Memories under the bed
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Ron Cruger
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The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers
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The world is zooming by
          A few years ago it was estimated that the total store of human knowledge was doubling every eight years. Today human knowledge is more than doubling in the same octet of years.
          Science and technology are moving at breakneck speed to change our lives. It is approximated that eighty percent of all the scientists who have ever lived are alive today. Every minute they add two thousand pages to humankind’s scientific knowledge and this scientific material would take one person five years to read. There are about a half-million new books published every year.
          To put this increase of knowledge in pictorial means, imagine this. When Apollo Thirteen was lost in space, computers worked out in ninety minutes a way to bring them back. Scientists reported that it would have taken them, without computers, working with pen and paper, over a million years to figure out how to perform the same calculations.
          And then there’s me!
          I’m holding on by the skin of my teeth. I’m like one of those rock climbers, stuck holding on to some smooth rocks in the mountainside. I’m a couple of slipping grips away from quickly finding the bottom of the canyon – like splat!
          Technically speaking, I’m rapidly falling behind.
          Just as I catch on to the limited use of my cellular telephone out comes a covey of new fangled cell phones that take pictures, catch the internet, send text messages, predict the weather, show television programs, get you a date and whistle Dixie. Some of these new phone gadgets can perform thousands of applications. Me? I’m in my third week of trying to figure out how to do the “speed dial” feature on my cell phone.
          I loved my IBM Selectric typewriter. Only got rid of it a couple of years ago and replaced it with my computer and Microsoft Word.
          I’m working my way up to an electric toothbrush (are you sure you can’t get electrocuted?).
          I still forget and open the car door with a key, instead of using the clicker gadget.
          I still walk fast past the microwave, just in case those leaking electrons have eyes for my manly parts.
          I still wake up and check the automatic lawn sprinklers to make sure the electronic gadget is turning the sprinklers on and then off correctly.
          I prefer to pay my bills by check. Somehow, I’m not trusting enough to ask my computer to pay the electric company on time, before they turn off the juice.
          I still have a closet full of audio cassettes containing music, lectures and shows. I used to listen to the tapes in the car when I drove someplace, but cars don’t come with audio cassette players anymore.
          I’ve saved the front pages of newspapers containing the headlines of great events such as man landing on the moon, Kennedy assassinated, war in Iraq, the attack on the World Trade Center. I know that someday my great grandchildren will ask, “What are those,” pointing to the newspapers.
          I still have some special tools I used to use to tune up my cars. Like a set of feeler gauges, spark plug cleaners, point gauges, timing tools. I haven’t used them in a score of years, but I can’t get myself to throw them out.
          What brought all of this up was a trip to Costco, the big, big membership discount store. I wanted to buy a couple of rolls of 35 mm color film. I remember, not too long ago, they stocked mountains of photographic film, right across from the film developing area. Today, the film is gone. They don’t sell it anymore. I also noticed that the developing area has undergone a change. A few of those giant automatic developing machines are no longer there. Instead there are those smaller, computerized gadgets. You place the tiny computer chip from your digital camera in a slot and your pictures are displayed on a screen. Poke your finger on the picture and in less than an hour you have your pictures, all printed out nice and neat. How do they do that?
          I have a nice, little digital camera, that I must admit, takes pictures that are as good as the two Canon AE-1’s I’ve had for ten years.
          I have books all over the house. Books of all kinds. I have a hunch that in a few years my great grandchildren will point at the books and ask, “What are those?”
          I have television sets that stick out two feet in the back. When they go bad I’ll have to replace them with those flat, bright, clear ones. Maybe I’ll like HD.
          I became embarrassingly aware of my clinging to these mechanical doo-dads when I recently retired the household fax machine. Haven’t used it in two years. The computer has taken its place.
          I unplugged the fax, neatly wound the cord, wrapped the machine in a white plastic bag and headed for the repository of “old and tired things.” In the bedroom, under the king sized bed is the dark place where magic things go to die.
          There, under the bed, each carefully protected in plastic bags are the following – one portable, manual typewriter, two full-sized electric typewriters, one Sony 8 mm video camera, two perfectly good professional model Polaroid cameras, one box of one season’s worth of “Odd Couple” television shows. New additions are the two Canon 35 mm film cameras, two fax machines, a set of twelve old time radio “Shadow” programs on audio cassettes and a slightly used battery operated blood pressure gauge.
          I really should get rid of these things. They’re only memories of an age passed.
          Then I think of where I bought most of the things that now rest under the bed.
          White Front Stores, Fedco, Kresge’s, Montgomery Ward.
          They’re gone too.