Hodge Podge by Charlie Hodge – I’m Old

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I’m old.In the back of my brain I accepted this ‘aha’ moment would eventually arrive – I was just not ready for ‘it’ to hit so soon. I am old, if not before my time then certainly within my time, and the proof is all around me.There is nothing overly profound with discovering we have suddenly become old. It happens to all of us should we live long enough. In some cases we become old without living all that long. That’s precisely how I feel today.I am old though only 60!This actualization did not burst out of me via a single instantaneous response. In hindsight it’s been creeping in subtly the past few years, the same way dirt finds its way under a fingernail. My 60th birthday back in May undoubtedly influenced some self-absorbed sense of aging. The full-in-my-face realization, however, rapidly festered to a bursting point today following a couple of reminders and lessons all within the past 12 hours.My morning began with an in-depth workshop on today’s use of information and communication technology, where we are and where we are likely going. It was a fascinating tip of the iceberg glimpse at a smidgen of the amazing, effective, and diverse implements and social media tools available to individuals, businesses, City Councils…I was feeling overwhelmed and pondered if I was too old and jaded to keep up with the rapidly growing, changing technology devices. Then I realized the enthusiastic, knowledgeable facilitator at the front of the room was older than me. That transferred the fears and excuses in my brain to spam folder.As the day progressed I was constantly conscious of how much my life has adapted and become dependent on new technology and social media mediums. Constant change is here to stay.Every time I made a phone call, received a text, twittered, sent an email, logged into face book, or even checked my hockey pool standings I paused for a second and paid note. Today’s railroad is the internet.It wasn’t until super I fully realized my morning wake-up lesson had simply been a drop in the bucket regarding my lifetime of technological change. I was heating soup in the microwave and watching a live newsfeed from Paris on my tablet when the irony of it all sunk in.When I was a child tablets never existed. Neither did microwave ovens in homes.Our first TV was a one-station black and white and we marvelled at it, massive rabbit ears (or coat hangers) and all. When colour TV and cable arrived we were over the moon.Cell phones have evolved from the party line rotary phone on the wall. We dialed five numbers back then in Kelowna. My first cell phone was the size of walky-talky. They didn’t take selfies, give directions home, or do your banking.Music collections have evolved from 78’s, 33’s and 45s to 8-track, then cassettes, to CD’s, IPods, Bluetooth….Tired of all the profound thinking I decided to spend an hour mindlessly sorting through boxes of old newspapers from my early reporter days. Near the top was a copy of the Dec. 8 1976 rag. The headline read ‘New Press for Capital ‘ with the kicker -‘High Speed’.The story bragged about the new Harris V15A four-unit web offset from Fort Worth, Texas (so it had to be big) assembled at the newspaper office at 287 Bernard Avenue..My brain spun as I recalled the day. Indeed how far we have journeyed.When I first began in newspapers in the early 1970’s we still had copy boys and typewriters.Scribes would type out a story on a stack of 5×8 page brown pages and give them to the editor. He would edit the leaflets in a sea of red ink and send it back for rewrite on the Remington. That scenario repeated over and over until the editor deemed the copy had little enough red ink that it could proceed to the typesetter.The typesetter translated the story onto a tickertape of a sort that would then feed into a machine that magical processed and spit out the typed story on a strip of white paper. A lay out worker ran it through a waxer, cut, and pasted it onto a template page according to a mocked up dummy. When stories and advertisements for each page were compiled and pasted it was taken to a massive camera. The film was developed and the massive negative, once fully processed and paginated, was mounted onto a press drum.Not exactly a quick process.Today I write my column on a lap top or tablet, spell check it (though often dangerous), and send it via email to the newspaper editor. He gives it an edit, calls up the page he wants, and pastes it in himself. Another button and the entire page is sitting in the press room awaiting to be printed, (along with several other papers sent by computer from around the Valley)).That ‘new’  Harris V15A was retired just a few years back, another sign I am old.Suddenly it dawned on me that I’ve become my Grandpa. I can now tell tales to my grandchildren and great grandchildren like, “When I was a young reporter we used a thing called a typewriter, and I typed miles of words on my poor fingers…”I’m old. And loving it.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.

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