The Future That Never Was

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georgejetson I live in the future, and things are not as I was promised.

Back in the 1960’s, when I was Space Cadet Jimmie Joe, there were certain things that we simply knew would exist, off in the far distant future of the 21st Century. The big one, of course, was the flying car. The Jetsons‘ of 1962 got that wrong. Back To The Future of 1985 got it wrong, too. Space Cadet Jimmie Joe has never quite forgiven any of them for that.

The Jetsons‘ had big screen televisions and video phones, which we’ve pretty well matched. We get our dinners from a magic box we call a microwave oven, which is a pretty good substitute for dinner sliding out of the wall on a conveyor belt. And, of course, the Internet. Of all the future tech people wrote about in my childhood, nobody really thought of that one. So much for prognostication.

The future I live in has interesting quirks, some rather depressing. We have 400 channels of television, and nothing much worth watching. We have satellite radio, also with hundreds of channels.  The FM and AM radio bands are filled with screaming DJs, or drivel-filled talk shows that cater to conspiracy theories and “fake news”.

While the future is not quite Blade Runner, neither is it Star Trek.

I ran into one quirk this morning. It turns out that in the 21st century, if the computer goes down the fast food joint can’t serve anything. Nobody knows how to do anything without the computer adjudicating it first.

The grill was still hot. The french fryer still bubbling. The soda machine could still dispense a Coke. But without the computer, nothing happens.

Nobody knows how to take an order, write it down, add up the price, figure out the sales tax, and make a sale. Business comes to a screeching halt, all because the computer crashed.

I suppose that’s all so very futuristic of them, but it sure seems like we missed the boat (flying car) somewhere.

Oh. And my Congressman is suing a cow. A fake cow. For being mean to him.

Welcome to the 21st Century, Space Cadet Jimmie Joe.


Joining an internet meme

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So full fledged Internet meme participation…  “I love living in the future!”  This image is a screenshot off my laptop computer, of video on NASA TV, beamed to Earth from the International Space Station.  Here the Dragon spacecraft has been grappled by the robotic arm, getting lined up to be berthed to the bottom side of the orbiting complex.  (“bottom side of the orbiting complex” was just now stolen by me from the NASA TV audio feed!)

12 year old Space Cadet JimmieJoe is green with envy over all the cool stuff in grown-up JimmieJoe’s life.  While all the computers are neat, I think he’s most impressed by the iPhone, which lets me watch things from outer space live on a hand held device, even in the basement dispatch center that was built to be an atom bomb/fallout shelter.  Most of the stuff grown-up JimmieJoe takes for granted these days has Space Cadet JimmieJoe beside himself, barely able to contain the giddy joy of life in the future.

He does give me a strange look now and then, though…

I know what he’s thinking.  (of course I do.  He’s me.)

It’s that whole flying car thing.

You’d think we could let that go, but…  no.  We were promised, dammit!

He Came Back For A Short Visit

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Yep, Space Cadet Jimmie Joe popped up for a quick visit this morning.  At 4:50 am, to be exact.

That’s when the International Space Station was visible gliding across the sky from my driveway again.  Nothing more than a bright star, moving across the heavens.  But I know what it is, and so does Space Cadet Jimmie Joe.  When the ISS makes it’s appearance, you can be sure he will, too.

Science fiction novels, movies, the Jetsons, Star Trek, Johnny Quest.  Isaac Assimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, Carl Sagan.  Jimmie Joe is from a certain time, the 60’s and 70’s.  Things sometimes looked bleak back then, but they also held potential.  The Moon.  A Space Station.  Mars.

In 50 years we’ve gone from the first human in outer space, six manned expeditions to the Moon, and now a permanent presence in an orbiting laboratory above the Earth.  In 65 years we went from the first airplane to landing men on the Moon!

Space Cadet Jimmie Joe pops in from time to time to see how things are progressing.  He’s excited about the internet, my iPhone, the laptop I’m writing this blog post on, and all the cool futuristic stuff he sees, but he’s really disappointed that the flying cars haven’t made their appearance yet.   I am too. After all, promises were made.  To both of us.

I hope Space Cadet Jimmie Joe never gets so disappointed that he stops making his visits.

I’d really miss him.


Space Cadet Makes Momentary Appearance

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It happened again.  On Monday the 7th, the Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station flew overhead just after dark.  I went outside to watch, expecting only the Space Station, and was jumping up and down (at least internally. I doubt anyone driving by noticed) when I realized I was getting the double lucky view of the shuttle leading the station in the same orbit, just miles apart from each other.  The Discovery had undocked from the station earlier that day, and was slowly increasing the distance between it and the orbiting outpost with each moment.  Tonight, the shuttle is on the ground, but ISS is still up there, and still gliding majestically across my sky from time to time.

Photo: NASA

Space Cadet Jimmie made a sudden appearance Monday, and again today.  He’s someone I don’t get to visit very often these days, but maybe…  just maybe…  he’ll come around more often.


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