Marilyn Writes

Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 year banking career, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, and other major industry publications. The American Bankers Association (ABA) published Barnewall’s Profitable Private Banking: the Complete Blueprint, in 1987. She taught private banking at Colorado University for the ABA and trained private bankers in Singapore.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Seniors: Forge Fearlessly into the Future

Tuesday June 24, 2003 Grand Junction Free Press Page 10
(c) Copyright 2003, Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall, All Rights Reserved
Grammy's Axioms, Special to the Grand Junction Free Press

By Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall

Axiom: It's hard to give someone your forwarding address when you live in the past.

     I admire my 93-year-old mother tremendously. I admire anyone who has lived eight or nine decades and been able to deal with the tremendous changes that have taken place.
     Just think, when my mother was born in 1909, there were no interstate highways -- there weren't any cars to speak of. There were no airports, no airplanes, no -- well, think of any modern convenience from indoor toilets (televisions and telephones too) -- to penicillin.
     When it came to the computer generation, though, Mother drew a line in the sand. My 83-year old stepfather, however, owns a computer. He taught himself to use the keyboard and is writing a book about dinosaurs and the ice age.
     The older I get, the more difficult I find it to adjust to the changes we see in our society. I never thought I'd see kids walking around with jewelry affixed to their belly-buttons, for example (let alone their tongues, eyebrows, etc.).
     It is hard to accept what is distasteful to me. That has nothing to do with age -- I was in my 20s during the Hippie generation. I found their lack of personal cleanliness disgusting. I never adjusted to it -- and it had nothing to do with age.
     I dislike women's shoes today. The high heels of my era made a woman's feet look… well, feminine. They also enhanced the shape of the lower leg. What women wear on their feet today often makes them look like they are training for the Marines. It appears to me shoe designers do not like women much.
     Some women who read this today will react negatively. What young women put on their feet is their business, not mine. I agree. But just as they do not have to like my comments, I do not have to like the way their feet look.
     Women say what they wear today is to "eliminate the obvious dress differences between the sexes in an effort to level the career playing field. The word 'feminine' doesn't belong in the office," they say.
     They wear thongs, jeans and slacks so tight they have few secrets left. They wear tops about two inches above their pant tops -- which are down around their hips so we can all see their belly buttons. And, they do this to neutralize their sexual identity so the workplace playing field is more level? Sure. Yes. Of course.
     There are many social changes to which I will not adapt because I am not comfortable with them. To each his or her own. And that's the way it should be. This kind of dislike is a matter of taste (or lack of it).
     There are some things, however, we seniors need to not only accept and adapt to, but embrace. Computer technology is one of those things. The Internet and e-mail are others. Why should you accept these things but not pierced belly buttons?
     Computer technology is perfect for seniors and retirees. A lot of us have difficulty going out in the world today. Computers bring the world to us.
     You can do everything from write checks to balance your checkbook on a computer. You can manage a stock trading account or look up your family tree.
     I bought my first computer in 1982, early in the game. My son came home from the Navy and insisted I get one. Looking back, I cannot believe how much more productive I became. I said good-bye to my IBM Selectric and have never looked back.
     What other things can you do?
     Start by researching public records. One Web site has comprehensive links to a large number of free public record databases. There are over 10,000 links to databases around the world.
     What's listed here? If you buy a car, enter the VIN and get a free report on the car's history. Is it worth what they're asking? You'll know very quickly. You can find inexpensive properties for sale… in foreclosure. All you have to do is type the address:
     Parents who want to control the Web sites their kids visit and monitor games they play can visit the Entertainment Software Rating Board. It tells you for what age a game is suitable. There are six ratings categories: Early Childhood, Everyone, Teen, Mature, Adults Only and Ratings Pending. It also has four categories of violence: cartoon, fantasy, intense and sexual. Just go to
     It was well worth it to go to the "do not call" site to register up to three phone numbers. It prevents telemarketers from calling at dinnertime -- or, any other time. It took about 30 seconds and I got an immediate e-mail back from the government confirming my registration.
     To register, go to Click on Register Now and follow the directions.
     Is your salary competitive? Are you earning what others in your profession or occupation earn? I just used this site for an article I'm writing to research what various medical professionals earn in various locations of the country. Find out very quickly if you're getting paid what you should by going to
     Did you know that the Federal Bureau of Investigations keeps records on… well, just about everyone in America. You can see what records the FBI has about world-famous people -- or possibly, about you. Spend some very interesting time at famous.htm.
     Remember "The Shadow" radio show? "Gangbusters?" "The Lone Ranger?" "The All American Boy, Jack Armstrong?" It is fun to listen to old-time radio shows.
     Get your favorites any time of the day or night! It takes a few minutes for files of this kind to load… be patient. Then sit back and close your eyes as you are taken to days of yesteryear. Just go to
     Want to be your own private eye? This site gives you links to county court records, resources for child support enforcement, places to search criminal histories, and inmate searches. Go to http://www.virtual
     At is a U.S. Postal Service site that helps you through the moving process. The post office has done a very good job of making its services available on the Net. Want help calculating postage? Need to change your address? Want to find the post office closest to you? Go to the USPS home page on the Web at Find a ZIP code? … find a post office? db/USPS/. The main postal site Web address is
     If your grandkids are coming to visit you this summer, you may want to check and see if there are convicted sex offenders living in your neighborhood. Go to and it will tell you.
     How much does it cost for you to get started? You can buy a good used computer for very little, though the prices for new computers are getting lower every day. If you are unfamiliar with computers, get qualified help if you buy used. You don't want to spend $100 on a nice used computer only to find out you need to spend $800 on new software.
     Yes, it costs money to have an Internet server… but it does not have to be costly. You can find Internet service providers and the prices they charge at
      Another good place to look for free or inexpensive Internet service providers is heep://
     To find Freenets near you, check the list at
     Yes, you do need anti-virus software if you are going to go on the Internet.
     Go to for an excellent anti-virus program that protects your computer against viruses, worms and malicious codes, and it's free. You have to look for the free edition, but it's there.
     You also need a firewall. Get one of the best free of charge at the Zone Alarm Web site.
     Most of the Web sites I've referred to above came from a wonderful resource on computer technology, Kim Komando (the Digital Goddess). She has a weekend radio show... try the radio station in your city that provides the best talk radio to find her. Go to her Web site at and sign up for her free weekly newsletter and her daily tips. She's very good at what she does!
      There is no doubt the biggest change and the biggest challenge to keeping your feet planted firmly in today rather than yesterday is using a computer and going on the Internet.
     We can keep up with change. We are, after tall, the tail end of the Greatest Generation.