The Herald Bulletin

April 13, 2013

Jim Bailey: Tech revolution makes changes happen faster

By Jim Bailey
For The Herald Bulletin

— It’s easy to get sick of those repetitive TV commercials after the 46th time or so you see them. Especially so the overkill advertisers use nowadays to get our attention.

For example, those U-verse ads where an early teen is trying to impress on his or her younger brothers and sisters how easy they have it compared to the “old days” when people couldn’t move a TV around or could only record one or two programs at a time or took a whole minute to download a song on their iPods.

I imagine Gramps is stifling a laugh as he recalls how much things have changed in a few decades, much less a few years.

When Grandpa and Grandma wanted to make a phone call, they didn’t reach for their iPhone. No, they went to one particular spot in the house where the only telephone available was connected to a “landline” by phone wires. And they had to enter the numbers by twisting a rotary dial, for crying out loud. And if they called long distance (at extra cost), they had to dial “0” and give the operator the number to call for them.

If they wanted entertainment, they couldn’t just download a movie or record a program on the DVD to view when it was convenient. They all sat down in the living room, turned on the radio at the designated time and listened to their favorite program. If they wanted a picture of what was happening, they had to use their imagination, for Pete’s sake.

When Grandpa learned to drive a car, he had to learn to shift gears. And he’d better not let the water level get too low in the battery or it wouldn’t start. Most people back then learned to push the car until it was moving a little bit, then jump in and put the transmission in gear and pop the clutch; hopefully the engine would fire and you could get where you wanted to go. That maneuver ended when automatic transmissions were invented. And speaking of starters, when his pop wanted to start his old model T, he had to grab a crank on the front end of the car and jerk the engine over until it fired.

When they had to do their business, they didn’t just go to a little room and sit on a porcelain stool. Uh-uh. They had to go outside and cross the back yard to a little building with a wooden seat that had holes in it (Grandma kept a slopjar in the bedroom for the dead of winter). And if they were old enough, they didn’t roll off soft tissue. They had to tear pages from a Sears Roebuck catalog. Or even use corncobs, for crying out loud.

Kids these days have it so easy they haven’t a clue.

Jim Bailey can be reached by e-mail at