I am a technology dinosaur trying to evolve as I face extinction with the world changes around me.

The image of a triceratops or Stegosaurus trying to operate a computer laptop comes to mind.(except I love meat…no plant eater here!)

So maybe I'm a technology challenged, meat eating velociraptor. During the movie “Jurassic Park”, those velociraptors learned how to open doors but I bet they could not learn to operate a computer system.

My office “way of life” is going extinct… bye, bye paper and pencil.

When I was in grade school and junior high back in medieval times, penmanship was a part of one's grade. During those early school years, I found penmanship to be a “foreign language”. To say I had difficulty mastering it would be a massive understatement. Apparently, my writing “hand” was more of a writing “talon”.  I should have been practicing to be a doctor.

I just did not find the skill of writing legibly to be important. The ability to write was simply a chore as a requirement of homework… a means to an end.  However, when I entered high school, things changed. I discovered that my high school teachers were not going to patiently attempt to figure out what my scribbles and chicken scratches meant.  As a general rule, if they could not read my work, I received a zero. My grades reflected the writing mess I turned in.Hello reality!

Suddenly, I became motivated. You see, I had pride in my grades. I cared if the world believed that there were some smarts in my little brain(whether it was true or not was less important). I made the decision to improve my handwriting.  I dedicated a considerable amount of time towards learning the art of flowing handwriting, carefully crafting letters of the alphabet, and developing a style of writing that was legible and pleasing to the eye.

As with anything in life, practice and attention to detail will take you a long ways. Suddenly, penmanship was not an issue for me. Thus, my hot and cold love affair with “paper and pencil” began. Writing was no longer a chore and was becoming a pleasure!

Now, I am in my 25th year of management of a County Farm Bureau. When I first started as manager of the Carroll County Farm Bureau in 1988, I dominated the pencil and paper scene. I produced reams and reams of writing on notepads, scratch paper, notebooks, and such. I wrote letters, summaries, meeting minutes, commentary, agendas, explanations, strategies, to do lists, and so much more. My drawers of my desk were crammed with files that were bulging with my writing papers. Piles of files littered my desk, the floor, file cabinets, and tables. The flow of my handwriting a strange mixture of cursive interchanged with print style… Complete with my own shorthand that only I understood.

It was in that year of 1988 that I made a purchase for the Carroll County Farm Bureau… A “clone” 286dx DOS with two 5 ¼ floppy drives with a massive 15inch screen. That was the first computer owned by that County Farm Bureau and I honestly didn't really know what I was buying. The rumor was “computers were the way of the future “so we were jumping on board! 

Our purpose for the purchase was for word processing for my secretary, Elaine(who preferred to use an electric typewriter) and membership database management for the 2500 members of the organization.I did not force Elaine to adapt to the computer … heck, I was still handwriting everything.  Sure, I learned how to turn the computer on but don't recall actually operating it more than a handful of times.  In other words, the computer was not for me… the pen and paper was my “way of the future”.

I continued my onslaught of paper at the Adams County Farm Bureau and then on to the Kane County Farm Bureau. In 1999, I decided to bless the Cook County Farm Bureau by burying your Manager's office in Countryside in paper. At each employment stop, I found within the office others much more skilled at technology operation than I.  Every once in a while, I wonder how many reams of paper I've actually ripped through during my career.

And now the year 2013 is upon us. And life has changed everywhere around me.Sure, I've tried to fit in…

I have a smart phone in which I receive and can send e-mails.

I have Dragon recognition software in which I speak and the words flow on my laptop computer.

I can text… slowly.

I have a Bluetooth earpiece (but do not wear it in public because I'm not that important).

I have helped in the development of our website as well as our social media efforts.

I continue to push for online payment options for members statewide (even though I believe in cash and balance my checkbook religiously)

Yes, I have access to the tools and toys of today’s society … could a paperless society be at my fingertips?

Nope…not even close!

Despite my attempts to pretend to be part of today's technological class, my desk remains filled with paper.  Sure, the “look” of the piles of paper has changed a bit. There is less of the flowing hand written cursive on random pieces of paper. There are fewer yellow memos sheets torn from writing pads filled with my“characters” generated by pencil. More the material is been printed from the computer.However, the “content” remains much the same.  “Piles and files” of paper are strategically placed within eyesight of everywhere. I still feel the need to touch, edit, and store physically the work. Editing remains difficult for my mind without a piece of paper and a writing stick. And it is very easy to push “print” to generate more!

So members of the Cook County Farm Bureau…please be go easy on me as I gently resist today's stressful technology wonders knowing full well that fighting the surge is like trying to stop a tsunami with a piece of plywood. I begrudgingly suppose that the Internet will catch on (eventually)… Cell phones are not the next beta video recorder (my bag brick phone was)… and a handheld map will be a museum piece (yes, maps used to be in paper form and not on one's phone).

The Komodo dragon is supposed to be a descendent of the dinosaurs and they look pretty darn healthy. Perhaps “this” technology dinosaur can hold onto paper and pencil for a few more years…


P.S. Despite being such a technology challenged individual, I am proud of the organization's new website, Facebook, twitter and other social media outlets. I encourage all members to check out www.cookcfb.org to access a new level of connection with your organization. (Even I can use it!)