Trying To Make Peace With The iNinjas

I carefully evaluate technology before embracing it.  Wiser men than myself have warned that it’s better to think things over a bit before swigging a New Coke, using a fancy derivative in your investment portfolio, or buying the first Betamax on the block.

This isn’t to say I’m anti-technology.  Technology is great stuff that keeps us from hunkering in caves and dying at 35.  I wouldn’t want to live in a world without automatic drip coffee makers, antibiotics, telescopic rifle scopes, or word processors.  But I am definitely technology suspicious.  You have to identify when technology is shit served up on a platter of false hope.  For example; mustard gas, the Chevy Volt, non-dairy creamer, the AMC Gremlin, Hot Pockets, and (unforgivably) “Nader alarms”.

This brings me to pad computers and especially the iPad.  As a first strike against it, the iPad comes from the spawn of Satan; Steve Jobs.  (He’s not dead you know… he’s a disembodied nerd/spirit running Apple from the “cloud”.  Always ready to deflower any fool who can summon him with incantations and a black turtleneck. ) Like Mephistopheles’ deal with hell, Apple’s iPad seems like a fools bargain which “frees” you from the ability to control your own machine.  Plus you can only keep the iNinjas at bay if you keep Apple’s presence in your home to a minimum.

In fact I’ve so far pigeonholed iPads as the most useless idea this side of an internet enabled refrigerator.  (Unlike the Kindle which has battered my reluctance down and taken over half my library.)  iPads seem to be a computers which are incapable of… well… computing.  Nobody composes literature (even bad poetry) on one.  Nobody uses one to do their taxes, tune a fuel injection system, or calculate ballistic coefficients.  It’s a dumb terminal for the “cloud” that happens to play angry birds and look cool.  Thus I’ve associated iPads with irrelevant teenage bimbos maintaining Facebook personas.

Today I got a different view.  I was in the local grain elevator.  I love grain elevators.  They’re the most classic of timeless American institutions; a combination of free enterprise, important services to society that are masked in obsolescence, and total obscurity.  Plus they sometimes explode.

The grinders are huge American metal devices which are twice my age and have more mass than a Buick.  (I’m talking about Buicks made back when the door alone felt like battleship armor.)  The floors are wood and well worn.  The ramps are gravel and large enough that you can drive your tractor (or farm-semi) inside.  The siding is equal parts faded sheet metal and dry rotted planks.  The lighting is old incandescent bulbs (suck it Al Gore!) encased in protective glass containers that look surprisingly like Mason Jars.

It is also a haven of capitalism.  Prices are listed on a blackboard.  They change daily.  In fact the blackboard looks suspiciously like what I’d expect a bookie would have in 1950.

Plopped in the middle of all this decrepit and aged Americana was a decrepit and aged farmer.  He looked less well dressed (and less modern) than these folks:

As always, thank you for your support.

But far more intelligent than these folks:

I’m Larry. This is Darryl and my other brother Darryl.

He was parked on an old truck seat with his feet on a coil of bailing wire.  He was ignoring me.  (I was the only customer he’d had in hours.)  I expected lousy service.  All real grain mills pride themselves on poor service to rival the most obtuse pierced wonder at Starbucks.  It’s a rural hazing procedure.  Plus old people don’t move fast and who the hell hurries for cattle feed anyway and the damn kids these days and the price of diesel is caused by those jerks in Washington and the new seed is shit and…  Yes, moving slow and complaining is a form of art when done well.

Sadly, he was staring at the glowing phosphorescence of a *$%#@@$ iPad!

Oh no!  They’d gotten to him.

Then I peeked over his shoulder and saw that he was carefully reviewing grain prices and a weather map.  He had a string of numbers in a piece of paper and he was staring at the weather map as if willing it to predict the future.  (For those of you who don’t know…the futures market at this level is practically gambling.  Despite what you hear during testimony about Federal subsidies, farmers sometimes take huge risks in anticipation of huge gains.  He was pondering what I presume was a high risk / high reward bet.  Amusingly he was looking at weather stats from another state.  Probably wondering if their weather had hosed them enough for him to hold out on his local harvest.)

Data heavy high-risk calculations by an overall clad, red state, elevator operator, in nowheresville?  On an iPad.  This was not Angry Birds!

I have backed off my earlier assumption that all things that go though an iPad are fluff.  Now I see them as 99% fluff and 1% real decision-making power.  Cool.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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16 Responses to Trying To Make Peace With The iNinjas

  1. kevin says:

    I drove a Gremlin every day for 16 years. I’d’ve suggested substituting ‘Ford Pinto’. It would’ve tied nicely into the next paragraph because, like grain elevators, they also would periodically explode. Sometimes without the help of NBC News personnel.

  2. Shepherd K says:

    I too had similar reservations about the iPad and all things iLeash until my company gave me one for work. It has some distinct advantages over a laptop and few disadvantages (who really needs Flash anyway?). As long as you are willing to trust the cloud for data storage, you have an almost instant on platform that is compact, lightweight and reasonably powerful for most people’s usage.

  3. There are all kinds of Ag apps for the iPad. The “big” thing now is to use it for equipment monitoring and control. Hook it up and a few cable here and there to watch your seed population, spacing, and $/ac impact of ride quality. Move it over to the sprayer or the combine and watch things there. There’s also quite a few apps for calculating nutrient removal rates and to help with grain marketing. The list seems to be never ending.

  4. parascribe says:

    I read this morning the obama gets his security briefings on his ipad. Does that add to the fluff or the real decision making?

    • For the Big O it’s all fluff. The farmer was different. He was thinking hard because he wanted to compete in the market, bear risk, and make money. That’s decision making. The Big O knows that the farmer didn’t build that and all the credit goes to Federal infrastructure so the wealth should be spread to Big O’s favorite groups.

  5. Tim says:

    I had your attitude exactly until, while planning an international trip, I concluded a tablet was the tool I needed. Long story short, I’m an evangelical convert.

    Written on my Samsung tablet because Apple can go !*#& themselves.

  6. cspschofield says:

    I have an iPad because I like to buy books at library sales and yard sales and sell them on Amazon. The iPad allows me to do this, while at the same time NOT being a phone. I don’t own a cellphone. I don’t want to own a cellphone. I have to desire whatsoever to be at the beck and call of every idiot with a phone of any type, 24/7/365. Don’t tell me “You can always turn it off.” I’ve heard how people who turn their cellphones off are treated by the people who feel they have a right to contact them at any time of the day or night.

    Not owning a cellphone may be the only reason I’m not a serial killer.

    • Many moons ago I had a cell phone (i.e. leash) issued for work. Eventually HQ decided to cancel the phone to save money. I was mightily pissed but hey, it’s their phone and they can do what they want.

      Later they asked for my personal cell phone number. My attitude was “I refuse to confirm I even have a cell phone, it’s off, out of minutes, locked in my truck, and the number is none of your business. My phone, if I even have one, which I might not, is for me to call out and not for anyone else to call in.” They dropped the whole topic. A miracle!

      Now I wonder about the sanity of folks that maintain a phone on their own dime just so their job can annoy them for free. HQ succeeded in making most of the workforce finance their own leash!

  7. Max Damage says:

    I must raise one small protest — the AMC Gremlin contained absolutely nothing that could be considered technology, nor was it sold with any degree of hope attached to it. Come to think of it, that car embodied the feeling of the country from the end of the Nixon Administration until the start of the Reagan Administration.

  8. MaxDamage says:

    I am still gobsmacked that the same company that made the Gremlin not only made the Javelin SST but also that Mark Donahue agreed to drive it.

    Pretty car, sure, but it’s kind of like agreeing to marry Marilin Munster after meeting the rest of her family.

    Caveat: I’m married and my mother-in-law lived with us for about a year. If Mark Donahue were alive we’d be at a bar right now knocking back drinks and comparing notes on willful self-delusion and/or stupidity.

    – Max

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