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5 Aug Abba gets some tech help

Abba gets some tech help

I am a brand-spanking new blogger.  If you are reading this and you know me personally, you are saying,  “Uh-huh?  And this is news?”  If you don’t know me personally, but remember that I am an abba, a Grandma, you are again not surprised.  Yup, me and technology: Not the easiest of co-habitators.  I am what is termed a technology immigrant, or maybe even a technology illegal alien.  My children were teethed on calculators and TV remotes.  (My teether was a rubbery, plasticky thing, and my wooden playpen railing, of course.)  They played computer games after school, were schooled on computers, did their reports on the computer, and wrote their stories on the computer.  I was brought up with, you know, board games, books, and a manual typewriter that did everything above, except the games part.

So I was brought up in a different world than my children.   In South America, I went to very nice private American school, with kids from all over the world.  When I was in high school, our math room got two new gadgets that were wired to the display desk by the window.  They were called calculators, and we were encouraged to get up from our desk and walk over to the table and use one of them, if we knew how.  Very intimidated, I never did more than give them a quick look.  In Algebra we learned  (well some of us learned, others of us were too bewildered to even catch on to the concept) to put together a sequence of numbers on a card.  It was a code, computer code, apparently.  Then the whole lot of us got on a bus clutching our code cards and went to “the computer”.  When we got off at the offices of a very large and well-known oil company, I thought the whole thing was hinky.   We were walked to a room full of noise, and the walls were decorated in metal cupboards with lots of little flashing lights and funny gauges and such.  And when the man asked if anyone wanted to try his or her code card on the computer, I held mine firmly behind me.  The whole experience is something I should have had therapy for, except that in a few years, I was watching Star Wars on the big screen back in the US and I realized that the room back at the oil company was the computer.  Huh.  I was in college then, with my handy manual typewriter.

My introduction to using the computer came about ten years later when I was doing some typing for our family history project:  My husband said that typing this story into the computer would be faster since I wouldn’t have to stop and find the white-out every time I made a mistake.  But when I lost a whole day of typing because of the simple fact of not knowing that the pages had to be “saved”, the typewriter and the white-out were my best friends for the next decade.

My children have slowly dragged me along in their technological wake.  They finally taught me to use the family PC, useful knowledge when I joined the work force (meaning that I got paid to work).  They insisted I have a cell phone so they could reach me when I wasn’t at home.  It has been hard work.  I already have a second language, I tell myself.  Isn’t Spanish enough?  Do I have to learn computer, too?  How can I change that ringtone?  What do you mean “logout”, is that English?

And technology fights back.  I have lost everything, and I mean everything, pictures, music, contact lists, writing, emails, you know, everything not once but twice when my computer died.  Back-ups?  What are back-ups?  I thought I was saving everything when I, you know, “saved”.  (I had learned that one.) My iPod did a slow whiteout.  Still plays music randomly, but I can’t see what is playing or change anything.  Huh!  And don’t get me started on the whole TV/DVD/VCR/Receiver mess-thing downstairs.  We were gifted a super-duper universal remote that sometimes works, which means I sometimes watch something downstairs.  What ever happened to walking over to the TV, which is just plugged into the wall, and turning it on?  I can remember houses we lived in that there was no TV, much less a mega-inch plasma with surround sound …

Recien bajada, or newly arrived from my wonderful, banana republic childhood, I was staying with my auntie’s family while she was having baby #3.  Uncle was recovering from knee surgery, and baby #2 was still in diapers.  Their modest home was a quagmire of problematic gadgets:  a toaster that had to be babied, an unusable (to me) electric can opener, an electric stove, a weird vacuum thing, and a washer and dryer in the laundry room that were, yes, electric and had more options than the shampoo aisle.  I was overwhelmed and although we ate well on sandwiches and cereal all week, the diapers were piling up and the black neighbor lady looked at my white face when I asked her how to use the washing machine, called me a rude name, probably thinking I was insinuating something and walked out on me.  It was that final insult that brought me to my knees, and I admitted to Uncle that I couldn’t make his house work, and have since endured his relentless teasing.  (Thirty-odd years of it!) I still have trouble with electric can openers, and well, other electrical things.  Just ask my family how many of these minions of the dark side have failed under my usage.  Randomly.

Now I am not saying we should go back to the dark ages.  I like being warm (I live in Canada, for pepe’s sake!).  And I love the hot water that comes out of the faucets.  There is nothing wrong with lights in every room so I don’t bang my shins (we have very long, dark winters in Canada!) in the afternoons and evenings.  I have lots of useful gadgets in the kitchen, like a rice maker, which will also steam veggies, a bread maker that does everything except measure in the ingredients, and an espresso machine.  I still am nervous around the microwave, but that doesn’t stop me from using it…a lot!  My friends in South America would love my kitchen!   But my favorite gadget has to be my computer.  (This is a whole other subject because I was talked into a Mac after my last PC suicide.  Talk about learning another language!!)  Well, I am kinda addicted to my computer, if I am to be honest here.  I can do so much more with my computer than I ever could with my manual typewriter.  I have games and pictures and a window on the world with the interweb.

And I keep thinking that if I am a technological immigrant and my children are tech citizens, what will my grands be?  I just ask because this is evolution of sorts.  What or who will my grands evolve into on the next technological wave??  And will I have to learn another language?

What’s your name?

4 Aug

Abba and G-Pa in Waterton, Alberta.

Abba is what my grandchildren call me. It is my nickname for abuela, grandmother in Spanish. My sister became a grandmother before I did, and she came up with the shortened name, although she is “Aba”; I added a “b” to distinguish my handle from hers. Having a different name helps our family because my grands have grandparents and great-grandparents galore, and it helps to keep it all straight. I mean, the children don’t have the same name as their sibling, so why should their grandparents all have the same name? So, I am Abba, and the other grandma is Grandma, and my mother is Grandma Elsie (her mom was Grandma Lillian before she went to her reward) and my dad is Grandpa Dick. My husband’s dad and stepmom are Grandpa Ed and Grandma Helen. Grandma’s husband is Grandpa and his mom is Nana (although Nana has been recalled to Glory, she is still Nana). With me so far? My husband was a Grandpa, too. Then one day he decided this was all very confusing, so we are trying the grands on the southern G-Pa for his moniker, which is working with the middles. The oldest still calls him Grandpa half of the time, and the youngest calls him G-da. Adorable, right?
Why is a name so important? I ask this, because our youngest grand has two sisters with the same name. He doesn’t really, but since he started talking, he has called them both by the same name. Even when his dad tries to trick him, he still calls one sister by the other’s name. This is confusing to say the least. I think of all the time (one year?) he had before he started talking for him to figure this out, and I personally think he is just messing with our heads. Maybe it is payback for all the grandma and grandpa names he’s had to sort out.
As our life expectancy lengthens, we will have this problem multiplying. We will have Great-great grandma Rose who is showing up to a youngster’s birthday party with her mom and aunt, and who knows what confusion the child will have to sort out. I know that some families have dispensed with the formalities already, and children are calling their elders by their given names. Our family likes the respect that those formalities imbue. We want the children to know that these older people, who happen to be related to them in some fashion, are not just wrinkled playmates. And we older folk need some clout in the playroom when the Wii remote is at stake.
Perhaps we need to start to plan ahead for this eventuality. We might need to coin a new name for the Great-grandparents and even the Great-greats. Greatmother and Greatfather? Macromom and Macropop? I don’t have the answer. I am just posing the question. For now, Abba and G-Pa work for our family: Our little identity crisis solution.

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