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MARTHA SEZ: Bobbing and weaving with modern technology

May 18, 2018
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Grandchildren are the link between the aging Baby Boom generation and today's rapidly advancing global technology.

The term rapidly advancing is used so frequently to describe today's global technology that it has become a cliche. This is because technology IS rapidly advancing. It is advancing like lava flow from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano. It is advancing like floodwater from myriad North County brooks during Tropical Storm Irene, like the tick invasion coming up from downstate. Faster.

We codgers could never hope to keep up with it at all if left to our own devices.

Our own devices being record players and analog audio cassettes and standard definition television sets, the regular kind that look like big boxes and weigh about the same as air conditioners. The kind that fit into those maple wood colonial consoles with hinged doors and built-in shelves. I guess the doors are for hiding the TV set during off hours, thereby preserving the illusion that the console was built during the 17th or 18th century, before television was invented.

Also those black Model-500 rotary-dial telephones and the more modern push-button princess phones with long, spiraling, tangly cords attaching the receiver to the phone-both rotary and princess featuring cords that plug into the wall so you have to be home to answer your phone.

Our grandchildren don't know anything about Baby Boom devices.

If you give a child a Fisher-Price roll-along "Talk Back Phone" pull toy-yes, these toys are still sold-he or she will have no idea that it is supposed to be a phone.

"That's silly!" your grandchildren will say.

My grandchildren are little; Emma is 5 and Jack is 4. Already, they know how to use FaceTime to talk with me.

I asked my daughter, Molly, if Emma and Jack could think of a name for a little doll I bought recently to use as a model for making doll clothes. I took a picture of the doll with my phone and texted it to her. (Yes, I have become quite adept at certain aspects of cellphone usage.) Immediately, a reply appeared: the word Bob.

Yesterday, Emma appeared on my smartphone, laughing, hair flying, as she danced around.

"Did you know that was me who typed the name Bob?" she wanted to know. I was impressed, although I know that kindergartners across the country are learning at school to read and write.

I put Bob in front of the screen so that he could bounce around and talk with Emma and Jack.

"Send Bob over to us," Emma urged. "Send him right now."

I have found that children don't believe it is appropriate for elderly people to own toys. The concept makes their little brows furrow, which will cause an elderly person to become concerned. Typically, the elderly person will then repent and fork over the toy. (Elderly, of course, is a relative term. Emma recently asked me my age: "About 100?" but accepted "about 70" as an answer, mulling it over. Either age to her must seem equally outside the realm of possibility.)

Then her brother Jack got ahold of the phone and stuck out his tongue, a trick he clearly considers to be hilariously funny. The screen went blurry.

"Jack, you paused it!" I heard Emma say. Sometimes when Jack is handed the phone to talk with his granny he turns it off and tunes into video games. If tunes in is correct usage here.

After a while, the phone rang again. It was Emma, on FaceTime.

"Hi, Grandma!"

"Hi, Emma. Do you want to speak with Bob?"

I put Bob, the doll, on. Jack and Emma both asked him questions, and we all had a conversation.

Emma told me a joke.

"Grandma, is your phone running?"

"Yes, it is."

"Then you better catch it, or it will get away!" This was followed by gales of laughter, after which our FaceTime session was somehow abruptly terminated. I FaceTimed back. Jack answered.

"Where's Bob?" he asked. He wagged his head back and forth, imitating the way I'd made Bob bounce around. Or Bob around.

So now I have to go the post office to mail Bob to California. We were just getting to know each other. It has always been my belief that dolls want to be with children, so I suppose it is all for the best.

What's next? Why don't they invent an air conditioner that weighs the same as a flat-screen TV?

Have a good week.



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