Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yep, I went there!

After a month long hiatus, I am back!  Ready to go and ready to ponder away.  I would say that my life has been so busy with super important activities that I was forced to put the blog on hold, but that is not the case.  No, I simply did not have anything to write about.  Hopefully I did not lose too many followers.  Shoot, if I lose two, I've lost 25% of my readers!  I guess there won't be a movie deal about the Pondering Dad anytime soon, huh?  Movie deal or not, I am sorry for the delay, and I hope this story will make up for the lack of entertainment this past month.  It made me chuckle thinking about it!

I, like most people, remember the days of our parents saying things like, "They didn't have color TV when I was your age!" or "We had to walk three miles to school...uphill...both ways...in the snow...barefoot!" and "E-mail?  We used pen and paper!" (oh, wait, that was my generation) and so on.  Also like most parents, I thought I would never see the day that I would say those things to my kid.  Well, I saw that day today...and it was a rude awakening...followed by a far too intense pondering moment while my son and I were driving home from school. 

I love music and so does my son.  His tastes are similar to mine, but not exactly the same.  He likes the Beatles, I do not.  I like Pink Floyd, he says he does too.  I like Depeche Mode, he's never heard of them.  That is perfectly fine in my book.  So, when we are driving home, we listen to the radio, usually a specific classic rock station that plays a wide range of sixties, seventies, and even eighties music.  Generally, it works out great.  Today, however, the station was lacking in the variety department, and we were both eager to switch the channel to find something else.  Unfortunately, the rain must have washed away all of the good songs because every station we switched to was playing crap. 

Now, I know there may be some more "experienced" readers out there, and I know we should be thankful that our car has a radio at all, because when the "experienced" readers were kids, they barely got to ride in a car at all.  If they did have that rare opportunity, they certainly didn't have the luxury of listening to a radio!  Yeah, I know, I've heard it before.  But keep reading anyway, it gets better...

So, after exhausting all possible preset stations in an effort to find a song that we would both like, it dawned on me that I could use my MP3 player to play some songs.  My MP3 player is actually my cellular phone that (among many other things) takes great pictures, is a movie camera too, a scheduler, an alarm clock, has games, can surf the Internet faster than dial-up (ask your parents what dial-up means) speeds ever did, has a compass, navigation, can tell you what stars you are looking at in the sky, and has "Apps" that have everything from recipes, a digital whoopee cushion, weather, sports scores and a bar-code scanner to name a few, and it does everything very well, except make a clear phone call...go figure.  Yeah, I know, you had to stay in one spot when you wanted to talk on the phone and if you needed to go somewhere, you had to hang up when you were a kid.  Of course, you could have done what I did and buy an extra long phone cord so you could, at least, walk from room to room...hey, that was thinking outside of the box back in the day!  Yep, I had a mobile phone before they were ever invented!  Anyway, I digress...

So, I plugged my cellular phone into the radio using a tape deck converter.  For those of you too young to remember tape decks, stop reading, go do your homework, and go to bed.  Just kidding.  In case you do not understand what I am talking about, let me explain.  My car has an AM/FM stereo cassette tape deck.  Back in the early nineties, it was a pretty sweet system.  In today's standards, not so much.  But, it plays music (but only when the outside temperature is below 45...no, seriously, it really needs to be below 45, otherwise it does not work...don't ask me why, I have no idea, but its a fact.), and since that is what they are made to do, it is still being used.  Funny thing is, I no longer have any cassette tapes, but I do have a tape converter!

The tape converter is a cassette tape body with a wire attached that runs out of the deck and plugs into another device, such as a CD player, MP3 player, or, in my case, a cellular phone.  The plug goes into the headphone jack, and voila, you've got music pumping through your car stereo!  To give you an idea of how old my tape deck is, I bought the converter to play my portable CD player...back when they were the rage...fortunately, the manufacturers of electronic gizmos did not do away with the headphone jack over the years, so the adapter still works.  

So, as I was saying, I plugged my phone into the car stereo and put on the Pink Floyd radio station I created on Pandora.  Pandora is an Internet radio station that is really, really, cool.  If you haven't heard of it, and you like music, I highly recommend it.  It is free (up to forty hours per month), except when you spend all of your money buying new CDs of the artists that you have never heard of before but found out how awesome they are thanks to Pandora.  I think it is a conspiracy, but I'm still testing that theory to say for sure.  Again, I digress...I really need to stop going off on these tangents, it is confusing me!

So, after plugging in my phone, and playing Pink Floyd radio, my son said, "Cool!  Pink Floyd!" and then asked, "Is this a real radio station?" which confused me.  I replied, "Well, of course it is, you hear the music, right?"  He then clarified, "No, is it a radio station, or is it an Internet station that you pick the songs."  (Sidebar note - He's nine...how does he know about Internet radio???)  I explained that it was both.  Pandora is an Internet radio station that you create, and based on your likes/dislikes it plays songs accordingly.  Then it hit me...it is an Internet radio station.  I am receiving Internet...in my CAR...a car that is almost as old as the Internet (as we know it) itself!  I was so amazed at this now everyday occurrence that I had to say something to my son.

I started out by saying something like, "Do you know how cool this really is?  Five years ago, playing Internet radio in your car was unheard of!"  I went on with the amazement, "Just a few years ago, the only type of radio you could get in your car was whatever the local stations were playing.  When I was your age, all I had were cassette tapes and if I wanted to download a song, I had to wait for it to come on the radio, hit record on the blank mix-tape and hope the stupid DJ wasn't going to ruin it by talking for ten seconds into the song, then pray that nobody was going to walk in the room and start talking and ruin the recording even more."  I continued with my exciting commentary for a minute or two longer but stopped suddenly when I glanced over to the passenger seat, just in time to see my son's eyes glaze over.  Yes, he was receiving the "When I was your age..." story and his reaction was exactly the same as mine when I was that age.

I went there.  I never thought I would, but I did...and I did so with enthusiasm. 

At that point, I shut up and continued talking to myself (in my head) and tried to wrap my brain around the thoughts of what his stories will be when he has a nine year-old sitting next to him as he is driving home from school, listening to some device that plays music.  What is he going to say?  Something like this, perhaps, "When I was your age, we had to listen to the Internet in the car if we wanted to listen to music.  We didn't have the holographic band image playing in air-cruiser!"

So, yeah, I went there, just like my dad did to me, and probably like his dad did to him, and most likely like my son will do to my grandson and like my grandson will do to my great-grandson!  But, I had to...after all, we were listening to the Internet in the car, for Pete's sake!