My last entry, in which I mocked my father's ancient Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, and the equally obsolete 26-volume Encyclopedia Brittanica, started me pondering the "bad old days" of research. In my case, I first had to wait until the public library was open. Then Mom had to drive me there. And at last I could begin the torturous process of digging through books, newspapers (and sometimes the librarian's brain) for the information I needed. Compare that to 2009, when you can get all the facts you want (and many, many you don't) with a few clicks. Just for fun, I checked my recent search history, and here are some of the topics I've combed the Internet for lately:
--The exact date Cal Ripken Jr. was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame, for Derek's book report. It took approximately 1.5 seconds...he's so spoiled already by computers and doesn't even know it!
--How to melt broken crayons together, and make them into new ones. Riley came home from Kindergarten and described the process with great enthusiasm and detail...except how hot, exactly, the oven should be. Googled it. 2 seconds.
--The FDA-approved method of disposing of expired medications. The school nurse sent home an instructional flyer that advised "flush them down the toilet". ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Just what we need, Prozac in the water supply...(okay, that one might not be so bad.) FDA.gov: downloaded a procedure sheet, copied it, brought it to school to share. Maybe 30 seconds, including printing, + 5 minutes for the drive.
--Nickelodeon's May Movie Month schedule. Finding which night the movie I wanted to record was showing: remarkably difficult on their website, so maybe 2 minutes. Setting DVR: 45 seconds. Mourning newspaper TV Guide and VCR tapes: hahahahaha...I mean zero seconds.
--A synopsis of Shakespeare's Othello...because when the 5-year old came out of the bath, spiky-haired, wrapped in a towel and looking very thoughtful, he asked me, "Mommy, which character would you be, Iago or Othello?" It was one of those, "Dude, do you realize you're in Kindergarten?" moments. Also: get your father for me so I can ask him what the HECK you were talking about in there! 10 minutes to sort out where this came from, 1 minute to find a succinct summary to refresh my memory.
I still visit the library regularly to check out books for pleasure-reading, but my days of tedious, boring, difficult research are o-v-e-r. At least until my sons have to write term papers. Then I'll...drive them to the library!