On Sunday morning I went to hear a former coworker, Bill Parkhurst, speak (or preach?) at the UU church. (For the UUnchurched, that's Unitarian Universalist.) He spoke about faith and science. During his talk, he highly recommended a book by Bill Bryson entitled, "A Short History of Nearly Everything". Several times I have looked at this book and thought about buying it, but just never did.
Well, at 2:45 this morning, I was awakened by some Stephano's buffalo wings I had for lunch yesterday. (BTW, Stephano's buffalo wings are the best EV-ER!) While ruling my kingdom of one from my throne, I began thinking about Bill's book recommendation. I decided I wanted to read it. But it was nearly three in the morning. Books-A-Million was closed, and I didn't want to get out in the middle of the night to purchase a book anyway. Perhaps I could order it online. Yes, Books-A-Million, as well as many other booksellers, are open 24/7 online. But I would have to wait a few days for it to arrive. I wanted the book NOW!!! Well, being a king and all, I have the best technology money can buy. Actually, many lesser people in my land have the same technology. In this case, the technology of which I speak is a Motorola Droid with Verizon Wireless phone and 3G service.
The Droid is NOT a phone, it's a SMART phone. Actually, it's as dumb as a doornail. After all, it's just a small plastic container containing electronics. However, the people who designed it are VERY SMART! The phone itself would best be called a Multifunctional Phone. Facebook, Twitter, Email, texting, photos, videos, weather, news, the Internet, GPS navigation, and more are all available through this little handheld device. Heck, with the proper app, you can even use it as a flashlight. WooHoo! Another app that is available, and that I have installed, for the Droid is Kindle. It allows you to read any electronic books you have purchased from Amazon.com. I also have a Nook app (from Barnes & Noble), the BAM reader (from Books-A-Million), and other book readers on my Droid.
So, here I was on my throne in the middle of the night wanting to read a book that I did not currently own. What to do? Fortunately I had grabbed my Droid off its charging cradle before entering my royal chambers. So, I just loaded up the Kindle app, went to the online store, searched for Bill Bryson, found the book I wanted, pressed the 1-Click purchase option, waited a few seconds, and Voila: instant gratification. I read the first few pages of the book as the buffalo wings settled down to just a slight flutter. Then I went back to bed to finish out my night's sleep.
Man, how things have changed.
Another example. At one time, if you wanted to find a particular restaurant in an unfamiliar place, you either had to stop and ask someone, or you had to stop at a pay phone booth and look it up in the telephone book yellow pages (assuming the relevant page had not been torn out by another hungry person). (For you youngsters, a pay phone booth is a small glass building with a phone that would only work if you fed it money. To see one, watch an old Superman show.) Well, one day my family and I were driving through Nashville, Tennessee, and decided we wanted to eat at an Olive Garden. My son, being the first one in the family to own a smart, uh multifunctional, phone, pulled out his Droid and searched for Olive Garden. The search worked in conjunction with our location and displayed an Olive Garden that was nearby, but still in front of us. My son then instructed the phone to navigate to the restaurant. The computerized voice started telling us which exit to take and what turns to make. We were soon at the Olive Garden enjoying their fantastic Fettuccine Alfredo.
Ah, yes, INSTANT GRATIFICATION. Don't you just LOVE IT???