Wednesday, August 12, 2009

bad bad bad bad bad, bad technology*

*to the tune of Red Guitars' forgotten gem "Good Technology"

Sure, everyone's got their own "We can put a man on the moon, but we can't do Apparently Simple Technological Task X" homily. My grandmother's favorite was to lament how WHIS couldn't come in clearly at our house 15 miles away from the transmitter, even though we could get clear footage from the Moon.

Well, the footage from the Moon would have been clear at our house if WHIS had a stronger signal or if we could have gotten ahold of a Greenbank antenna, but that's another story.

The story I'm about to tell, and I do have one, is about my pick for the Most Volatile Technology of the Modern World. It's my own personal We Can Put a Man on the Moon, But... story.

I have traveled all across this great land of ours, and one thing is true, no matter if you're in Roanoke or Raleigh, San Francisco or Sarasota, Nashville or New York, Peoria or Pittsburgh:

The Frozen Coke machine doesn't work.

It doesn't matter if it's called an Icee or Slushee. It doesn't work.

It's not frozen enough.

It's too frozen and doesn't want to come out of the machine.

The Coke - or flavoring of your choice - isn't mixed correctly and tastes icky.

Most likely, the machine isn't working at all.

I myself am not a fan of nor a connoisseur of Frozen Cokes or similar beverages, or my list of maladies might be even longer. But I have been involved with significant others who scour with eagle eyes every gas station, convenience store, food court, food avenue, and other possible fountain-drink-dispensing venue, ever hopeful that they'll spy a Frozen Coke machine.

Sadly, even when they've identified their prey, their initial jubilation oft becomes disappointment within minutes, even seconds.

Why? Because the Frozen Coke machine doesn't work.

Forget about obvious, general advance in technology during the past few decades, like how a $5 flash drive you can buy at any discount retailer has over 100 times more storage than the hard drive on my first computer. Many food technologies have improved greatly over my lifetime as well. Soft drinks in two-liter plastic bottles no longer taste like plastic. Frozen pizzas still aren't as good as the real thing, but the gap has narrowed considerably from the cardboard-with-bad-pepperoni-esque-meat-pieces days of yore. Packaged cookies were once all brick-hard, but now soft and moist prepackaged cookies - if that's the kind of cookie you're after - are abundant and tasty.

But the Frozen Coke machine still doesn't work.

Forget putting another man on the moon by 2020. What our government really needs to be pouring those R&D dollars into is into doing something that hasn't been done before, i.e., solving the greatest technological hurdle of our time: making a reliable Frozen Coke machine. T. Boone Pickens, are you reading me?

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