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Keith John Paul Horcasitas

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Knee Mail: Reconciling the Past with the Present and Embracing the Future
By Keith John Paul Horcasitas
Sunday, August 07, 2011

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Generational adaptations to changes in technologies are noted in this short story.

Pic: Knee Mail / Rosary

New Technologies - Reconciling the Past with the Present and Embracing the Future

With the announcement a few year ago of the demise of Border's Bookstores primarily due to its inability to adequately adapt as a retailer to the challenges of online buying and e-book technologies, it made me realize that we all may understandably want cling to the past at times but need to find ways to embrace new challenges that confront us every day.

In Graduate School at SDSU during the early 1980s, when I worked part time in the library, I recall how computers were making their first big application to many things. One particular area that I used to remember was looking up books in the old "Card Catalog" system that was alphabetical for authors and subjects. Like looking up a word, while it may be super easier using the computer for the search, I used to thumb through those cards and find so many other areas of interest that would not come up per a computer search - usually spending more time on reviewing those than what was my original concern.

Another situation that I appear out of place at times these days is when I'll go to a coffee shop like CC's for some private time to journal - a great way to keep perspective on things. As I take out my old spiral notebook and ballpoint pen to catch up on some personal and spiritual reflections, I'm surrounded by a cacophony of clicks by folks using their laptops! No wi-fi, no electrical cord, or no mouse is needed for the old fashioned way - and my "hard-drive" hardly ever crashes - unless I don't get enough caffeine!

I actually wrote my Master Thesis in Social Work on a portable Smith Carona typewriter, which I would take to a McDonald's near SDSU and plug it in like folks do nowadays at CC's or Starbucks with their laptops; back then, McD's didn't have the fancy coffee or baristas like they do now, much less free Wi-Fi, but I still could get caffeine to help me meet the deadline for that paper!

Also, my wife and I love to play Scrabble a few times a week. No matter how much I love surfing on the web, emailing and doing Facebook (I'm on Twitter but find I don't use it much), there are some old fashioned things like playing board games and using a hard copy of a dictionary or an encyclopedia to look something up when we play these games that just don't lend themselves to having a laptop around.

When I shared about this with one of my colleagues at work, she mentioned about having read some recent research reports that noted the benefits of using such non-electronic interactive games - not only for enhancing intelligence but also for improving communications between people; my wife would say that the former would certainly not apply to me but, like for most guys, I could always use help with the latter!

We play Scrabble differently than the rules call for - we make a united effort at just trying to complete the board with all the pieces. I'm sure it would help keep up our math skills by adding up the numbers if we made it into a competition thing, but we don't worry about that. And we cheat a little by using some abbreviations that would not usually be allowed but once again, it shows we're working together as a team - which certainly helps when a guy is trying to get out of the doghouse!

No matter how much computers may help me in multi-tasking, they really can become such a distraction and actually be an impediment to close relationships. My wife doesn't like using computers, so I can't send her email love letters, but she surprised me recently by actually learning how to text, so that is a new venue I've used. A good old fashioned hand written note is greatly appreciated. I can even use romantic words in the game Scrabble to show some affection to her.

It has been neat to actually be able to do a 7 letter word, so that you can start with a whole new batch of letters. Using a word like "forgive" also provides brownie points when the game has started after a not so pleasant interaction. There are some words that we all seem to have trouble with - this forces us to look it up just to be sure; for me, it was "occasion" or "sheriff," wherein I would always not know whether it was two c's or two s's for the former or two r's or two f's for the latter.

While using "Google" on a laptop can be so helpful to look up something like a word for Scrabble or when I'm just trying to get some info about an item interest, I have discovered so many other things by not using a computer. Inevitably, when I am searching through the dictionary or encyclopedia, I find a topic totally unrelated to what I started out looking for that was something I'd forgotten about, had wanted to look up before but never did or even information that I had never known before.

So while JP, our 15 y/o son, is certainly more of a geek than we could ever imagine being re: computer and electronic tech savviness, I can get still get him every now and then to play "Monopoly" or "Trouble." While these may be "bored" games compared to Nintendo DS, PSP, PSII, Wi, Runescape and others, he appreciates the time we spend together in these and sports activities as well. And JP has helped me to put together some nice "You Tubes" for some songs I've written and recorded.

With the advent of tablets like iPads and Kindles, we may all still cling to the past in our own ways whether with typewriters, desktops, laptops, board games and journaling. Still, my wife and I have also embraced the modern communication devices as well. Both have served to keep us all in better touch with one another and with God - as noted on a T-shirt that a dear friend, Wendy, gave to us: the back depicts pants with big holes at the knee section, while on the front, it notes: God answers and loves knee-mails!

Keith John Paul Horcasitas   

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Reviewed by J Howard 8/21/2011
Lovely story. my husband and i are occasional scrabble players in the winter in front of the fire. to challenge a word to the dictionary might endanger a turn, but...can give an opponent a chance-so my husband says!
thanks for sharing, enjoyed it-

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