The Rant 

Okay, I have about five minutes to write this, so bear with me. My home computer has decided that it will nowdo whatever it wants to do under any circumstances, period. No e-mail, no Internet,and only a frightening image of something that looks like a cannonball on fire on the screen. What I am typingnow may never be read. Oh, what a shame that would be. Right. Right in the middle of my factual information on George Bush cross-dress ... Oops. Busted again. See, technology and me just don't get along. Never have. I feel alienated from the world (and don't get me wrong; I'm not griping about that). Where I work -- at the fabulous Stax Museum of American Soul Music, a 17,000-square-foot museum with more than 2,000 exhibits, artifacts ... oh, sorry; I get so carried away with that -- they gave us the option of having something called a PDA. At first, embarrassed to ask someone what that meant, I thought it was either a college degree of some sort or a sexually transmitted disease. But they apparently are little devices that allow you to stick a little pin of some sort into a gizmo of some kind and get on the Internet, check e-mail, access your hard drive, check messages, return messages, erase messages (love that option!), send messages, check your blood pressure, cook a tuna-surprise casserole, shake the perfect martini, organize your finances, take care of the feathers all over your house because the duct tape on the down comforter covering the hole came off, remind you to turn off the flashing Jesus lamp on the wall, grow hair where there hasn't been any for 30 years, give you a discount at the liquor store, give you a Swedish massage (or better yet a massage in Peru, but what happens in Peru stays in Peru so no details on that one), do your laundry, defrost your freezer, clean your oven (these, of course, are things I have never done but fantasize about), block your television set from being able to display any footage of any sort of Demi Moore, pay the $10,567 in bills that come in the mail each month, conveniently mixed in with the "pre-approved" checks that are good for nothing other than identity theft, invent a mirror that makes you look at least 20 pounds lighter than you are, stop George Bush's eyes from involuntarily crossing during speeches, make Katie Couric stop dressing like a Nutcracker soldier, and remove that unsightly hair from your back. But I didn't get one and now I kind of wish I had. Only because it would have been empowering. See, I've convinced myself that I am too old for these kinds of things. Like a person in his or her golden years wearing something Madonna or Boy George might have donned in the 1980s, I think I would look silly sitting at a bar jabbing at the thing to communicate with someone. My younger friends and colleagues look fine doing it. Meanwhile, I talk on my cell phone that is big and heavy enough to cause blunt trauma to someone's head if I were to strike them with it. And don't think the thought hasn't crossed my mind. But I have somehow managed to learn to use another new gizmo that's making me feel better. I think it's called a flash drive, even though it doesn't flash or drive. It's a little critter about the size of a transistor radio battery (did I say "transistor" radio??) and apparently the contents of my entire computer can fit in it. I can also wear it around my neck as an accessory. It feels very James Bond-ish to me. If I wanted to, I could load my life story into it, along with a lot of really juicy information on a lot of fairly well-known people. I can pop it into any computer that has something called a USB drive (I think) and open all the files right then and there. I see quite a future in this. If, that is, I can keep up with it and not lose it and remember to load the information into it. Just last night I left myself a note: "Don't forget to load article into gizmo and don't leave it hanging on the doorknob." You better watch what you say around me from now on. I'll have it hanging around my neck at all times.


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