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Aztec Yhessin

May 1999

Ode to The Oregon Trail

We're all carbon-based life forms living as silicon based chips.

A few nights ago during an overnight, all-night, middle-of-the-night local Super-Wal-Mart-shopping-excursion I noticed one thing that shook me, inspired me, and overall frightened me into falling asleep in an agitated state, and experiencing a dream where my mother was trying to wake me up for another day of school back in fourth grade. A shaking time of my life, which I don't want to remember. Just thinking of that teacher causes me to tremble in fear.

The Super Wal-Mart is a bit of a hang out in my town. We have no culture, and everyone is waiting for someone else to start it up. We have one dance club, that no one really wants to go to, and two Notre Dame-based coffee shops within a 15-mile radius. So, being particularly bored out of my mind during this evening in question, I found myself once again entering the establishment, and strolling around, browsing through things that I had no intention of buying.

It was the aisle that displayed all the tiny kid-sized computers and word processors that caught my attention. You know, the aisle that's across from all the school supplies, and neat stuff like dry erase boards and markers. Lined up in front of the little battery powered systems were six teenaged girls, utilizing the functions of the little machines, and having a hell of a lot of fun doing it.

It sparked a bit of a philosophical thought in my mind. Who are we anymore? When I started grade school, around ten years ago, computers didn't sit in every classroom, powered with such software as The Magic School Bus, or such connections to the Internet and abroad. Elementary-school-aged kids today find it appalling when they can't get into their pop3 server to check their e-mail, or can't get their connection into one of the IRC servers. Maybe I'm going a little overboard here, but the amount of technology rations that have been dished up in the past few years compared to when I started school are so dramatically skewed that they scare me to death.

I feel ripped off, much like I do usually. I don't remember having a PowerMac, iMac, or Pentium II in my classroom. In 1987, we had an old Apple IIe from 1981 sitting in the basement by the boiler, and while trying to play THE OREGON TRAIL, we'd be spit on by either hot steam or the head janitor-- and it always made it extremely hard to keep my family alive. THE OREGON TRAIL was a wonderful teaching tool for kids in second grade back in the mid 80s. We all learned what to do just in case one is ever trekking from the east coast to the west, and on the way one or someone in one's family eats a piece of diseased raw rabbit. My baby daughter ran into various bouts of yellow fever, and small pox. Needless to say, my wife and I (of course it was a heterosexual configuration) must have buried her at least 50 times between '86 and '89.

And then of course there was MATH MONSTER. A strange worded multiplication problem would materialize in the corner of the screen, and the sky would start to fall. I would control a strange looking figure with a net trying to catch numbers in sequence. If it was the incorrect answer, my teacher would slap me in the face, and tell me I was SATAN.

Today, it just seems unfair. What are psychiatrists going to do with the new generation not being traumatized by their classroom software programs? Today, kids are gently introduced to the idea that a machine can work for them through the use of emotionally easing characters such as a certain popular herbivore purple Tyrannosaurus Rex. Now, that doesn't make any sense at all.

I think that games like THE OREGON TRAIL were powerful teaching tools for the elementary aged scholar. It taught you a collection of roles, and items, such as the anxiety provoking psychosis that you'll only ever get one chance, and if you fuck up, you'll die. That's a moral, tradition, or overall scare that I've really held onto in my growing years. It keeps me focused, wired, and constantly on edge. Something that I feel is good for children to have. Would you really want to be the only child on the block that didn't have an ulcer?

In the past several years, many things have been changing in the technological world. My six-year-old niece has a pager. Read that again.

My six-year-old niece has a pager.

In the world known as Aztec, I find a usual circumstance when a pager, or pager subscribing person is involved. Someone dials a number, dials more numbers, and sits around waiting for a call back. The call comes, the person answers, and everyone waits patiently for the little baggie to be dropped off. Then the whole thing repeats a couple nights later-- and if there are a lot of people over, possibly even twice in that night.

My niece never lets the thing leave her side. It's always clipped to her pant pocket, or backpack, and is consistently sitting beside her as she sleeps. I wonder what she uses the thing for, since I've never really been told? Is she trafficking cocaine through the Midwest, is she waiting for that really important page from her seven year old boyfriend, or does she simply need constant connectivity so she always knows when her friends are at soccer practice?

It's doesn't make any sense.

The older generation tends to have a better grip on reality, compared to the younger generation. And overall, my generation is fucked. What would happen if your MTV was taken away from you, or you had to sell your computer, or discontinue your Internet service? Well, for sure, you wouldn't be reading this, and you wouldn't be communicating with numerous people in the online world.

I've offered my mother a few private Internet lessons because at times she has the interest of looking something up. Current stock prices, recipes-- you can find a lot of things on the Internet. She sits in front of the computer, and I try to guide her through her online quest, but she always tends to get sidetracked. Her eyes glide across the room to the fax machine, and she stares in wonder. "Those things are so amazing. It's so unbelievable that those actually work." Needless to say, as of yet, I haven't introduced her to video-conferencing.

When Y2K hits, if it does, it'll be an interesting occurrence. People tend to be extremely concerned right now with whether the new VCR or refrigerator or PC they bought is compliant. I try to explain to them that it really doesn't matter if the power grid goes down. I guess we'll all see in about six months. As for me though, I'll be nestled comfortable in my house with probably a large group of friends who are going to be staying here until the unknown madness is known. We'll be sipping tee, playing cards, all the while making our own pants, with a dozen or more tanks of gasoline sitting outside patiently, and a snowmobile in the front. Though, in the height of all the madness, I'm sure that a couple of my friends will bring over their new Color Gameboys, hoping that they are Y2K OK.

By the way, notice I have nothing to say on the Incident at Littleton.

Aztec Yhessin

**

Aztec Yhessin [aztecyhessin@141.com], living in South Bend, Indiana, is just some 19-year-old bisexual dude looking for answers in places he's already looked. If you can help, e-mail. www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Village/6929


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