Well, here we are at the beginning of 2010. It seems like just yesterday that we were all preparing to enter into a new century and wondering if all those computers would make the transition from 1999 to 2000. Somehow it all went smoothly with relatively no blips. And now, 10 more years have passed.

The other day, someone called our office asking where they might find a typewriter. This simple request made everyone in the office start to think about what has changed so dramatically in the last 25 to 50 years. As a matter of fact, I still do own a typewriter (electric) and it is hidden away somewhere in the basement.

We explained to the caller that it would be hard to find a typewriter, since most everyone now uses computers. It is hard to imagine how we ever got along without computers, on which we can pay our bills, manage our finances, plan our vacations, communicate with our family and friends, find tickets to plays, do our holiday shopping, order our groceries, and find out what the current temperature is anywhere in the world.

It is amazingly possible to talk to our niece who lives in a foreign country and even see her as we are talking through modern computer technology.

We talked about all the other things that have changed during this time span. Many remember playing 45’s on a record player. You only got to hear one song at a time. Now, we can download all our favorite music onto an iPod that fits neatly into our pockets as we go out walking to get our exercise. When was the last time you saw a phone booth or searched for the right change to be able to use a pay phone?

Thank goodness for cell phones, where we can be “in touch” from wherever we are, as long as we have remembered to keep it charged. Do you remember rotary dial phones and the days when we had “party” lines, and you would pick up the phone and hear some neighbor talking down the street. It was always so tempting to listen in to pick up some juicy news! Remember loading up on maps and having AAA draw the bright yellow line outlining the route for us to take to our desired destination? No maps needed now if we use our GPS.

Laptops are now so small that we can take them on airplanes to watch our own movies and not be subject by the ones the airline offers. Not to mention hand held iPhones which can do everything except make coffee.

As a former teacher from long ago, I remember mimeograph machines. Our fast, clean copiers are so much more efficient now and they can often be hooked up directly to our computers so we don’t even need a printer anymore. The postal service has definitely taken a hit in recent years with many people using email and even sending greeting cards on-line. Gone are the days of buying film for cameras and taking it to the store for developing. Some of us can remember having milk delivered to our homes every few days and having an easier job of finding a shoe repair person or a dry cleaner.

It is fun to think about how times have changed. As we enter into a new decade we will continue to see many more changes. I hope the one thing that does not change is the anticipation that life is full of surprises and that we need to appreciate all that life brings. Happy New Year! May it be a perfect 10 for each of you.

Joanne Byrne is senior services coordinator at Orange Community Services.