Friday, January 25, 2013

I shall call it . . . Waldo


So I finally caved and bought an iPad (just a 2, which has become the Toyota Camry of the gadget world: you know it's going to give value but nobody gets real excited about it except the driver).

Here's the weird thing; I'm getting the biggest kick out of tracking its progress toward me from China. I ordered it online because I wanted it engraved on the back (for free) and that, apparently, means I get it from Chengdu, which is not exactly plumb in the middle of China but certainly looks (to me) like it qualifies as Deepest Asia. I google-mapped it (although Street View isn't available) - it looks like what I'd imagine as typical New China, construction everywhere with hangovers from the Revolutionary era such as a ginormous Mao statue.

Yesterday it left Chengdu and traveled to Guangzhou, which is inland of Hong Kong. Guangzhou looks a bit more traditional than Chengdu - again, this is just an impression gained from Google Maps. It looks like one of those oriental cities in 1930s stories where anything--yes, Anything--can be bought and sold, and the hero dashes through warren-like streets to find the kidnapped girl.

Sometime overnight (times are a bit hazy on the tracking form) my little Apple parcel jumped over the ocean to Anchorage, Alaska, which looks (summer pictures, I presume) green and a bit remote, as if the rest of the world doesn't matter.

As I write it's in Memphis, TN. Is that the mighty Mississippi I see before me? And...OK, I'm not feeling very interested in Memphis. What is it about American cities that they all look so alike?

Point is, shopping is global. My gadget is coming a heck of a long way for its $399 price tag, when you think about it. I'm thinking about all the steps, the planes, trucks, trains and goodness knows what, and all the PEOPLE involved in getting that little white box to yours truly in the Chicago burbs. And the technology...think back to the first steps toward any sort of computing back in the 1800s, fast-forward to the first emergence of solid-state electronics, zoom up to the advent of mobile wireless devices and all this so that I can mess around with productivity apps.

You know, when I get that sucker (tomorrow? although I'll bet that the slowest part of the journey is the local part) I'm going to RESPECT it. Waldo, as it will now be called, is a miracle of human ingenuity on many different levels.

And you can bet that I'll be looking for productivity apps to keep my writing life up to geeky scratch. First one I'm going to try out is the much-vaunted Moleskine notebook app, which is free. Watch this space for a roundup of the fun things I'm going to find.

Photo credit: Vorarlberg at Stock.Xchng