I can quickly see ways that being connected to the internet constantly via smarty pants phones in our pockets are detriment to life. My smarty pants phone is constantly vibrating, emitting sounds like a pinball machine, and flashing like a video arcade (Yes, I just referenced two modes of entertainment that are passé). I call it a smarty pants phone because it always seems to give me more trouble than smart service. The distraction of the arcade is now perpetually by my side, unless I forget it at home. I NEVER leave it at home on purpose–ask my wife, Renee, I have told her that it is always a mistake caused by leaving the house too quickly. I wouldn’t want to leave that ruckus at home.
Actually, most of my phone’s gyrations are caused by communication from Renee. She has found a way to send me text messages from her desktop computer at work, using all of her typing skills, not just her thumbs. This is problematic, as I wasn’t able to keep up with her texts when she was just using her phone. Now she has the Gatlin Gun of texting, and my replies are limited to my bulky thumbs—a muzzle loader by comparison. By the time I answer her text that read, “Can u buy milk?” with a response that says, “I already did,” she has already sent me 312 additional texts, with the most recent reading, “Do not forget to pick up Wes.” Wesley is our son. Now she thinks I am saying I already picked up the kid, when in fact I have already bought milk because I needed it for coffee. So she sends a follow up text asking why I already picked up Wes, since he should not get picked up for several hours. The Gatlin Gun erupts and I turn off my muzzleloader and hunker down.
I would like to share a great reality of modern technology, however, and that is the ability to work afield. All of those things that chain us to a computer can now be done anywhere. Well, some of those things can be done anywhere, and others can be done anywhere that you have 3 bars of cell phone service. For instance, many of the places where I train my beagles also get a cell phone signal. Recently I received a newfangled Tablet that is basically a computer, like the smarty pants phone, but with a bigger screen. After minimal training (the equivalent of a semester long graduate school course) Wes was able to teach me to use the darn thing, though I did need to scavenge a full size keyboard in order to type effectively. I now have a mobile office. By mobile office I mean a dove stool where I set my electronic doohickey to do my typing, until my butt gets sore, and then I save everything and watch the hounds chase for a few minutes while my feet awaken and my legs limber up so that I can sit again.
I can answer important emails for work. I can ignore junk emails from all sorts of places. This blog and various magazine articles can be submitted while the beagles are singing their song and the melody echoes through the valleys. Sometimes I even sit on the dove stool myself, if I am reading and not typing. The smarty pants phone is there for any pressing phone call if someone needs to be in contact me. After a couple hours of listening to baying beagles at dawn I simply pack up the mobile office and head off to do all the work that requires me to be physically present. Modern technology, much to my surprise, has its advantages for the sportsman, after all. One of my favorites is the GPS tracking collar. I am currently using the SportDOG Tek2.0 and I love it. Sometimes I think the pack has run off, and a quick glance at the GPS shows that they are circling a rabbit over the hill and I simply cannot hear them. I pick up my mobile office and move in that direction. I often go the whole time that I am afield and never look at the GPS, but there are times when I really love having the ability to quickly locate my beloved hunting house hounds.
The more amenities we invent, the less free time we seem to have. Nothing in the cyber world will ever replace the true joys of the great outdoors—watching a young dog learn and excel, making a perfect shot, being renewed by that odor of oak leaves mingled with the fruit of a wild apple tree, or feeling the air temperature chill my nose in the late afternoon as the scenting conditions shift from decent to perfect. The mobile office lets me be out there in the field a little more. I seem to work better there, and that often results in getting my necessary work finished faster than I would at the actual office. Then I turn all my attention to the hounds and enjoy this great gift of a life that has gone to the dogs.
For more from Bob Ford check out his books: Beagle Tales.