Monday, May 14, 2012


Early one morning last week (about 7:15, to be exact), our daughter Amy called with the news that her car wouldn't start. Since she lives about two miles away and since she is a teacher and expected to show up at school before her students do, an expectation shared by students, parents, the administrators at her school, the community, the School Board, the Commonwealth of Virginia and who knows who else, I said I would come over post haste and see if we could give her little car a jump start. We had to link our jumper cables together to reach from battery to battery, and after some grumbling and sputtering, the car started.

The battery looked like it was original to the car and Amy said it had not been replaced, so I allowed that she probably needed a new battery. I know that the guys on Car Talk believe that fathers don't know what they're talking about when it comes to saying what needs to be done to cars, but they weren't there and I was.

We worked it out that Amy would drive over to our house, leave her car with me and take one of our cars to work. I would have the battery tested and replaced, if necessary.

And so she was off for a day of fun and learning at her school (that's how they like to think of the day's goings on at the school and I don't doubt that it is true), and I drove her car over to Advance Auto where a nice young man tested the battery and said she needed a new one. He installed one and I was back home after 20 minutes.

Trying the radio on the way back I noticed that all the stations were set at 88.5 FM, an unlikely situation since Amy likes a variety of music, most of which I have never heard of. Then it occurred to me that disconnecting the battery had wiped out all her presets and I had no idea of how to reset them. I tried figuring out which stations and music she would like but I had no idea. My knowledge of poplar music dates to about 1985 and goes not further. No wonder I had no idea of what she would like to listen to.

I texted Amy about her lost presets and she wrote back that she didn't mind. I think she did find the selection of ten or so CD's I had in my car amusing, quaint, and "old school"--hits of the '60's, Simon and Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot, the Eagles, some choral music--and I think she also thought it old school that I was still using CD's.

I saw that Amy had an iPhone cradle on the dashboard of her car and while I do have an iPhone, I have not put any music on it. I have about 400 songs on my computer, but haven't figured out how to put them on my phone. I know having them on the phone would make it easier to carry my tunes, but there's also a degradation of sound with mp3 files as opposed to CD's. I happen to have a Bose sound system in the station wagon (installed by its former owner, my other daughter Alyssa) and it needs a good sound source to take advantage of its capabilities.

So this whole exercise reminded me of the differences in generations and changes in technology, how we adapt to them and how they affect us.

Some things remain the same: daughters still call fathers for help with their cars; fathers still respond gladly and take care of business; and we both enjoy music. And some day--who knows?--I'll be completely up to date with my personal technology.

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