Friday, March 23, 2007

You know, I've lived in Delaware all my life, most of it in Slower Lower. One thing about this state that can't be denied........ we have chickens. I mean everywhere. Even our state bird is a chicken. Somewhere in our past it seems cock fights were popular, and the toughest bird of all was the Blue Hen Chicken. Hence, the mascot for the University, the Fighting Blue Hen. Now, don't get me wrong. I like chicken as much as the next guy. Fried, baked, grilled, cordon bleu.

Two doors down and across the road are chicken houses. The property next door used to have chicken houses. Next to tourism, I think chicken farming is our number one industry; at least, it seems that way. And, of course, along with the benefits of rural life we sometimes have to deal with the natural by-product of raising livestock.....olfactory speaking. Okay, usually it's only bad when the wind blows in our direction. I'm all right with that, everyone has to make a living, and it's part of local color that certain... odors... have to be dealt with once in awhile. I grew up here. It's fine, really.

However, too much of a good thing is, well... too much. Today, it was warm. Short sleeve shirt warm. Gorgeous day warm. Slight breeze. So naturally, this is the time when the local farmers decide it's a good idea to spread all the aforementioned by-product that's been fermenting in the chicken houses all this time all over the fields... . all of them... everywhere. And hey, let's not stop at simply packing it up in a truck and spreading it. Let's liquefy it and spray fifty feet or more in every direction. Tonight would be a great night to open the windows and let the breeze blow across the bed. Tonight would be a great night to slumber in the yard swing. If only the stench that surrounds us wasn't so damn tangible. I swear, the air seems to have physical properties that can be touched. I've been in this county almost my entire life and I never remember it being this bad. It's like someone had a wholesale event on the stuff, and every single farmer in the county decided it was manure spreading day.

I went to WalMart tonight and bought air conditioners. Vive' la controlled environment.... and clothes pins for the nose.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Looking Back at the Future

So, when I was a kid I had this vision of the future. It was the '60's and I lived in a college town, which meant my babysitters were basically hippies. My friends and I would watch Route 66, Daktari, Gilligan's Island, Laugh-in, and if we were good we got to stay up for Star Trek. We'd go to the community pool, play in makeshift forts, write and deliver a block newspaper (only one edition as we had to hand-write each one), and look forward to the wonders of our future. We knew there would be flying cars by the time we had kids, and that there would be a button for everything. We even designed streamlined cars that looked like bubbles with wheels, some of them retractable for flight. We dreamed of three dimensional television (in color, no less), communicators and transporters, not to mention computers that talked. We also were absolutely certain space travel would be something the common man would do when we were adults.

For some time, I was disappointed throughout my twenties. No flying cars, no true three dimensional tv, no transporters or communicators... and no space flight for the common man. What happened to the future? Where did we go wrong? Now, of course, I realize it was happening all along. I'm typing this on a device smaller and at times lighter than the Trapper Keeper I used to carry around in school. I'm on the sofa, transmitting this data to the world, basically, without wires. On my hip is a flip phone, my own personal communicator, and people who don't have these are oddities around here. All I have to do is talk to it and it finds the person I want to talk with on the other end. I don't even have to push buttons. I don't have a flat screen television, but I could if I would spend the money on it. A device slightly thicker than a picture frame that I can hang on the wall and watch television programs, movies when I want to on demand, surf the world of information at my fingertips.

Earlier today, I was outside a department store waiting for my lovely to come out with less money, and I swear to you, one of the streamlined, bubbles I drew when I was a kid pulled into a parking space. The side doors slid open slowly without anyone touching them, and a family poured out and began walking toward the store. The doors to the vehicle deliberately slid closed on there own as the family happily made their way toward eliminating disposable income. At that point, my communicator buzzed me, and the device I had clipped to my ear, without wires, filled with the voice of a coworker.

Yup, the future happened while I wasn't looking. I'd like to live another 50 years, please. I bet those flying cars, transporters and regular space travel are right around the corner.