'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
NEW THINGEE ENTERS THE 21ST CENTURY
I officially entered the 21st century the other day. I traded in my regular cell phone at work for a multi-functional BlackBerry-style wireless device. (For all I know it might actually be a BlackBerry brand product, but the writing on it is so tiny I can’t really say for sure.)
Besides being a cell phone, my new, um, thingee (I’m not sure what to call it, so until I can think of something better, I’ll go with thingee) has an appointment calendar, a database of contacts’ names and phone numbers, email service, and Internet web browsing. I’m sure all these functions are wonderful and come in handy for a certain type of person—the type who was born with eyesight similar to that of an electron microscope.
You see, the thingee has a viewing screen about the same size as a airmail postage stamp, which means if you want, for example, to look up someone’s phone number in the Contacts database, it’s a lot like looking at a regular phone book—from 1,000 yards away.
The thingee also is capable of dozens of other functions, from videos to music to games, if I want to take the time to load those programs onto it. But since I can’t figure out how to make the basic functions work, I suspect I’ll get around to loading additional functions about the same time Britney Spears wins the Mother of the Year award.
If you think the viewing screen is small, wait until you see the size of the keyboard. One of the major advantages of BlackBerry type thingees—or so I’ve been told—is that they have full QWERTY keyboards. By the way, the letters QWERTY represent the keys on a typical typewriter or computer keyboard, going from left to right on the top row, which means there is an individual key for each letter. This is suppose to make typing fast and easy. Uh huh.
One of the major disadvantages of BlackBerry type thingees—which no one ever told me—is that each key on the QWERTY keyboard is approximately the same size as a hydrogen atom. I can press six different keys at once with my thumb. So typing a message may be fast and easy, but it’s has the same level of accuracy as typing on a regular computer keyboard using two grapefruits.
The first time I tried to send an email message, to inform a client that I would stop by his office later in the afternoon, this is what I wrote:
bee a yur offfce # 33 pm..
Not surprisingly, when I did show up at his office at 3 p.m., he was not expecting me. (Maybe he thought I was scheduled to arrive at 33 p.m.)
Even more frustrating than being unable to see or use the thingee with any degree of accuracy, is the fact that countless smart-aleck whippersnappers (defined as anyone under age 45) are merrily typing away on their thingees all day long—and are enjoying it! What’s the matter with these people?
I was traveling with one of these whippersnappers a few months ago, and I swear, he was driving 75 mph on the Merritt Parkway during rush hour, steering the car with his elbows while he furiously typed with his two thumbs on his thingee. I guess to some folks sending an email instantaneously is more important than, say, staying alive.
So as I mentioned earlier, I’ve officially entered the 21st century. Although based on how much clear communication is actually taking place, it might turn out that I’ve officially entered the 9th century.
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