Pinball Machines and Water Buffalos

What in the world could these two items have in common?  They are as far apart in similarity as Democrats and Republicans (lets save that for another blog).  Why are these items of interest? Believe it or not, we can learn so much from these two objects.  Let’s take a look at the brief history of each.    When I’m done you might be thinking about a new career path.

For those of you that can remember the first coin-operated pinball machines were invented in 1931. They became popular very quickly and really grew in popularity after World War II. The ten year period of 1948-58 is referred to by some as the “Golden Age of Pinball”. Once video games emerged onto the scene; the popularity of the pinball machine declined.  By the late 1980’s the classic pinball machine, as we know it, was no longer even being manufactured.  The classic pinball machine has been replaced by video machines that are more electronically progressive, with video screens and computer technology.

Amazingly, “Classic Pinball” has become almost as popular as it was back in the day. It has become an “in” item with high-profile celebrities, baby boomers, business executives and families. They have become a fixture on many TV shows, commercials, movie sets and many magazine shoots. Perhaps it’s due to the nostalgia factor or the advent of personal home game rooms. Or maybe the realization that an individual can now easily purchase a used pinball machine, or  even the fact that playing a few good games of pinball after a hard day’s work can be a tremendous stress-reliever!

Now the Water Buffalo, I’m pretty certain, has been around much longer than a pinball machine. For hundreds of years, the water buffalo has been used in the fields to pull plows and help in harvesting tasks.  Around the mid 1980’s, about same time as the demise of classic pinball, the water buffalo began to be replaced with industrial farm tractors. They seemed to be more efficient.

Now let’s move to the present time. Low and behold, you have just become the proud owner of a classic pinball machine and a water buffalo.  Now how cool is that?!  There seems to be one slight problem though and it apparently is a big one.

You go to use your pinball machine for the first time and guess what, it’s broken.  So you go outside and try to plow your field with your new water buffalo and yes, you guessed it, the water buffalo has absolutely no clue what to do.  What do you do at the point?   Can you go call the neighborhood pinball machine repairman or locate a water buffalo trainer?  I don’t think so.  You want to know why? Few if any exist anymore!

It seems as new technologies develop the need for the old ways of doing things diminishes. With it so does the means to keep them working and performing.   This would be ok, but what happens when we find the old ways are better. Apparently, the farmers realized that the tractors weren’t exactly what they bargained for. They were costly to maintain and fuel is expensive. They would get stuck in places that a water buffalo would not, and my favorite, the tractors couldn’t provide the natural fertilizer that the water buffalo did.  Do I need to draw a picture?!

Now with all the high tech gadgets and video games out there, why would anyone want a classic pinball machine?  Because it’s fun!  It brings you back to a time when life was simple.  Nothing beats a great game of classic pinball.

So where have all the pinball repairmen and water buffalo trainers gone?  Well when the need for them disappeared so did they.  As for the pinball machines many “tinkerers” or “MacGyvers”” out there are finding new careers that they never dreamed they would be doing years ago.   Recently, in parts of Asia they have opened Water Buffalo training schools; apparently they have located some old timers that are now teaching the new generations “the ways of the water buffalo”.  From what I’ve read, teaching an 800 pound water buffalo to make a left turn is no easy task. It’s not as easy as flipping your blinker on.

So as you can see the Pinball machine and the water buffalo have quite a bit in common. Old methods have found a place in the land of new technology.  I have a strange feeling we will be seeing a lot of this in the coming future.  So hold on to your knowledge of the past, you never know when it will be needed.  If you’re thinking of a career, imagine the possibilities if you could train water buffalos and fix pinball machines.

Published in: on October 7, 2010 at 7:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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