3.21.2009

86 with Alzheimers
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Yesterday I met a woman who is 86 years old. She has mild Alzheimer's Disease. She emigrated to the U.S. from Poland "60 years ago" which I guess is 1949...it may also have been before that...anyway she said it was after the War because they couldn't get away during the war. She said she can't read Polish anymore...but she still had a Polish accent. She was surprised to learn that people can compute in their own languages...she thought all keyboards were in English now.

Coming to the U.S., she eventually moved to Portola Valley and even spent some time working on mainframe computers. After selling her house she eventually moved into assisted living in Menlo Park, CA.

Despite all this, she never owned a personal computer. After spending about a half hour showing her all the great things you can do now on a ridiculously tiny laptop - search, check your email, launch free web docs, etc., with no key or EULA - she was ecstatic. And I closed the pitch by saying "Imagine, this tiny computer is 100X more powerful than the computers on the first flight to the moon, Apollo 11."

Her companion, in her late 90's (also with Alzheimer's) and in a wheelchair, wasn't sure about the moon experience and whether it was real or not...she muttered something about "the badlands" rolled her eyes and kind of chuckled but soon fell asleep.

My new friend said "Viola...she doesn't like new things" and waved her hand at her dismissively. "You know what?" she said. "Tomorrow I'm going to catch the bus, go to the store, and buy one of those. It'll be fun. I can learn new things, check the weather, maybe make free phone calls."

For her, this kind of trip seemed about as adventurous as paddling across the Mississippi river in a rubber boat.

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