By Frankie O
Once again in the struggle that is my life, Im trying to understand and participate in the world around me. Like most folks my age, Im a creature of habit. A large part of that is due to watching my kids (and their mother) for years and seeing what happened when their routines where disrupted. Yikes! Thus, structure and repetition is taught at an early age and adhered to at all costs! Then for most of us, its a comforting thing as we age. Constants. They are the bedrock on which we are constructed.
For me, one of them has been how I gathered information to feed the beast that is my sports affliction. Some would call it my newspaper addiction. I just cant help it. It was how I was raised. Times were much simpler way back then. Sports news on TV was 5 minutes a night on the local news. For the NFL, a must-watch for a young fan was during Monday Night Football and the halftime highlights narrated by Howard Cosell. The biggest thrill ever was seeing your team make those highlights. Of course you know for me that didnt happen often.
No, my big thrill was the daily sports section of our local newspaper. I couldnt wait to read it, but I always had to. That was because the rule at my house was the old man always got it first. Every now and then I would get the courage up to read it after school before he got home, but no matter how meticulous I was at putting it back together, he always knew and trust me that wasnt a good thing. (I think those memories are the reason why I always need to have my newspaper look like it just came off the printing press, but thats another psychosis for another day.)
During my teenage years, after I started working, I was able to buy my own paper and read it whenever I wanted. This is when I started buying multiple papers, since besides the suburban local, I also bought the 3 major dailies that were printed in downtown Philly .Happy days.
My favorite is being able to read at night before I go to bed. Its a great way to decompress.
Even with the advent of 24-hour sports discussion on TV and radio, of which I could also devour at unusually high levels, my nighttime routine was a constant in my life for a very long period of time.
Then I was introduced to the computer age. People I talked to who had some of the same newspaper issues that I had, all raved about being able to read papers from all over the world whenever they wanted. Well, almost whenever, there were times when only a newspaper will do, but I digress once again. Also still, in a new learned behavior, reading a computer screen just felt awkward. (Old definition) (New definition of awkward? My on-screen appearance on Windy City Live on Thursday. Now I know how my teenage daughter feels when I ask her about boys. I told her the expression on my face was an homage to her. Side note: Everyone on that show, on-camera and off, couldnt be nicer and Kerry Wood is as cool as he appears.)
Anyway, it was neat to be able read writers that I had heard about from around the country and I understood that this was where things were heading. This was an adjustment, but I was starting to change with the times, however glacially. This still didnt preclude me from my paper issue, but rather enhanced my sports appreciation. For me, it was a fun time.
So as soon as I embraced my new normal the time-bomb went off. The bomb is also known as the smart phone.
Being able to read my phone with updated information whenever I want (Provided I dont have to stare at the & buffering circle!) is on a par with me over-serving someone. When is enough, enough? Dont ask me because Im hanging on for dear life!
Typically, this mother lode has thrown my routine all out of whack. Now, I have to make choices, but as usual they are not easily made.
I still need my papers. Sorry, I have to have them. (If you really want to be entertained, just ask the wife some of myourher newspaper stories. True love is being accepting of your partners quirks. It only took us about 15 years in, but shes now in a place where she no longer tries to stop me when Im going to the 7th store to try to find the one paper that I dont have. Or at least now, she only rolls her eyes, and says, Whatever! (Being the good husband, I never feel the need to respond with I still havent bought as many papers as you have pairs of shoes! Although I might mutter something as I try to get into our closet.) Another entertaining thing for me is watching the face of someone who has never dealt with me before, ringing-up my 5 daily reads. You would think I just spilled trash all over the counter. (I heard that!) The Philly in me wants to say, maybe you should try it, but I always bite my tongue and say, Im going to try, when they make their obvious comment. I always found that odd. Kind of ironic, isnt it?
And my laptop is never far from reach when Im at home.
But this phone thing is really cool. It truly gives me freedom: What I want. When I want. Where I want.
Now the last part has really changed things for me. Being able to read in bed before I go to sleep, without having every light on in my bedroom, or having to turn pages constantly, is truly living the dream. The real game-changer is that the information is up-to-the-minute. Im reading the next days paper, or at least the parts I want, before I go to bed. For a serial procrastinator, this is really funny. Not haha, but funny.
Among my most favorite reads is the free Chicago Tribune app, and its Cubs, Sox, and Bears spinoffs. For the last 3 years, there are only a handful of nights when I did not read them. Then a month ago, another bomb went off. I think they call it a pay wall. No getting in unless you pay the cover.
What? Better yet, its 15 bucks a month.
Usually, I would give it the old whatever, and move on. But Im totally sucked in so what do I do? Not buy the paper and just go all-in on-line? Or change my reading habits once again.
My head was still spinning about this 2 weeks ago in the green room before going on CTL with Tribsters Phil Rodgers and Paul Sullivan. When I started teasing them about their barricade, Sully asked if I was on Twitter. He thought that was a way to solve my problem. Easy for you to say.
What is Twitter?
When this blog was added to CSNChicago, in addition to its original home at HarryCarays.com, I was also introduced to the world of Facebook and Twitter.
As you would guess, my transition was not exactly easy. The way I can go on, and on, and on.(Again, I heard that!) doesnt readily translate. But FB has proven to be a great home for my blog and to promote my real job.
Twitter was not as easy. Trying to tweet from behind the bar, doesnt really work. People would rather talk, than watch me type on my phone.
So honestly, I havent given Twitter a thought in years, given my impression that it was something that I had to provide content for, in short repeated bursts, on a daily basis to remain relevant. It just seemed like too much work.
I never really turned it around for what it could provide, or what it has become.
Once I was able to get in that is. For the life of me, I could not get back into my original account. I guess they didnt miss me that much! What to do? Open a new account, thats what. My first surprise was how many other Frankie Os there are out there when I tried to get my new username. None the less I was able to find one and you can find me there at @frankieofoshow.
I havent uttered a tweet and I already have 14 followers, how cool is that?
But the really cool thing is that I can follow whoever I want, and get all sort of content from them. The last couple nights Ive been like a sailor on shore leave adding more people. In 4 nights Im up to 225.
And thats where my new issue comes in: How in the world do you get off Twitter?
Its a constant stream of entries on my phone, and when you open one, you cant stop.
It is the new virtual newspaper made up however you want.
Pretty cool stuff.
Look at me hopping onboard the new millennium!
Its going to be fun figuring out how to use my new reading toy and where it can take me.
As usual, Im late to the party, but old habits die hard. And coincidentally enough, something very strange happened on Wednesday, (Besides WCL!) for the first time in memory, and Im talking double-digit years, I did not buy a single paper. The truly amazing part though, was that when I realized this when I got home, I didnt turn around and go out start scouring downtown Mokena for one. In years past if this happened, I would feel sick about it for days.
So, Im thinking this is a good thing, and maybe Ive turned a virtual page on one of my many issues.
Only time will tell, but theres a late addition to my Christmas wish list, its my new must-read book: Twitter for Dummies.