Bite My Coin

I know there are fellow baby boomers who embraced each new technological marvel as it came along: the first primitive computers, the first BlackBerry phones, the first digital cameras. But I’ve resisted technology every step of the way.

When the newspaper I worked for in the 1980s started replacing our manual typewriters with computers, the management decided the best way to get its employees comfortable with this new technology was to teach us in the comfort of our own homes. I felt pretty confident after listening to the tech guy go through the whole system with me, but after he left I couldn’t figure out how to start the computer on my own. I was so frustrated that my impulse was to throw the computer through the front window.

I eventually got comfortable with computers—I had no choice—and even started to appreciate that they made writing and editing easier; instead of using white-out and pasting (with glue) strips of paper over mistakes, I could do that with a few keystrokes.

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We Know What We Lost

Although climate change will affect younger generations more in the future, I believe its greatest toll now is on the oldest generations. We’re the ones who remember when the weather was more stable, and destructive droughts or floods were rare events; when summer temperatures rarely reached the 90s; when lakes and rivers were full or weren’t smothered in algae; when beaches weren’t closed because of fish kills or toxicity; when Western skies were blue rather than brown or white.

In my lifetime I’ve seen many changes in the natural environment. When I first started visiting Rocky Mountain National Park some 50 years ago, one of my favorite trails passed several ponds surrounded by tall green sedges. Today, most of those ponds have dried up, and the fish and salamanders that lived in them are gone.

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DIY Medicine

Growing up, even into my 20s and 30s, I remember that seeing a doctor was a relatively simple procedure. You would call his (doctors were still mostly male then) office, and a pleasant woman, known as a receptionist, would sign you up for an appointment. The doctor might spend a good hour with you, listening to your heart, tapping your knee (an obscure practice that seems to have gone out of favor) and listening to your complaints.

Many of us might still carry the memory of the 1960s medical TV shows, like Dr. Kildare, the compassionate and knowledgeable doctor who always had time for his patients. But that’s not the way medicine works anymore. I still believe most doctors are compassionate and knowledgeable. But the infrastructure around them has changed. Instead of talking to a reliable and caring receptionist, we get a phone tree that must be navigated in a sometimes futile effort to connect with our doctors.

I recently had the opportunity to wander into this maze of health care. Only persistence helped me find my way out. After I directly received the results of an MRI from the lab technician, and thus were not massaged by the doctor into something more reassuring or user friendly, I Googled the medical phrase and came up with a scary assessment.

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