As an avid Star Trek fan since childhood (I even made a model starship, only to find out years later that it was a Klingon ship), I often wondered whether or not those neat items like the Tri-corder would ever come to be in the real world. Well, what do you know, everyone seems to have a Tri-corder these days within their PDA or cell phone, ready to beam important information (like a picture of someone you just met) to another eager communicator.

Strangely enough, the ordinary, hard-wired phones are now silent yet everyone is talking on their cells to other people who have cells and the cacophony is deafening.

It was bad enough when people who barely knew you tried to talk to you about their problems or whatnot, but to have them call you on your cell… oohh, how dare they.

Now privacy is nonexistent and yet everyone is talking to someone somewhere and intimacy is measured by the minute.

Gone are the days of useless yakking for hours on end about nothing in particular. Today, the code is “I got to watch my minutes” and calls are brief, except for the angst-ridden teens talking among themselves. The cell phone is now available in some Cree communities to anyone with a good credit record and a substantial deposit.

Cell phones can be taken for granted, however, and should be used wisely and sparingly. I think that message should be attached to all cell phone boxes, much like the warning labels on cigarette packages, warning users of their potential for financial abuse if used on a regular basis.

In comparison, I remember back in the day when the HF radio was standard Bell equipment and some gum-chewing operator could be called upon on occasion to assist in interpreting the message through the snap, crackle and pop of the static.

Another means to communicate was the other HF system available in most towns with a runway, at the local Austin Airways or Fecteau Airways dispatch office for general emergencies, and also, to get the weather forecasts. However one chose to communicate, the message still got out, albeit rather slowly.

To back up even further in time, letter writing was once the only way to hear from loved ones who left for school or work.

Some people would come to our house with their mail and letters and they would hear from their family through my mother. She would often write back on flimsy blue sheets of paper, which was readily marked as airmail and apply the penny stamp with a careful but icky lick. I think that stamps now are flavored and the awful bodily shudder resulting from tasting dried horse gut that made the stamp sticky enough to affix the image of Queen Elizabeth to anything is thankfully long gone.

Since that era, this new millennium baby boom has sprouted hordes of teens addicted to chat lines. Although we may now know where they are at nights, teenagers still continue the time-honored tradition of rebellion against their parents by opting for all-night chat fests (if the server works) instead of the long, all-night healthy walks around town.

Times, they are-a changing, once again. But some things just don’t, they’re just clothed differently and jive a new language, a language that is still in the works, e-talk.

Perhaps one day, e-talk will be the new universal language.