Lights Out

Power outages. How fun are they? I mean, who doesn't want to be without light, water, phones or air conditioning? And if you're stuck in an elevator, well, that just adds to the adventure of it all, especially if you're the two guys bringing lunch for everyone. Well, at least they won't starve to death. Nor will I, actually, since I'm on the right side of the elevator doors. That is, until the generator powering the airlocks, ahem, automatic doors shuts down in half an hour and we're all stuck in here. In the dark.

But wait! What is that light at the end of the circulation hallway? It's a phone... it's an iPod... it's, it's... it's got a web browser? It must be the almighty iPhone come to save us! What? You mean it doesn't have an application for prying elevators open or teaching you to read electrical diagrams? Well, that's disappointing. The least it could do is make me lunch. Hey! That'd be a handy feature. Apple, you should get on that. You know, you never think of all the neat things you wish you had until you're in a life-thwarting situation without them. Maybe if we threatened all the techno-geeks with imminent danger, they'd come up with better apps.

All right, I think two paragraphs is enough vaguely caustic wittiness for one day. But seriously, let's talk about the iPhone. I will not deny that it's a useful tool, cliche though it might be, and darn it, touch screens are just plain fun. However, it lost some of its charm this afternoon when I remembered that it is, in fact, just another phone with an internet connection. And a slow one, at that--granted, that may be due more to the location than the technology.

Anyway, while the city was busy reliving its pre-Edison days, a man came in looking for a particular article. I thought, what a great chance to use the e-edition! So, I unlock my keys, hit the shortcut on my home screen, and... I wait. And wait and wait and wait some more. Note: 3G does not exist in Abilene, TX. Not to worry, though.

Apparently, someone way back when decided since they didn't have a tool that could help them store, organize and cross-reference issues all in one place efficiently, they should make one. Hooray for human innovation! The result? Nope, not a computer. A very large yellow book that contains all of the ARN issues printed for the last however many decades (I'm sure it's less than that, but who's counting?).

No longer shall I scoff at man's ability to compete with advanced technology. The aforementioned gentleman found the article, picked up the corresponding paper, paid and left before the first page had loaded. It is true that the ability to trawl the vast depths of the internet in milliseconds is usually much simpler and more convenient than walking to the library, but I think that it's made us feel superior to prior eras for the wrong reasons. 80-year-old librarians have skills that I will never possess because I won't have the opportunity to develop them. That big yellow book might seem primitive, but it fills a need and, today at least, it did it better than the best that trendy, mainstream America has to offer.

Isn't that the point of any tool? If it makes humans more productive, it has value, which is why the internet is such an incredible creation. We should be careful not to lean too heavily on our technological crutches, or we may entirely forget how to walk. Or worse, how to entertain ourselves when the lights go out.


  1. I guess everything is alright up there? I recieved my paper this morning.

  2. The power's back on, if that's what you mean. It has been for about a week. Don't worry, the paper stops for no one. Or power outage.