Robert Hitt Neill column

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 7, 2011

Rip Van Uncle wakes up to compooter age

Confession time: I am notoriously compooter illiterate.

Now of course I can get into this compooter and write my weekly syndicated column, as well as turn out a new book every couple of years.

It’s not particularly painful or dangerous to do that, as long as I keep an eye on this thing and have my two-pound hammer handy. I have noticed over the years that most technological implements, just like farm implements, behave better when the user brandishes such a tool when he cranks the machine up in the morning.

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It’s like when Momma used to make me go cut a switch before I was fixing to be tempted to get into trouble, making sure I cleaned out the chicken house before heading for the daily skinny-dipping party in the Mammy Grudge canal.

Like most seminary graduates, I am familiar with the Bible verse which states that compooters are Tools of Satan, and that “Internet” is actually “Ten Satans” spelt backwards, using the Hasmatic Code from II Hezikiah, of course.

However, with the publication in February of my 12th book, and the CD from the MS Kairos Music Team, my agent prescribed a complete renovation of my website, which had been sitting there unfinished because I didn’t know how to, after niece Catherine initiated it, then moved away.

It even had an e-mail address with it, although I didn’t know how to get to it, and admitted that, after which my pilot son-in-law John “Bookmarked” it on one compooter so that I could check it once a week, on that machine only. I didn’t know how to go to it otherwise, but wasn’t worried about it then.

Then this Facebook craze hit, and John fixed me up on that, too. Showed it to me: it even had pictures of me, one in prison, one directing the Choir.

Onliest thing was, again, I didn’t know how to go there. He showed me, of course, but it went right over my head – it was like he was talking Greek or something. Now and then I get a notification that someone has posted a comment on my “Wall,” but where in the Sam Hill my Wall is, I’ve got no clue. I get e-mails on my regular sites saying that “Fred Fodrod want to be your friend – click here to confirm.” I’ll click for good old Fred, and then that’s the last I hear about it.

Now there’s occasional mentions of Tweets or Twitters or Chats or Lifestyles or other stuff that I have no earthy idea how to reply to or what they mean, although I’ve been told that those are useful marketing tools for selling books and CDs. Y’all DO understand that the object of publishing a book is so that the author thereof can actually make a little money off of it, don’t you?

So, my fellow Kairos Prison Ministry musician friend-turned-agent and website designer, Texan Dale Mayer, after urging all this technological information upon me and explaining patiently time and time again how to use it to market books and CDs, suddenly exclaimed in frustration, “It’s like you went to sleep 25 years ago, and when you woke up, computers had invaded the world and taken over! You are not Uncle Bob, you are Rip Van Uncle!”

Helllll-ooooo!! This is the 21st Century!!

Now I’m supposed to go on-line and order books, to see how to encourage others to do that? I’d never done it before, except to fill out orders from my book printers. Pay for stuff with a credit card? Cut ‘em up 15 years ago!

Understand that we’ve been on slow dial-up out here at Brownspur until the past two months. Going to a website was an all-day affair; heck, I HAD a website at, and couldn’t even go there from the house, until Dale ran me through it last week, when he had finished renovating it.

Our four-year-old grandson Sir knows more about compooters than his Grunk, and has actually been some help to me in learning the trade. Should I be ashamed of me, or just extra-proud of Sir?

Heckfire, I’m going back to sleep. Wake me in ten years this time, Betsy!