The technology we take for granted

I remember having a dream one night sometime around 1985. I dreamed that I had a clock-radio, but it was a SUPER clock radio. Not only could it tell time and play radio stations, but it could make phone calls, play cassette tapes, tell you the weather, and do one or two other things which escape my memory all these years later. “If I had one of those,” I thought when I woke up, “there really wouldn’t be any need to get out of bed all day.”

So, last night I went to bed about 2. I took my iPad with me and read stuff on it until about 2:30, then turned out the lights. For the next several hours, I drifted in and out of sleep as participants in Amateur Night/New Year’s Eve yelled and screamed as they walked down the Main Street Mall.

About 5:45 something else woke me up. Fire engines. A lot of them. From my 13th floor perch, it sounded like they headed down Second, stopping 2-4 blocks south of where I live, possibly with a turn onto a side street.

I didn’t like the sound of that AT ALL. When the old Downtown Blue Monkey burned in 2005, the call came to the fire stations about 5:45. What if another restaurant or bar had an employee accidentally leave the stove on, and the place caught on fire? And from the sound of the sirens, it sounded like the fire engines had stopped in the vicinity of many of my favorite bars and restaurants. What if the Majestic had caught fire? Or the Blind Bear, only a year into its life as a speakeasy? Or the Silly Goose? Or (and I really shuttered to think about this one) what if the fire happened at the Flying Saucer?

I looked out the window trying to pinpoint where the fire engines were. However, my windows face south, and the nearly 30-story One Commerce Square building blocks a large swath of my view. “I guess I’ll just have to give up and go back to bed, and check the news in the morning,” I thought.

Then I remembered that my iPad was lying on the nightstand next to me. It has the TuneIn Radio app installed, and one of the local radio channels is Memphis Fire Department dispatch. I pulled it up. The fire trucks were confirming that they had arrived “on the scene,” although no one said where “the scene” was. Then one of the firefighters reported, “We got someone to come to the door. It was an alarm that got tripped in the basement. You can release everyone. We’re going to stay here and try to get this alarm reset.”

I breathed a sign of relief, closed the app, and turned off the iPad. As I did, I thought to myself, I own that super clock radio I dreamed about back in the 1980s. I own it times about 100.

There are so many things we can do now that we couldn’t do even a few years ago that we take for granted. The last time, before this year, that I got a substantial Christmas bonus at work was 2005. It was about $300 and I decided I was going to use that money to buy myself an iPod. I got the 30 GB iPod Classic, with the wheel-based menu. The first iPod Touch was still about a year away from release. I listened to music, downloaded podcasts, and played games on it, all the standard stuff. But I discovered a hack that allowed me to copy text from a web page and paste it into a text file, then move the text file onto the iPod. Thanks to this hack, I was able to read in bed!!! Without a book!!! How cutting-edge was that? Now, mind you, I could only transfer a limit of about 5 KB to the iPod, which translated to only about 5 minutes worth of reading material. Also, no pictures. But, I was reading in bed!!! How cool!!!

Seven years later, I have my choice of iPad, Kindle Fire, or iPhone to put on the nightstand. I can read entire books on my Kindle app, and if I get tired of the books I already have, I can buy a new one without even getting up to go get my wallet. I can surf Wikipedia for hours, which is one of my addictions. I can read news stories via AP Mobile, the Daily Beast, and tons of other apps. As I was reading Wikipedia last night, an alert from AP let me know that the ass clowns in the Senate had passed legislation to avert the fiscal cliff, and the legislation was now waiting on the ass clowns in the House to pass it. How far e-reading has come in the past 7 years.

Who knows what new technology we’ll take for granted by the end of 2013? With the advances being made, it should be an exciting year.


Happy 2013 everyone. It’s about 1 AM, and although I didn’t go out tonight, I’ve been living vicariously through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram.

The biggest news Downtown is that Action News 5 reporter Jason Miles got arrested for disorderly conduct while on assignment. He parked the station’s van down by the river. MPD didn’t care for his choice of parking spot, and Miles got “cuffed and stuffed,” taken to 201, and charged. Within hours there was a @freejasonmiles Twitter account and #vandownbytheriver became a trending hashtag on Twitter. Best local Twitter meme since Memphis Pipe Kitty.

This kind of thing is a prime example why I don’t bother with New Year’s Eve. Random stupid shit like this happens.

Happy New Year and I’ll be out at 5 this afternoon.