Bubil: Internet surfing a continuing education


It has been about 20 years since the dawn of the Internet age. As with many revolutionary technologies, some people have been resistant to change.

I imagine the same thing existed 114 years ago, when the automobile was emerging. Some people said, “I’m am too old to learn how to operate one of those contraptions.”

Then they lived another 20 years and either rode the trolley or did a lot of walking. Not bad choices, but not terribly convenient, either.

Some readers, especially those totally charming people in their 70s and 80s, tend to be hit or miss with the Internet. Think of what they might be missing: Online gambling, day trading on the stock market, checking home values and recent sales on Zillow, and watching old episodes of “Route 66” on YouTube.

Recently, I lectured on real estate and local history during a boat tour for local friends and alumni of Brown University aboard the Marina Jack II.

The organizer of this delightful event wanted me to mail him a copy of my bio. He included his street address, so I assumed he meant the U.S. Mail. I felt a shudder. An envelope! A stamp! A mailbox! . . . Where?

I called him on an old-fashioned telephone (one that is wired to the wall) and suggested he “get my bio online at realestate.heraldtribune.com.”

“Wait a minute,” my gentlemanly host said. “I will have to put my wife on the phone. She is in charge of the computer.”

“Maybe she could teach you,” I suggested. He insisted he could not be taught, and any attempt by her to do so might imperil their marriage.

“How long have you been married?” I asked.

“Sixty years.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” I replied. “Not even the Internet can ruin a 60-year marriage.” (I omitted that there are, indeed, some things on the Internet than can break up marriages.)

When I saw the man on the boat, he had my biography. His wife had printed it out. Perhaps he did not know how, but, regardless, mission accomplished.

Hey, sailor

Speaking of boats, Herald-Tribune columnist Tom Lyons, who owns a 21-foot, two-masted, lug-rigged cat-ketch sailboat, took issue with a detail in my recent story on Lee Wetherington. I wrote that Wetherington “sailed” his 65-foot yacht off the California coast.

As the yacht is a motor vessel, Lyons took exception to the use of the word “sailing,” even after I quoted the dictionary to him (to travel on water in a ship; to travel on water by the action of wind upon sails or by other means).

“Yes, the definition ‘to control a ship or boat (especially one that has sails) while traveling on water’ is most relevant. It shows why your use is not incorrect, but also not especially correct. In this case, it became misleading,” wrote Lyons in an e-mail sent through the vastness of cyberspace to my desk, 25 feet from his.You now have insight into how we wordsmiths at the Herald-Tribune care about our tools and debate their usage.

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: May 3, 2014
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