Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sad and Lonesome Death of DVDs

The first inkling that things were changing came right under my nose came as I was driving home with our Chevy Impala rental car. As usual my fingers went probing for the CD slot to play my favorite music. None could be found. When I inquired at the rental car company they stared at me through the phone. My kids were less kind and laughed at me. So I went to my secret advisor and Google stated quite simply that General Motors no longer equipped their new cars with such antiquated means of carrying a tune.

Well, pardon me for missing that seismic change in my life” I thought out loud. When did someone decide that the old reliable CD or, DVD for that matter, was no longer cutting edge technology? I guess the answer is ‘everyone else.’ I just didn’t notice those changes coming fast and furious all around me.

Now instead of delivering packages of entertainment and distraction through the mail or in retail stores, it’s all gone ‘streaming.’ There are streaming movies, streaming cable series and streaming music services. Anything under the sun is for sale on our computer screen. Oops, I misspoke. I meant to say on our tiny iPhone screen. So much for checking the mail every day or visiting my local music shop. Now I can sit on my butt, munch on bon-bons, and get everything and anything I desire (not need, mind you) at the touch of my fingertips.

But try as it might, technology hasn’t won me over quite yet. Case in point, I have an old but reliable Sony turntable and CD / tape player downstairs. Truth be told. I don’t use it very often. But the sound is still good and the emotions emoted still comforting. The same can be said for my stack of LPs (that’s long playing) records.

I never got into 8 track tapes or reel to reel audio recorders. But there is a shelf of audio tapes still down stars. Until the untimely demise of my Ford Escape I had a good place to play them. But atlas I still have an old cassette player to take up the slack when the mood strikes me.

I never got into video discs and my collection of VHS and DVD movies hasn’t moved much. But they’re still a source of enjoyment some evenings. Despite what Hollywood would like you to believe they actually made good movies before the present hysteria over the latest summer blockbuster. I was never tempted to switch to Blue ray or Digital DVDs. Now even those devices are old fashioned and quickly being replaced by ‘The Cloud’ and other streaming services.

Progress marches on. My flip phone will soon be obsolete. If Microsoft finds out that I’ve still got Windows 4 to back up my Windows 7 they’d probably come and shut me down. Oh, my, how do I survive?

Perhaps it’s a good thing I wasn’t born around the turn of the century. I have nothing against the horseless carriage but horses are a noble animal. And I wouldn’t have to change their oil. It’s all part of a paradigm shift taking place 24/7 in our lives. From entertainment to medicine to transportation to everyday living, the only constant seems to be constant change.

For the last hundred years we’ve been sucked into this reflective prism called ‘new.’ New is good. Old is bad. It’s as simple as that. Even back in 1946 a portable typewriter was the end all be all…until a couple of years later they sparked the keys with electricity.

Don’t get me wrong. I love using Google Drive. I love sharing my thoughts and ideas through my blogs (400 and counting). I love showing my brand on Facebook; 3 separate sites, and Twitter (although I don’t use it) and LinkedIn to expand my reach.

Self-publishing has been a God-send in terms of publishing and sharing my novels. That in turn has given me increased credibility as a playwright and screenwriter.

But time marches on, leaving only fading memories in its wake. I think it’s OK to hold on those old musical tools of the trade while the rest of technology morphs away along with our past lives. I accept that one has to keep up with the crowd or at least graciously accept those constant changes. I’ll do so when it fits my work routine or presents new avenues of distraction. So goes the circle of life.

In the meantime, I still get to keep my audio tapes, LPs, VHS and DVD tapes. When the mood strikes I can always retreat downstairs and get lost in my music and movies. On the road, my 2015 Toyota Camry has a CD player so I intend to keep it going forever or until…

It’s comforting to know that the music never has to end.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Through Younger Eyes

The question was always key to our travels abroad. How much would the youngest in our group really pick up and understand from foreign travel? If she was too young it would be wasted on her. Too old and a hundred thousand other distractions might take away from the excitement and educational value of being aboard if only for a brief moment in time.

We pondered that question when Sharon decided that as a gift from her children she wanted to return to London with both families. How would the youngest in our entourage handle traveling abroad?

A precocious and very intuitive seven-year-old Charlotte passed the test and our respective families were off to London and Paris. Her brother at nine years old and their cousins at nine and twelve years old respectively were all well equipped to ‘get it’ as we foraged our way through the customs, culture and excitement of both London and Paris.

At first glance, it might seem like privileged travel for my five grandchildren. I was twenty-one before I took my first plane ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a turbo-prop airliner. I didn’t travel abroad until I was twenty-four. My own kids took that up a notch by traveling to England twice when they were both in their teens.

Privileged yes, but without apology. We hope to impart on my grandchildren ‘real world’ experiences instead of material things. Experiences they can use as life lessons for a lifetime. It’s hands-on grand-parenting instead of the Daddy Warbucks approach. It’s about giving them our shared wisdom learned over a lifetime and a respect for other people and places around the world.

So how did the grandchildren do during their time abroad? Just fine, thank you, just fine. Travel is always an educational experience in more ways than one. It brings out the best and sometimes the worst in people. Unexpected delays, different customs, strange foods, other beliefs and a change of routine can test even the youngest and certainly the oldest in any group. Our gang passed that test with flying colors. And in the process we all learned just a little bit more about one another.

Nana held classes most evenings. There were lessons in charcoal sketching, rehearsing for a short play, playing poker and journaling their daily experiences, impressions and thoughts of that days excursion around the city.

I watched the boys play ‘Exploding Kittens’ on the back patio which brought forth gales of laughter and glee.

We ended up taking the tube everyday everywhere.

We watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

The kids loved exploring the Tate Museum, especially the photography exhibit for Maya.

Exploring the National Gallery of Art was interesting but playing paddy cake in the grand plaza was more fun.

The London Eye gave us an unprecedented view of the great city.

Borrowing from their parent’s generation all the kids had to retrace those famous Beatles crossing Abby Road.

One of the most satisfying experiences for Sharon and I was taking our kids to ‘School of Rock’ in the West End Theater District. The play was loud, ambitious, fun and exhilarating even for the seven-year-old. It has set a new standard for us when we have the grandchildren all together again. A love of the theater is something they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

The Eurostar through the Chunnel was uneventful except for the card games.

A River cruise on the Seine was only topped by climbing the heights of the Eiffel Tower.

The card games and sketching continued through our last meal in town.

In the end, the long time spent waiting at the airport, over 8 hours on the plane then a rush to transfer to a last minute flight from Detroit to Minneapolis proved too much even for an ardent traveler among us.

The same could be said for the Colorado cousins. But Sharon and I are confident that a good time had by all…especially doting grandparents who see even more adventures in our collective future.