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Jewish World Review Dec. 13, 2001 / 28 Kislev, 5762

Lenore Skenazy

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Consumer Reports

Palm Pilot or Calendar? Paper Wins -- OKAY, okay. We're very impressed. You are so busy with such a stimulating life that you can't possibly keep track of it all on a plain old paper calendar. You know, the kind used by slackers throughout history, like Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein.

No, you've got to whip out your Palm Pilot and start pecking away like some high-tech chicken. Good for you.

As for me and the rest of my ilk — the salt of the earth — we are out purchasing our practical, pencil-friendly calendars.

The kind that don't go blank when you've got to pick up your boss but can't remember when.

Or where.

"I just like to see 30 days laid out before me," says Lisa Midwood. "I like to X off each day. I like to dramatically flip the page to a new month."

Headhunter Andy Aaron likes a calendar he can spill his coffee on and not ruin his desk. Or his calendar. And these are just the blotter-size aficionados.

Then there are the millions who still prefer to tote a datebook with a slim silk ribbon — often the only silk ribbon in our lives.

"I take my calendar with me everywhere," says Jackie Herships. "It doesn't hum, it can't crash and I don't need anyone to teach me how to use it."

(FYI, Jackie, you can teach yourself. "Palm for Dummies" is just 336 pages!)

Sue Cole, whose company actually promotes information technology, still can't fathom the Palm appeal: "Say you need to look up the time of that oh-so-important client meeting next week. I've got my calendar in front of me, my colleague has his Palm Pilot. I have — yes — written the information in the neat little square provided for this purpose. My colleague is standing there with the little pencil thing, pushing tiny buttons."

She gets to the meeting. He gets to play electronic solitaire at the unemployment office.

Games are just one of the many features Palm people brag about when they're not gloating. "I couldn't live without mine!" "So convenient!" "So advanced!" "It's my very best friend!"

That one (made up, granted) is more like it. I mean, if these geeks were really so popular that their social lives required a spreadsheet ... why are they always sitting by themselves, staring at their screens?

Palmists may suggest that this disdain is rooted in some deep technological deficit. To which we reply: "Hah." (Well, almost "Hah." Could someone please tell me how to pick up my cell phone voice mail?) But there are plenty of paper lovers who actually gave Personal Digital Assistants — PDAs — a chance.

Marie Ginther was at her son's hockey game the other day when she took out her datebook. The dad next to her flourished his Palm and said, "Let me show you the future!"

"I had one of those two years ago, and I hated it," Ginther replied. "It was too small, and I couldn't see the past."

She's right. Many of us save our old calendars like diaries. With a PDA, you can never look back to see how your writing has changed. Or your taste in friends.

"I thought if I embraced the Palm lifestyle, I'd become this highly efficient individual," says Stephanie Cohen of Manhattan. "But I never actually remembered to bring it with me."

Fear not, Stephanie. Your Palm can still serve an organizing purpose!

It's a great place to stick your Post-it notes.

JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, New York Daily News