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When technology needs a zapper of its own

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

Simple gray rule

When technology needs a zapper of its own

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1994, The Syracuse Newspapers

My wife and I loaded up our 1972 VW Campmobile to get away from it all a few weeks ago. We headed south and parked for a week amid the dunes of Assateague Island, off the Maryland coast.

We almost got away from it all.

For most of the week, the federal campground where we were staying was nearly empty. The only other campers who were braving the 35-degree nights and wind-swept days were hardy types who spent mornings fishing and afternoons napping. They were all quiet and friendly.

It was glorious.

Then it happened. Friday came, and the first wave of regular campers hit the beach. We had arrived a week before the official opening of the yearly season, not realizing that our idyll was about to end as swiftly as you can say "Phil Donahue."

Not that we dislike Phil Donahue. He has his place, and it's in the living room. It's not in the camper parked next to us, where a TV running off a generator— which Phil's fans kept running day and night—blared out every nuance of what seemed to be an interview with a mother and daughter who shared a shocking aversion to left-handed plumbers.

Or something like that. We couldn't tell. At times, Phil was drowned out by the video games coming from a TV sitting on the picnic table across the way.

"Ping! Plunk! Zoop!"

I kept wishing I had a way to turn off that TV from 90 feet away. That would have been impish, but very satisfying.

But the best was saved for last. On Saturday, our final day at the seashore, the "Phil" camper switched to the Saturday morning cartoons—to ALL of the Saturday morning cartoons.

At first I plotted revenge. But nice people don't get back at boorish people; they just think about getting back. After all, the "Phil" camper and the "video game" camper had a right to park there.

Sure, we came down to the island to avoid the TV and the radio and the telephone and the computer. But they didn't. What would make us right and them wrong? They could just as well make fun of me if they saw me during any old work week, stuck to my keyboard 14 hours at a time.

"Phil" and "video games" probably bowled and jogged and exercised while I was noodling around with computer codes all winter long. Maybe they went to the beach to get a chance to do the things they didn't have time for otherwise—such as watch Donahue and play "Donkey Kong."

And then again maybe impolite boobs are just plain impolite boobs, and a vacation away from the trappings of technology is something these butt-heads would never understand.

All I know is that a modern camper's survival kit now has one more essential item - a remote control.

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