During three weeks in July, I had the fortune of visiting family in Ireland (most of whom I've never seen in life). I stayed with my uncle who, while he's one of the nicest men you could ever meet, he is rather stubborn in his ways and opinions. He lives in a neighbourhood in Dublin called Kilbarrack. A tour pamphlet published by the DART, the city's urban railway, refers to Kilbarrack as an interesting place with many colourful characters like the ones in the movie The Commitments which, by the way, was filmed down the street from my uncle's residence.
Colourful characters indeed.
One afternoon, my uncle, a neighbour of his, Dolores, and myself are enjoying some tea and good discussion about the weather. My uncle mentions he received a postcard from another neighbour spending her vacation in Mallorca. I add that I still have to send my friends postcards. I also say that I am very poor at writing letters.
"I'm awful too," my uncle adds, "but Dolores is incredible for writing a letter."
"I write from time to time." I argue, "But most of my friends do not appreciate a letter from me as I usually use a computer to help organise my tho..."
"They make you brain dead," my uncle interrupts.
"How do computers make you brain dead?" I ask. After posing that question, I feel as if I opened myself to an easy attack. They may mention spell checkers, grammar checkers, and electronic organisers.
"Well you know those things that scan the products at the supermarket?" Dolores explains. "They add all the prices, and figure out discounts and taxes and everything, and the girls don't have to do one thing." I look confused. I wasn't expecting this, but nonetheless, I try to show a bit of interest.
"Look, if you go into a shop where they are using calculators," my uncle adds in a very stern voice, "people in that shop won't be able to add in their heads... like says that's 2 n' 6, 10 pounds, and so on. Whereas in a shop where they don't use calculators, people will be able to add much quicker."
"That's because people tend abuse calculators," I reply.
"It's not abuse. They shouldn't be using them."
"Well, I don't agree with someone is pulling out a calculator to add five and five. People who use them for such simple arithmetic are abusing them."
"They're not. They shouldn't have them."
It's time to bring this conversation back home, I think. "What do calculators and checkout counters have to do with making me brain dead when I write letters?"
"What letters?" Dolores queries. My uncle is now the one with the confused look.
"That's how this whole conversation started--with me mentioning that I use my computer to write letters."
They both forgot in a span of three minutes.