Fire up the Reel to Reel

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Reading Mike’s short post today about his jury duty tomorrow and his plans to build a lens adapter for his camera, I found myself thinking about my grandfather for a little while.  Let me explain:  my Dad’s father was what we would now call an “early adopter” of technology.  He did television repair work before most people owned them;  he had camera equipment capable of taking and projecting colour home movies in the 40’s, and he was very proud of his Hi-Fi stereo system – much of which was home built.  I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but my father, my brothers and I have all followed along a similar path:  much to the chagrin of our various significant others, our respective homes are filled with equipment that needs to be plugged in;  that beeps, whirrs, flashes and hums;  and most of all, that is connected to other such devices by wires.  Though the tech is different, the thrill is no doubt the same;  looking back on it now, I can revel in my grandfather’s geekdom much as I revel in my own.

I think the reason this thought occurred to me following my visit to Mike’s page is that I suddenly saw the similarities between my own daily virtual journey into Mike’s life via the Internet and what my grandfather used to do:  he used to basically record voice letters on reel to reel audio tape and send them by mail (the kind with stamps and dog-fearing letter carriers) to a friend in Australia, if I remember correctly.  They corresponded in this fashion for years.  I can remember him carefully unwrapping a box containing a fresh tape and eagerly heading downstairs to his basement sanctuary, then sitting in a beat-up old reclining chair,  bottle of beer on the TV dinner table next to it, listening to the voice coming out of the speakers as the reels rolled steadily on.  When I was a kid, I thought it was kind of quirky – none of the other grownups I knew spent time recording their thoughts on tape and mailing them halfway across the world – but I was more focussed on the microphones and the reel-to-reel machines (shiny tech!) than on what was going on.  I guess I kind of half-heartedly wondered what he and his friend could possibly think of to talk about – complete strangers so far removed from each other by geography and circumstance, engaged in a series of alternating monologues.

See the parallels yet?

My grandfather didn’t live long enough to see the emergence and prevalence of personal computers in the home, but he would have loved the technology and the community of technophiles for which it provides a home.   I wish I’d had a chance to talk with him about it, as I’m sure he would have had some interesting thoughts to offer.  The only thing missing for me, as I sit here with the notebook computer on my lap and the wireless card granting me access to the router upstairs  and ultimately the Intartubes,  sharing this little corner of my life with Mike (and anyone else who cares to read), is the bottle of beer.  I can remedy that lickety-split;  as soon as I hit “publish” on this entry, I’m going to head to the fridge, grab a cold Alexander Keith’s, crack it open and drink a toast to grandpa.

In the meantime, Mike, I hope you manage to avoid getting selected, but I’m very interested to hear what your thoughts are about going through the jury selection process.  And this lens adapter thing is also intriguing to me;  I must know more…