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Tuesday, December 09, 2003



"R u going 2 the Mall?" I was looking over the shoulder of my thirteen year old nephew as he read what one of his digital friends had typed into the instant messenger thingy on the computer. My mind was flooded with thoughts: I wondered how many millions of times that language-challenged question was typed into computers each day in this country. I wondered if this is what Jobs and Wozniak had in mind for technology when they were farting around in their parents' garage with the idea of home computers. I wondered how often American children were interfacing with a computer instead of interfacing with other American children. And finally I wondered if there was anyone going to the mall.

I spent part of the past weekend in Chicago visiting with my brother and his family. He has a wife, two great looking kids, and a beautiful German Shepard that I can never train to attack my nephew. Their house is two time zones and about 3 � flight hours away from where I live and that is about as close as I get to having a family myself. Usually that is close enough but you miss out on things without kids. I don�t think our thoroughly epic Scrabble game would have been nearly as entertaining without a kid helping me out (We won by a single solitary point!).

I wouldn't care to see my brother's media bill each month: A cell phone for everyone (except the dog), a couple of home phones, and internet access. From hearing all of the phones go off at his place you'd think you were at the control center for the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon or a Domino's Pizza on Super bowl Sunday. It made me think about how much I interface with my family via the telephone. That would be too much if I had to say.

The only person who still writes letters around here is my mother. The rest of us have let our communication skills deteriorate into phone calls and e-mails. E-mail is to mail what "R u going 2 the mall?" is to English. I do hereby promise to write an actual letter today which I will actually put in an actual envelope and send via the U.S.P.S. Is it OK if I write it on my computer, spell-check it, and then print it out? My handwriting is much too unsophisticated to write out longhand. I blame the early trauma of Catholic school education. Isn't there some sort of computer handwriting program?

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