Here we go again. A countdown of sorts to the end of summer, although if one sticks his or her respective head outside it’s liable to get charcoaled. Or parboiled. Or fricasseed. Or all three.
OK, that’s an exaggeration, but for some reason the thermometer still seems to be stuck in the mid-nineties and I’m getting the urge to take a trip to Point Barrow for vacation.
Actually, what I mean by the end of summer...is the end of summer vacation.
We’re approaching one my two favorite days related to school when I was young: the first day back (the other, of course, being the last day). Accordingly, the back-to-school sales are upon us.
It hit me last week that we were past the middle of July when I went to the store and couldn’t help but trip over stuff for back-to-school blocking the aisles and people scrambling to buy the aforesaid stuff.
It makes me think of when the weatherman is saying a big storm is on the way, so everybody runs to the store to stock up on milk and bread (including yours truly, even though in the end the bread gets moldy and the milk goes bad before we use it all).
At any rate, the shelves are packed with vast quantities of notebooks, binders and related implements of academia. Funny though, I haven’t found an abacus on sale at Walmart yet.
As if it hasn’t been bandied about enough, I keep reading discourses and little factoids about new and modern ways of doing things and technological advances that has given us an abundance of labor saving devices and short cuts.
There was once a time when all you needed was a Big Chief pad and a big fat pencil, but that was the days of black-and-white television and longhand penmanship.
I was going to insert here my customary prattling on about e-tablets and smart devices.
This year I’m giving in and accepting the future. There’s no stopping high tech, but it doesn’t seem all that long ago – you know, back when the Counting Crows were a thing – that a tablet was something you wrote on with lined paper that you could tear out and hand in. I’ve said this before, but today when you say “tablet” you might mean something entirely different; as in I-pad, Android, Kindle, Google-something and so forth.
All that’s well and good, but isn’t it amazing that we entered the nuclear age with not much more than a slide rule?
Anyway, all this high-tech stuff can be hard to keep up with, and every now and then I hear people say things should just slow down a bit. Kind of, but not really, like the rabble rouser in H.G. Wells’ 1936 movie Things to Come who preaches to the masses (on an enormous 1936 version of a flat screen TV, mind you), “What is the good of all this progress? The object of life is happy living.”
He says, “Progress is not living, it’s only the preparation for living.”
Then, he and a throng of other Luddites march out to storm the launching site of a rocket that will take men into outer space. So they fight and shoot guns and what-not but in the end the rocket is zooming off to the moon.
By the way, in the future everyone will be wearing huge metallic shoulder pads. And capes.
I f you think about it, based on the brisk business of the Apples and Androids and flat screen TVs, I’d say we love progress in the real world.
While you’re out shopping take note of the coolest back-to-school items this year: an anti-theft sandwich bag (zip-lock imprinted with fake green mold), a word-combination lock where you have to spell a word to unlock it, a tape dispenser that looks like a cassette tape , a thumb drive that looks like a human thumb and a design it yourself calculator.
For the college bound there are back-to-school smart phones, back-to-school ear buds, back-to-school Bluetooth speakers, back-to-school game consoles and on and on. All those things to distract the proverbial little Johnny from studying.
Can I interject “in my day” here? Back in school, too many decades ago, the only things I had to distract me were...let's see...a record player, a transistor radio, board games, a dial telephone and, oh yes, a black and white television.
OK, I guess it's kind of the same. When you're a teen and want to be distracted, nature finds a way. So when you're doing the back-to-school shopping thing, remember that times have changed but kids have not.
Same with the weather.
I’m trying to remember last January when I was saying, “I can’t wait for hot weather.”
I think I’ve learned my lesson, so don’t expect me to start saying, “I can’t wait for cold weather.”