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New is not always better


As I enter the New Year it occurs to me that I like “new” less and less.
Mostly, I’m talking about complicated, new-technology things like computers, cell phones and televisions.
I basked in the dawn of the computer age in the early 1980s when I began publishing small newspapers. Then, there were only a few options for setting type, none of them particularly good for small operations. The old hot lead machines were too ponderous and hard to operate. The newer cold set machines cost way too much. Luckily, just as I was beginning my career, computers were coming on the market at an affordable price.
I purchased a Radio Shack TRS-80 model and soon mastered its operation. Besides setting type, I used the computer for basic bookkeeping and even wrote a program for maintaining our subscriber list. By the late ‘80s I upgraded to the Apple Macintosh, a machine that revolutionized publishing. Not only could it set small body type like the TRS, it also could output larger type for headlines and ads. With the use of a few simple programs like MacDraw and MacPaint, I could produce a professional looking publication with a minimal investment.
Apple continued to innovate, and I gladly kept up with each new upgrade until about the mid-1990s when I became weary of constantly learning new operating systems and software. What I had was working just fine, and gradually I came to dread the next generation. Trying to stop time and stay with the old equipment didn’t work. In just a few years, service was no longer provided and new programs were not compatible with old systems.
Today, even as I type this, I’m working on a 17-inch flat screen iMac that one day is going to get thrown out the window.
The television is another example of technology run amok. I love a good color screen and the remote control gets my vote for the greatest invention ever along with pop-tops on beer cans and Lazy Boy recliners. If only it could have ended there. Today, we have no less than five remote control devices, none of which work to my satisfaction. I’m constantly hitting the right button on the wrong device, or vice versa.
And don’t even get me started on cell phones. Luckily, I have a bright 10-year-old grandson that comes over occasionally and helps me out. But all those things are high tech age problems; I also dread new changes to low-tech things.
Like underwear.
I’m a briefs man, been one ever since I was switched from diapers to tighty whities nearly 60 years ago.
They’re called “jockeys,” according to Wikipedia, because they offer the same support as the jock strap. The first pair of jockeys or briefs was sold in Chicago on Jan. 19, 1935, by Coopers, Inc., a company that would later change its name to Jockey. The new style was hugely popular. Thirty thousand were sold in the first three months. By 1938, the style had reached England, and gents everywhere were switching to “y-fronts,” as our brothers over the pond called them because of the shape of the flap made on the front.
It’s this flap I’m flapping about.
As every guy knows, the flap pulls from left to right. Reach down with your left hand, swipe across the front, reach in with your right hand and you’re ready to see a man about buying a horse. Couldn’t be simpler or more efficient.
Lefties might prefer a right to left configuration, but they can simply do what I did back in my bachelor days to extend use: put them on inside-out. Then you can wear them another week, swiping right to left.
But someone always has to go and mess with perfection, and the last pack of shorts I bought has a flap that needs to be swiped up to down. After some practice I did master this new motion, but then the other day accidentally put on a pair inside-out. I’m telling you it’s near impossible to make it work in reverse and you get the strangest looks in public restrooms while you try.