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New technology brings new ways to learn

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Senior News

In simpler times if you wanted to learn about a particular subject, you bought a book. To learn how to operate a new gadget you read the instruction manual. Today you can still find a book on the War of 1812, but for that new high-tech gadget, you either won’t find a manual or the instructions will be too complicated to understand.

For example, have you tried to read the drivers manual for a new car? It’s like a four-hundred page Russian novel with a very boring plot. There is a chapter just to explain the “media” options: How to plug in your smart phone, find directions on your 9-inch touch screen from a woman with your choice of accents, play your favorite playlist of songs and how to blow dry your hair while driving.

Its amazing — if I could understand it. And don’t think it is because we’re older. I don’t think anyone can figure it out.

But instead of muddling your way through the instruction book, you can go online and “Google” it. But that’s tough if you are a technological Neanderthal who doesn’t even know the question to “Google.” But there are other options. One advance has been free webinars and online classes such as Khan Academy, Coursera and Apple University. Or on YouTube you can search for how-to videos about practically any subject — from tying your shoes to blowing your nose.

One site I just discovered is AARP’s Learn@50+ which hosts AARP’s free online educational programs, including job search skills, family caregiving and new technology such as Impostors: Keeping Yourself Safe from Scammers; Today and the Future: The Benefits of Vehicle Safety Technology and Retirement Planning: Top Tips to Get or Stay on Track.

I always prefer taking a class in person, but online classes have advantages. You can go at your own speed, you can stop, rewind and repeat if you missed the point, and if can’t hear the speaker you can turn up the volume. There is so much more to know - but there are more ways to know it. Start today and find something new you want to learn.

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A beginners line dancing class taught by Rosa Martin is now being offered at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center. Rosa wanted me to emphasize that they are starting simple, so this is a great time for beginners to join. The class is downstairs from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. So why not? As the saying goes, “Dance first. Think later.”

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A couple quick reminders. First, Dr. Proctor will be discussing hearing loss Monday, May 13, 11 a.m. at the Center. And second—I forgot! I will try to recall it in the next couple of hours before I finish this column. I just need to RELAX, and I am sure it will come to me.

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The name of Johnny Carson’s most popular character on the Tonight Show was the “mystic from the East,” Carnac The Magnificent. Here is Ed McMahon’s reportedly favorite Carnac punchline: Answer—“Sis boom bah.” Question—“Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes.” I received correct answers from Jess Birge, Cheri Brent and both Diane Weston and Lana Tepfer, who for some reason I also missed last week but are this week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each.

This humorist, actor and comedian is best known as the star of his own weekly comedy variety television series broadcast from 1954 to 1959 on NBC and 1959 to 1960 on CBS. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was this “crew-cut” comedian with a quiet homespun style of humor? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or return your answer on the sole of a “lonesome” pair of brown shoes.

I did remember it! A second quick reminder: If you or someone you know are looking for help or assistance such as who to contact if you suspect elder abuse or options for in-home care, call the local ADRC (Aging and Disability Resource Connection) at 541-506-3512. You won’t reach a call center in Portland, but a local number for Tammy who will do her best to answer your questions.

Well, it’s been another week, enjoying the cool mornings and sunny days. Until we meet again, when you look through all the clutter sometimes you find things you never knew you lost.

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 “Yes, speak softly and carry a big stick. But don’t mumble. And don’t swing the stick.”

— Mark Bricklin, journalist

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