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Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I stumbled across a paper I had written (and presented) when I was taking a re-entry course after giving birth to my first daughter. Before I'd had her, I'd been a nanny, so could not go back to the job. Instead, I took a government sponsored course that taught me some computer and administrative skills. Little did I realize that this would be the type of work I'd do from then on and truly enjoy. Anyway, the course was for women who were either trying to get back in to the work force after rearing children or for those who had unexpectedly lost jobs and wanted new or different skills.

We covered a variety of the basics, such as math and english and one of the units required us to make a presentation on the topic of our choice. For some reason I chose "Communication". (I am one of those people who will get a sudden inspiration and go with it, so I did.) I uncovered this while looking for another old poem of mine and I got quite the kick out of it and how much times have changed since I wrote it, even though it technically has not been that long. I had included some props and hand gestures, so I will note those in brackets. I was twenty-three when I wrote this. Here we go:

January 28, 1992

If I were to walk up to any one of you and do this: (perform sign-language sign), how many of you would know what I'd just said? How about if I did this? (cross legs, jump up and down) Now how many of you would know that I was trying to say? Well, in case you're wondering, I just said "where's the bathroom?" in sign-language.

Good afternoon (sign). I am happy to talk to you about communication.

We could not function without communication. Spoken language has always been a method of communicating for us, whether we speak English, French, Spanish or Chinese. But what about those of us that do not have the privilege of speech? Or for certain reasons cannot or must not use speech?

I have the privilege of knowing several people who are deaf, and although I am not fluent in sign-language, they have opened up a whole new world of communication for me and I find it quite easy to talk with them because as I showed you to begin with, body language is universal. And that in itself is a method of communicating. Our facial and body expressions can say a lot. For examples, a smile can express happiness, friendliness, nervousness, or even mischief. A downcast expression along with hanging head and slumped shoulders can mean sadness, depression or tiredness. A wave means hello, we can jump for joy or stomp with excitement, we can smack our foreheads because we feel foolish or because we've forgotten something.

Now, what if we have the ability to speak, but are unable to use it because of distance say, or because the information needed is confidential?

Before the telephone was invented, morse code was used. Here is an example of what morse code looks like when printed out (prop, word=hello) but it would sound like a series of "dits" and "dahs"; the "dit" sound being the dot and the "dah" sound being the dash. As well, semifour has been used, which is the use of two flags that are divided in half diagonally, with one half of the flag being red and the other half being white (hold up). Letters are formed in the way you hold your arms. For example, this would spell "hi" (act out). Mostly today, these methods are used by Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, the military and probably others that I am unaware of.

With today's modern technology, much communicating can be done now with the introduction of telephones, computers, fax machines and fibre optics.

In certain large companies, computers are what we call "on line" with one another. Messages can be sent from a computer in one city to another computer in another city simply by using a telephone line, or modem as it is called. I worked for a company once where all you had to do was type in your message and hit a button, and your information would appear on the printer in Prince George, Calgary or wherever you'd sent it. (I can't remember what company this was)

Another company I was employed by (Sears) had all of their computerized cash registers on line across the nation, so when a sale was rung in B.C., the main computer back east made a note that certain items had been sold and more would need to be sent to replace them. This eliminated a lot of paperwork and made the company operate much more efficiently.

Fax machines have changed communications quite drastically. Where you once had to wait for days for something important to come in the mail, or spend lots to send it by courier, you now can have it in your hand within minutes. This is another form of communication that makes use of the phone lines. If only Alexander Graham Bell could see what he started by inventing the telephone! And now with fibre optics being so precise and exact, communication will be a breeze.

Over the years, there have been many different ways to communicate from smoke signals to the aboriginal bushman's telephone, but nothing can beat that special smile that says I love you from your little child. And that's communication at its finest. Thank you (sign).

I remember that most of the ladies just sat there looking at me with blank expressions on their faces because they'd all talked about their dogs or twelve step programs and I'd just gone way off to another dimension. But I'd always enjoyed public speaking for the most part and like I said, I got an idea and I went with it. Besides, no one told us what to talk about!

I think the best part is how amazed I am at technology only sixteen some-odd years ago. Had I known where it was headed, it might have blown my mind! To think that I would even have the capability of doing this, blogging, would have been beyond my imagination I think!

So, I just wanted to share a moment from my past (and some bad writing) and hopefully it has amused you as much as it did me!

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