By Richard E. Peck

Richard E. Peck

Richard E. Peck

Follow me on this.

My daughter just gave me an mp3. She’d already given me an iPod (or an iPad?) last Christmas.

I stuck them both in the closet that holds my combination lazer- printer-fax machine-scanner, a Blue-Ray DVD player (it’s red; go figure), a double-deck CD copier/burner, smart cellphone (also called a 4G iPhone), 4.5 megapixel digital camera with 3X optical and 10X digital zoom lens, Photoshop editor and God knows how many double-A and triple-A batteries, some plugged into rechargers and some scattered atop the 9-volt, C, and D batteries that don’t fit a single one of these electronic witchcraft devices.

And I don’t know what to do with any of them. You too?

I use a laptop computer (not on my lap) to do my writing. I started keeping files with 4.5 inch floppy single-sided discs, went to double-sided single density, to double sided double-density, to Zip drive, to flash-stick (or thumb-drive?), and CD and DVD. The printer/scanner connects to things by a four-port USB extension hub and a wire.

So many peripherals dangle from my computer, they look like spaghetti escaping a lunch bucket.

My kids love me, so they give me these things … to make my life easier, they say. Years ago, our daughter gave me a digital battery-operated watch, the first non-winder I ever had. The battery died. She had one too, so I asked if she had teeny little jumper cables to give mine a start. Nope.

Recently she gave me a new phone that scans barcodes and gets prices. She said I could use it to learn to twitter or tweet or Facebook or link in to something (someone?).

Want to bet?

Over the years, my TV-stereo combo has gone from eight-track to Betamax to VHS and now there’s Tivo. And I’m exhausted, trying to keep up.

The latest “gift,” that camera? It takes pictures but no directions came with it. I took three snapshots of the dog but the man at CVS laughed when I asked him to develop the film. He broke it open and took out a little electronic triscuit-thing he called a SIM.

He put the triscuit-SIM in a machine that printed close-up pictures of my nose. Stupid camera!

I remember my own childhood: I was a much better son. I never embarrassed my parents by giving them a single piece of electronics. My dad was stumped by the Etch-a-Sketch, so I quit there.

  • Richard E. Peck is a part-time Kaua‘i resident and a retired president of three universities. He has written numerous books, plays, columns and TV shows, and his work can be seen at

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