1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



Alex McLaughlin March 3, 2012

The one constant in everybody’s life, since we graduated from high school, has been the rapid development of technology. The following is a brief journey of my technology experiences over that time.

When I was a professor’s assistant in college, I first gained experience with computers. Back then we had main frames that were huge and probably had a fraction of the computing power of a current laptop, desktop or iPhone.

I used to enter data that would be transferred to the old punch cards. These punch cards would have the hanging chads that later became famous in the presidential election of 2000 in Florida. I would carry around this huge stack of punch cards that would be fed into a computer and a stream of large green and white pages would spew out from the printer.

This stack of punch cards that I would carry around would be 4 to 5 inches high and to the best of my memory these cards were not numbered. In slow motion, now I can see in my mind’s eye the entire deck of cards falling from my hands, and my mouth dropping open in horror. There would go my job as a research assistant. I was so proud of this little stack of cards. They made me feel technical and I realized that I had come a long way from Alderson West Virginia. Even more of a rush was when my own little green and white stack of output would print out.

Another important technological advancement has been the improvement in the hearing aid. A number of married men have experience the phenomenon that their wives cannot tell the difference between listening and hearing. If my wife says something and I am focused on something else, I may not hear what she is saying. So technically I am not listening. To the women it makes absolutely no difference. You still need to get a hearing aid.

After a number of years of gentle persuasion I decided to get a hearing aid. Well actually you can’t get a single hearing aid. Why? Cause two costs more than one. Now the audiologist will say it is the alignment of the stars and the balancing of your hearing ya daya da. Bottom line two cost more than one. Well I purchased the two hearing aids. They were a pain in the butt to deal with but it helped my hearing. You had to take them out at night, constantly adjust the loudness and if you put your hand by your ear they would buzz.

Mary Jo learned that even with the hearing aids, that I still didn’t always hear (listen). She wondered out loud (loud enough for me to hear) why I got those dumb hearing aids. It was all a moot point as Henry our beloved West Virginia brown dog chewed up both of my hearing aids because he was attracted to the smell. This happened 20 years ago and I never bought another set of hearing aids. I am holding out as long as I can.

Thomas Edison was a great inventor who came up with many fabulous discoveries, most notably the electric light bulb. The Thomas Edison of our time is Algore. He invented the Internet and global warming. What other person has had two inventions that have had more impact on the people of the world.

The Internet speaks for itself. We all know that in reality Algore had nothing do with it. On the other hand Algore did invent “global warming “and it has been an economic boom for climate scientists. Before Algore no one knew who they were and now everybody is throwing money at them so they can study Algore’s invention. And they are spending it like drunken sailors and scaring the daylights out of everybody so that they can get more money to study more “global warming”

All seriousness aside, the Internet has been wonderful for all the information that it provides. For instance, the Aldersonian is almost a virtual Alderson High School and would not be possible without the Internet.

Just this last week Rick Hughes texted me on my cell phone. My phone is technologically challenged because it is basically a dinosaur. The primary consideration is to buy something so cheap that when I drop it and break it or drop it in water I don’t have a huge investment. A cheap imitation of a modern mobile communication device. I can receive texts but I cannot create texts.

I could tell that Rick had just learned to text. He texted me four times in one day. I could almost feel the pride swelling in him as he texted me and I could not text back. Our lifelong competition goes on but this time I will turn the other cheek. Rick Hughes has prevailed. He can text and I cannot.

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