Winds of Change.

I had a small reminder today. A reminder that things are changing, moving on. I’m only 45 years old but the signs seem to come with increasing frequency now.

The first time I ever felt slightly ‘aged’ was near the end of 2007.

The one constant through my conscious lifetime has been Australian Rules Football. The end of 2007 saw the retirement of James Hird, Nathan Buckley and Kevin Sheedy from their respective roles in Australian football.

Sheedy had been the coach of one of Melbourne’s powerhouse teams for 27 years – since I was 10 years old. He was an elder statesman of the game and loomed large over the entire football landscape. Even if you hated his team, it was hard to think of Sheedy as anything other than a football father figure.

More pointed, however, were the retirements of Hird and Buckley. Their retirement as players stung because they were the last men close to my generation who played the game. The game I’d grown up with – the game I’d always felt young enough to play with my mates – was now being played wholly by young men a generation removed from my own.

That made me feel old.

I’m sure you’ve all seen this image somewhere on the web before:

age-test-cassette-tape-and-pencil

On a related subject…..

About 10 years ago I spent hours and hours building a wonderful cabinet for all my CD’s. It turned out really well, too.

Today, I think it’s been at least 4 years since I actually played a CD in a CD player. In fact, the only CD players we own now are a Playstation 4 inside the house (I assume it’d play a CD if I asked it) and a CD player in my Subaru Brumby. The last car stereo I bought didn’t even include a CD player. It’s purely a media player, finding its songs either from a USB drive or via Bluetooth.

I think the compact disc might just be the first significant technology to both emerge and become (almost completely) redundant within in my lifetime. Maybe the video cassette recorder took that honour first. It probably did.

So today…..

It was just a little thing, but it was just another sign that things have changed.

Today I had to write some notes as part of an audit I’m doing. Most of my audit notes are done directly into my workpapers, which are on my computer. Today I decided to draft some preliminary notes on paper. It’s not unusual to sketch things out on paper, but that’s usually just a few words with a lot of underlining/arrows and a bunch of doodles.

Today’s notes took a whole page.

What I learned at the end of that page was that 10+ years of writing on computers has completely ruined my ability to write in cursive script. The paper looked like a long prescription written by a 95 year old doctor. My ability to write with my own hand has been severely depleted and it’s largely down to the march of progress.

I can now type a lot quicker, with greater accuracy and much greater legibility than what I can write.

Football has moved on but I still enjoy the game immensely.

I find myself completely accustomed to digital music and I’ve even considered taking my CD’s to Cash Converters and breaking up the cabinet I built. It’s not much use for anything else.

But losing the ability to write in a presentable manner with my own hand feels like a genuine point of concern. I’ve never been a great practitioner of penmanship, but it feels like a basic skill that all people should try to hold on to.

If you’ve got any notable stories of time changing while you weren’t looking, feel free to share them in comments.

Let’s age (dis)gracefully together 🙂

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19 Comments

  1. Even as a three fingered typist I can key faster than write now, and I am a bit older than you (a baby boomer). I can’t even read my own scribbled notes now let alone use cursive script. But I don’t miss it much as once someone else in my office had to interpret my ant trails and put it into a letter or report.

    I never loved the music CD, not like the old vinyls. so I kept a whole lot of those inconvenient old Frisbees.

  2. I really had to think what the relationship between the cassette & pencil was, then the penny dropped…..!!

  3. I chuckled when I saw the picture.I like those blue Staedtler pencils and TDK was my choice of cassette (but chrome)

  4. Heck, I can hardly even type anymore. And, my brain is losing the ability to bring up words fast enough for intelligent conversation. What’s next? Oh well, I feel your pain; I really do.

  5. I try to keep my writing readable. At least to myself. But I understand fully. My CD:s are very seldom played anymore, but I actually bought one this autumn; Pink Floyds The Endless River.
    On a side note, I recently reconnected the vinylplayer so I can play vinyl records again. And sorted up the vinyls in a cabinet again. And yesterday I connected the large speakers ahead of the “Valborg” festivities (swedish spring equinox). What a feeling to hear the old black vinyls playing at full tilt again. 🙂

  6. I’m in the same boat, but on a good note the data below is from a January, 2015 article:

    According to Nielsen SoundScan data out this week, vinyl records boasted 9.2 million in sales, up 52 percent from 2013—the highest numbers recorded on SoundScan since the music industry monitor started tracking them in 1991, the Wall Street Journal reports. Vinyl, however, still only accounted for six percent of album sales on the whole.

    Many stores carry and are selling $30 albums.

  7. VERY soon you will be speaking to your PC which will take dictation for you and soon after that, you will simply think your thoughts and your PC will receive input. Is the death of the pencil really in sight?
    Let’s stretch that even further – With autonomous vehicles soon filling the streets, the phrase “arm and a leg” will mean less in the future, because we won’t have any need for them…
    We’ll all just look like those blob people on the Pixar flick, Wall-E; without appendages…!

  8. I totally get the deterioration of handwriting from typing all the time. Being in the IT field for quite a while now, I have been touch-typing for years and years and I find I get really impatient writing anything by hand because I cannot get the thoughts down as quickly as I can typing on a computer (and my hand begins to cramp up after a couple of minutes, not to mention the horrible penmanship).

    As for music and movies all being digital and streamed, I do use that, but being in the IT industry, I am a bit leery of having everything digital….only. Most digital services (iTunes, Google Play, etc.) and streaming services (Spotify, etc.) have lower fidelity audio or lower definition video than what you get on CDs and BluRay discs. That is not as noticeable when listening on ear buds or watching on a smart phone or tablet, but when listening and watching at home, I prefer the best quality I can get. Sure, you can rip all your CDs and movies to a multi-terabyte disc and then stream it at home, but then you have to back up your multi-terabyte audio/video data. Or, you can just go the rental model and consume content from services that you pay monthly fees to access HD movies, etc. I prefer owning the things I enjoy listening to and watching more than once.

    But, it is good there are options so everyone can get what they want.

    As for your overall thesis, yes, the only constant is change. 🙂

  9. I like pencils and still use them along with notebooks. I’ve got no end of electronics at my fingertips but there are some things which are best done with pencil & paper. Like you Swade, my ability to create a legible and well-designed page of notes has deteriorated (or stagnated) but that doesn’t change my resolve or preference. Perhaps no surprise that I still have vinyl and a turntable too.

  10. Your comments about cursive writing make me think about my ability to letter.

    You ask what is lettering? Welp, it was the art form used by draftsman (draughtsman to those in other parts) to annotate technical illustrations or drawings used to create any manner of manufactured goods or buildings. Yes, that lettering!

    Back when I was a wee lad aged 15, the drafting instructor drilled us in proper lettering techniques. We spent many class hours drilling to perfect create the perfect lettering on our drawings. The intent of the drills and practice was to produce letters and numbers that were almost mechanical in their precision and reproducibility. After high school, college perfected my “style” and into the working world I went. All of the folks I worked alongside were trained in similar styles, to the extent one could identify which school (uni or college) the drafter attended. One of the guys used a style called “thick & thin” which was essentially calligraphy. I hated to make changes (revisions) to his drawings as my meager efforts did not compliment his works of art.

    Many civil engineering drawings used a letting system called “Leroy” made/sold by Keuffel & Esser. A manual drawing annotated using a Leroy lettering set is almost a computer generated drawing

    Then computers came to drafting……all of those hours perfecting lettering skills went out the door. While the drawings output from the various CADD platforms looked identical something was lost in the mechanical process. In the mid-80’s a font was offered by some outfit to make the CADD lines and letters appear to be hand generated.

    To this day, over thirty years since I started using CADD to create drawings, my default font style is a the simple stroke font similar to Leroy letting set. On Intergraph IGDS systems and later Microstation, this is known as Font 1 with the italicized version or Font 7. A land surveyor friend uses the standard AutoCad font similar to Leroy simply because he likes the style.

    And my cursive handwriting has worsened over the years…….

  11. Was at a funeral today. Signed the book, and my right hand went into spasm and hurt quite a lot in the process. Two words. Didn’t even look like my signature. And everyone in front of me of about my age clearly had the same problem.
    It’s a new world, to be sure.
    Blame Steve…

  12. Speaking of Change…anyone notice how toxic SU has become in recent days? Certainly not what it once was and not what it should be. Not a good change.

  13. “Why Cars?” and “Winds of Change”… Interesting topics…

    My father passed away at the beginning of the week. He lived a long life (over 90 years), and was still clear and crisp in his mind up until the body over the last few months decided it had enough and wanted to rest.

    A lot has happened in the world during those 90+ years. A World War and several other smaller ones; the journey from a mainly agricultural life in Sweden to one of urban living in fewer but bigger city areas; scientific discoveries that gave us a brave new world in 30s, 40s and 50s (and the consequences in later decades); the jump from Charles Lindbergh type of adventures to comfortable world wide travels that everyone takes for granted; the jump to space and the moon; the birth of modern computers and electronic communications and the evolution to what we have today. I probably gonna feel a little bit older now when I lost that connection to the past and can’t compare my modern lifestyle to the reality in his youth.

    But when I think about cars I get a little confused. About 90 years ago my father saw his first cars, occasionally turning up in the rural neighborhood and driven by rich and/or important people. The cars had four wheels with tires that could run flat, a steering wheel and a gear stick that you needed to maneuver, windscreen wipers to remove raindrops, a horn to warn others of your journey, inefficient internal combustion engine with spark plugs causing explosions, a fuel tank that needed to be filled at certain places, oils that needed to be changed, a body that corroded… And yet, that is true even today for most of our cars today. Yes, they are more reliable (?), faster, comfortable, safer… They have GPS, airbags, iPhone connection, electrical everything, LED lights… But it amazes me that the basic technologies and the principles of how we use them hasn’t changed more. Did they hit the right spot from the start with cars, or did we worship them so much that we forgot to constantly question them? Today I guess that makes me feel a little less old. But I do wonder when the Big Change is finally gonna come to our automotive everyday life.

    I remember him talking about the 50s when Sweden really blossomed after the dark years of the 40s. He sometimes called it the happiest decade. Urbanization really started with modern living in suburbs. Families could afford cars. Oh the freedom the cars gave them! Visit relatives on Sundays, a trip out on the countryside with the kids, a small journey during the Summer vacation. Today, young people talk about freedom in not having to depend on cars (and not even bothering with getting a drivers license). Maybe the Big Change of cars will not come due to some technological breakthrough or new principle of usage. Maybe it will come with new generations that just don’t care anymore.

    (And even Top Gear as we knew it has ceased to exist… Winds of Change indeed…)

  14. Ha! Thought that picture was a wind-up at first!
    Sadly too true about handwriting. After 30-odd years in IT, mine resembles a poorly done plessey logo now!