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Monday, August 2, 2010

Born Too Soon

One of my favorite bands is a hometown act called The Clarks.   Their lead singer, Scott Blasey, played a small acoustic set in my hometown a couple weeks back and I was able to introduce my little one to one of the few “good” musicians actively producing music today.  But I digress.  He also  released a solo album a few years ago with a song on it called “Born Too Late.”     In it, he asks various historical figures to mentor, or show him, in their respective areas of expertise on how to do things.    Sample lyrics include: ‘Vincent will you teach me how to paint.  Theresa will I ever be a saint.’   Get it?  Good.  Moving on.

I am not one of those people.  I have the firm belief, and have stated ad nauseum  that I was born too soon.   I concede that 1975 wasn’t exactly the dark ages but in terms of being the geek or tech nerd I am, Pong wasn’t exactly the Large Hadron Collider of its day.  So, from day one, I have always been one step behind technology or other advances that were beneficial to our lives when it applied to my age group. 

First there was Power Wheels.   In the evolutionary scale of childhood transportation I went from crawl to walk to big wheel to huffy to ten speed.   Anyone born after 1980 had the opportunity to firmly place Power Wheels in between The Big Wheel and your everyday Huffy bike.    Think of it, a motorized mini car that you could ride around your yard.    I was so pissed when they became available because I was already too big to have one.  As I hoofed it around the neighborhood on my Huffy I would see younger kids riding around their yard in their Power Wheels, faces aglow. 

That was also the year that our school district decided to skip my grade when it came to having early swimming education.   Until that point, that grade level of elementary school had a few swimming lessons at our high school and for some reason, they skipped my year.  I believe that further doomed me.  When I did reach high school and had to take swimming as a part of my sophomore year I did not have the proper swimming foundation and ended up drifting towards the left when trying to complete a lap, which led to me being given the nickname “Scud”  as in not very accurate in trajectory.   Once I ended up going in an arc to the side wall instead of straight ahead.  I emerged from the water thinking I had beaten everyone else only to see them to my right pointing and laughing.  But I took it in stride.  

By my senior year of high school I was recognizable to everyone, not because I was extremely popular but because everyone knew that I was the guy behind the video camera that hung around the halls.  I was in a class that made videos for our morning news announcements.  We actually put together a news broadcast with editing equipment, mixers, used computers for titles.  We were pretty industrious and managed to produce a lot out of nothing.  I was proud of our work and felt like we made an impact on the morale. 

The year after I graduated, the school sprung for the technology to do basic green screen effects.  There were so many ideas I had that could have involved having green screen tech at my fingertips.   OK, some were purely for the sake of humor but still, the application would have yielded awesome results.

Moving on to college.  In my sophomore year, I became fascinated with this Internet thingy and learned how to make web pages in the computer labs of the University of Pittsburgh.  I did this while never being taught how to program, in the classroom.   I did it on my own time at 2:00AM instead of being at the bars.  *cough* dork *cough*  I even got to design the University’s Transportation Department webpage as part of a project for the only class I ever attended that dealt with web design and it was taught by the English department and I pretty much knew more than they did, at that point.   When I graduated, java script became the newest feature for web design and soon classes were being taught everywhere.  I had already graduated and had lost the ambition to go back to school as I joined the work force.

As I hurtle towards middle age I see the toys and gadgets that come out for the younger generation and I want to weep.   Yes, I am a gamer with a PS3 and Wii, but I have no time to really play all that much.  Ok, I do play a little bit every day or so.   I’m not like some kids who spend an entire weekend leveling up and playing hours upon hours of Dorkcraft.  So, it breaks my heart that there are so many awesome games out there that I don’t have time to play. If I was still in college, I would love it.  I’d be flunking out, but I’d love it.  Then there’s the Internet sites like Facebook.  I admit that I am a bit of a dork and play games like Farmville and Mafia Wars but I don’t obsess about harvesting crops or taking out rival families enough to empty my bank account just to buy a friggin puppy for my farm or a kick ass weapon to lay waste to anyone who tries to rob my mega casino.   Yes, I do realize I understand what I just said.  [changes subject with “look over there”] What else is there?

There’s iPods, iPhones, iPads and iWanttocry because I just don’t have the time to get into the technology.  Granted, those are not specifically geared towards the younger generation but if I were not a part of the work force full time, I could have devoted my studies to becoming an expert at these things in order to work in a field that is relevant to their use.  I’d be the ubergeek extraordinaire when it comes to all things tech.

Perhaps with the technology at my beck and call I could come up with better applications for these devices so that we are not just wasting our time with silly little apps.  But alas, I was born too soon.  I can only speculate and grumble and tell kids to keep their smart phones out of my yard or I’ll keep them.  Not because I’m a mere mean old Grumpy Gus, but because I want to play with them, too.   Screw you Power Wheels.  You ruined my life.


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