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I reached a milestone this week. Somewhere near Shattuck in Berkeley, my truck odometer rolled to 160 even. I had noticed 159,998 while checking the speed of a crawling battery saving hybrid driver.

"Wow, we're rolling to 160," I announced to John, my passenger.

He ignored me, preoccupied with calling the driver something rude. As we passed, I bored John with the importance of odometer rolls. Driving from Vegas to Kansas once my family's VW rolled to 40,000.

In the Arizona desert my Dad said, "Hey kids look!" My brother, the dog and I peered over my father's shoulder to watch the odometer advance. Mom even peaked. At 39,999.9 all the numbers moved. It was a wave from the last 9 to the 3. We "oohed." When the 40,000 clicked into place, we "ah'ed." It was like fireworks on the 4th.

The tale didn't impress John, so I did the math out loud, wondering if the odometer would roll before we got home. But crossing University, nostalgia clicked away. The odometer was digital. There would be no rolling, just a change of states.


The Bay Area is the Mecca of digital life. Computers supply my paycheck, but I don't like every task we give them. Out loud, I wondered what else worship of technology had taken from us. Seconds before I had nearly taken the life of a pedestrian with digital odometer study.

John ignored my question, "Should I ooh and ah?"

"Please," I said, "And practice a bit."

It took a few tries to catch my desired emotional inflection, but at the instant of odometer change, he acted his part.  Without a roll, it was a bit underwhelming. We drove on realizing that computers, and indirectly my profession, had robbed us of a nostalgic ceremony.

But, I have a solution. I'm going retro. My '51 Chevy is at 69 thousand something, and at some point this year, it's "rolling" to 70, and we're having a non-digital "Ooh, Ah" party.

With a Perspective, I'm Stan Pisle.

Stan Pisle is a Bay Area IT manager and poet.