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Try not to be a pain in the neck

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Feb 28, 2021

I have a pain in the neck.

Please note that I said I HAVE a pain in the neck, not that I AM a pain in the neck. Although there are many who might feel the second phrase is pretty true, as well.

The pain in my neck became bad enough to make me decide to go to the doctor and then on to physical therapy to seek some relief.

There I learned that I am not alone. The wonderful physical therapists at United Hospital District see many people with pain in their necks. And probably a few who the therapists think are pains in the neck, as well.

The doctor, physical therapists and I all agree that the cause of the pain in my neck is more than likely from hours and hours in front of the computer. And poor posture while sitting in front of the computer. And from wearing bifocals, which cause a person to tilt their head back in order to look down through the lower part of their glasses at the computer monitor.

My job requires many hours in front of the computer, as do many other occupations.

However, it wasn’t always the case during my career. When I first started out in this crazy newspaper business, I didn’t have to spend hour upon hour hunched over a computer.

I joke with people, especially my grandkids, that when I first became a newspaper editor I was completely computer illiterate.

The reason, of course, is that there were no computers. Call it grandpa humor. All I get are groans.

I wrote my stories on a thing called a typewriter. And I want you to know that I had blazing speed on that old typewriter. The reason I was so fast was, I didn’t worry about accuracy. I typed those stories up as fast as my brain could formulate the words I wanted to use.

You see, after the story was done, I went through it all with my red pen and corrected everything, sometimes adding whole new handwritten phrases, drawing arrows, making spelling corrections and lots of changes to the “news copy.”

I could do that because the typed up story was going to go to my typesetter person who would retype it all into whatever typesetting machine we had at the time. The typesetter person often had to ask me what the heck the scribbled editing notes all over the page meant.

I did not sit at my typewriter very much back in those olden days. Only to write up some stories and nothing else.

There were plenty of times I skipped the typewriter and just handwrote my stories. After all, they were all just going to have to be retyped by the typesetter person anyway, just like all the other news items brought into our office.

These days we spend hours at our computer doing “page layout” where we put the whole newspaper together using programs like QuarkExpress and InDesign. However, back in those olden days, we actually stood at layout tables and used scissors to cut and trim the stories, put wax on the backside of the paper and paste the stories and ads onto the full newspaper page sized layout sheets. That meant hours of standing and walking around the layout tables every Tuesday afternoon – and no sitting at all.

We created our photos in a darkroom back then, not on a computer using a program called PhotoShop like we do now. And I stood, not sat, in the darkroom for many hours.

And, back in those days, I did not have to spend hour after hour going through the hundreds of emails an editor gets each and every day. Because, as you have previously figured out, there was no email back in those days.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This column is not about an old guy telling you about the good old days, and how much better things were back then. OK, it sort of is that.

However, I love doing this work on a computer. No more hours of breathing in bad chemicals in the darkroom. And now we can do so many more creative layout and design techniques on a computer than we ever could do with cut and paste.

But, there is a price to pay. In my case the price is a pain in the neck. And, it makes me worry about the current younger generation, which includes my own grandkids. They spend many hours of screen time at computers and hunched over looking at their phones. (Which is another thing I didn’t have to do back in the olden days, since for years I didn’t have a cell phone, because, once again, there weren’t any.)

My advice to you is to put down the phone, sit up straight at the computer desk and get up from the chair as often as you can – move, stretch and try and get at least a little exercise every day.

Oh yes, my other advice is to stay away from people who are pains in the neck. They are just no fun at all.