Monday, April 07, 2008

I find genes such fascinating things. Or, I should say, what happens when you mix up two sets of genes. It constantly surprises me how, when you mix up two sets of genes that you always get such different results. Time after time after time. If it was me inventing the world I reckon I would have said, ‘The first three will be all different, but after that they will just start repeating.’

I was with my friend the mother-of-four-boys last week and we were discussing this as her freshest boy was drooling on my shoulder. She thinks her number one is a nerd, number two will go to any lengths to be cool, number three is just an out-there giggling nutjob (I arrived around there last night to find number three chasing the peanut butter around the kitchen, as you do) and number four has a startling resemblance to number one. ‘It’s kind of like breeding dogs, really,’ she commented.

I love watching the people my nieces and nephew are growing in to. Fortunately my sister and brother both married musical types because there was no way their children were going to inherit a large sense of rhythm from either them. (One of my mother’s school reports says, ‘The Fruitcake cannot sing. It is not that she does not sing, it is simply that she cannot sing.’ And at my nephew’s christening I was sitting beside my father in the church. We stood up for the first hymn – and just to get this straight, so appalling is my voice that I don’t even pretend to sing – and beside me my father started to tunelessly butcher the hymn. I looked down at where he had the hymn book open and saw that IT WAS ON THE WRONG PAGE.)

However one thing my parents are polar opposites on is technology. Growing up, I think the most common thing I ever heard said about my father was that that he loved gadgets. I was talking about this to my sister and she pointed out that Dad had a fax, email, laptop and mobile phone before any of his children. He even had Sky installed before it was physically possible to get it in the area.

This is the man who (before he became an arms dealer) was one of the first people in the country to have a pregnancy tester for sheep. During the eighties he featured twice on technology television shows with his latest farming wizardry.

My mother, on the other hand, is still delighted that they’ve invented this new thing called the abacus. We got an email from our father some years’ ago, ‘Your mother is having a bad week, she has a new mobile phone and a new car. She isn’t coping very well.’

My sister has inherited my father’s love of gadgets. But she has kept this trait reasonably well hidden, it wasn’t until she was teaching me how to use my digital camera that I worked this out. ‘How do you know all this shit?’ I was baffled. She might as well have been talking Polish to me. Her husband rolled his eyes and asked, ‘Have you met your father?’

My brother is quite good on gadgets as well. Or being able to work out how things work. However it appears this character trait seems to have eluded me. When I got my hard drive DVD recorder I used to have to bribe people to come around for dinner just so they could teach me how to use it. I like looking at it, and I like the idea of being able to make it do what it’s built for, but I find reading the instruction manual about as fun as doing my GST return.

Despite this, I remain convinced I must have some sort of gadget ability in me somewhere and I have been trying to channel it this week. I bought a new landline phone and oh my, it’s sexy. It doesn’t have buttons, it’s black, sleek and has a blue back light.

And the world was really working on my side the day I bought it, as they had advertised it wrongly and I got it for nearly half of its retail price.

Sadly, this state-of-the-art piece of technology does have a down side - it comes with a manual that makes War and Peace look like a piece of light reading. It does things that I don’t really think a phone needs to do and chances are, unless I invite one of my family to stay, it will only ever get to do twenty percent of the tasks that it’s designed to do.


Brainy phone, delinquent owner.

If my phone was a dog, it would possibly end up at the pound.

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