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It seems like every other day or so I’m either amazed, stymied, overwhelmed or frustrated by technology. It makes me wonder how those who suffered through earlier pandemics in history survived at all, quarantine without any Netflix, ESPN, Disney Plus, Facebook, Amazon or DoorDash delivery service? Unheard of!

We’re certainly living in extraordinary times. It’s pretty entertaining watching my school kids examining my VHS tape rewinder, record player, rotary telephone and cassette tape player. Of course I do the same trying to figure out their computer watches.

I took my dad to the hospital the other night, and when I arrived at his house he suggested we take his car. His car is one that runs on witchcraft and magic — no key in the ignition, no noise of an engine firing up or gears shifting, just a touch of some buttons and off you go seemingly gliding along on a cushion of air. I felt like I was in an episode of “The Jettsons.”

When I went to pick him up, I couldn’t figure out how to operate the door locks and spent five minutes opening and closing the trunk, reprogramming the radio, turning the heat off and on, and trying to read the instructions on the computer instrument panel similar to those in an F-16. Meanwhile, Dad’s standing out in the cold trying to tell me how to open the door through his mask.

I’m sure the staff in the ER were watching and replaying the security footage of the whole incident. “Hey everyone, come get a load of this guy!” Subsequently I’ve decided to never own a car that’s smarter than I am.

Technology is even taking a prominent place in the sportsmen’s outdoor arena. A couple of my older sons and I went ice fishing last weekend up in Idaho since the frigid temperatures have brought on the formation of thick ice on many of the reservoirs. We fished most of the afternoon without a single bite, which is kind of unusual because my oldest son has been dubbed the “fish whisperer” of the family, which he rightfully inherited from his Grandpa Brent. 

We recognized a friend of the family who came down, crossed the lake and set up off the opposite shore. Christopher, of course, meandered over to see how he was faring and came back saying that in the 20 minutes the guy was there he had a dozen fish out on the ice. What?

I asked what he was using for bait; Christopher said it didn’t matter because he had a “flasher.” A flasher? What the heck is a flasher? Images of the stereotypical dude in a trench coat standing on the street corner came to mind as I inquired further. Apparently a flasher is similar to an electronic fish finder only much more sophisticated — allowing the angler to see depth and where the fish are moving so you can literally drop your bait right on their heads.

We had fish finders when I was a kid. They were called younger brothers. “Hey Kevin, go around the other side of the reservoir and see if there are any fish rising, and this time make sure they’re fish, not turtles.”

I decided to do a little research on these flashers since it sounded like they would be interesting to use. I found that some models start at about five hundred bucks, which isn’t much fun at all! The website I visited touted a model with “obstruction rejection technology (in my case credit card rejection technology) in order to avoid mixed messages from other depth finders.” Wait, what? It communicates with other fish finders? Well beam me up Scotty! Apparently the unit uses advanced sonar technology, and according to the website “these devices are easy to interpret with a little bit of knowhow.” Yeah, like locking your dad out of his own car while you’re still in it. 

The unit comes with a harness to attach to your bucket so you won’t have to use a three-cent treble hook trying to snag a five hundred dollar unit off the lake bottom after you accidentally kick it over into the hole. It also says, “When you first turn on your flasher, you may find yourself temporarily blinded and totally perplexed by the bands of color on your machine.” Hmmmm, blinded? Kind of like those new vehicles that hit their high beams and activate their 10 million candle power brights that gives everyone in your car an X-ray, after which you run off the road and hit a cow? That kind of blinded? Ha!

I think back to all the fishing trips I ever went on and don’t remember ever using any technology to ensure success. Really the only technology my father-in-law ever used was his watch, which only aided him in determining how much trouble he’d be in when he arrived home.

I guess I’m kind of old school when it comes to fishing and enjoy dropping my bait down the hole in anticipation of catching whatever happens by without the use of nuclear powered submarine technology. I don’t need any help at being inept, just ask my dad’s Prius. Five hundred dollars will buy a lot of bait, so I think I’ll pass on the flasher and get skunked on my own. Besides, I still have that turkey tag to fill for Christmas.

Chad Hawkes is a fifth grade teacher at North Park Elementary School. He can be reached by email at chad.hawkes@ccsdut.org

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