Thursday, May 16, 2013

Heaps of Beeps

Howzit, folks? Since I just gave you a Stuff Caleb Sez, let's now do an entry in Stuff George Carlin Said. Because I like to keep things balanced, and also because I never get tired of G.C.

"Everything beeps now."

As usual, he's right. When I was a kid, we didn't have many things in our house that beeped. There was one phone, it was stuck to the wall, and it rang with an actual bell. You know, a round metal thing inside being struck by a tiny hammer. To make a call, you had to literally dial the number. Zip-zip-ziiiiip! 

Want to change the TV channel? You had to walk across the room and turn a big mechanical knob. (The choices were 2, 4, 5, 7, and 11, plus a few UHF stations that usually didn't play anything interesting.) We called it tuning in a station, and it was slightly less trouble than tuning a piano. Even though it only had a 17" screen, the TV itself was about the size and weight of a Smart car.

We were one of the first families I knew to get a microwave oven. It was an Amana Radarange, and it didn't beep. Like our TV and our telephone, it had... wait for it... yep, big round dials to set the cook time, plus a few clunky mechanical buttons for "Start," "Stop," and "Light." It made our food hot, and nobody ever struggled with how to program it.

But things changed, and several years ago, almost everything in the house beeped. Some things beeped when we pushed their buttons, other things beeped to get our attention so we'd know when it was time to wake up or when our toast was done. And don't forget beepers. They beeped too!

Nowadays, most devices have been replaced by the smart phone. It's a camera, video camera, video game, GPS, calculator (and scientific calculator!), TV, alarm clock, remote control, flashlight, Rolodex, and even a phone. And it beeps a lot. I still have a separate electric shaver, because as far as I can tell, they haven't made an app for that yet. I checked into the Motorola Razr, but that turned out to be a very misleading product name.

I wonder what George would have said about smart phones.


  1. I think I have gotten to a point where I am over technology. Give me back a rotary dial phone and I'll be satisfied. It isn't that I don't like the tech, I just think it's made us all lazy. I mean really, how many phone numbers could we remember as kids? How many can we remember today? Too many beeps indeed!

    1. I agree, Heather. Too often, new gadgets that are meant to make our lives easier end up making them more complicated or stressful. With that said, I wouldn't give them up. The benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and on balance we come out ahead, usually. Best thing to do is learn how to turn off the beeps.

  2. I am not against technology in general but "everything beeps" is so succinct and well put. Oh, wait a minute, I probably am against technology in general. The 3D printers, for example, scare the sh** out of me! This has to be one of the creepiest ideas humanity came up with. Why would I want to print my shoes?

    Great post, as usual, and I am so glad you're posting more often now!

    1. Glad you liked it, Katia. George Carlin had a talent for summing up complex situations in few words. This three word phrase is one of the better examples, and one of my favorite quotes from him.

      I disagree on the 3D printers. I think they're super neat, and I'm sure we'll own one someday, after the prices come down.