So much for electronic gadgetry

Published 10:50 am Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What on earth did we do prior to cell phones?

What about laptops?

How ‘bout IPhones, Android, tablets and texting for that matter?

Before we know, technology will advance to the point where everybody who wants to be somebody will have miniature satellite dishes attached to their skulls and fax messages exiting their navels.

What did we do prior to all this electronic gadgetry?

Please don’t tell me you’re drawing a blank to that question. Wasn’t it only a few years ago where in order to discuss business or pleasure we took the time to speak to each other on an old-fashioned land-line telephone? Or maybe we did the unthinkable….dare I say it….we actually sat down for a face-to-face meeting.

Now we squeeze in a few moments of conversation while either (a) on a cell phone en route to work or a meeting while at the same time are oblivious that the light just turned green because we’re preoccupied with sending a text message; or (b) typing out a quick, as well as impersonal, e-mail from our smart phone, tablet or laptop.

We have become a nation, no make that a world, obsessed with technology.

We couldn’t be just satisfied with a home computer…no, we wanted convenience and portability so we invested in laptops, and eventually smart phones and/or tablets. Now you can’t even enjoy a nice, quiet meal at a restaurant without having some bozo at the next table taking advantage of wireless technology and conducting his business between the salad and the main course.

We weren’t satisfied with just a cell phone. Gee, why talk to someone when you can send them a text message. What’s the purpose of having a cell phone to start with when all you do is send text messages?

And as a veteran photographer – first film and now high-resolution digital – don’t even get me started on camera phones. Now the whole world thinks they’re Ansel Adams.

There was once an old saying in the workplace that we had a ball and chain tied to our ankles. Now we have the freedom to roam, but please don’t forget your laptop, smart phone or tablet.

To prove my point, please read the following scenario:

A cowpoke in West Texas was herding his cows in a remote pasture when suddenly a BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him.

The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, “If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?”

The cowboy looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, “Sure, why not?”

The yuppie whips out his IPhone, connects to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location. He transfers that information to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds, he receives an email that the image has been processed. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

“You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves,” says the yuppie.

“That’s right; you can take one of my calves,” replies the cowboy.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and stuff it into the trunk of his car.

Then the cowboy says to the young man, “Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?”

“Okay, why not,” is the answer.

“You’re a U.S. Congressman,” says the cowboy.

“Wow! That’s correct,” says the yuppie, “but how did you guess that?”

“No guessing required.” answered the cowboy. “You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You tried to show me how much smarter you are than me and you don’t know a thing about cows. Now give me back my dog.”

So much for technology!


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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