Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gadget Envy and the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

In Alberta, Canada there is an interpretive museum called Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, one of the most appropriately (if not succinctly) named places I have ever beheld.  Dating back to pre-historic times, it is one of the locations where the Blackfoot tribes used to hunt buffalo, quite ingeniously really...though in a manner that would surely make the PETA folks shudder, to say the least. 

Lacking horses or any sort of modern weaponry, the natives had to rely on their knowledge of the buffalo themselves, their grazing patterns and social behavior, and such.  They would drive them, instilling fear by dressing as wolves or coyotes, and then guiding them along a path bordered by stacks of small stones called cairns.  At the end of the path was a small cliff, not much more than thirty feet or so, and thus not so easily distinguished from the flat earth behind it, at least not in the confusion of a virtual stampede.  Inevitably, the first few dozen amongst the herd would be driven right over the edge onto the large rocks below, and...well, the name of the place can fill you in on the rest of the story.  Only the slacker buffalo in the back of the herd had enough time to stop.

And in a completely unrelated matter...
The other day I saw a commercial for AT&T.  There are two guys tailgating at a football game, sitting in lawn chairs and staring at their phones...and by the way, is it still called a phone?  Perhaps I should play it safe and call it a gadget.  Anyway, these two guys are flicking their fingers around the gadgets as other men come up to report a stolen tiger mascot, an injured player, or asking how to post a video amongst all the essential bits of data that must be brought into the constant stream of information in the modern world.  And the two men, apparently possessing this technological giant's superior technology, mockingly inform the men who approach that their news is "so twelve seconds ago"...or in one poor sap's case, a full twenty-seven seconds ago.  Sucker!  And these other men, obviously from the Stone Age, are left to stare in wonder and awe at the "4G speed" of this new technology.

I imagine the intended effect was for me to feel the same sort of gadget envy.  But little did the folks at AT&T know, they had lost me at "4G"...leaving me in a technology-induced state of idiocy, blabbering aloud "Oooh looky there, a tiger!"  and pointing at the screen.  (O.K., I exaggerate...I didn't actually point at the screen.)  And then a short while after that, wallowing in my utter shame and technological emasculation, I thought of a t-shirt I once saw:

The problem is, I do not particularly feel the need to know what "4G" means...or for that matter, to know what Snooki just tweeted, or to have all the news of the world in the palm of my hand...(I'd probably only ever check on the Mets score anyway, and why spend all that money to inflict only pain?)  I guess you could say I was dragged into the 21st Century rather reluctantly.  I do have a cell phone.  It is a phone.  I know that, because I speak to people (who are not in the same room as I am) on it.  Unfortunately, I will have to get rid of it shortly and replace it with a new one because the battery is dying out and my phone is practically pre-historic...a 2006 model...the horror, the horror!!  (As I type, my head is hung low in appropriate shame, I assure you.) 

See, the last time the battery died was about a year and a half ago, and when I brought it in to get a replacement the man at the counter snickered as if I'd just asked him where they kept their 8-track tapes.  Then he shook his head in a pitying sort of way - sort of how the two "4G" men in the commercial did at those "so twelve seconds ago" fools - and he told me they didn't make that model anymore, nor the batteries for it.  But then the assistant manager came up with a box of old exchanged phones tossed in with all the care reserved for single shoes without a mate, and the word "orphans" inscribed on the side.  The two of them fished through for a few moments until lo and behold, there was one that matched mine exactly, bravely providing an organ donation of its still-functioning battery.  I don't suppose there will be any such orphans around when I go back this time.  So I will have to leap forward a few more least phone-wise.

Lately there has been much technological progress in my life.  Two years ago I didn't really know what "blog" meant as a noun, and now I know it as a verb.  As in, "I blog".  ("Oh, so sorry to hear it treatable?")  I am on Facebook, too.  I even have a website (forgive me Walt Whitman). 

So added all together, I figure that brings me up to sometime in 2008 or so, technologically speaking.  (See those "links" I included up above?  Yeah, I did that.).  But I hope it isn't much beyond that.  In fact, I have no interest in being any less than three years behind on this particular stampede...errr, technological advance.  Sure, the scenery is always the same, but how else is a slacker to know when it's time to stop?

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, humans are no longer encouraged to use there brains and troubleshoot anymore.. Now you can just google the Buffalos location and I too believe a phone should still just be a phone. I feel like these devices are talking to each other and sharing all of our personal information .It's like the plot of Terminator is coming to fruition and one day Artificial Intelligence will
    become aware and strike back. I wonder who will
    rise up and become Our "NEO" that day and save us from this modern day Matrix