Posts Tagged ‘computer’

I went to Wal-Mart the other day for a few things and the nearest express lane happened to be the one that sells cigarettes. As I loaded my goods onto the counter, I noticed a sign advertising  “E-Cigarettes”. Now, I wondered, what could an e-cigarette be? The cashier was a savvy-looking young woman, so I confessed to her that I had been “living in a cave” and asked her what an e-cigarette was. She admitted she was not sure, either.

When I lack the energy to do anything constructive, I sometimes resort to thinking. So I gave this matter some thought.

I know what an e-book is. You read it on an e-reader. I’ve even e-published one from my cave. Some people send e-greeting cards. These can be cute and can include music and animation, but you can’t display them on your desk or by your sick bed or use them to label Christmas gifts. I’ve heard about E Trade and that people can get in as much trouble with that as they can with the real stock market.

I know what an e-mail is. It’s a message you read on a computer rather than holding it in your hand like a real letter.  So, instead of trying to decipher someone’s handwriting, you resort to deciphering their abbreviations. Even in my cave, I use e-mail. It saves paper and can take minutes rather than days to get a reply, provided your correspondent reads his e-mail in a timely fashion. Just like regular mail, I get all kinds of junk e-mail, called spam. (Not the kind of spam you hoard for the Zombie Apocalypse.) Unless the computer beats me to it, I always delete those spam-mails. Sometimes I get spam from something called e Harmony. I suspect it’s a computer dating service, but the idea of an e-man doesn’t appeal to me.

I also get requests for donations from worthy causes, questionable causes, and even from people with more money than I have, such as politicians. These are easy to delete, too. Unlike regular junk mail they don’t clog up the landfill. However, I suspect those political mailings that clog my mailbox before every election would be good garden fertilizer. The only problem with email from worthy causes is that they are not accompanied by those nice address labels that are so handy if you still use real mail.

So, if e-mail is paperless, I suspect e-cigarettes are as well, but what good are they? Are they tobacco-less? I doubt that this would appeal to my friends who are dedicated smokers. After smoking was banned in buildings, my co-workers would go outdoors to smoke. We had a picnic table under an oak tree and it was a pleasant place when the weather was nice. They would spend so much time out there, we called it the “branch office”. If you wanted to talk with one of them you had to go to the branch office and inhale second hand smoke. After I retired, my sinuses cleared up dramatically.

I am picturing an e-cigarette as something you plug into your computer. Then what? Do you sit in front of a smoky screen and inhale? Does it give you a picture of a pleasant day, complete with picnic table and oak tree? Can it satisfy the craving for nicotine?

So to satisfy my curiosity about e-cigarettes, I go to Google. A wonderful invention, it’s like having both a secretary and a private detective at your beck and call 24 hours a day. I type in “e” and several choices immediately come up. E coli. Those are real bacteria. Nothing virtual about them. E-learning is offered through brick and mortar schools as well as e-academies. An e-Sword, however, turns out to be not a sword used in computer games but a Bible study software. Companies are copyrighting all kinds of e-words.

Google directs me to Wikipedia, an e-encyclopedia. Now this is definitely one of the world’s greatest inventions. Remember the old Encyclopedia Britannica? You had to take out a second mortgage on your house to buy a set, and then a third mortgage to build on a new room to house all those books. Unfortunately, with the rapid rate that knowledge increased during the 20th century, the whole thing was obsolete by the time you made your first payment.

There aren’t enough trees to put all of Wikipedia’s information on paper. Even in my cave, I use it all the time. Once in a blue moon, they’ll ask for donations and even though they don’t give me free address labels, I’ll send them some money. It’s cheaper than buying a set of  Britannica. The only drawback is that when the Zombie Apocalypse comes we won’t have the electricity to access this vast store of information. Maybe we need to hold on to those old encyclopedias just in case.

Wikipedia informs me that an e-cigarette is a “personal vaporizer”, an “electronic inhaler that vaporizes a liquid solution”, thereby delivering nicotine to the lungs. The first patent for something like this was in 1963, before there was e-anything (except E coli, of course). In those days, computers were the size of a mid size car and data was stored on punch cards. Remember them? Do not fold, staple, spindle, or mutilate. (There are e- dictionaries for any of you youngsters who don’t understand these archaic words.) The e-cigarettes of the 60’s didn’t catch on because very few people at the time had computers to plug them into.

The Chinese began developing e-cigarettes before (the recent) turn of the century and started exporting them in 2005. I guess it’s been seven years or so since I was in Wal-Mart. E-cigarettes are smokeless, but they still are not good for you. They are powered by a small battery. The battery can be recharged with an A/C adapter,  in your car, or by your computer using a USB port. I scroll down the Wikipedia page and what do I see?

I kid you not:

I was only joking when I said an e-cigarette must be something you plug into your computer! I’m going back to my cave.

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