Guest Blog: Ed Cook: Changes

So I’m in the car with my daughter Sunday and the subject of music comes up.  More specifically, how we listen to and buy music.  She is a History major and occasionally picks my brain about how things were in the “Old Days”, like 1970.  I told her that in her lifetime the number and degree of changes in music listening have accelerated rapidly.  Now she’s 19, and to her it just the way it is, she does not have the historical perspective.  I tell her that when she was little cassettes and cassette players were the state-of-the-art way to listen to music, then came CD’s and now it is MP3’s with digital music.  I told her when I was 19, (1977) the vinyl LP album was still the way to go with cassette tapes just coming into the market in quantity.  I had won a cassette player in 1971 or so.  You could not buy music on cassette.  The thing was to record your own conversations etc. but there were not many things on cassette until the late 1970s. The thing was about a foot square and weighed about 10 pounds.

In the 1970’s you might have had an 8-track player but they were for cars.  I don’t know that I ever saw a portable 8-track player.  And the AM radio on the kitchen counter was a fixture for music & news.  When the FM transistor radio arrived, I thought it was pretty spiffy and bought one in the late 1960’s with my Paper-route money.

So while it was slowly changing back then, the preferred music medium when I was 19 was the same one as when my father was 19 in the 1930’s.  Now, in her 19 years there have been 3 “preferred” music mediums.  And who knew that there would be ways to copy my vinyl LPs to digital when I threw them away–with a big sigh–16 years ago when I moved to my current home.  I mentioned that when I graduated from college there was no MTV.  She was not surprised. OK it started a few weeks later, but I did not have cable for another 9 years to watch it and by then I did not care.

I took her out to dinner and we expanded the conversation to what else has changed a lot since she was young.  The menu said on the front that you could order on-line for take-out or make reservations on-line.  Ok, that is a much larger subject of change but it certainly is a change that caused a sociological revolution.  But I mentioned the first computer her mother and I bought as a couple had a hard drive of 300 MEGA bytes not GIGA bytes.  She was shocked and had to wrap her head around that in this day of cheap and ever growing storage capacity.

Since we were at dinner Cooking Shows came up.  Now there are dozens of people cooking on TV at all hours.  When I was her age there were none.  When I was in grade school, The Galloping Gourmet was on but people watched it as much because of his comedy as the cooking.  These chefs take themselves so seriously you’d think they were practicing for brain surgery.

Ways to pay was something that came up and we talked about Debit cards.  Used to be though you Never left home on vacation without your Travelers Checks.  We were on vacation in a less-than urban area of Ohio in 2007 and we were hard pressed to find anywhere that would take them.  Of course I had taken the Travelers Check money out of my checking account which had the debit card attached to it so that was empty. It took me several conversations at the local supermarket to convince them that Travelers checks were a genuine form of payment.  For goodness sake, the store manager had to be called on his cell phone to approve it since he was out and the Asst. manager did not have authority.    Even banks would not cash more than one at a time ($50) if I did not have an account…I didn’t.  It taught me a lesson. Don’t waste your time or money on Travelers Checks.

I used to do car maintenance with my father in the driveway.  I used to change my own oil and filter and other stuff after I was out on my own.  Today the engine on any car has become so complex, that it is a challenge to find the oil dip-stick.  Forget diagnosing an engine problem.  You need much high-tech equipment.  I told her this and she said she does not even know how to open the hood.  Yes, we had a class on that when we got home.

Whatever happened to tires that cost $30 each? Even $100?  Now they take a week’s pay for 2.  If you have all-wheel-drive (AWD) you are told you have to get 4 at a time.  This is because the on-board computer that calibrates the AWD measures the circumference of the tire and if the tread is more worn on some tires than others it messes up the AWD function.  Who knew?  So when I had a tire blow out from road debris I had to spend $1,000 on four tires instead of just replace the one, because my tread was too worn on the other 3.  That hurt.

She commented on how much faster things change now than when she was younger.  I’m thinking to myself…faster than when she was younger…it is like light speed compared to when I was her age.  I can only cringe at how fast things will change when my grandchildren are 19!