Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Of Animal Carcasses and Geniuses

“I can’t download the new photos from my ITouch to the computer,” I whined to Kathie. “I used to be able to, but now I can’t.”

This seems to be happening with increasing frequency: you turn on the computer and things look different in subtle ways, or aren’t quite where they were before. Kathie usually blames me, saying that I hit something or moved something and set off a chain of unfortunate consequences. I will admit that my life history would seem to confirm this.

“Did you hit something or move something,” she predictably asks.

" Well, I signed us up for the Cloud."

“What does that do?”

“I have no idea but a pop-up popped-up and said I should sign-up. It’s like a big computer in the sky, I think.”

The pop-up said that with the Cloud everything now goes everywhere all the time and that things from my devices go straight to the computer and vice versa. It seemed like a good idea, though I only have one device. I have also learned that if you don’t keep up with these things, pretty soon you are behind the eight ball and can’t even get your Groupon fliers.

“ I think it is time for us to schedule another session with the geniuses,” Kathie says.

This is what they call the employees at the Apple Store, all of whom have unwashed hair, dirty finger nails and are 16 years old. When we purchased our Mac, we signed up for one year of free counseling. So far we have had three sessions and are as confused as ever, but we take notes that we lose and always go to California Pizza right after.

We show up at the appointed time and the genius introduces herself. She is older and better groomed than the standard model. She goes into an explanation of the Cloud, that I would summarize here if I understood it.

She explains that the reason I can’t download my pictures from the ITouch is that, although I have signed up for the Cloud, I have not turned it on. She fixes this and says the pictures will now go automatically to all of my devices and the Cloud, but I will have to move them from the Cloud to the computer. She has me take a picture, which not only goes directly to my ITouch and the Cloud, but shows up on our computer as well.

“It’s not supposed to do that,” she says in stunned disbelief. “I will have to consult with my manager.”

With that she disappears, but soon returns.

“Okay, the pics now go to your computer too. This is a change that took place this morning. It’s strange we didn’t get a memo on it,” she says.

It is obvious to me that the Big Computer in the Sky made this change by itself without informing any mortals, and we are one step closer to Terminator world.

“Let’s see these pictures you want to move,” she says.

I highlight them on my device and up they pop.

A stifled gasp escapes the genius.

“These are the pictures you want to upload? What in God’s name for?”, Kathie shouts.

You would think they had never seen pictures of scavenged animal carcasses before.

Here’s the back-story on the dead beasts:

On one of my walks, I cut across a rarely used farm field. Several hundred feet off the little used rural road, I noticed a small clearing among some trees that contained what looked like a deer carcass. Walking over for a closer look, I noticed, judging by the number of rib cages, that there were the remains of at least five deer.

There were also the carcasses of several large, dead birds, perhaps pheasant or grouse. All the animals had been heavily scavenged.

Coming across a dead animal in the woods is not unusual, but this many is really odd.

It struck me that there was something almost feline about it. Our cat was an inveterate and highly efficient hunter. She would stockpile the remains of her kills in one spot in the backyard. I called this the dead pile: a chip of chipmunk here, a bit of bunny there.

Tigers do this as well. I am told if you stumbled across something like this in India, it would probably already be too late, as a big striped kitty would soon add you to its collection.

I also thought it could be the work of poachers or some bizarre cult.

Tigers, cultists, poachers? By now I had completely spooked myself and could feel unseen eyes watching from the darkened woods.

I had my ITouch and bravely decided to record the scene, perhaps to post on Facebook to see if my friends might have some thoughts on what I was observing, or to forward to the fish and game authorities.

After I explained the photos, the genius remained silent but not my wife.

“Facebook??? You were going to put these on Facebook? What is the matter with you?”

She had a point. My friends who might know what was going on here, never go on Facebook. Those that do, might be put off by graphic color photos depicting piles of bleached bones, rotting skin, and feathered bird limbs.

“Well, there they are on your computer,” the genius observed. “Are we done now?” she asked clearly anxious to move on.

I can picture the conversation around her dinner table later that night:

Parent: “Did anything interesting happen at the store today?”

Genius: “Some guy wanted to load a bunch of creepy pictures of dead animals on his computer and was having trouble.”

Parent: “Why in God’s name did he want to do that?”

Genius “What am I, a genius?”

As we drove home in silence digesting our thoughts and our pizza, Kathie suddenly asked : “Why did you have to bring those pictures?”

Desperate to change the subject, I replied: “Hey, maybe they digitized Steve Jobs spirit and he is up in the Cloud? It would be just like him to start changing things without consulting his staff.”

“Yeah,” she said, “and maybe there’s tigers in New Jersey”