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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Modern technology leaves us pining for familiar ring

This week, I traded in my dumb cellphone for a smartphone, and I feel dumb as a stone as I try to figure it out.

Mental frustration is good for building new connections in the brain, but feelings of panic, irritation and sadness over the convenience of my old phone are triumphing right now over any long-term benefits.

And nostalgia has kicked in, big time. In times of change, nostalgia is a safe place to sit for a while.

So I sit here in fond memory of my childhood phonograph, the transistor radio under my pillow and the blue-green shag carpet I sat on while chatting with girlfriends on the rotary phone in my childhood room.

I’m nostalgic for the fact that my parents knew how to operate the phonograph, radio and phone because the technology had not changed much since they first played records, listened to radios and dialed phone numbers.

We boomers might have been the last generation to grow up in homes where every person in the house could equally master the technology in it.

In a month, I’ll wonder how I ever lived without a smartphone. But right now, I’m dwelling in nostalgia, where cellphones never ring.

Q-TIPS REDUX: Two weeks ago, I wrote about reader Mike Storms coining a phrase that describes a group of elderly, gray folks gathered together. He compared a group like that to a “box of Q-tips.”

Storms said he thought the description was original, and I Googled it to see if I could find it anywhere. I couldn’t. But several readers did. They called and emailed to tell me I hadn’t searched deep enough. The expression is in a slang dictionary and even showed up in a Jack Reacher detective novel.

It could be one of those expressions, however, that is starting to arise unbidden in the minds of creative people.

Storms said: “It’s an obvious enough simile it would be surprising if I were the only one to come up with it. It’s like people looking at shapes in clouds and several seeing the same similarity.

Florence Young, of Spokane, had my favorite Q-tip story. She wrote: “My husband and I are preparing to attend his 50-year high school class reunion in Arizona at the end of the month. One of the organizers called last week with a question. As we talked, I remembered her as an over 6-foot-tall, slender tennis player with a short, curly cap of brown hair.

“In the course of the conversation, I asked if she still had her beautiful brown hair. She replied, ‘No, that is long gone. I stopped coloring it some years ago and it is now snowy white. I have to admit that sometimes it gives me a start to look in a store window and wonder who that Q-tip is standing there.’ ”

SPEAKING OF SAYINGS: I’ve noticed an uptick in the use of “Safe travels!” directed at people heading on vacation or other out-of-town trips. And “Blessings” is more and more used as the sign off at the end of a letter or email, replacing “Sincerely” or “Best regards” or “Confidentially yours.” To use “Blessings” do you have to assume the person at the other end of the email or letter is religious or spiritual? Or should it matter?

NO CHEATING: AARP: The Magazine has a half-humor-half-serious article in the October-November edition explaining why most married men don’t cheat, especially older men. Fewer than a fourth of married men ever stray, according to the article. One reason cited? Men are too lazy to cheat. (I would say the same about women, too.)

Author Joe Queenan writes: “Men like to plop down on the couch and watch sports. Romance, by contrast, is labor intensive; you have to shower, shave, put on something other than sweatpants, buy flowers.

“Once a man has been married a few decades, the energy he would need to expend on an extramarital affair could be a life-threatening shock to his nervous system. That’s why so many older men wouldn’t even think of cheating on their wives. It’s too exhausting.”

REFRESHING HUMILITY: Alice Munro, who recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature, is 82. She never cared much for prizes or publicity, which is quite refreshing in our Kardashian world.

In fact, the prize committee people had difficulty locating Munro to tell her the news. According to the New York Times: “The Swedish Academy was unable to locate Munro before it made the announcement public … A phone message was left instead.”


• Clothing drive to benefit seniors – this effort for Spokane County Meals on Wheels continues through October. Donate clothes to 12101 E. Sprague Ave. or to Value Village at 12205 E. Sprague Ave., in Spokane Valley. (509) 924-6976.

• “Same Sex Marriage: Historical Perspective of Who Decides?” – lecture and discussion Tuesday, noon at Eastern Washington University, Monroe Hall, Room 107, Cheney, (509) 359-2898.

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