The Age Mystique. Seniors quick to Facebook, slow to learn

clip_image003MANILA: Especially those in Facebook, I wish all the Seniors the best years of the rest of their lives. If they pay attention to the years of the rest of their lives.

In fact, age doesn't matter because gray matter doesn't age, unless you do. It's all in the mind. If you visit Facebook, you will see young and old faces; I especially see the old faces who are quick to post photos and messages. I often wonder if they have found happiness. Me, I have found contentment amidst wonderment.

The image you see here is the upper half-cover of an old copy of the book I bought on 22 May 2006, at a book sale (I inserted my photo). The unreadable entries on top right say, "7/03 Half-Price Books" which means it was already offered at that US bookstore for sale 3 years before I bought it. "Clearance $2.00" – I don't remember how much I paid for it, but it has been worth a fortune to me ever since.

In 1993, Betty Friedan published her book in which she said, instead of the Spanish Juan Ponce De Leon finding for himself The Fountain of Youth, she had found for the world The Fountain of Age, the exact title of her book, and I discovered her 13 years later, when I was already a Senior, in 2006. She discovered how to live a new and wonderful life when she became a Senior herself. At about the time of her discovery, I was in the midst of my years of quiet discontent and taking the ordinary as the rule rather than the exception. I wasn't aware that by itself, your life was not commonplace unless you accepted it to be so.

Years earlier, Betty Friedan was the author of the book The Feminine Mystique, which changed the world's perception of women for generations to come, except mine. It happens to the best. Because of her, now I have changed my perception of age; I have discovered what I shall call here The Age Mystique, which tells me, shows me, makes me feel, even as I am 73, that I am extra special, that I can do special things. So can you, but you have to discover them yourself.

Seniors, let's talk computers. So, we're all Seniors, but can you install Windows 8 in your PC? Can you use Adobe Photoshop to create special effects with your shots? Do you know how to crop an image, or capture one onscreen? Do you know how to select text on a webpage, copy and paste as text? I can do much more and better.

I can write faster creatively with Word 2013 than anyone of you can type 2,013 words mechanically with your biblical method: Seek and ye shall find. Among other tools, Word 2013 doesn't only help me write; it helps me think critically and creatively with its Outlining feature.

I'm assuming you're using Word 2013, the best. You're probably using Word 2007, which is good, but which is in a different universe of substance and style, and speed. Word 2010 is better, but it takes an adventuresome spirit to move on.

Me, I write to share. I do write to earn, but it takes only 10% of my time; the other 90% I spend writing for others free, to free them from their personal imprisonments. Like right now.

I'm a writer 100%; I taught myself writing, editing, photography and desktop publishing 100%. So you will understand that I am always thanking the Lord 100% that I am living in the Age of the Computer and the Internet. Are you?

I offer workshops for free (3 hours) or for a fee (3 days). If you don't want to learn from my workshops either way, at least learn from my life as I tell it in my many blogs. As I'm telling you right now.

I started using the desktop computer exactly on 28 December 1985, Innocents Day, at the office of the Farming Systems & Soil Resources Institute (FSSRI) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UP Los Baños) with its campus at College, Laguna. The application was WordStar, Version 1. I started using Microsoft Word in 1987, Version 1, and I never left. Some 26 years later, I'm using Word 2013.

Actually, the Apple II was already in town; I saw the Apple II at the campus of the College of Forestry, in the last years of the 1970s. At first, I hated it, because I thought researchers who were friends and acquaintances were using the machine to make the formula fit their data and not the other way around. About 10 years later, when I was working for the FSSRI, I had to type at the office the manuscript of a whole book with an IBM Selectric III typewriter, with its changeable balls of types and white correction tape, for days – and nights. As a typist, I have always been excellent, but not always perfect. I was already typing unbelievably fast at that time, but I had to type a whole book. I had to proofread what I had typed nine times (yes, 9 times) to make sure it was perfect. So I told myself, "There must be a better way than this!"

That's when I saw an IBM desktop computer lying there next door, with a pretty lady working on it. From Innocents Day 1985 when I asked my boss, FSSRI Director Pids Rosario to ask the lady to teach me word processing and he said yes and, so instructed, she had to say yes, I have been on a software journey of a thousand miles, both as a creative writer and as a critical editor. I have forgotten the name of that lady, but I have not forgotten that I owe her a favor, if given grudgingly.

From my own clone personal computer in 1987 to my 14-inch Lenovo G470 (IBM) laptop today, my journey of a thousand smiles can be described thus:

(1) Armed with only Word 2002 and being self-taught as Editor and desktop publisher, almost single-handedly and within 3 years I turned the Philippine Journal of Crop Science (PJCS) from being late 3 years to up-to-date, 2007, and to being ISI (world class) the next year, 2008. The PJCS is published by the Crop Science Society of the Philippines, which is based at UP Los Baños. Those were the years.

(2) I have published 6 books of my collected science essays, minimum of 24 chapters each, care of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). I have just sent the final manuscript for the 7th collection, to come out early 2014. These are the days.

(3) I have 10 busy blogs right now. At one time I had a maximum of 100. To get a good idea of my tremendous output, visit The Creattitudes Encyclopedia (blogspot.com), where you will find 1,700+ essays of at least 1,000 words each.

So, how productive you are with your PC right now?

Right now, as Old 2013 fades, so my hope for the Seniors to learn more about digitizing their lives beyond buying expensive cellphones and in/expensive tablets. So I'm turning my attention on the Moderns:

To the Virgins, to make much of Time
By Robert Herrick

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old Time is still a-flying
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

Here's to the Moderns to make much of Time.

In any case, I wish the Seniors Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

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