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Blending the Old and the New

Hello folks,

My name is Bob Whitten. I’m just a “regular Joe,” trying to get the most out of life with the time I have left here on this Earth. I am recently retired from years of running newspaper printing presses, and let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy switching gears for me. After almost 30 years of deadlines, schedules, and “hot” jobs, waking up those first few months with no sense of urgency was unsettling for me. Nevertheless, times are ever changing and we must change too, or we will be led slowly into the dark and left behind.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the ways of old. Look around my yard. My truck is almost twenty years old, my boat was made in 1973, and our “good” car is 13 years old. They just don’t make those things like they did back then. If they do, I cannot afford them.

I still do my own maintenance on our vehicles, all except my wife’s car. Funny, for many years I was in charge of a $300,000 annual budget, I directed a crew of over 40 people, and I was maintenance supervisor for a whole fleet of vans, but in her eyes, I am not competent enough to change the oil in her car. When I question her on her confidence in me, I get the same old argument in which she recalls past projects, track records, attention span, and a myriad of other reasons not to entrust me with her car, some of which I still have not fully ingested without redirecting my thoughts to another subject unrelated to anything she is talking about.

Getting back to my original thought, the ideals and values that my parents and grandparents instilled in me and my siblings are very important to me, and they are neither contemporary nor techno-savvy. They are, however, time honored and true still to the present. These learned morals are something old that I have and will continue teaching my kids and grandkids for as long as I can, and I will go kicking and screaming, holding onto those “old ways.” I am not alone here.

For those of us refusing to let go of the past, for the ones left behind by technology and computers, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I have discovered a few things I like about technology.

First off, “Google” has changed my life. This computer information highway has anything you ever need to know about anything there ever was. All you have to do is ask. For instance, last year when I over-estimated my abilities as a granite installer, “Google” saved my life. And when I cut the hole in our roof 4 inches to the left of where my wife wanted her new skylight, I just typed in “I really messed up, how do I repair my roof?” and again, my new computer friend pulled me out of the fire. After a little more interaction with “Google,” I also realized my chainsaw was the wrong saw for this specific job.

Lesson learned.

One of the other things I love about technology in this new world is the way it can help me and my family become more self-sufficient. As the price of gasoline reaches $4 per gallon, we struggle as a family to save money everywhere we can. As our electric bill rises steadily above the budget, we find ways to capture energy from the sun, wind, and water.

Everything is just a few pecks on the keyboard away. When I wanted to collect rainwater, “The World Wide Web” helped me construct what we now refer to as our “outdoor water park.” In retrospect, I should have continued watching that video on “making rain barrels blend into the scenery.” I sent along a picture to help drive home the point. I call it a work of art. My wife has a few other comments, none of which can be repeated in this column without serious repercussions. Anyway, you be the judge after looking at the photo. Remember, it’s not just a rain collector. It also keeps the kids cool, gets them outside, and costs me nothing.

I will be back next Saturday, right here in “Off The Grid News”, with a list of top ten things NOT to do when remodeling. See you then!

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