Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

The kids are all right l Chuck's World


December 19, 2018

I returned home a couple of days ago, after a week in Texas, and almost immediately I went down to the basement.

That’s where everything ends up, anyway. Gravity is alive and well in this house, and if you don’t pay attention it’s all going down. Just a matter of time.

I went down to the basement because I’d been vaguely aware that there had been a few storm systems hanging around the Pacific Northwest while my wife and I were out of town, and basements are underground. Flooding isn’t common but not all that rare, and I’ve spent some time mopping over the years.

The basement was fine, by the way.

It gave me an opportunity to take a quick glance around, though, looking at corners for signs of puddles, and I ran across my grandmother’s typewriter. It’s an old Remington, a midcentury workhorse that has no monetary value whatsoever and more emotional weight that I can lift, sometimes.

It was fine, too.

Grandma was an excellent typist, a skill that came in handy in a tough life, a single mom during the Depression and the war years. She kept that Remington on a desk in her bedroom, and I was always and immediately drawn to this mysterious machine.

It seemed to be full of words, just waiting to escape.

I used to write stories on it when I was a kid, and I learned to type on that Remington. By the time I was a teenager and looking for work, I could clock 100 words a minute. It came in handy for me, too.

It made the transition to word processing smooth, as computers are far more forgiving, but at least one thing my early writing on that creaky machine did for me was apparently make it impossible to compose anything of any possible literary value without a keyboard.

The trick used by countless famous writers, scribbling longhand on paper before transferring it to print, is a dead end for me. My handwriting is horrible, and my fingers start to cramp. I’m a keyboard guy.

This is my primary rebellion against technology, the one thing I’m apparently too old to absorb. I can’t write on a phone, or even a tablet. When I leave home, I’m mostly mute. This is not a bad thing, either.

This isn’t a screed against mobile devices. I find them incredibly useful. Just not for writing more than a text message.

It just amused me to think that I’ve rejected one function of modern technology, which is pretty much the anti-Me. I like my shiny new toys. I just can’t write on one.

The rejection of new technology by some, many of them around my age, baffles me. To each his own, but I know what I know.

I was in Texas to visit with my daughter and grandson, who are surrounded by technology. While I was there, my grandson had several video conversations with his father, who currently is in France. While I was there, a plane flew into outer space. I had no trouble pinpointing what century I was in.

My grandson is 5. When he was 17 months old, he was rushed to a hospital in diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous but pretty normal way to discover that a toddler has Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that prevents his pancreas from making insulin.

There are worse things that happen to little kids all the time, but it was still traumatic, and it’s a huge responsibility for his parents.

Enter the future. Or the present, really, but that’s what it feels like to me.

My grandson now has two implantable devices, a glucose monitor and an insulin pump. I watched this little boy (with his mother supervising, then eventually me) easily prick his thumb, squeeze out a drop of blood, and place it on a strip inserted into a small device, nothing unfamiliar to diabetics.

And then he answers prompts on this little device, about his eating plans and how many carbohydrates will be included, and it calculates the dose of insulin he’ll require. Then it begins a bolus drip into his bloodstream and it’s no big deal.

His blood sugar reading is also constantly transmitted via Bluetooth, which his parents (and his grandparents, even in Washington) can see in real time. Alarms go off, lights flash, etc., when it dips low or shoots high.

Technology has saved my grandson’s life, I suspect, and many more. And you know it’s not just medical devices. As troubling as certain aspects can be, I believe the truth is that technology has made the world a better place.

We have brains. We can make adjustments, identify potential dangers, try to correct. This is what his parents do. This is what parents are for.

And I’ll note that I spent an entire week with a little boy, mostly playing with old-fashioned toys and making puzzles while the screens stayed off. Call me foolishly optimistic. I think the kids are going to be just fine.

I think we are, too. We’ve got a slew of challenges, some of them existential, and maybe it’s just this time of year, but I think we will. At any rate, I wish you a Merry Christmas in whatever way you mark the holiday season, from my household to yours.

My basement is dry, my heart is full, and I beat my grandson in chess in about four minutes, which was great.


Reader Comments


Our Family of Publications Includes:

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019