March 6, 2014

WILLIAMS: Living behind the digital times


---- — I was so grateful to turn in my smartphone when I retired. It was practically like brand new as several of its features had never been used. For instance, I never downloaded an app.

I bought a simple flip phone from Consumer Cellular in case of emergencies — $15 a month.

When my friend recently had surgery, her daughter messaged me on Facebook asking, “Have you been getting my texts? I’ve been keeping up a running commentary about how Mom’s doing but you’ve never texted me back?”

She was aghast when I told her my phone didn’t do texts — and neither did I.

The car I have now has all kinds of little doo-dah buttons on the dash that I’ve never used. I think one of them is a Blue Tooth connection. I’m not quite sure how that works. I can also find out exactly how many miles I can travel before I run out of gas although I’ve always found the gas gauge to be sufficient for my needs in that regard.

I recently changed my Internet/phone/cable provider. They gave me an even more complicated remote than I had before. It will practically do cartwheels across the living room floor. But all I do is watch, change channels and occasionally record. I can imagine the remote sulking on the end table, “Geez, how did I get assigned to her? I never get to show my stuff.”

The longer I am retired, the more I notice that it isn’t only in technology that I’m falling behind in but other areas as well.

Food, for example. I have a friend who is insistent that I try hummus. I’ll love it, she says. So, I looked it up and here is what hummus is: cooked, mashed chick peas with tahini, olive oil and lemon. So, then, of course, I had to research tahini, which I’d never heard of. Turns out it is a sesame paste. I can’t imagine anything that sounds (or looks) more unappetizing than mashed chick peas and sesame paste. I hardly like any food with the consistency of paste except maybe peanut butter and mashed potatoes.

I went to Martha Stewart’s website to try to find a recipe using hummus that appeared somewhat more appealing. She suggested a sandwich uniting hummus and tapenade.

Tapenade? Back to Wikipedia. Tapenade is a Provencal dish featuring pureed olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil.

At that point, I made myself a roast beef sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. I still have most of my teeth left and I like to use them.

I also notice there are startling new fruits, vegetables and spices appearing in recipes all the time. I’m still pondering whether to give Kiwi and Ugli Fruit a try so I’m not even close to progressing to Chermoya and Dragon Fruit.

As the stuff I loved disappears from the market (chocolate caramels, Camp Beverly Hills perfume, ice cream without chunks of stuff in it), I can choose between approximately 500 brands of energy drink. I can download every kind of app imaginable from the sound of rain to a running check of the price of gold (of which I own none) to games and music, weather and news.

I do love much modern stuff. I couldn’t live without my computer. I enjoy Facebook and I’m on Twitter. I adore my Kindle and I accept cell phones, in general, as a benefit. I appreciate my HD television. I simply don’t use any of my devices to their full potential.

But I have promised my friend, I’ll give hummus a try. Who knows, maybe mashed chick peas will turn out to be a favorite food. Or not.

Vicki Williams is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached through the newspaper at