Tuesday, July 20, 2021

And I still don't have a smart phone

Four years ago I wrote this. Nothing much has changed.

Not only do I not know how to use a smart phone as many my age do, but I don’t know how to do the simplest, ordinary everyday tasks familiar to my grandmothers (b. 1876 and 1896): harness a carriage horse, kill, gut and pluck a chicken, milk a cow, trim a kerosene wick or bank the stove with corn cobs to heat water for a weekly bath. Nothing I did in my professional life (academic librarian in Slavic Studies, agriculture, veterinary medicine at 2 different universities) lasted even a year or two, and unless they were digitized, my publications have disappeared. Did the student reconstructing road kill for a class project go on to make a difference, or the horse on the treadmill help someone get tenure? It was exceptionally interesting--but did it matter?

I do think education is over rated. At least higher education Did my job make a difference like the men who build, plumb and wire houses that last for over a hundred years? Or was it even as important as the commercial truck drivers who deliver food that someone else has grown, harvested and packaged for my use?
I probably spent half my professional life attending meetings, or writing reports, or staring at budgets of cuts that never seem to come together. At annual review time with my boss (he visited each library) I'd scoop everything off my ancient desk and put it in a box. About 6 weeks later I'd look in the box--usually nothing needed attention. Occasionally today I run into a former dean or department chair at Panera's who remembers me, and that's nice, but I do wonder if they have the same thoughts I do.

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