This Is Not The World I Grew Up In, Part Ii

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Last week we talked about how much easier it has become to keep in touch with each other.

Not long ago, when people pulled up stakes and moved, it meant losing touch with old friends. We tried; we really did, didn’t we? But you know as well as I do that after a couple of years “staying in touch” came down to a Christmas card once a year. Writing letters took too much time, time we didn’t have.

But now? We can sit down at a computer, whip up an e-mail, add some photographs, and fire it off in seconds. We’re connected!

And that’s not all. Being able to stay in touch is wonderful, but something just as wonderful has quietly crept into our lives. You see, we Americans are a mobile people, and are even criticized for being too mobile, for having no roots. But we aren’t mobile because we feel like being mobile; we’re mobile because this is a growing nation and we have to go where the opportunities are — the school, the job, the housing.

Pulling up stakes and going where your inner self says to go has been a part of America ever since there has been an America, but it has always come with a price. No one could be in two places at once; living our dreams meant shedding our past.

But not any longer, Johnny.

No longer do we have to sit with a box of photographs in our laps, looking longingly at what once was, but is gone forever. Modern technology has made it possible for us to turn the clock back, to travel through time from where we are to where we used to be. We can walk the streets we walked, gaze at places we loved, see that tiny tree we planted, and recapture the past.

Lolly, my beloved wife, and I have done exactly that. And so can you. Some of you may have done some, or maybe even all of the things we’re going to talk about for the next couple of columns, but if you haven’t, then this is especially for you.

And are you in for fun!

Lolly and I have lived in — let’s see — nine states and four countries. That gave us a lot of “past” to cover, but believe it or not, we have been back to every place we shared our lives together — every single one.

And it hasn’t cost us a penny.

We have, for example, gone back to Awase Meadows on Okinawa and stood on the front lawn of our little home, the very spot where we watched the Olympic Torch go by in 1964 on its way to Tokyo.

We have gone back to Karachi and seen the magnificent cathedral where we were wed in 1960, have visited the Seventh-day Adventist Hospital where our firstborn first drew breath, and been back to Paradise Beach where we swam together in the Arabian Sea.

I had fun showing Lolly the elementary school I attended on Staten Island and she had fun showing me the tea and coffee plants ranging over the hills around her grandfather’s tea and coffee plantation in southern India. And we laughed together as we surveyed our love nest in Port Arthur, Texas, checking whether the two pines, fig, wide spreading oak and pear tree we loved so much were still there (they are).

By now I’m sure that many of you already know that our happy “travels” have taken place on the 23-inch flat screen of my desktop computer, but those of you who haven’t tried any of this as yet have a real treat in store for you — and even those who regularly use a computer may have a couple of surprises in store as we talk about the things those electronic wonders can do today.

How do you do travel around the world on the magic carpet of a computer? You turn it on. You open on what’s called a “browser” — a program that allows you go to different Internet sites. You go to a site called “Google.” You click on “Maps.” Then you enter what you want to see. Anything. Anywhere in the world.

You don’t need a complete address. You can, for example, enter “Ponderosa Market” and the machine will zip straight to Pine, Arizona! Try it.

Can’t see much yet, can you? Just an outline map. OK, do you see the little man standing in the zoom control on the left side of your screen? See the plus sign under his feet? Click on it seven clicks should make the image as large as it can get.

“So what?” you may ask. “I still just see a map.”

OK. Go up to the right side of your screen and click on “Satellite.” There! How’s that? If that’s not a beautiful bird’s-eye view of the Ponderosa Market, I don’t know what is.

And that’s nothing. Now you can ...

Uh-oh! Out of space, Johnny. See you next week.

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