My technological destiny was mapped out for me early on, when at the tender age of 10, I went to Space Camp for a week of astronautical adventures. As my teammates and I prepared for our simulated space mission, my naive NASA-fied neurons fired off a list of potential positions I might be assigned. Would I be the Shuttle Commander? Maybe a Satellite Supervisor? Or perhaps a Payload Specialist? Guess again, Sweet Pea.

Paul Wong
Bela Napoli offers a wide variety of pizza slices in addition to other Italian dishes.<br><br>BRETT MOUNTAIN/Daily

Banished from all button pushing, forbidden from all flipping of switches, and grounded by Mission Control, I was assigned to the post of Public Relations Officer, with the highly untechnical task of … talking. So what if I wasn”t high-tech? I was highly ticked! Recall, NASA has sent unaccompanied monkeys up into orbit in the actual space shuttle. How could a fun-loving fifth grader in a shuttle simulator be that much worse? Seeking solace for my shattered Sally Ride at summer camp-aspirations, I promised myself I would never again fall behind technology. Mind you, I also promised myself that I would perfect my golf swing, so it”s easy to see how my “Nah-nah-nah-boo-boo, you can”t catch me” relationship with computers began. Just when I think I”m with it, oops, they upgrade again.

And pardon me for saying it, but frankly, it bytes.

From issues with my e-mail to hiccups in my hard drive, for a long period of time I was quite convinced that my past life had been spent as the bubonic plague of computer viruses, which would clearly explain why PCs refuse to play nice in my presence. And if not that, then I was most certainly a long-lost member of the Robinson family being habitually haunted by the ghost of Hal 9000. What else would logically explain my many techno-traumas and digital dramas, and why nine times out of ten, my anti-Midas touch makes microchips go meshugina at the most inappropriate instances? (Example: A certain Weekend column is very late to the editors and a certain columnist”s cable modem decides to cut out.) Having found myself belly-up in the Fishbowl on more than one occasion, to say that my technological prowess reached its peak somewhere around the Speak and Spell era might seem like a fairly accurate assumption.

All right, I”ll be the first to admit it: Judy Jetson I am not. However, with a PowerPoint panache and a savvy sense of spreadsheets, I am not the ditzy damsel in digital distress that I may appear to be. I”m just bad when things break. I know full well that microchips are not bite-sized snacks you serve with salsa, and thanks to dot-com department stores and advances in E-commerce, my consumerist tendencies have inspired my rapid technological upbringing.

Before Bill Gates out-billioned us all, you might recall that the computer crowd often got the shorter end of the social stereotyping stick. You might just say that a certain Window of opportunity significantly altered that situation. And thanks in part to the plastic-framed glasses revival a few years back launched by the fine folks at Gucci, the notion of the computer nerd is as outdated as the Apple II GS. I for one am easily impressed by any man who knows exactly which buttons to push to boot-up MY hard drive.

Techno-geek has turned techno-chic, and a savvy sense of CPUs is very PCBG. Technology is now in the eye of the beholder, whether or not they wear thick-rimmed frames. This is the age of E-everything and E-anything. It”s a DOS eats DOS world out there, so you best be connected. And hey, if Al Gore can invent the Internet, then perhaps one day I”ll be able to figure out my cable modem.

Meredith Keller can be reached at makeller@umich.edu.

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