John Brock: “Blue Tooth” technology enters my limited world of modernity

  • Tuesday, April 23, 2013

(Note: About a year ago I wrote about a Canadian newspaper editor who ripped off my column that first appeared here in 2007. He signed his name to my column and claimed it as his own. He was busted by an Internet spy and lost his job. Several readers have asked me which column he copied. Here is the plagiarized column.)

2007 Column

I penetrated the fascinating world of “Blue Tooth” technology recently with the purchase of a little instrument that sticks in your ear and allows “hands-free” use of a cell phone.

I was first introduced to the Blue Tooth idea several years ago by a son who announced that he had just acquired a “Blue Tooth.” My heart sank because I assumed a blue tooth was some sort of dental malady. My thoughts quickly reverted to the fourth grade when my little classmate, Sammy, showed up with an actual blue tooth.

His big brother had shot him in the mouth with a BB air rifle during a make-believe war-game. His “battlefield” injury had left little Sammy with a dead tooth that had turned a ghostly pale, bluish white. Sammy acquired an appropriate nickname and was ever afterwards known simply as “Blue Tooth.”

My son quickly allayed my fears that he had somehow attained a real blue tooth by explaining that the term in modern parlance referred to the technology that allows users of cell phones an hands-free telephone experience. I was told the technology had other adaptations but I left well enough alone because I have great difficulty understanding technology beyond small doses.

For the uninitiated, let me offer a brief explanation of how blue tooth technology works. The short answer is, “I don't have the foggiest idea.” But, the extended answer is that all I know about it is that you can talk on a cell phone via an instrument that sticks in your ear without a wire of some sort connecting the two instruments. The expression, “Stick it in your ear” now has a completely new dimension. But, that's exactly what you do. You stick this thing in your ear and you can talk and hear via your cell phone even though the phone remains in your pocket.

Talking to beans

When I first learned of this marvelous technology, previous mysteries began to clarify. For instance, I now know that those folks tooling down the highway are not really talking to themselves. Once, my wife came in from the Piggly Wiggly and announced that she had seen and heard a woman talking to the green beans. It now became clear that she was speaking through her “blue tooth” to someone on the other end of a cell phone conversation.

And, it also cleared up another mystery I experienced once at a rest stop along Interstate 95. I had gone into the men's side of the “comfort” station and was utilizing the utility hanging on the wall for its intended purpose when the guy next to me started what I thought was a conversation directed at me.

I felt a bit uncomfortable speaking with him under such personal circumstances, but I politely answered his seemingly senseless questions. (“Whatcha doing? Etc.” Somehow, his subsequent remarks never seemed to match the answers I had given.

I was a little uncomfortable but I continued to uphold my end of the conversation. It was only as he turned to wash his hands that the mystery cleared up. I noticed this little instrument in his ear. I was somewhat embarrassed — especially when he gave me that disgusted look as he walked away.

I figured at the time that he had a really big hearing aid. I had not yet been enlightened regarding the “Blue-Tooth” miracle.

Subsequently, I have learned that there are many other modern technologies that I have no comprehension of. My lack of technological understanding can be blamed on my pre-space-age education. I am handicapped in today's advanced world because my science classes revolved around hooking a dry-cell battery to a little homemade motor. We marveled at the “flow” of electricity as we turned the “juice” on and off with a little switch. This brand of technological knowledge doesn't even get you into Kindergarten in today's post-moon-walk environment.

My grandchildren know more technology after the first grade than I knew after six years or more of college. In fact, I have to count heavily on my three sons and grandchildren to keep my household electronics in working order. Since they all live distantly, I worry that they might not enjoy visits with my wife and me because I always have some technology problem for them to solve when they come. Oh well, perhaps they owe me. After all, how can you possibly equate hooking up a television cable box with changing a diaper? I figure they still owe me — big time?

After unwrapping my “mail-in rebate” purchase containing my very own personal Blue Tooth instrument, I learned that it had to be “recognized” by my particular brand of cell phone. Once again, I did not posses the foggiest notion as to how to properly introduce the two items.

Thank the Lord, again, for tech savvy sons and grandsons. I can now walk around talking to someone with my cell phone in my pocket and my Blue Tooth in my ear.

If you come upon me and I am seemingly speaking to open space, just remember, I ain't talking to you.

I'm Blue-Toothing!

John Brock is retired and lives in Georgetown County. He can be reached by mail at this newspaper or via Email: brock@johnbrock.com.

Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.

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