The Bill Gates Of Boynton Beach

I called my folks on the way home from work tonight. I do most every night at 11:35. I wasn’t a particularly easy kid. I’ve tried to be a better son as an adult.

Usually my dad is asleep and my mom and I will chat as I drive home. There’s always something going on. Their social life is busier than ever. If that fails, someone’s seen a doctor and there’s medical news to be discussed.

Tonight, probably because of the World Series, my father was awake. He got on the phone.

He was very excited about his second day as a computer teacher. In the clubhouse of their Florida condo there is a computer lab with a dozen or so networked PC. It’s a teaching facility, put together by some residents, with my father’s assistance. That’s where the computer club meets.

There are still plenty of people in the condos who’ve never used a PC, but want to. Their kids want to send them photos or email… or maybe they sense they should learn as an abstract concept. They just don’t know how to get started.

One of the cooler things about being a resident of this ‘adults only’ condo complex is, my parents live in a non-judgmental world. Every new endeavor is encouraged. You want to dance or sing or make ceramics or learn computers? Go for it. Everyone is supportive.

My dad is their computer teacher. How cool is that?

He’s not a pro. He has no training. When he last attended school, computers didn’t exist.

He’s just a nice guy – one of them. He’s got a bit of knowledge and a lot of passion. Being passionate is a valuable trait no matter what you’re doing.

My father’s strength is his ability to unlock the little things for these seniors. They’re simple things you might take for granted, like how to enter an address for a website or how to do a search. Even double clicking is a foreign concept when you’ve never double clicked!

He is opening a new world to these people.

Today he showed them a site where they could find newspapers from their hometowns. Then he popped over to Youtube.com for some videos. He found some video of a tornado and eighty year old jaws dropped. My dad’s a god!

My mom, one of his students, told me his class applauded when he finished his lesson. It was one of the nicest, most genuinely sweet things I’ve heard in a long time.

My father’s class will learn a lot from him about computing. But seriously, he’s getting the better end of this deal. Having passion is one thing. Having your passion rewarded is something few of us ever experience.

Steffie Finds Photos

It’s good to be a college student. Well, it wasn’t good when I was a college student, but it’s obviously good now.

No sooner did Steffie return from our Pacific cruise than she was on a plane (actually two) heading to Florida. Though she just told me on the phone it was “overcast,” it’s also currently 70&#176. I’ll save my pity.

Do I have to tell you how glad I am she enjoys spending time with my folks? I think she appreciates their company on two levels. First, of course, it’s just them. Second, she enjoys being an observer in their “seniors on steroids” life.

Even as a baby, she enjoyed observing. We used to joke how she’d sit in the back seat of the car, becoming part of the seat, so she could listen to adult conversations unnoticed.

My parents live a very active life in a community with a full social calendar and lots of facilities.

The thing seniors do, which I envy most, is their ability to be totally non-judgmental. It is as if everyone in their complex is living life as karaoke, and everyone else is applauding each song.

If you live there and want to learn to use a computer… even though you’re 70, maybe 80 years into life and have never touched one – hooray for you! And if you want to be a computer teacher – boom – you’re Bill Gates.

No one judges. Only your desire and effort is applauded. My dad becomes Mr. Tech Support for Banyon Springs! The condo complexes newspaper writes about him.

Back to Steffie. I get too carried away with peripheral thoughts.

Last night, as she sat with my parents, my cellphone rang – not with calls, but text messages and photos. Steffie was going through old pictures and snapping shots of the most interesting ones.

First came this photo of me as an infant. My mother said people would stop her to say I looked like the Gerber baby. Probably not, but it was nice to say.

When I showed this to a few people at work, the first two (without pausing a beat) said my hair looked the same. That’s weird, isn’t it?

The second one is more interesting, only because I remember a lot about it.

It was probably 1970 and I was living 15 or so miles from where my parents live now, in West Palm Beach. A friend of a friend introduced me to a photographer. He seemed much older then, so maybe he was in his late 20s or 30s.

He had developed a technique in developing photos. In many ways it looks like the mosaic filtering Photoshop (and other photo software) perform. Back then, this was nothing less than an amazing technique – and if there were others who could perform it, there was little way to know.

I thought the picture made me look too sullen, but others liked it, so I sent it along to my folks (back then, living in Flushing, NY). I can’t believe they saved it all these years, especially considering the limited space they had in that tiny Flushing apartment.

When it was taken, I never imagined a child of mine would see it and maybe get some insight into her father. In fact, I would have never suspected having a child was in my future.

There are so many reasons I’m glad Steffie is spending time with my folks. Sharing photos is just one.