Technology Serves Me Well

When I retired, my colleagues gave me a gold watch. Yes, really. Not to sound ungrateful, but you’d think that in the 21st century they might have come up with something different.

And then to add insult to injury, I stopped wearing a watch. After all, I had a cellphone and could easily check the time there—if and when I needed to know what time it was. Besides, there’s a clock on my computer and the cable company’s box tells me the time. If I want, I can click on a button on the remote and the time will appear on the screen.

Just before I retired, I entered the digital age of photography with a prosumer camera. That’s one that’s better than a point and shoot, but not quite what the big boys and girls use, although I would start upgrading quickly and now I’m using a fairly good digital single lens reflex camera.

But this is about the time, not photography.

The other Sunday my wife and I were headed home from our favorite breakfast spot when we spotted a 40-or-so-foot water spout in Bellefonte. I pulled over and went to look. At first I thought it could be the local fire companies cleaning out a hydrant. But when I saw it was a serious rupture, I called 9-1-1, was informed that I was the second caller, and then took some photos with my iPhone.

I also keep a basic digital camera in the car and after getting enough shots with the iPhone—enough just in case the spout ended—I crossed the street to my car and retrieved my digital camera. The water main break, far from ending quickly, spouted for the next 90 minutes and I took about 200 photographs. A lot of them are duplicates. After all, how many ways can you photograph a broken water main?

I shared them with the local newspaper and gathered some basic information for the paper. Later, the editor called and asked me how long the break lasted.
I had no clue.

In the old days, the first thing you did when, for example, you heard a fire alarm, was look at your watch and write down the time. Do the same when the all clear sounds. But I am rusty at this reporting stuff and never did that at the water main break, although I did get the name of a police officer and of the minister whose church services were cancelled because the break.

But then it hit me. The date and time are embedded in all of my photographs and I quickly checked the metadata of the first photo I took and the one of the trickle at the end of the crisis. I also could have checked the time of the phone call, which I did today and see that there was a minute’s difference between the call and the first photo.

Everything I used to do by hand was done for me.

Ain’t technology great?

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