My first experience with Technology That Matters…
When I was growing up, technology never really impressed me.
Walkman? I did appreciate portable music, but it wasn't a wondrous, amazing, "magical" experience. Mix tapes were a chore, pencils had to be angled ‘just right’ to wind them after tapes got eaten, and lyrics were sung at 1/2 speed as the batteries slowly died skiing down the diamond slopes (I know. Weird kid: Side A: Shooting Star. Side B: The Great White North, “Take Off”…Bob and Doug McKenzie! "Black Hole, eh?").
Computer? My dad’s PC did help me organize my ever-growing stamp and coin collection when I was 10. But hours vaporized making the computer do anything productive for me (although I did achieve a Zen-like relationship to a DOS-based database that cross-referenced 1,539 stamps from dozens of countries!)
MIDI? Even as I got into composing and recording, MIDI mapping, analog synth programming, and drum machine 'coding' took hours to make it work before creativity could flow. Once I did that, it did provide hours of awesomeness...but it didn't 'just work'. (Although, to be fair, the knowledge gained was pure gold in future Up With People tours)
None of the technology I encountered impressed me…
...Until that Blessed Day...
I remember it clearly. The sun was just a bit more sunnier, the roads were just a bit more road-trippy, and the angels were guest BGV's to my amazing car-karaoke vocal rendition of "Beautiful Girls".
I pulled into KwikTrip in my Dodge Daytona (T-Tops of course) to get my normal processed coffee, when in the distance I heard some excited whispering...
...then a bold statement:
"GOD BLESS TECHNOLOGY"
What could be the cause of such a grand statement? Could it be the iPhone? No, that wouldn't be invented for several years. The self-tuning guitar? No, Gibson will try but it’ll be put on a lame ax.
I walked towards the small crowd and stared in awe at the object of awesome – shimmering like a 24th century replicator:
The KwikTrip Smoothie Machine.
I know. I know. You had the same experience. We might as well refer to our lives as BESM and AESM (Before Encountering Smoothie Machine, After Encountering Smoothie Machine).
Let me take you to the moment of my conversion:
Reflecting Biblical-based free-choice doctrine, I can freely choose flavor and style: frozen cappuccino flavors, smoothie flavors, or milkshake flavors. My excitement grows...
Uh-oh. Doubt sets in as I open the lid. Surely this bucket of hard-as-ice-frozen-potential isn't going to turn into anything but freezer-burn-sadness. I push through on the promise of what is foretold...
I put the bucket into the machine, and quickly discover a secret second choice: Consistency. Stunning. How can a mere machine automate how thick or smooth the frozen-yet-liquid perfection gets?
I push "Smooth": The magic machine raises the bucket and starts. I will someday learn more about the magical technology that at once heats, mixes, cools, and delivers the finished smoothie. For now I will assume it involves galloping hamsters, baby dragon’s breath, and diamond dust.
Then the machine stops.
I bathe in the glory of a perfect smoothie that was moments before a frozen cylinder in the freezer.
Not only is the consistency perfect, the flavor is exquisite. AND, there is no freezer burn (job well done, baby dragons!).
…and not a This-Is-Pretty-Good-I-Should-Maybe-Get-Another-Someday kind of YUMMY, but a This-Is-So-Good-I-Sure-Hope-The-Government-Doesn't-Force-Me-To-Choose-Between-This-Smoothie-And-My-Kids-Because-I’d-Sure-Miss-Them kind of YUMMY!
I leave a changed man. Soon after I, too, start inventing.
I only hope that one day I will give back to mankind a fraction of what mankind has given to me that day..
So, have you encountered a technology that makes you stop in your tracks?