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April 2013 Dr. Vern

Posted in Features on April 1, 2013
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Contributors: Jp ArchivesDr. Vern
Photographers: Jp Archives

Life is cruel. There’s just no other way to describe it. The implications are distressing for us Jeep owners, as I’ll soon explain. Whenever civilization makes some great stride forward, a dark underbelly is eventually exposed, setting us all back. For example, the advances of the Iron Age initially gave mankind better tools, but soon led to the scourge of deadlier weapons. Our own electronic age, with so much potential, has since devolved to the point where country music is considered socially acceptable.

Like it or not, we’re all part of this modern electronic age. Tinfoil hats won’t isolate you. Actually, I take that back. A tinfoil hat will isolate you, but not as intended. (Editor’s note: Wrong again! Tinfoil hats work great, but you’ll also need to cover your windows at home. Remember, shiny side out!)

Our modern age isn’t all bad, of course. Thanks to my handy smartphone, I’ll never miss the latest classified ads for must-have Jeep parts. With built-in GPS, I’ll never find myself so desperately lost in the wilderness that I have to make the awkward choice of which passenger becomes dinner. (Editor’s note: Not to sound paranoid, but I just realized you stopped inviting me on trail rides after getting your new phone.)

"Keep up with my Jeep porn"

The dark side relates to online banking. I can do practically all my banking from home, so that part is a no-brainer. I can quickly locate the nearest ATM for much-needed cash when hunting Jeep parts. Wondering if I can float a bad check until payday to cover the electric bill because I overspent on tools again? No problem, I can check my balance with a few quick taps on the screen. So what’s the downside? Well, amongst all this electronic wizardry, it would appear my kids have a supernatural ability to know those rare moments when my bank balance isn’t in the red.

Before I explain further, I should confess one of my greatest mistakes. I wish I had a time machine and could go back to catch myself. But since I’m already off in Tangentville, I may as well explain my theory on time machines. As tempting as they might seem, we probably should stay away from them. Do you honestly think your present self could effectively reason with your past self? Picture yourself about 20 years ago, about to do something incredibly foolish. Maybe you’re selling some classic car, one that would be worth a small fortune today. Perhaps you’re on your way to marry the woman you’d eventually refer to as your first wife while handing over all your money. If a heavier, gray-haired version of yourself suddenly appeared, would you listen? Of course not, as you were young and amazingly knew everything. The only recourse would be to hide in the bushes at some strategic location and pounce upon your younger self. “Trust me, this is for our own good!” Smack, pummel, ouch! I’m not sure if your older self would feel any pain beating up your younger self, but putting yourself in the hospital for a few days is the only reasonable option.

Back to those regrets. When my kids were little, I encouraged their intellectual growth. Not too much TV. I taught them to read at an early age and supported their thirst for knowledge. Museums galore, and so on. What was I thinking?!!! They’ve grown up to be intelligent young adults. I’m going broke putting them through college. Why didn’t I set up a big-screen TV playing cartoons on a constant loop? I could have taught them to read incorrectly so they’d get frustrated and give up. But no, I had to set them on a path that eventually put me in the poorhouse. Why couldn’t I have raised stupid kids instead?

As horrific as those tuition bills may be, at least I know when to expect the next one. Not so with my space-age smartphone and its blasted connectivity. Picture a quiet Saturday morning. Sitting in my easy chair, fresh coffee in hand, what a perfect time to check the classifieds. Oh look, a set of stock Jeepster wheels. If I can’t afford to buy an entire vehicle, I can at least bring one home piecemeal. Tap, tap, tap, there’s just enough cash in my account. What a day this is shaping up to be! As I’m about to call, a message appears. It’s one of my kids, away at college. Is everything okay? Oh yeah, I remember all their messages follow this basic format: “Dad, I need (amount designated for Jeep parts) for (books, medicine, etc.) right away.”

Back in the good old days, if a college student needed an advance from the Bank of Dad, a considerable delay was to be expected. There was a panicked phone call or letter, return mail, a trip to the bank, plus time for the check to clear. These were glory days for parents, because they knew time was on their side. When the transfer of funds took so long, the crisis would usually resolve itself by other means. Not so with this touchscreen curse in my hand. My kids know I’m never far from reach, as I’ve got to keep up with my Jeep porn. They always seem to know when I have money and that it can be transferred right away. Easy come, easy go, I suppose. Well, maybe I can still get those Jeepster wheels because I’m expecting a check any day now from my Dad.…

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