Bill Kirby

Online news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Time to ask your phone what the future holds

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I don’t have to look up my family tree, because I know that I’m the sap.

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– Fred Allen

So now it’s come to this.

It was after supper one evening last week and I happened to look up from my cellphone. The TV was on, but no one was watching. In fact, no one was facing it.

My wife sat on the couch, my son in a chair and I stood back toward the kitchen. The little dog was stretched out on the carpet, paws forward, ears alert. Together we completed the four corners of the compass.

And, with the exception of the dog, we were all holding cellphones of varying levels of smartness, punching little buttons and watching tiny screens.

“Look at y’all,” I blurted out. “Look at us.”

Families used to gather around a fire. Then we gathered around a radio. For a long time we gathered around a television.

Now we sit in a comfortable room and hold the world in our hands.

What next?

THIS IS NEXT: Remember Star Trek in the 1960s, when Capt. Kirk asked the computer questions and it would answer, and you thought, “Yeah, that’s probably going to be pretty common 2,000 years from now.”

Try 45 years.

I now ask my new cellphone verbal questions, and a voice will answer.

I didn’t believe it when my son showed me how it worked.

“That’s because your father thinks he knows everything and would never think to ask his phone for help,” my son’s mother said.

Figuring the phone might not be very athletic, I asked it, “Who won the World Series?”

A female voice said she’d have to think about it a moment … then she asked, “Would you like to search the Web?”

After a few seconds, a list of stories about the St. Louis Cardinals filled my screen.

My son even showed me how to change the voice from male to female. I made the change because I’ve been accused of tuning
out the sound of female voices.

SPEAKING OF MODERN LIFE: After two years of effort, I’ve finally got the recommended sneeze-or-cough-into-the-crook-of-your-elbow move down.

I used to sneeze into my hand, or a handkerchief. Now I cough on a bicep.

I asked the woman at the dry cleaners whether this is causing any new cleaning concerns for gentlemen’s shirt sleeves.

She looked at me like I was some sort of wise guy, and said no.

Maybe I should have asked my cellphone.

TODAY’S JOKE: Everett reminds us to pray:

God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.


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