Technical toys aren't my thing. Perhaps it's my generation; I didn't grow up with all the techno stuff that litters our current way of life. Case in point: I got a new printer for Christmas and I can't even find the off/on switch and I had to call my son-in-law to figure out where to put the ink cartridges. Now I've got to find someone to show me where the controls are and how to use them. Life was simpler when switches were clearly labeled and gizmos came with instruction booklets. Now even if I can find instructions on the internet, I don't know any more than I did without the instructions. (Where are the good technical writers? Perhaps they've gone to the same place good copy editors have gone.)
I always marveled that my dad had experienced so many different stages of transportation. As a boy he rode horses and drove horse teams, as a young man he drove a dog sled team for the Hudson Bay Company, drove tandem spans of mules or horses pulling logs, plowed with oxen, learned to drive a car and experienced the changes in cars and trucks from the early twentieth century through the very early twenty-first century, saw tractors revolutionize from the old hand cranked Farmall to the big GPS controlled tractors of today, he took the train, and he flew in bi-planes, helicopters, and finally a 747.
During my life I think I've seen almost as many changes in communication as my dad did in transportation. I remember walking beside my sister, carrying a note written by my mother to a neighbor when I was very small. A few years later I exchanged letters with pen pals. I remember our first telephone (others had telephones long before we did). Once I accompanied my dad to the grain elevator in town. It was next to the train tracks and I watched as a man in a little building operated the telegraph key. Radio, television, and now our world is full of telephones that do everything but feed the dog, toys that talk and fly, e-mail, texting, facebook, and dozens of other computer generated communication devices and programs.
Those first articles I wrote for a farm magazine when I was a child were laboriously printed out by hand. If I made a mistake, I had to start over. Free lance articles I wrote later were typed on a typewriter using carbon paper. Again if I messed up, the page had to be retyped. As a newspaper reporter I used white out or correction tape. When deadlines were tight or the operator typing the material into those first early computers, which didn't have screens, was busy elsewhere, I sometimes had to type the stories in directly myself, print them out, and cut and paste in the corrections. My first books involved a lot of trips to the post office as my editor and I mailed changes back and forth. Today with a push of a button our changes and corrections land on each other's desks almost immediately. And my readers can read it on paper or a hand held e-reader.
I won't argue that all of these advances in technology haven't made many things in our modern world easier and more pleasant. I miss getting letters, but I love keeping up with friends and family on a daily basis through facebook and email. I like being able to travel quickly to places which once would have been nearly impossible or to be there for family emergencies. My mother was the first woman in sixteen generations of my direct female maternal ancestors to reach her fortieth birthday, that makes me very grateful for medical advances. Yet with all the good, I find a loss in quiet, reflective moments, personal one-to-one relationships, and instead of gaining more time, we seem to be pushed to tighter, more demanding schedules.
I relate well to my not-quite-two-year-old granddaughter. She divides food into two categories, m-m-m-m and k-k-k. Any object can become a car if it's driven on the piano bench with the proper motor sounds. Animals are birds (dees), cats (mows), or dogs (panting sound with her tongue sticking out). Anything shiny or pretty is Ooh. If she likes you, she blows you kisses or presses her open mouth against your cheek. I love the way she takes this complicated world and simplifies it into a place that makes sense to her. I often feel I need to do that. No matter how fast I run, I can't seem to keep up with technology, but hey, with a little help I found out how to turn my printer on.