Readers of this column will rightly surmise that "forefront" and "technology" are two words that don't usually go together in a sentence describing me.
My home computer is probably 9 years old. My laptop is 8. One of the sports writers calls my iPod "iPodasaurus" because it's so old. I don't have HD television or a Blu-ray Disc player.
And as I've written before, I'm not on Facebook or MySpace, although I am signed up on something called LinkedIn, which is apparently a Web site that allows former co-workers to constantly e-mail you asking you to link to them for as-yet unknown purposes.
So I'm usually behind the curve on technology. One reason is that even if you get ahead of it, in a year you're behind it again, and I don't have the money or time every few months to upgrade everything I own that uses electricity.
But I have recently stepped into a new arena when it comes to cell phones. I am now the apprehensive, sort-of-proud, sort-of-regretful owner of a "smart" phone.
My wife made me do it.
OK, that's not really true. She wanted a BlackBerry for Christmas. They had a buy-one-get-one-free deal going, our old contract was up, and, well, my phone that was just a phone is now a phone and about a million other things.
And I can't put it down.
I also can't operate it, which makes tinkering with it kind of frustrating.
This device is so dynamic that making phone calls is an afterthought, so much so that what used to take a flip and a button push now takes the better part of an afternoon.
Here's what you have to do to make a phone call on this thing:
1) Press a button to light it up.
2) Press two more buttons to unlock the keyboard.
3) Press yet another button to get to the address book.
4) Scroll through said address book until you get to the person you want to call.
5) Scroll through their address, e-mail address, work e-mail, job title, company name, birthday, blood type and DNA genome, to find a list of their phone numbers.
6) Pick the number you want and click on it.
7) Press the little green telephone button.
Assuming you haven't fallen asleep or crashed, you then get to talk on the phone.
This is "smart?"
With my old phone, I could just push a button and voila talking on the phone.
My old phone, however, could not take high-quality photographs and videos. It could not forecast the weather. I couldn't buy stuff I don't need on eBay with it. I didn't receive e-mails every three seconds. It didn't have a GPS, did not contain a complete road map of North America, was neither a radio nor a TV, and it did not chirp, beep, ping, buzz and flash lights at me with the frequency of the cockpit display in a 747 that's crashing.
But let me tell you just how smart this new phone is. I sent my wife a message to test it out. The phone alerted me to let me know she was typing and I would receive the reply in a moment. Apparently, it can see into the future.
Come to think of it, I might be a little bit frightened of this phone. What if it's watching me right now? It might get angry when it hears me complain about how long it took to change the ringtone. Maybe it wasn't that I couldn't turn off the radio. Maybe it wouldn't let me.
Maybe it wasn't my wife who answered that first message. Maybe it was actually the phone that was complaining about how slow I typed responses when it said, "Ur not good at this r u?"
I'm beginning to wonder just how smart this purchase was.
I'm also wondering why the little screen says HAL on it. And who's Dave?
Nate McCullough's column appears on Fridays. If you don't get the ending to this one, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and he'll explain it provided the phone lets him.