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Low-tech living in a high-tech world

Low-tech living in a high-tech world


‘The Marion Mom’ My editor texted me yesterday: “I know this is giving you virtually no notice whatsoever, but with our new print schedule, we’re going to do the Marion Ledger this week.

Is there any way you could knock out a column by, say, tomorrow afternoon?”

Oh, yeah, sure, Ralph, let me get right on that.

It’s not like I have a newborn demanding the most intimate kind of nourishment every two hours. Or two homeschooled teens I have to cart up to the high school two or three times a day to play their sports.

Or a 12-year-old son who insists on acquainting me with every emergency room in the vicinity.

Oh, and let’s not forget, the actual schooling part of homeschooling six children of various and a sundry academic abilities.

But sure, I’ll just cram you into my very tight timetable.

Thanks for the heads up.

Dumb new print schedule. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints (online, of all places) about the reduced print schedule, three days a week instead of five. Don’t worry, though, because you can still subscribe to all five days of news online.

At least you still get some newsprint — the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ended all delivery services this month.

They did offer a consolation to their long-time subscribers, like my father, who has subscribed since I was the demanding newborn and the paper was actually called the Arkansas Gazette… and also the Arkansas Democrat.

Who knows — maybe he subscribed in the nascent times of the Arkansas Post. He’s been around awhile, you know!

The kind, young people at the Democrat-Gazette called my father to set up an appointment with him to bestow a brand-spanking- new 12.5” iPad Pro 2 in a leather case so he can continue reading the paper in its virtual form.

Oh, and also, to show him how to do it.

Well, my father, ever the gentleman, accepted the gift and uttered the requisite “Uh-huhs” and “Oh yeahs” during the explanation, but when I stumbled upon his thousand-dollar device still in the box, he had been driving to the convenience store to pick up a print copy of the paper.

For three days.

The man still uses a flipphone. What would you have expected?

As it happens, my brother and I both simultaneously descended upon the tech, drooling, I more than he because I happen to like Apple. He snubs it, considering himself more technologically and evolutionarily advanced because his phone has a picture of an alien guy on it. Who is eating an apple.

Eye. Roll.

Dad gladly let us toy around with it. We set up the WiFi (which, sadly, doesn’t reach to his bedroom, so that’s one demerit for tech) and opened the ADG app.

We fiddled around with the shiny new app. As far as I could tell, it’s well-developed and mostly intrinsic.

For me, anyway.

For the guy who sends a text once a month on his Motorola flip phone? Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a smart guy. But a baby boomer in the throes of his retirement routine doesn’t care to embrace the learning curve when it admittedly costs less time to hop down to McDonald’s to purchase the print version out of the stand. And as an added benefit, he picks up a Coke Zero Sugar while he’s there.

Win-win, right?

In an era where companies are charging more for customer access to flashy, breathtaking tech, my father is spending his money on the paper. The paper version of the paper.

(Side thought: Are we still calling it a “paper” when it’s entirely online?) Because how else will he be able to complete the crossword and sudoku that pretty much defines “retirement routine” for a baby boomer?

Well, I checked the app.

Unfortunately, it’s not interactive. However, it does have a print option — if you like an entire newsprint sheet reduced to a letter-sized printout.

Nothing a good magnifying glass can’t fix — another low-tech solution to a high-tech problem.

The iPad technically belongs to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, so when Dad stops subscribing, he will be required to return it. But meanwhile, he’s free to download other apps and use the iPad as his own with the account I set up for him.

Not to toot my own horn.

It wasn’t without issue.

There was a lot of button and back-arrow clicking until I muddled through to the correct page. I sure couldn’t tell you how I did it.

We trotted through the standard email address/ password requests for a new account, but the security questions bogged us down!

Name of your favorite elementary school teacher.

(Elementary school, really? He is 78.) Name of your first pet.

(We picked this one, but used the name of my third pet.) Name of your favorite children’s book. (Again, he’s 78.) What was the first thing you learned to cook? (See above.) What is your dream job? (At that point in life, does this really apply? I’d assume your dream job would be freedom from a job.) Maybe we should stop trying to answer the security questions like it’s an interview for a memoir and start using random words generated from today’s crossword puzzle.

Lawnmower, Yemen, Rehab, Llamas, Bore Sadly, our chances of remembering the real answers aren’t significantly improved over recalling the nonsense words (except perhaps that the random selection of “llamas” fell under “What was the first thing you learned to cook?”) As for me, I will miss the paper. I hate staring at a screen. I’d much rather read actual words printed on paper. Plus, you don’t need to remember any passwords to enjoy it.

But also, I need the newsprint to protect my project space during finger painting and crafts.

Because that actually is on my schedule today.

Dorothy Wilson lives in Marion with her husband Chris as they enjoy all the adventures life with their seven children provides.

Her columns appear monthly in the Marion Ledger, with reprints, such as this one from September 2018, appearing in the online edition of the Times.

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