HEADFINGER: THE BASIS UPDATE



Do you ever marvel at the times we live in? I do - all the time. The IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter was a great boon to me when it was introduced because it allowed me to correct my own typing errors. That in turn allowed me to communicate more freely via the written word because I didn't have to be as careful about which keys I pressed. I was able to do most of my college homework by myself and I completed my thesis in a timely manner (the day before it was due).

In 20 years the IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter is a thing of the past, almost ready for the museums we build to celebrate our antiquated leaps in ingenuity. I'll never use correcting tape again because I use a computer. With one or a few keystrokes I can erase or change a character, word, sentence, paragraph, page, or entire document. Oops! Now is not the time to verify this capability.

But my Headfinger endures. During my college days and the years I have worked at Exxon (now ExxonMobil), it has undergone numerous refinements. But the functions are still the same. I type on a computer rather than a typewriter. I got good enough to actually draw on my typewriter, but that task is much simpler now. I listen to CD's instead of records and tapes. I still like to read when I get time, watch basketball on TV, sort through bills to pay (NOT), use the pointer to prop my head up for a nap, etc. My Headfinger is an integral part of all of this and more.

Though the functions of my Headfinger are the same, some tasks are new. I take more responsibility for myself and more responsibility around the house by paying virtually all bills by computer, doing the income tax, reconciling checkbooks, buying and selling investments, and emailing many friends and relatives (and some service people). As I become less able to care for myself due to a variety of factors (increased spasticity, less strength, old injuries, etc.) and Marilyn has to help out more physically, the ability to do these things becomes very important in my marriage and in my feeling of self-worth.

As you can see, the computer is my most important tool next to my Headfinger. Without that silicon magic, I may not have had a good job, which would have meant I wouldn't have moved away from home, which would have meant I wouldn't have my own home, which would have meant I wouldn't have gotten involved with sports, which would have meant I wouldn't have met and married Marilyn, which would have meant freedom. Strike that last link in the chain. Of course, a computer doesn't make me who or what I am. It's just a tool, like my headfinger, to help me realize my potential.

If I had to be born with a physical handicap, I'm glad I was born at the right time to witness the Headfinger and Computer Age.




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