Posts Tagged video games

The Next Generation

No, this is not a Star Trek diatribe comparing and contrasting the numerous iterations of the series, movies, favorite captains, sexiest aliens or worst plotlines.

Image credit: christiangates via flickr

Image credit: christiangates via flickr

This is about our own time machine, our memories, and how our children are experiencing a new world. The other day, I read an article on titled “100 Things Your Kids May Never Know About“. It was definitely well thought-out, and relied on feedback from their readers. Reading it was a combination of nostalgia and pensively wondering what my own children will encounter. I’m 40 now, so half of my life has been lived as an adult, and the first half arguably as a child. My wife, family, friends and therapist may all disagree, claiming emphatically that I am still a child on many levels. I can live with that.

So the Wired article had me thinking about so many other things my kids may not know about, all of which I encountered as a child (in the physical sense of the word, not the mental sense, mind you.)

Here’s just a few…

  • Going down to the “record store” to buy a “45”, “album” or even “CD.” (Give the CD a few more years.)
  • Going to an “arcade” where you can play video games, and they only cost a quarter.
  • At the same arcade, there was a section dedicated just to giant machines called “pinball.”
  • Talking on the phone in the house meant staying within a 3-foot area, literally tethered to the wall by the phone cord.
  • The biggest taste of freedom ever experienced was when Dad bought a 30-foot telephone cord.
  • Actually dialing a phone meant that there was a dial on the phone, and dialing someone took longer than the resulting conversation.
  • Driving anywhere out of your neighborhood meant you had to have a list of surrounding streets, landmarks and the conversational know-how to ask the local gas station attendant: “How do I get to Juniper Street from here??!!”
  • Communication among people was limited to two things: spoken word or written letters. OK, three: hand gestures… and we all will still use them forever.
  • Video games against opponents consisted only of the person sitting next to you, and never involved teams.
  • Board games never needed batteries.
  • Going to get something for home repair, a fishing trip, sports activity, or your dog meant going to a store usually smaller than your own home.
  • Making ice cubes was a manual process.
  • Hot meals had to be prepared and cooked for a long time.
  • Making popcorn involved popcorn kernels, oil, butter and salt.
  • Throwing out garbage was a very streamlined process.
  • Getting a sunburn sucked for about a day, and it took around six hours on the beach to get one.
  • Watching a TV show meant being in front of that TV, with all snacks at the ready, bladder empty, exactly when the show was starting.
  • That show would not be seen if the antenna wasn’t just right.
  • Toys never moved on their own, unless we were testing the effects of velocity on static objects.
  • Toys had lots of small parts.
  • Most toys were made out of wood or metal.
  • Chemistry sets actually had chemicals in them.
  • Movies about the future all had lots of blinking lights, almost no explosions, vehicles that hovered, bitchin’ sunglasses and very shiny clothes.
  • Portable music players involved lots of breakable parts, the music was loaded manually, and you had a good 30 minutes or so of enjoyment.
  • Paper was used for everything.
  • To flip through photos meant to use your hands, plus you kept the blurry ones… after waiting two weeks to get them developed.
  • Flying on a plane meant you could get to the airport about an half hour before the flight, and you didn’t have to feel nervous about security.
  • Sesame Street was relevant.
  • A fax.
  • You could lend a book to a friend or family member. (OK, maybe not my kids, but definitely my grandkids.)

Well these are just a few of the ones jogged from my feeble, aging memory. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, so there’s a ton more. Seriously, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. So tell me in the comments what else I forgot!

Tags: , , , , ,

Firsts and Seconds

We go through thousands of firsts in our lives. The first kiss, the first love, the first time you saw an acid base reaction, wait that one is just me. I recently took my son to get his first haircut, no tears by the way, and it got me thinking about all the other firsts we all go through. Most of which take no more than a few minutes and all of which affect who we ultimately become.

My first great sports moment took place when I was ten years old. I hit a grand slam over the fence for my little league team. My dad wasn’t there, and the other people had to tell my mom what was happening, but I’ll never forget it. The team was so dominant; 20 and 2 for the entire season and years later I made a Nintendo All-Star Baseball team copied exactly from the squad. We couldn’t be beat. It was so close to the original team that one of my best friends to this day who was on the team could still hit better than me. Welcome to living your life through video games! All that being said, hitting the grand slam and running around the bases took no more than 60 seconds.

My first life defining moment took place around the age of twelve. I was asked by a neighbor to come and hang out with the “cool kids.” Being a life long geek, I was easily lured to see what all the fuss about. In the process, I basically blew off my boys, friends of which I have now known for 20 years, and with being 29 years old, that is really saying something. Inevitably, things went bad and I was expunged from the the realm of “coolness.” I went back to my crew, tail between my legs, and was taken back with open arms. For this I will be eternally grateful. My neighbor asking me to roll out with him to hang with a different crew, 30 seconds. My friends taking me back with open arms, two minutes.

The first time I realized my geekdom was something I enjoyed, was my freshmen year in high school. Our history teacher was a little off the wall, but she loved the ancients. The other history class ended with the printing press, we ended with Augustus Caesar. The class took months, but I was hooked during the 15 minutes she talked about Alexander and his horse, Bucephalus. Her love of the ancients and mythology directly translated into my love of comic books and current day mythology.

Knowing my girlfriend might just be my wife to be took three seconds. She looked at me and said, “good call.” Our first real date was going to see a movie together. We got to the theater and a few movies were playing. We hadn’t decided prior. I was all about seeing this hyped, but not explained movie… “No one can be told what The Matrix is, they have to see it for themselves.” My date alluded to seeing some romatic comedy, but wasn’t firm in her conviction.   So I went and bought tickets for The Matrix, for which I got the look of, “I am the woman and I can’t believe you just ignored my hint towards seeing a chick flick.” We sat through 20 minutes of previews with barely ten words said. Then the movie started. About five minutes into it, Trinity kicked a cop in mid-air, and my future wife looked at me and said, “good call.” Three seconds and that was enough for me to know.


The birth of my son, my first child, as any parent knows, was earth shattering. Two minutes before he was born I started losing it, but I kept it together. The docs told me it was a boy, I saw him, and about a nanosecond later my world was changed forever.

My son’s first haircut was only a week ago. It lasted no more than ten minutes. He got his haircut and I brought him home. It was only a little while until people started referring to him as a “little man.” He is less than two years old and he is already a little man.

I chose a few examples from my own life, but the idea is consistent. I have been around for almost 30 years, but the majority of who and what I am has been formed in a little over 3000 seconds. We have all been through tons of firsts, but the most important points of all of these moments probably took no more than a few seconds.

Tags: , , , , , ,