Technology, technology, technology. It's a fascinating thing. On a day to day basis, I find myself fascinated with what new advances are made. I have mixed feelings about various new ideas and products, but that comes with the territory. I think some things are great, and others are folly. But what's been vying for my attention lately? Nothing to fancy, and in fact something altogether common these days: cellular telephones.

I remember a while back, I read a piece by Kurt Vonnegut about his reflections on how times change. What really got me was a particular comment he made, of which I can only take a stab at the gist of it (I don't have the piece on hand). He said that when he was young, neither he nor anyone else thought that the future would hold what it now does. As is a common perception, he and others thought that perhaps the future would hold flying cars, or elevated cities, maybe somewhat like the Jetson's. Vonnegut said that he never in his wildest dreams imagined that people would be walking around talking on plastic devices that served as telephones, especially when telephones already existed and worked perfectly well, and that there are so many people to talk to when you're out and about, so who needs to talk on the phone?

And I admit, I couldn't agree more. As I walk around campus, around malls, and around just about everywhere else, I see people on the phone all the time. I rarely get noticed, but maybe do get the mysterious nod (see my previous blog entry from December 8, "Greetings, Salutations, Hello?"--I really have to learn HTML so I can make that a link, sorry about that). But I digress. I have no problem with cell phones, I just find it fascinating how things change, and that no matter what we think will happen, we're more than likely wrong.

Anyway, as cell phone technology continually improves, things do get interesting. One of my favorite new features for cell phones has to do with rings. I don't mean those older annoying ring tones you could get, where you could play a whole variety of tunes in one key of "annoying and ridiculously high-pitched beep." New rings are better-sounding, thankfully. But I mean on the other end. You can now pay a small extra fee to have a different ring for anyone who calls you. This means that instead of someone dialing your number and hearing the {ring ring ring] sound, they hear whatever you decide, be it a song or what have you.

I find this both really cool, really amusing, and really confusing. Allow me to illustrate what I mean.

Really cool:
My friend tells me that he has a new ring for you when you call, and I am amazed that I could hear that from my home phone when I call him. My reaction to this:
"That's so cool!"

Really amusing:
My friend sets his ring-song to the theme song from "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." My reaction to this:
"Listen to this..."The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"...that's hysterical!"

Really confusing:
I call someone who I am unaware of having a peculiar song-ring. My reaction to this:
[Wondering if perhaps I dialed the wrong number, then realizing I didn't]... "Holy shit, now my own friends are putting me on hold before they even talk to me. We really are living in the 21st century."

And when I think about it, I think it's kinda cool that you can put the music for the ring. That way, if you call someone and can't get through, at least you'll have a tune to listen to instead of that dead-pan ring.

But it had better be something good.