The More Things Change, the Less We Stay the Same

photo montageIn the dark on an airplane, I heard a click and it was accompanied by a quick flash of blue-white light. What followed was far more startling, though: first, a softly chattery rasping sound, repeated twice, rapidly. Then, the realization that I was hearing film being wound. It really wasn’t all that long ago that I’d’ve seen and heard these things without even taking note of them. But the world has changed dramatically, and all the more so have we within it.

It’s been a long time now since any flash of blinding light from an unseen source or any sound, however soft, of indeterminate mechanical movement has become the instant focus of suspicious thought.

Longer still, I realize, since I’ve been in the presence of anyone using a disposable film camera. That, of course, is what it was. It’s remarkable enough to have one appear like that and be struck by how long it’s been since I started expecting to only be around people taking photos that never need developing, shooting them with no sound, or with a distinctly artificial click, with their phones and digital tablets and pens and eyeglasses. Weirder still to realize how few years ago it was in reality that those disposable film cameras were on the cutting edge.photo montageThat is precisely, though, the way of the world. New ideas, inventions and technologies arise and supplant the ones we knew. The pace is ever more relentless and extreme. We fear the new in the instant of its inception, and seemingly minutes later, have forgotten even the existence of the old. One day’s science fiction is the ancient history of the next.

As always, I’m left in the wake of these little cataclysms wondering: what of today is soon to be obsolete? What strange marvels that are yet undreamed lie waiting in tomorrow’s dark? And where, in the midst of them, is the place I’ll occupy?photo montageI know that eventually I’ll lie forgotten in the jumbled janitor’s closet of history, as virtually all things and people once useful or known or loved eventually do. But like most animate beings, I do still harbor a whisper of hope that at least one person will remain for at least some little time after I’ve gone, still able and willing to remember me, if not as significant or laudable, at least as well loved during the short while that I lasted. With that, I think I can go off and return to dust happily.

The Wild West in the Computer Age

Though the wolves and rustlers may indeed have changed their guises many a time over the years, danger still lurks on every frontier.photo montageTombstone, Parts I & II

I

A heavy pall hung over the brush

And the sagebrush rolled with a whispery hush

Beware! Beware!, the townsfolk cried:

The killer’s coming! Take cover! Hide!

Call in your children, rescue your wife;

Tether the horse if you value your life!

Your grave is marked, man–hold your breath–

For your desktop bears

The Blue Screen of Death.

II

Well, it’s lonesome, lonesome, lonesome beneath the broad blue sky

If he weren’t way too manly, a poor cowpoke could cry-yi-yi

The Ethernet‘s gone silent and left me all alone

My email has been down for days; no voicemail on my phone

Yes, it’s lonesome, lonesome, lonesome beneath the empty sky

I know my days are  numbered and I’ll soon curl up and die-ie-ie

As I slump down o’er the keyboard and draw my terminal breath,

I look up one last time to see

The cold Blue Screen of Death–

Yes, I look up one last time to see

The cold

Blue Screen of Death!photo