Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brave New World

One day, technology is going to make all of our lives so much simpler. I, for one, can hardly wait.

The first camera that I ever used was my sister Xandy's Brownie Starmite, probably without her knowledge or permission.

It was a small, plastic box with a mediocre lens, a moderate shutter speed and a little reflector about the size and shape of a espresso cup into which you could insert tiny, blue one shot flashbulbs. There were a few other cameras in our house, and I think that they all used the same 127mm (2"x 2") roll film.

Brownie Starmite
I can remember my mom complaining to her brother George, the newspaper photographer, about the ridiculously little pictures that those cameras all took, and poor Uncle George trying, as patiently as he was able, to explain the concept of contact prints to his big sister.

* * *

When the operator made her polite request, "number, please?", I only had to remember a word and five digits. Our home telephone number was ALpine 5-1881. The phone that I recall was a heavy, shiny, black instrument with a rotary dial. The thing I remember best about it is that the receiver always felt cold against my ear.

There was never any question of using it outside of the house - our only telephone was attached to one wall of a single room of our house on Salisbury Drive (the kitchen, I think). If you were near enough to pick up the receiver before the phone's sixth ring, you got your call.

There was no voice-mail, but there was a notepad and stubby pencil on a little shelf near the telephone. If the relative who answered the phone could reach the pad and pencil, and had already learned how to print, it was remotely possible that you would get your message.

* * *

Commodore 64
I enjoy lying to younger people (almost everyone these days) about my own deprived, spartan adolescence. One of my most cherished mendacities is that my first computer was a flat rock and a burnt stick. In point of fact, it was a Commodore 64 (almost as bad).

It was a slow, awkward noisy clunker that might still be adequate to my skills and needs, if I'm perfectly honest.

* * *

LG Optimus 1
Two weeks ago, the Tall Lady and I renewed our cell phone contracts. Because the price was right, and because, like most higher primates, I like shiny, bright things, I persuaded her that we should adopt a pair of pretty, little android smartphones.

Not only is mine smart, at times it can be condescending, arrogant and derisive! It is a good telephone, an acceptable camera and a better computer than the poor, ol' Commodore ever was. It is also a jukebox, an address book, an appointment calendar, and could be used as an alarm clock, if our six cats ever sleep in.

It can connect to the Internet through our provider's network, or through other wireless networks, including the one the Tall Lady and I have at home. Personally, I think that it's conspiring about something with all of those other smartphones, but I can never catch them at it.

Winnie, the nice Telus lady who introduced us to our new phones, informed us that we can enrol in a part-time university course to learn how to use them more effectively.

I miss my burnt stick!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Lee,
    I can relate.
    Despite my "youth", I am very old school, ... in fact, I sense myself regressing with time, as the world seems to spin faster. A couple of years ago, my father asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I admitted that I really wanted to own a good fountain pen, one that you had to fill with ink from a jar. (The Vancouver Pen Shop on Hastings fulfilled my wish).
    I hadn't thought of the burnt stick, but maybe I will get there... perhaps with the help of a few marshmallows around the campfire. In my books, a sweet tooth is the mother of invention.