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You Know You're Living in 2006 If...

Jokes make the rounds via Internet e-mail all the time. Good jokes, bad jokes, clean jokes, dirty jokes, long and short jokes, old ones and new ones. Some of them aren't really jokes, exactly, like the old standbys about blondes or the fellow who goes into a bar. They're more like shrewd little observations about modern life that make us smile.

One set going around begins with the line, You know you are living in 2006 if . . . And what follows says a lot about the hurried, complex, techno-absorbed world in which most Americans live.

For instance, on a list forwarded to us by veteran broadcaster Jim Slade in West Virginia: You know you are living in 2006 if you accidentally enter your computer password on the microwave. . . . you have 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three . . . or you e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you. Or you leave your house without your cellphone, which you managed perfectly well without for the first 20 or 60 years of your life, but now panic and turn around to retrieve.

As Mr. Slade asks in his footnote, What's to become of us when our helpful conveniences are overwhelming us?

Every American could add to this list. We know it's 2006, for instance, when disk space has nothing to do with the spine; infections and viruses have no medical meaning; there's no paste beneath wallpaper; bytes have nothing to do with fish, rams with sheep, or hardware with nails.

It's certainly 2006 -- and not 1906 or even 1996 -- when you hear words like gigabytes and peripherals, cache memory and URLs in general conversation.

What in the world are we talking about? Don't ask us. Ask our kids.