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Tag Archive: magic

Aug 14

Boomers are gadgety geniuses these days

“For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three,”
–Alice Kahn.

Who wants to be left behind when it comes to mastering the latest electronic gadgets?

Not baby boomers.

Think again in case you believe in the prevalent myth that baby boomers are techno phobic and cannot master high tech electronics.

Truth is we boomers love our gadgets so much that we are actually becoming good at them.

Evidence supporting this trend is all around us.

For instance, I recently observed a high-tech 80-something couple at the outlet mall. They were walking through a store talking to each other on their blue tooth earpieces. Quite the sight, and yes, I have to admit hip.

Hip octogenarians! Who knew?

Additionally, there are a growing number of savvy baby boomers that can text, surf, YouTube, iphone, Blackberry, IM, and GPS with the best of them. Even the Wii is hot for seniors.

Baby boomer Steve practices golf on the Golden Tee video game in arcades. He enjoys the exercise except for one time when he swung the wand a bit too hard and dislocated his thumb. We won’t count him.

Seriously though, there is a little game of golf that actually fits in your smart phone and may be safer than playing it in the arcade if you get into it as much as Steve. The game unbelievably holds four complete 18-hole golf courses in a handheld device.

Beautiful scenery. Blue skies. Mobile relaxation. No green fees!

My friend Beth has a new Blackberry, and let me tell you she can text message using predictive text like a 13-year-old. My sister Pat has mastered IM (instant messaging) lingo.

Even my technologically challenged husband can maneuver his way through a cell phone menu, most of the time that is. Granted he cannot retrieve voice mail yet, but soon. We are hopeful.

I am impressed with this cool, “chichi” (trendy) technology. Might as well learn the techno slang while we are at it.

Thus, after battling indecision for months, I joined the throng and bought an iPhone.

I uploaded my contacts, set my voice mail, and located the included GPS. I have not actually tried to navigate with it yet.

Side note: there are iPhone “gestures” one must master, and the terminology is strange and new to boomers. We are told to flick, drag, tap, double tap, stretch and pinch, and touch and drag.

I am working on these skills, but once I get my email account set up, Katy bar the door! For prior generations, this term is an American expression meaning get ready for trouble.

Could it be, however, that we are in love with these amazing gadgets because they seem magical, enchanted, mysterious, and thrilling. As Arthur C. Clarke once quipped, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

And certainly as we boomers age, we can be assured that we will never get lost when we take our daily walks using magical “advanced lifestyle tools” such as a GPS-equipped walker!

I don’t want one of those yet.

Nov 19

Grandparents may need a primer in Harry Potter-speak!

You might think that the Harry Potter craze has died down, but think again, grandparents. The next installment of the movie sequence is here just in time for Christmas, and the final book in the series of seven is being written as we speak.

Time to learn the Potter language if you haven’t already.

From the moment the ink dried on the first Potter book, I “jumped on the bandwagon” and became an adoring fan of J.K. Rowling and her magical story of young Harry Potter and his battle between good versus evil.

Not so fast you say.

Some folks think it’s the other way around, and that evil lurks in the pages of these immense and robust novels.

Au contraire!

I submit there are lots of reasons to the contrary, but before I bore you with those and rave about the joys of reading Harry Potter books, I had better get such an objection addressed up front.

After all, some parents and grandparents may need some assurance that it’s OK to read these books.  So, I set out to find those answers for the skeptical.

Certainly, one can find evil in the Rowling books, but, through creativity, trust, faith, and sheer determination, Harry Potter overcomes the demons that beset him. What better a story is there anywhere for young minds to “sop up”, as Rowling might say.

Helping Harry with his noble quest is his amazing arsenal of magical tools and gadgets. We Boomers know this is not unlike the technology we have today that appears to many of us to be pure magic and totally incomprehensible, ie.remotes, computers, satellites, cell phones, and GPS.

Then, your next question that may come to mind is a natural one.

Is Harry careful to use his magic (technology) for good, or can he be corrupted by it instead and lured to the “dark side”, or in wizard-speak, to “the one-who-must-not-be named?”

Your young readers may need some explanation, Boomers, as to why Harry must be careful what he does with his magic. Our young, as we well know, must be just as careful with the power of the technology at their disposal, such as internet and cell phones!

Need I explain further?

Anyone who reads Potter books knows that wizards are not allowed to perform magic in front of “Muggles” (ordinary people with no magical skill or powers).  Using magic (or, if you will, technology) unwisely can cause irreparable damage to others, and Harry finds that out, quite soon in his young wizarding life.

A wonderful book, The Science of Harry Potter, addresses the magic of Harry Potter’s world and compares it to the technology of ours. Author, Roger Highfield, writes an insightful guide to the Harry Potter books by showing us a link between Potter’s magic and science. Highfield explains that what we find strange and magical in the Potter books can actually be explained by science.

I enjoy what Highfield says when he writes, “I love the Harry Potter books, but maybe not for all the same reasons that you do. For me enchantment, spell, curse, and other act of sorcery in J. K. Rowling’s wonderful creation seems to throw down a challenge to modern science…Surely  brain scientists would reject the idea of a hat that can read thoughts? Beans of any and every imaginable flavor? Sounds unlikely, as do flying broomsticks, the candles that hover in Hogwarts (school of wizardry and witchcraft), and the Weasley’s gravity-defying Ford… Surely magic of this sort can’t be reconciled with the rational laws of science?”

Or can it? Author Highfield does just that, in my humble opinion, and, therefore, I highly recommend his book to you in order to satisfy your own curiosity.

One of my great concerns, as I grow older, is how younger generations have lost the habit of reading for pleasure, and thus, do not experience its joys.

Perhaps, nothing else has gone so far to correct that problem as has the mysterious and thrilling J. K. Rowling novels. I, personally, have witnessed several young people discover how to read for fun, just by becoming absorbed in Harry Potter novels.

James F. Sennett, a professor at Lincoln (Illinois) Christian College and Seminary, wrote an interesting piece that goes a long way, in my mind, toward putting any concerns about the Potter books to rest.  Sennett wrote a piece for the Christian Standard entitled, “Thank God for Harry Potter.”

He discussed how Harry and his friends confront many of the same problems that youth today face, such as bullies, cheating, homework, and the angst of developing adolescence.  Sennett tells us that even though the characters age throughout the books, the clear message of morality and the exceptional literary quality of the books does not change. Sennett says, “…the books are exciting, educational, wholesome, and just plain fun. And none of these virtues can be taken for granted in today’s world or today’s church.”

Get ready, then, for more Harry Potter, controversial as it may be, because the Potter story is far from over.

 One thing is certain; J. K. Rowling gets us reading, if for nothing else than to keep up with the kiddos, and as Mark Twain once observed, “Those who do not read have no advantage over those who can’t.”