Monday, April 17, 2017

The Elephant's Graveyard Revisited

When I was a lad, and the Earth was young, there were rumors of a so called "elephant's graveyard". Legend had it, that when an elephant realized it was about to die, it instinctively went to the place where all the other elephants went to die, because elephants are excellent diagnosticians and have built in GPS.

The discovery of the elephant's graveyard would then yield a bountiful supply of ivory to whomever found it and untold riches when it was sold. The rumors undoubtedly started when an explorer with all the scientific acumen of say an Al Gore, stumbled upon a number of dead elephants and deduced that all elephants must therefore make their way to the graveyard before they died. This must have happened they are!*

I bring this up because someone left a plastic bag full of elephant bones on my front step. Well, not really anything so useful, it was what we old timers call a "telephone book". It took me about a week to even open the bag, since I really had little interest in the content.

Back in the olden days, phone books from large cities could be used as booster chairs for young tots or to demonstrate great strength, as someone tore it in half. Consider the phonebook as Google 1.0. You might have to manually scan hundreds of pages to find the number you were looking for. Business listings and advertisements were printed on a different color paper, hence the "yellow pages". 'Let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages!

 (Bonus points if you heard the jingle in your head!)

I got to thinking how these things simply appeared at my house on an annual basis. After a year of flipping past hundreds of pages to find the one you wanted, the books got pretty worn and dogeared. The upgrade was fairly simple, slightly less frustrating than Windows, as you would scan the old book with your Mark I eyeballs looking for any numbers or notes in the margins. These you would transfer to the new book via a wireless, wooden/graphite interface device (pencil).

Then it occurred to me that this annual migration of Dead Tree Phonebooks to my house might not be random. I remembered that a Dead Tree Newspaper beaches itself on my driveway on a daily basis. I have an affinity for solid wood furniture, my house is filled with maple, oak and walnut, with a tasteful bit of pine thrown in. I have shelves full of Dead Tree Books. Stacks of books litter the floor. Periodically, corrugated cardboard boxes full of hardback and paperback books find their way to my front door from as far away as the Amazon! They say 'like calls to like', and then it hit me:

My house is the Dead Tree Graveyard!

I don't say this to brag, or that men in pith helmets would seek out such a mythical location, but I write this to see if this experience of mine is unique. Maybe you can relate?

*Sum underlying logic and reasoning of Desmond Morris' The Naked Ape

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