Charles Petzold on writing books, reading books, and exercising the internal UTM

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My iPhone Dysfunction

July 10, 2007
Roscoe, N.Y.

I first noticed the problem several weeks ago. Deirdre and I were watching television. A commercial was on, but my mind was somewhere else, and then Deirdre exclaimed "Wow! How cool is that!"

"Huh?" I said. "What was it?"

"Didn't you see that commercial for the iPhone?" she asked in amazement. "It's beautiful and it does everything!"

"Oh, right, yeah," I lied. But now I knew I had to be on my guard. The next time an iPhone commercial came on, I paid close attention, memorizing all the features in case I was quizzed about it later. I certainly knew what I should have been feeling about the iPhone, but nothing stirred inside. I felt — I don't know — indifferent. Empty. Limp.

Finally I couldn't take it any more. The shame was just too overwhelming. "I have no desire for an iPhone," I confessed, choking back the tears. "What's wrong with me?"

"It's OK, it's OK," Deirdre comforted me. "It happens to lots of guys."

"No it doesn't, and you know it," I said. "Robert Scoble already has three iPhones. He keeps them in rotation so he has two backups whenever he needs to get a battery changed."

"But Scoble's a young guy," Deirdre said. "You're not so much any more. Everybody knows that the male fascination with electronic toys decreases for every year above the age of 12."

"What about Walt Mossberg?" I countered. "He still gets excited about this stuff and he's way older than I am. It's not just the young guys soaking their Dockers over the iPhone."

It was time to see a doctor. He asked a few questions — how long since I'd been to a Circuit City, what parts of the store interested me the most — and then ran some tests. I got hooked up to a machine to measure my vital signs while left alone in a room with the lastest issue of Wired. I idly paged through the magazine, trying to linger a bit over shiny objects, until I found myself stuck on an ad for a gin that's been made since 1820.

Back in the doctor's office, he reviewed the scans while shaking his head. "I'm going to write you a prescription for Hitech-agra," he said. "It's fairly safe but I want you to seek immediate medical help if you experience a shopping spree lasting more than four hours."

Getting old is a real drag. But at least I'm not impotent.

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