Every generation has to deal with the age old, nagging question of whether technology is a benefit to society or a hindrance. Boon or bane.
It’s been said that before the age of 35 new tech is exciting and revolutionary, but after 35 new tech is against the natural order of things.
It’s been this way since the beginning of time, let me assure you. There was this Conrad Gessner fellow who warned us about a new technology that would overwhelm us with floods of data and confuse the general population. He died in 1565. That new technology was the printing press. But even before that, Socrates took a stand against the “quill” because writing would destroy our ability to memorize.
Radio grabbed the attention away from students as they did homework assignments, and television, despite all its promises, would turn us all into couch potatoes with the aptitude of Howdy Doody.
Need I mention smart phones? People have been killed while walking and staring at their damn phones. There’s even a new medical complaint called “text neck” and another called “visually induced motion sickness.”
Texting has destroyed relationships because texts cannot transmit nuance, even when loaded with emojis, and Facebook is mentioned in over 60% of all divorce proceedings.
Being well educated, above average intelligence, and open minded, I can argue vigorously both sides of this argument, when actually my true opinion depends on the situation and the outcome. Generalizations are generally wrong.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed the rise of high tech. I hadn’t even started my first year of college when we landed on the moon. Though that was more a tribute to the human spirit than a bow to high tech. It was comparatively low tech that got us there. The computer on board weighed around 70 pounds and couldn’t even compete with the first Commodore 64 off the assembly line.
But my second year in college was when the first microprocessor was invented, and my first year in grad school produced the first microcomputer, the Altair 8800. Sure, it didn’t have a mouse, let alone a keyboard, monitor, or even printer, but miniaturization was definitely where we were headed and I attended lectures predicting luggable computers holding more memory than existed in the entire world back when I was born in the fifties.
Looking back, even they did not realize that a handheld device would hold more memory than existed in the world when I was in college or that it would have computing power a gazillion times greater than what NASA had when they put a man on the moon.
But I grasped early on that we were on the verge of a brave new world and I wasn’t about to be left behind. As a budding engineer, I’d have been foolish to ignore the signs. I bought an early CPM machine and learned assembly language programming. I was good with languages and logic came easily, so I fell into it quite naturally. I played around with a few other languages, such as BASIC, FORTRAN, and Pascal, but I saw early on that C was the language of the future. It had started in UNIX in the late seventies, and, sure as shit, it soon became a standard.
Interestingly enough, one of the tools I had used to learn C was also a tool I’d used to learn machine language some ten years earlier. It’s called Core Wars.
Core Wars is a programming game. The goal is to write code that will take over the core of a “virtual” computer shutting out the code supplied with the game. Survival is what it is all about. The version of Core Wars I used initially came with well over a dozen different sets of code added by users that you had to beat. The better the programmer the greater the victory.
The game hadn’t changed much when the programming language C started taking control of the industry. The game was fun and instructional. I mastered C in a little over six months, and just loved playing Core Wars. The one problem with the game was not with the game itself, but with the users. You see, you were actually learning to create a virus. It was a miscreant programmer who went on to create the first computer virus. And now they turn up everywhere as tiny egos strike a blow against mortality believing their viruses will live on forever.
Every good programmer learns to hack. Hacking had no negative connotations way back when. It was just good fun. I’d break into a friend’s computer system and leave a message when he least expected it, and sure enough, they’d do the same to me. As always, it’s that one rotten apple who has to ruin it for all of us.
Those of you who can remember back to the early nineties probably remember those people who were so fucking important that they just had to have a cell phone. I was one of them, except that I never gave my number to anyone. I had half a dozen cell phones. The flip phone reminded me of that gadget on the TV series, Star Trek. I was fascinated because it was something new to hack. I’m not a sociopath, nor am I stupid enough to think I could never get caught, so I basically did a balancing act on the thin line between harmless hacking and going to prison, and I never transmitted while hacking. Prison is full of people who believed their transmissions couldn’t be traced.
I was fascinated by the technology. In fact, I used to tell friends and associates that it wouldn’t be long before your entire computer could fit into your hand and you could not only talk to someone but watch them at the same time.
Sure, I was poopooed and got my share of grimacing looks. But I knew I was right. I’d carefully watched to progression of miniaturization. It was miniaturization that beat out the Russians in the space race. It was only going to get better, and then get even better. I’m know I will live to see capacitors miniaturized to take the place of batteries. They’ll recharge in seconds and last days. They are not that far off.
Today I’m retired, but I’m still a bit of a phone hacker. You give me your phone number tonight and next week I’ll tell you who you talked to and what your conversations were about. Again, nothing maleficent in my intent. It’s just my special fun. I’ve got a list of about 40 phone numbers that are fun to listen in on. Reality TV has nothing to do with reality. But listening in on phone confabs is all about reality. I’ve listened to relationships start and I’ve listened in on their endings. And again, as a warning to you folks out there, I never transmit while hacking and that way no one will ever trace anything back to me. I’m not about to do time for a great hobby.
So, yes, I love high tech and I respect it because it can turn around and bite you in the ass. And that’s why you’re here listening to my story. Because it’s right here where my love and fascination for high tech was soon to be challenged.
I was having trouble sleeping. My ex used to tell me that she’d wake up at night because I stopped breathing and it scared the hell out of her. I didn’t do anything about it at the time, but then I started waking up in the morning with headaches, not feeling very refreshed, and sometimes found myself going back to bed after coffee and the mail.
So I went in for a sleep study. Worse sleep I’ve had in my entire life! I was wired head to toe and how I even slept longer than ten minutes was miraculous. But in the end, we discovered I needed a machine to help me breathe at night.
I now have a BiPAP machine. The CPAP was too much for me. I felt as if I was suffocating because I couldn’t breathe out. The BiPAP was perfect for me. And I got the little nose nipples rather than that mask that went over the entire face. That thing just made me panic. The tiny nose thing is just perfect and easy to rip off when I have to.
Medicare handled everything and there’s nothing I had to pay. I get a new face piece every month if I want it. There’s no co-pay. My doctor explained it to me this way: if I don’t get enough sleep and I continue with periods in which I’m not breathing, the odds of my having strokes or heart attacks skyrocket and then I will start to cost the government millions to care for me. So this is a preventative measure and, in the end, will keep my costs to the government down and I’ll get some good sleep.
I went in to pick up my machine and the guy there gave me his usual spiel; how to work it, how to clean it, how to change the filter, who to call for parts, repairs, etc, but then he showed me something that piqued my interests.
On the side, he opened up a door and there it was. A transmitter. As I sleep at night, my data is being uploaded to a satellite. My caregivers get that data and determine any changes in the settings of my machine. If they see problems, technicians will monitor my sleep and make adjustments to the machine, again, in real time. And get this. Even if I’m vacationing in Switzerland. They can adjust my machine in real time while I’m sleeping.
I was fascinated.
Sleeping with that machine wasn’t easy to get used to. In fact, I wore the face piece, those little nose nipples, around the house and while I was on the computer cursing out the president or some asshole in the government via twitter or Facebook. Even while I did my phone hacking, the face piece was there. I had to get used to it so that I wouldn’t just rip it off at night.
Now it’s not that much a bother. I can fall asleep with it on. And you will never guess how I turn it on.
You see, it’s plugged in all the time and in a sleep mode. All I have to do is put on the face mask and start breathing. The machine just comes on. I love it. My sleep has never been better.
And I’ve receive three texts so far from my providers telling me they’ve made adjustments in the machine because of the readings they’ve received.
Then one day I got a call from Walmart that my prescription was ready to be picked up. That was weird. The only prescription I have is for Viagra and since my ex and I broke up 9 months ago, I had that one cancelled.
So I asked, “What prescription?” The gal on the phone responded, “Flomax.”
I quickly called my clinic and told the nurses to have my doctor give me a call. That afternoon he called and I asked him when he put that prescription in. He said he hadn’t. I said, but it’s waiting at Walmart for me to pick it up. He said he’d check on it.
The next day he called me and told me that the sleep doctor, the doctor who had set up my sleep study and who is the final authority over the group monitoring my sleep; she was the one who put the order in for it. He said that for five days in a row I’d gotten up to pee 9 or more times.
Well, that furrowed my brow, then opened my eyes, and then gave me pause. These guys are really taking care of me. I was impressed.
Then about a week later, my ex called and said she was coming back from visiting her mother in Duluth and could she stop by for a bit? I said sure. So a half hour before she was due to arrive, I called Dominoes for a pizza. I got out her favorite wine, a Malbec and some stout for me and we had a little party that consisted of me eating pizza and drinking beer while she drenched me with all her frustration over dealing with an aging mother. Yes, girls, I learned a long time ago that sometimes you just need to vent; you’re not looking for solutions, just an ear, so yes, I’ll just STFU.
Then the strangest thing happened. About a week later, I got the urge for pizza again, and I tried to call Dominoes. They’re in my phone. But when I pushed “call,” nothing happened. So I went to one of my trac phones, and there I got a hold of Dominoes and had them bring me a pizza.
Now get this: about three weeks later, I got the urge for pizza again, and again, I could not get them on my phone. So I used a trac phone and when I called in, the moment I gave them my name, the gal on the line said, “Just a second, I’ll let you talk to my supervisor.”
That was weird.
“I’m sorry, Sir, but we have orders from your doctor not to deliver you a pizza past 6 o’clock.”
There was a pause.
“I’m sorry, Sir. You’ll have to call in before six next time.”
I called the sleep doctor the next day, and she returned my call right away.
“Mr Schumann, your data shows that your late night pizza is causing restless sleep; that your breathing is irregular and even the machine can’t get you breathing normally. You’ve got some kind of indigestion and we can either get you into your clinic for an examination or you’ll have to order your pizzas before six in the evening.”
I wasn’t about to argue with her. She was probably right. I didn’t want to stroke out and cost our poor government any more money than I had to. Especially when my government wanted to save as much money as they can, caring for me, so they can give it all to their wealthy benefactors.
Then it was suddenly June. The air conditioner came on, the doors were closed. And since I lived in the woods, I went out only if I had to. There were between a thousand and a million mosquitoes outside my door just waiting to carry me off to their swamp.
Living in the woods, I don’t get cable and I’m too far away from the cities to use an antenna, so I get my television over the internet. I have a good internet speed here. It averages right around 18 mega bips. And unlike most people, I know to unplug my modem every three days or so. Otherwise it bogs down and suddenly I can’t get more than 8 or 9 mega bips.
It was D-Day. June 6th. I have a little tradition. On June 6th, each year, I watch the movie The Longest Day. If it’s not on Netflix or Hulu I’m sure I can rent it from one of my movie channels. It’s a special day for me. I was never in the service, but my grandfather’s brother was killed on D-Day. He was killed on Omaha Beach, along with some 2000 of his fellow soldiers.
Like most movies I watch at night, I fell asleep toward the end. I know my habits so I always set the timer on the TV to turn it off. Well, not always, but most of the time.
So now I’m doing a light meal in the evening, and watching films to fall asleep. No more interference from the Sleep Nazis.
Then one day, I looked at my Turner Classic’s app and saw that Das Boot would be showing. I’d heard that it was the best anti-war film ever made, and by Germans, of course. So I set my DVR and the day it had been recorded, I had a light meal, just one beer, took my Flomax, and settled in for a great movie.
Except it wouldn’t play. I subscribe to a TV service that comes through my ROKU. That service is great. It records everything I tell it to record. The film sat staring at me in my list of recorded films. I could play the film next to it. I could play the film above it. I could play every film but that one.
I grabbed my phone and looked for the texts from my team that monitors my sleep. No new texts, so I sent them the following text: I’m trying to watch Das Boot…are you interfering?
I waited. Then came the response, “Yes, Sir. The last time you watched a war movie at night, your sleep was restless and unsettling. Your doctor advises you to watch those movies earlier in the day.”
I texted back: “Jawohl!”
Instead, I fell asleep watching The Great Ziegfeld, with William Powell and Myrna Loy. What a great pair.
So now, it’s a light meal at night, a Flomax, no pizza, no war movies, but something light. I’ve discovered that Film Noir seems to be okay since they’ve not cut me off from them. Perhaps it’s just the ultraviolence of war flicks that disturbs my sleep. Well, everything is back to normal.
Except that one night I couldn’t sleep. I was right on the border between sleep and awake and couldn’t pass over. So I decided that maybe a little porn, a quick wank, and then I’d be off to Dreamville.
I put on my face mask, located my porn channel, tuned into xHamster, chose something from the Lesbian Porn category and laid back. Then something really strange happened. I fell asleep. I didn’t even set the TV timer because my trips to the porn channel rarely last longer than ten minutes. I’m bragging. Five.
I woke up the next morning to lesbians scissoring and moaning.
I fixed a cup of coffee and went down to the computer to hurl brutal epithets at my government on social media for a couple of hours. It’s really great therapy.
So, a light meal, a glass of wine, take the Flomax, find a nice Film Noir (most are fantastic B movies) and maybe a quick wank and I’m good to go.
Except the next time I decided to visit the girls at xHamster, I couldn’t find my porn channel. And, you guessed it: I knew who’d stolen it.
I texted: “You took down my porn channel.”
“Bad sleep that night?”
“Worse than two pizzas and a war movie.”
Okay. Now they were starting to piss me off. Sure my sleep was turbulent. I didn’t get my wank. All that stuff going on in the background while I slept must have triggered some really strange dreams. Of course I bounced around. I’m amazed I didn’t rip the sheets off the bed that night. But, hey, I’m single. I’m still healthy. Do not take away my porn!
I grabbed the phone fully intending to give Dr Mengele a mouthful when it hit me: Maureen.
It had been a long time. I really liked Maureen, and Maureen really liked me. But Maureen was not a one man woman. Maureen loved cock. In fact, Maureen orgasmed while giving head. We have a name for that kind of woman: perfect. Well, near perfect. If she shows up naked carrying beer, that’s perfect.
They couldn’t stop me from calling Maureen. And if they tried, I had five or six trac phones. And nobody’s going to call Maureen and convince her not to come visit me. It had been a good while since our last get-together. I was positive she’d be ready for another round. I liked Maureen.
Maureen liked jazz. To me, jazz and rap had something in common: neither were written for me. That and some of the modern hip-hop were the only forms of music I couldn’t stand. Hell, I remember when Motown produced the finest music on the planet. Then that died.
But for Maureen, I got out her favorite CD and put it into an endless loop. I got out her favorite wine, a nice chilled Riesling. Then a plate of three cheeses and some Naan; a six year old cheddar, a one year old Gouda, and a Gorgonzola from Italy. To top it off, a fruit plate with strawberries on the perimeter, next slices of tangy kiwi, and black grapes in the middle, all carefully removed from their stems and washed in structured water.
Sure, we were in for a very base, animalistic evening, but we weren’t savages.
She arrived promptly at seven and tossed her coat off as she spun around, grabbed my cheeks with one hand and laid a perfect kiss on me with only the hint of tongue. Her lavender, patchouli scent brought back a rush of good times past. She ran for the bottle of wine sitting in an ice bucket and poured herself a huge glass even before I could sit down. With her first sip, she closed her eyes, breathed in the music she loved so much and reached out, blindly grabbing a strawberry and set it on that vegetable tongue of hers.
We exchanged the usual pleasantries and caught each other up in both our lives. She was sincerely interested in my health, since I was seventeen years older than she. I told her no heart meds yet, just a tab of Viagra, which, by the way, I wasn’t snorting . . . yet.
We’d always laughed at that one because when we met, years ago, coke was the thing and she always carried her Port-a-Snort with her wherever she went. Not anymore.
When the last drop of wine had been poured, she sipped it staring into my eyes. I smiled. I really liked this woman. I said, “Shall we adjourn to the master bedroom?”
She put down her glass and stared across the room at the wall, saying in what seemed like a monotone, “I must leave.”
Yes, I was shocked. As she stood, I reached for her hand, and holding it in mine I pressed against her heart and lung meridians at the same time and then kissed her palm. She turned to leave and I gave her a sound rap on the back of her head, striking the gallbladder meridian and caught her as she dropped heavily. I laid her down on the couch and ran to my work room with my computers, phones, etc, grabbing an RF Locator, two powerful magnets, and a transmitter with amplifier. Under the couch sat a six plug surge protector. I knew right where it was almost as well as I knew right where to tap Maureen. Although, I did find it ironic that after some 40 years of martial arts, the only time I’d actually gotten the chance to use the art of Dim Mak was on a woman attempting to leave my home. Then, in the back of my mind, it hit me that the #MeToo movement would not be thrilled with my behavior.
With the RF locator I started scanning her shoulders and, bingo, she’d been chipped! I noted the frequency and turned on my transmitter amplifying that specific frequency as high as I could. I place the two magnets, super powerful magnets, on both sides of the chip. I focused the transmitter in between the magnets and let loose a blast.
It worked. The RF Locator told me I’d neutralized the chip. I quickly grabbed up all the equipment and hurried it back to my workroom and shut the door. I returned and took my place on the couch, placing her head in my lap. I held her hand and made tiny circles over her wrist with the heat of my palm and she started to wake up.
“I don’t know. We were heading to the bedroom and you stood and passed out.”
Sitting up she rubbed her eyes, I handed her her wineglass and she took a sip. She smiled up at me and whispered, “Now where were we?”
I slept in the next morning, waking at nine-thirty, ten. I pulled off my face mask, turned off the machine, rolled over and grabbed my phone.
I texted: “Best fucking night’s sleep ever.”
Please do not infringe upon my copyright, or my attorneys will be forced to infringe upon your bank account.
A Remote Encounter
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.