Thursday, March 05, 2009

Things change

Impressive changes, and weird ones...

Yesterday, I bought a one tetrabyte external hard drive. It cost $129. A little over ten years ago, I remember buying my first gigabyte drive. It was a 1.3G, and it cost me over $300, but it was three times the capacity of my first hard drive from late 1994. This new one has has a volume somewhere between 2000-2500 times that of my first hard drive, and I have a $16 USB pen memory in my wallet with a 1G capacity. It really is astounding to reflect on all that.

That's the impressive change.

I have disks of the Britcom Are You Being Served?, and I like to let them roll sometimes while I'm doing things. Last Friday I had one running while I got ready for work. When I got to work, the paper announced the passing of Wendy Richard, who played Miss Brahms on the show, the young junior working under Mrs. Slocombe. She was 65, and died of breast cancer. Surprisingly, Mollie Sudgen, who played Mrs. Slocombe, survived her, and quite touchingly referred to her as "the daughter I never had" and expressed how much she would miss her.

But what gets me is to have seen her, just that morning, as a woman of about 30, to find her gone a few hours later in her mid-60s. When I was a kid, you knew something was old because it looked old. Photos and TV shows from a few years before my birth on back were all black and white. "Modern" things were in colour. That's what was so weird about it. If you watch Are You Being Served?, the suits people wear don't look different from what's appropriate now. The hair styles go in and out but they're not that different either. They talk about the European Common Market, joke about the Germans, talk about jetting to vacations... the clearest token of the march of time is how many of them talk about World War II in the first person. But otherwise, it does not have a strong air of anachronism. It still feels contemporary, if the cell phones and desktop computers are somehow absent. So it was unsettling to realize that a life had been largely lived in the years since I was a kid till now. I suppose every generation goes through this, but it's an unpleasant realization for each, I expect.

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