1. I still have some computer files stored in ClarisWorks format. Remember that program? It was intended to compete with Microsoft Works--and in some ways (I thought) was indeed superior. In the early and mid-1990s the school district where I was concluding my career, Aurora (Ohio) City Schools, was betting heavily on ClarisWorks. The computers in all the schools had the program, and teachers went to workshops to learn how to use it. I did (though I don't have any note about when I went), and I learned a lot and became a convert--using it for most of the simple word-processing, etc. that I did for school--handouts, quizzes, forms, etc. From what I can find on the Web, the program lasted from about 1990-1998 and then became AppleWorks. But Claris' files soon were unreadable on PC's, and now, if I want to access those files, I have to get an online program to do so. (So far, I haven't bothered, there being no real demand for my vocab lists from 1995.)
I was still using the (defunct) program when I began Teaching Career #2 at Western Reserve Academy in the fall of 2001, but I slowly abandoned it when I could no longer load the program on my newer computers.
And so--R.I.P., ClarisWorks ...
By the way, I have no idea what made me think of ClarisWorks this week ... ?
2. I bought one of the very early Kindles but quickly learned what I still believe about them today: They're great for some sorts of reading but not for others. (I have bought subsequent generations of the device, too,and now have a KindleFire, nearly 2 years old, that I will probably replace this year.) I used mine, initially, only for thrillers and detective novels and other snack-food reading that I do, usually in bed when I'm too tired to do anything but read such fare and/or watch DodgeBall on cable for the gazillionth time. (It's weird, by the way, to see Lance Armstrong in that film--especially in the role of Virtue that he displays there, pre-druggy stuff.) But I've also found that I like to use it for books-I-shoulda-read-a-long-time-ago-but-didn't (although I sometimes, like Huck, "let on" that I did). And so my trusty Kindle has helped me read all of the Thackeray I hadn't read, the Eliot (I'm not done with her, yet), The Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe, and numerous other classics I'd avoided or lied about (sort of) for decades.
As a book-reviewer, I also use the Kindle to read earlier works by authors whose new titles I'm going to review. Very handy (and cheap).
But what I do not like using a Kindle for books I need to take notes on--or for books that I really want to own--in a physical, not a virtual, way.
My KindleFire is also an Internet device, so I read the New York Times on it every morning at the coffee shop, check my email and Facebook. Handy little feller.
But ... books are better. No question. One of the great virtues of a physical book? You can drop it, pick it up and start reading again (unless you drop it over Niagara Falls). If you drop a Kindle, well, things become a little more iffy.
3. One of the biggest cultural changes in my lifetime: lawn crews. When I was growing up, a lawn crew was a bored and/or sullen kid with a push mower walking around the neighborhood and knocking on doors to ask if you wanted your grass cut. (By the way, getting your grass cut was an expression during my college years, 1962-66, for having someone take your girlfriend away from you. We said things like, He tried to cut my grass. Or: I got my grass cut. Or: I cut his grass.) A buck was the usual charge.
Nowadays, huge trucks with huge trailers are crisscrossing our small Ohio town (Hudson) bearing shirtless young men who take an entire block to park. They unload machines that seem stolen from the set of a Transformers movie, and cut our grass in about ten minutes. (Okay, our yard is not that large, but still.) Then they re-load their train with the equipment and roar off to service someone else. Meanwhile, sniffling, standing alone on a corner, a little boy with a push mower looking to make a buck (not). Welcome to the miracle of the market, kid.