-year-old friend Leon, a man for whom life was a lawnmower that needed to be pushed.

And Mom said, “I’m going to buy a new computer. Verizon is coming to our area in a month, and I want to get it.”

After a little discussion about products and specs, she added, “I’m going to be 80 this year. I’m not going to be around forever.”

Way to go, Mom. And I’m sure Leon is mowing heaven’s lawn. In the mean time, I’m game for some more challenges. After all, I’m not going to be around forever.

Dr “We’ll Miss You, Leon” Gerlich


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