Sunday, November 01, 2009

What did we do before...

Recently I was mulling over what we did before some things which we now take for granted became so commonplace. What did we do before..

cell phones? And smartphones, pagers, beepers, and those hands-free units people wear on their ears?  We did manage to survive without talking on that phone in the ladies'  (or men's?) room, texting whenever, or walking down the street talking to someone clearly not in sight.  We did manage to keep in touch with those we needed or really wanted to.  And  we  had one less distraction in class!

copiers that collate and staple? I can remember before copiers were so standard - educators, for example, used mimeograph machines. Carbon copies were really copies made using carbon paper!  I remember when copiers became common but still didn't collate or staple.  When my college got machines that collated, that was a big step.  Now if staples run out, I'm upset and frustrated.

flavored coffees, creamers, lattes, cappuccino, etc.? Obviously we did, but having such a variety of options here is nice.  Make mine French vanilla!

calculators?  Wow! what did we do indeed?  They have come so far since the first one I saw, my cousin Albert's.  His first was the size of a small (maybe 13") tv!  Now they're not much bigger than smartphones and so much more powerful.   They started becoming widely available when I was in high school.  I still didn't have one yet, but Dad lent me a slide rule to use in senior year Chemistry class!  As a math educator, I do feel that students need a good mastery of basic arithmetic first - then should feel free to use them.  They greatly speed doing routine-type calculations, and are crucial  now for doing higher-order things.  I'm in awe when I think of what our great mathematicians centuries before us did without them!

remote controls?  Oh yeah, we actually had to get off the couch to change the channel or tune the tv.  Now with all the channels and capabilities of our tvs and services, they're really a necessity.  What I really want is one for radios, so I can change channels in a flash if I don't like the song that's playing.  This reminds me though, that  I really should get more exercise (well, Bailey's always ready to play...).  

The world seems to be changing faster and faster so I wonder: what will we not be able to do without in another ten years?

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