For the longest time, I wrestled with the idea of owning an iPad. I had a smart phone, which fit neatly in my pocket, and I had a computer that fit neatly in my basement.  I didn’t see the point of owning another gadget, especially since I was still unskilled in the two electronic devices I already had. Then came the answer to my prayers:  iPad For Seniors, For Dummies. It doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, does it?

The Dummies series includes more than 260 publications. I own Living Vegan for Dummies and Backyard BBQ for Dummies (I go through phases). Years ago, I wanted to learn how to throw my voice but was disappointed to find there was no Ventriloquism for Dummies available.

The author of this new iPad book, Nancy Muir, has published more than 100 articles on technology and is a leading software consultant.  I assume she is about 11 years old, because no one my age could know that much about computers.
The intro begins by noting that this is “a book for people who have no experience with tablets.” I don’t think I’m unique, but I take several tablets every morning. The writer explains that the book was written for the target audience of mature people, but no matter how simple Nancy tries to make this, if you are north of 50, you are going to have to resist having a tantrum after the first three pages.

Also in the introduction: “With your new iPad, you’ll learn how to have fun. You can explore the online world, organize your receipts and look at naughty videos.”  (It doesn’t really say that last one, but including that information might finally entice some seniors into the Apple Store.)

The section “How to Choose the Right iPad for You” is more sage advice from the expert. Here, we learn that there are different styles and that “the new ones are getting lighter and thinner—great for the older population.” This sounds more like ad copy for Depends.
And this section: “How Much Memory Do You Need?” Coincidentally, this is also the name of a free brochure now available at my geriatrician’s office. There’s also advice on whether to purchase an iPad that uses only Wi-Fi, or to invest in a device that also has 3G. The author asks: “Do you want to use your iPad only at home or do you want to walk around with it?” This makes the 3G version a perfect gift for my uncle Leo, who occasionally disappears at night and wanders off into the forest.

There is also a chapter on how to shuffle, a program that takes all your music—in my case, that would be my three Neil Sedaka songs—and plays them in random order. My wife hates it when I shuffle. That’s why she hid my open-back slippers.

I had trouble understanding a lot of stuff in the book, which made me feel very dumb. That’s when I decided it was time to buy another one of the actual top-sellers in the series: Self-Esteem for Dummies.
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When I show up to see my CPA at tax time, Clare clears her desk so I can spread out all my shoeboxes filled with receipts. First, she asks how much income I had last year.  That’s when I say: “It’s always about money with you people, isn’t it?”
When I walked in this week, she said, “Well, if it isn’t Brian Williams!” I was flattered, and not surprised that she mistook me for the dashing NBC reporter, but my ego was soon deflated when she explained the reference. “I saw your column in the paper, the one where you claim that you never procrastinate. You even boasted you completed your 2014 taxes in January.” Then she directed the tip of her well-sharpened number two pencil at the huge stack of papers I had piled on her desk. I got the point. I must have turned red because Clare jotted down something on her legal pad. Any reference to being in the red has to be carefully documented.

I told my wife about my experience with Clare,  and Mary Ellen said that after reading my columns over the years, she noticed that a disturbing of pattern of deception had clearly developed. “Like Brian Williams, you have become very adept at manipulating the facts to benefit your own career. Of course, Brian is way better than you at it,” she said, “by about 9.94 million dollars a year.”
I thought that ended the discussion, but Mary Ellen then added: “I think you should go back to every one of your 800 columns and print a retraction for each exaggeration and flat-out lie you told. Here’s your opportunity to correct any references to me where I do not appear to be anything but the intelligent, loving wife that I am. Oh, and a superb cook.”
I was going to have a lot of work to do.
To test the waters, I flipped to a random newspaper humor column I’d written where I recounted how our camera had been stolen at the Bermuda airport and with it, all our vacation photos. I claimed that the thief saw my attached ID tag, and emailed the photos back to me along with a critique of my picture-taking ability. He even commented about how lovely my wife was. It was a little creepy, but he did offer some good advice on a more flattering hairstyle for Mary Ellen. The camera being stolen? Yes, that was true. The rest? Not so much.
I read another column. In this one I claimed I went into the garage one night without any clothes on to get a can of diet soda. The door locked behind me and I spent the entire night sleeping in my car, naked.  Here’s the truth: I was actually getting a can of beer. Okay, I feel better now.

I think Brian Williams should tell the public that even if it makes his stories less interesting, he will from this moment on always be 100 percent truthful. Personally, I’m not ready to make that promise.
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