It's easy to feel stupid these days. I turned on Jeopardy and didn't know any of the questions to the answers and I felt stupid. I changed the channel and watched Wheel of Fortune instead, and then felt stupid just for watching it. By the way, watching Vanna White doesn't qualify for spending time with a word processor. While watching Wheel of Fortune, I noticed that I still haven't programmed my VCR — I got it for Christmas in 1991. I worked on that a while and made some progress. It doesn't flash 12:00 anymore, it flashes 4:00 now. There is nothing good on TV, anyway. I should've known that when I hit the TV remote and the trash compactor came on. It's amazing. I have forty-six channels and nothing to watch. It seems like the bigger the screen, the worse the TV programming.

I don't have time to relax anyway. My staff told me that I have to get on the information highway. I try to do my part. When we go to daylight savings time, I set my alarm for 2:00 am and get up to change the time. It always makes me tired and then I can't go back to sleep because I'm wondering if setting my clock back will make me miss 60 minutes.

I feel like road kill on the information highway. I was educated differently. In my day, a classroom was high-tech if it had an electrical outlet. Now I'm surrounded by techno-wizards. One guy in my office comes in, holds his watch to the computer screen, and it programs his schedule into his watch. I'm his boss and I don't know whether to look into his eyes or talk to his watch.

I have to enter the '90s at least before the year 2000. I have a brand new computer. It's powerful — it has lots of RAM, megabytes, and more buttons to push than I've ever seen. I imagine it as a big TV remote, and my macho level starts to rise — I'm in control of this powerful remote. This is great. It's so big I'll never lose it like I do the TV remote. It's so powerful that I can fly into cyberspace. I'm ready to begin my journey from the dirt road to the great information highway. I have everything I need.

But I looked at all those keys and didn't know how to work any of them, not one. They say, when all else fails to read the instructions. I started to read the instruction manual and found it's in a foreign language — I think it is called Nerd Latin. There were no jokes, no pictures, and no color by number illustrations. I discovered a phone number so I called a techno-wizard to help me. You know the sequence … if you need so and so, press one, etc. I waited until I got the right menu, and it said, "If you are an idiot and have a brand new computer and don't know what any of the keys mean, press 666, or e-mail us at our web site, beast.com. I closed my eyes and pressed the numbers and saw myself arriving in cyberhell.

I heard a pleasant voice. This is how the conversation went: "You could have a virus." "No way — I'm not into computer dating, I'm a married man." Then the questions began. "Have you even booted up?" "No, I just have some loafers." "Do you have new windows?" "No, but we did paint the old ones a few years ago." "Are you in the DOS command?" "No, I'm in my office." "Then you must be working under windows." "No I'm over by the wall, actually close to the table if that makes any difference." "Do you have a mouse?" "Sir, what does the animal kingdom have to do with this?" From there it went to name calling. I think he called me a Yahoo. I hung up but I didn't give up.

My staff told me to just start with e-mail. I had to learn to communicate, so now I read e-mail. It's really easy. My secretary downloads my e-mail, pushes print, and it shows up on my desk on a piece of paper. Now that's America! What else would we do with all those trees if we didn't make paper? I think I've figured out e-mail. E-mail happens when you let a pigeon into cyberspace. He carries the message from one web site to another. Hence the term — web. Now these cyber pigeons can't understand English because they are animals. The only other animal they understand is a mouse. So you have to have a cyber mouse to communicate your message to the cyber pigeon and you have to know how to open windows so the pigeon can get out into cyberspace. And, of course, the more pigeons you have, the more bytes you get.

Personally, I like living on the dirt road. It may not be high-tech but it's simple. Never mind that I require at least three other people working their computers so that I can have informational power. That's not the point. The point is, I like things simple. I'm a bottom line kind of guy. I guess that's why I like the gospel — it's simple but it's powerful. In a sense, it's like my office. Someone else did the work.

    About the Author

  • Charles Lowery