Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Nana Monster

By Dr. Jerri Fink

Tech was always my best friend. As the daughter of an electronic engineer, I had the first TV in the neighborhood. When desktops arrived in the 80s, I quickly climbed aboard. I was an author - I had to go digital. My first computer was a 1982 "portable" called Kaypro 2. It weighed a svelte 26 pounds - about the same as my 2-year old son. The  9-inch green phosphor screen only displayed text. If I used it for too long, I ended up with double vision and spidery green after images. I loved it anyway.

My Kaypro and I had some wicked battles in the beginning. I was convinced that it was possessed. Eventually, we made peace and I was officially a digital writer. As long as my kids kept their sticky fingers off the keyboard . . .
It wasn't long before I made friends with the internet. In those days, I had to use a "gender neutral" screen name because it was 96% male. The favorite sport of those early geeks was to harass women online. I called myself onbase in honor of the Mets and baseball. I still use the name - among five others.
The rest is history. Tech and my kids grew up with car phones, beepers, pocket PCs, and Palm Pilots. In those days, kids tortured their parents by refusing to eat dinner if it wasn't hamburgers or pizza. Not my kids. As soon as I left the house they would call my car phone to chat, knowing that every precious minute cost a fortune. That was long before smart phones and family plans.
When my kids went to bed, I pulled out my Rocket ebook - almost a decade before Kindle hit the shelves. It weighed 1-1/2 pounds and stored about ten books. I was in tech heaven. Eventually the first Kindle leaped into my hands in 2007, storing an unimaginable two hundred books. The new Kindle holds about four thousand titles - not including movies, magazines, and streaming video. Now I own a Kindle Fire and an IPad, with more books than I could finish in two or three lifetimes.
I took everything in stride until Facetime. By then, iPhones, iPods, and iPads were a way of life. I thought it was very cool at first. The first time we tried it my four-year old grandson ran away crying. We waited a year until he was five and his little brother was three. They loved it.
There was only one problem. Everyone under the age of twenty looks great on Facetime. Everyone older looks, well . . . awful. Forget the wrinkles, the jowls, and the colored hair. The face turns into a . . . monster.
As an author of both children and adult fiction, I was used to writing about monsters. I wasn't used to being one. What's a geezer to do?
I became The Nana Monster.

I growl, I roar, I send little kids screaming from the screen. They love every minute. No one knows the geezer beneath the bloody red glasses.
What's next? I'm concerned about holograms that project people "as-is" not twenty years younger and twenty pounds thinner. I've avoided video but now with the Bloggie and Playsport, a camcorder is easier to use than a smart phone. I'm doomed to technological distortion - somewhat reminiscent of "reality." It's clear that my once-best friend is on the warpath to make me look . . . old.
There's only one solution. Text the grandkids.

The author during a trip to Antarctica 

Dr. Jeri Fink is a proud geezer and the author of hundreds of articles and nineteen published books. Trees Cry For Rain, her latest book, is a gripping historical novel where the past crashes ruthlessly into the present. It can be purchased at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

Her new series, Broken, consists of five separate novels that follow dramatic, related paths from the Spanish Inquisition to modern times.

For more information about Jerri's books visit her website www.drjerifink.com or email her at drjeri@drjerifink.com


H L Wegley said...

Thanks for the memories -- well, for some of them. My old CP/M machine from the late '70s and my 300 baud modem, that would only allow me to run a line editor remotely, were sometimes heaven and sometimes its antithesis. But Wordstar and Turbo Pascal did seem like heaven at the time.

................................ Kevin Parsons said...

Great memories... But what about PONG? The little ball bouncing back and forth across the screen, moving the flat cursor to hit it and 'tunk,' sending it back to your opponent.
We can't forget PONG!

Liz Flaherty said...

Loved your post. I'm technologically challenged, and like it that way, but you make me wish I'd tried a little harder.

tomynate said...

Great post. Brought back some memories. I too had a Kaypro. I had completely forgotten having one. What a hunk of metal, but at the time, it was on the cutting edge. Hard to believe that was only thirty years ago.


Tom Blubaugh, Author
Night of the Cossack