Darkness provides a salve to the techno-bombarded soul
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By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Great East Honolulu Blackout found Firstborn and I sitting on the curb at the foot of our driveway.
I was staring at the heavens and a twinkling array of stars normally obscured by ambient light. A stillness had settled on the neighborhood. Few sounds pierced the darkness that smothered the homes on our street.
"This is cool, isn't it?" I said.
Firstborn, her face buried in her arms, wailed.
"This is awful," she said. "I should be watching TV right now!"
I chuckled in the dark.
"Dad, I'm serious. I can't IM anyone."
Part of me wanted to agree with her. Another part of me wanted to embrace the sudden and absolute lack of choices in our life.
To be honest, I had trouble choosing between the two.
My family is addicted to technology, new and old. We've got computers and instant messaging and e-mail accounts and cell phones. The soundtrack of our waking life has all kinds of chirps, buzzes and beeps.
I love this stuff, these slick little gizmos, yet I hate them at the same time.
You see, I'm a techno-idiot.
The small array of electronic gadgets in my life tease me with possibilities, but only if I can first master a 200-page user manual. It's intimidating.
I'm convinced that piloting a space shuttle is easier than accessing the voice mail on my cell phone. Best not to leave a message, OK?
The same could be said for the CD burner Mrs. G. gave me for Christmas a few years ago. I had wanted to copy my record albums onto CDs so it would be easier to play them.
All I wound up making was a new set of drink coasters that looked a lot like CDs.
This, I should add, was made worse by the spiffy stereo receiver Mrs. G. bought that same year. It was all about surround-sound, Dolby-this-and-that, but it wouldn't let me play my albums.
To this day, I have no idea why.
Firstborn does not have these problems. Like all her friends, she knows what buttons to press. It's instinctual.
Sometimes when I watch her on a cell phone or the Internet, a shiver goes down my spine, and it has nothing to do with the bill. I just get amazed occasionally about the rapid pace of technology, about the things that are considered commonplace.
So you know what this makes me? The Old Man. If you want, I can wave at you from my side of the generation gap.
Sure, I want my children to be smarter than me, but I would rather it have something to do with dividing fractions than with downloading music or fiddling with cell phone technology.
On the curb, swaddled in darkness, I tried to pump up the adventure of the blackout. The cosmic pause forced upon our lives was hard to swallow, but simple was soothing. At least that's what I said.
"Let's go check out the neighborhood," I said. "Let's go explore and see how people are coping."
Firstborn agreed, and so we ventured into the night, my cell phone in hand.
It made a nice flashlight.
Reach Mike Gordon at email@example.com or 525-8012.