Old dog, new tricks

Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009

You can't rely on anything, anymore. Take the old saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." For years, I looked forward to the old-dog stage, when I would no longer have to learn new tricks. Imagine my disappointment upon entering the "Golden Years" to find that old dogs not only can learn new tricks, but are expected to do so.

Some new tricks that at first seem daunting, aren't so bad once you get into them. Since entering "Senior" status, I've learned how to wire my house for computers, how to use word-processing programs, how to communicate with e-mail, how to use the Internet for research and how to fix a computer problem by talking on the phone to someone in India. Just so you know, I'm no computer geek, and I'm just average in the smarts department. If you can operate a cell phone or TV remote, you can handle a computer.

Most days, I find myself learning some new computer trick. I don't know whether this is "good" or "bad," but I do know that the number of new tricks to learn is growing exponentially. This makes learning them a challenge, even for young dogs. I enjoy the challenge.

Seniors who choose to remain computer celibate deprive themselves of a lot of pleasure. They can't see photos of their grandkids on Facebook. They can't discuss fishing and other important things with e-mail buddies on the other side of the world, as I do with my friend Arne, in Norway. They're unable to "Google" for answers to life's nagging questions. They can't shop the Internet for "best buys," or read product reviews. They can't open iTunes and download Maria Muldaur's "Midnight at the Oasis," or better yet, watch her sing it on YouTube. They can't visit the Fly Fisherman Web site and read Neil Jennings' piece about fishing for bonefish and trevally on Christmas Island, or learn how to tie a Sarah Palin fly ("A bold, strong pattern to celebrate a bold, strong woman!").

As I venture farther into Seniorhood, I talk and dream more about fishing than I actually go fishing. I used to vicariously fish with books and magazines. Now I surf the Net, which is much like hunting. When I'm curious about, say, how Canadians are fishing for trout, salmon or steelhead, I'll check out the Fish BC Forum. In Alaska, I'll visit outdoorsdirectory.com, which has forums of several kinds.

If you're computer savvy, helping someone who isn't can be as rewarding as teaching someone how to fish. Just remember, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

Or can you?

Les Palmer lives in Sterling.

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