Friday, February 1, 2008

Technology . . . ain't it grand?

By Lonnie Cruse


That Ronzoni pasta advertisement on television reminds me of my childhood. Not because of the pasta but because of Ronzoni's, the huge department store that was once and long ago located in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, waaay back in the fifties. One of my favorite dresses of all time came from there. Pink and grey striped (or was it checked?) HUGE puff sleeves, tight waist, full skirt. Those were the days. Rarely find a department or dress store in ANY downtown area in this decade. It's all about the malls. Which somehow brings me to technology. Okay, hang onto my shirt tail and you won't get lost. Really.

Since the time of the aforementioned dress, I've seen a lot of amazing changes in the world. Computers that were the size of a room now fit on our laps. People chat on phones while shopping at stores that sell everything from lettuce to lamps, with Leggos located on aisle five. Have a directional problem (which Sandy Parshall and I seem to share) get a GPS system. And I do adore my Tom Tom. My friend, Ann, got another brand and I must tell you hers is downright rude if you miss a designated turn. Mine scratches its little electronic head and reroutes me. So there.

High deffinition television puts us right on the mountain top with the elk or mountain goats or deep in the desert with the meerkats. It's almost like being there in person. Machines wash not only our clothes but our dishes as well, and small ovens now heat our supper in seconds. Palm devices (and cell phones and other like units) keep our address books, calendars (reminding us to be where and when) and some even hold books for us to read, right there on the little screen. MP3s or iPods let us take tons of pictures and music everywhere we go, or even better, books on tape. (I love being able to download practically any book I want off Net Library and listen to it on my MP3.) We are truly in an electronic age and I shudder to think of what would happen if all the batteries in the world suddenly disappeared. And by the way, does anybody know if that irritating little pink bunny is still going and going, banging on that noisy drum?

Is there a point here? I sure hope so. Many of the items I've listed above were not available to the general public when I was growing up, or even as a very young newlywed. And we've all come to enjoy and depend on them. Trust me, anybody who tries to take my Tom Tom is dead. Totally. But I have to wonder what the next fifty to seventy-five years will bring in the way of amazing inventions for my grandchildren to use and depend on. Every now and then I see a television program about someone who has moved to a very remote spot like the volcano some guy lives on/near in Hawaii (all his neighbors have left, he checks the lava level every day, and he could die there if it suddenly decides to belch) or the back woods of Montana, the middle of the Nevada desert, etc. These folks choose to live alone, with no neighbors, no modern conveniences, and they survive. And they seem happy. Don't think I could do it. Yet I do worry that we are overly dependant on electronics.

As for hubby and me, yeah, we have most of the modern conveniences. We also have coal oil lamps and a fireplace for those times when the power goes out and we are stuck out here in the country with modern-day conveniences that suddenly don't work. But as a writer, I'd be hard put to survive without my laptop, Internet access, Alphasmart, cell phone, etc. They keep me going and keep me on time. I have a very old typewriter that belonged to a friend sitting on top of my bookshelf in my office. I enjoy glancing at it from time to time, remembering how I first learned to type. I have no desire to get any closer to it than that.

So how have all these electronic helps actually helped you? And can you imagine doing whatever you do without them? I'm afraid they've pretty much spoiled me.



Darlene Ryan said...

I know I could survive without my MP3 player but I'd miss it. I love being able to make my own playlists and even organize music to suit the mood of the project I'm working on.

On the other hand there are still things I like to do the old fashioned way. I still scrub the kitchen floor on my hands and knees with a scrub brush.

Cheryl Hollon said...

My favorite electronic device was the answering machine. Such freedom. You didn't need to be home for important calls.

Now, of course, the number displays on our HD TV and we get to ignore the telemarketeers. Life is good!

Sandra Parshall said...

I couldn't survive without my portable CD player. I listen to dozens of full-length recordings of books every year. I still have my cassette player, but I always try to get CDs if the library has them because the difference in sound quality is phenomenal. I also love our digital cable service, which lets us pause and rewind programs as they air and record on a hard disk. Much nicer than fussing with tapes. None of this helps me get my writing done, of course.