Busy Hands Generation. Are You One of Them?

My Dad brought up a good point recently. He said, “When you go to a bar, what do you see? A drink and a cellphone in front of every person at the bar.” We’ve sat at various pubs since and noticed that he was right. And if a little LED blinks? Forget it. It’s like a gravitational pull that the phone owner cannot avoid. The world might deconstruct if the blinking light is not appeased.

“Must touch phone. Red light needs my fumbling hands. Please note, I’m no longer listening.  The pull is too strong and I am too weak.”

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Yes Bob Dylan, These Times They Are A’Changin

Though I believe in those words from Dylan, my ideas tonight are not quite as political or complex.  I’m not one to believe fully in global warming.  I do believe the earth changes and moves in cycles as it has for millions of years.  Do our habits assist with the change, I’m sure they do, but I wouldn’t blame it totally on humans.  I mean, cow’s gas (put nicely) contributes too right?  Don’t get me wrong, I do work hard to waste less and reuse more, but it’s not because of Gore encouraged me to, its because it’s the smart thing to do.  I realize my disbelieve in Al Gore’s Nobel prize winning film is bold because there are some people who fanatically still believe in it but regardless of the reason, the world is changing.  The atmosphere is changing, the way we live, communicate, work, play and function is changing around the world.

Today, on March 22, 2012 I laid on our hammock and it was 75 degrees.  It was after six o’clock, so the temperature had already dipped from today’s high.  The sun was still shining and I thought about how I couldn’t believe summer was already here.  But…it isn’t.  Summer is technically three months away.  Baseball hasn’t even seen its opening day but we are wearing shorts and preparing our garden at a time when in past years, the ground hadn’t even thawed out yet.

It’s not just the temperature.  It just feels like everything is changing so rapidly and with this, we grow more impatient still.  A slow website infuriates me.  Not long ago we’d need a phone book to find the phone number we needed.  Today, four seconds isn’t fast enough.  I can’t remember anyone’s birthday anymore either.  Google saves my arse by emailing me reminders and if that isn’t good enough, a notification pops up on my cell. My grandmother emails me “hello” and my husband’s grandmother sends me text messages about her health.  I realize this is more convenient, after all, who has time to sit on the phone with their family, right?  I hope you sense the sarcasm.

It’s a very convenient world, but it’s no less complicated and as time goes on, I’m torn about whether we’ll lose the human connection or not.  True, a text message is not as warm and fails to translate the lilt of a familiar voice, but maybe a quick message allows us to communicate more often.  I sometimes yearn for old fashion relationships and communication but I also have the ability to Skype with my Mom who is 3,000 miles away and see her regularly without paying for a plane ticket.  Remember when Spaceship Earth at Epcot was fantasy?  It wasn’t long ago that along the ride, the family of the future talked to each other over computers and saw each other on their phones.  It’s happened so fast.  I wonder where we are headed.

Old view on Spaceship Earth at Epcot, showing us the future of technology.

This post took a turn a bit from the weather, but as I lay in the hammock, before I drifted asleep, these are the things I thought about.  I awoke to the smell of fire and luckily it was my husband sitting close by in front of our chimenea, enjoying some peace and quiet on the back patio.  We sat together awhile and talked, and I suppose as long as we have good, solid moments where we still can connect to people face to face, we’ll all be alright.  And so, we’ll roll with the times, powered up and dressed for long summers.

 

(If you’re eager to get into the Spring/Summer 2012 mode, check out the post I wrote yesterday for Sprawling Roots.  I promise you’ll like it, whether you believe in global warming or not – http://sprawlingroots.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/time-to-prepare-your-green-garden/ )

Dance like Nobody’s Watching, Even Though They Are?

Even models trip. And then an entire article about it gets posted on dailymail.co.uk. Whether you're cool or not, no one is safe.

When I was little girl, I was paranoid that other people would see every little thing I did.  What I wore mattered and the fact that my cartwheels were not perfect actually bothered me as I tumbled across our front yard.  I remember helping my Dad to wash his car one day and he said;

“Shannon, you only think people are watching you.  You’re going through a stage where you feel like you’re on display and everyone will take interest or critique what you do.  They aren’t watching, because they are too busy worrying about the same thing; themselves.”

Although I didn’t record this epic conversation to quote it perfectly, that is what he said.  He told me about when he was younger and how he thought that everyone had something to say about what he said or did; even strangers.  He was right, I did go through that phase, but so was everyone else.

In high school, if I tripped on my own chucks, did I not feel the need to recover and look back at the floor like it assaulted me?  I even see adults do that today.  Who gave that floor the right to trip me?  It must be a defense mechanism, in which we place blame on some inanimate object so we don’t look like a fool.  So silly.  So what if we trip up, who hasn’t?  And will worrying about what people think of my slip-up make my life any better in the process?  Certainly not.

I’d like to think those sort of things don’t matter as much to me anymore.  But there is a flaw in my Dad’s grand plan of growing up.  Yes, I did eventually realize that my mundane life is not tabloid fodder but he also did not anticipate the age of the internet, cell phones and YouTube.  Just when you think it is safe to screw up, we find a world around us that is quick to document it for the world to see, in the form of pictures and video, whether you’re famous or not.  Stupid mistakes can end up on your boss’s Facebook page before Monday morning’s meeting and Grandma will never respect you again.  Luckily I’m just still tripping on my feet and nothing too embarrassing is going on over here, but boy am I glad I got my bearings before I realized what the future would hold.

Landlines That Tie Us Down

Princess Phone

We have a home phone and my husband and I each have cell phones. Like a growing population of people, my husband thinks we should drop the home phone and stay cellular. I just can’t do it.

I’ve recently discovered that I’m certain that the only reason we still have a landline is because my parents insist on keeping theirs, and for some reason that has made me feel attached to it. They are the only ones who call my home phone. Well, them and an occasional doctor’s office with a reminder about an upcoming appointment. These messages, by the way, take me days to listen to because I forget to check. (Which, sorry Doc, I remembered without your help because my cell phone already reminded me, with a fancy noise and everything.)

I’m not sure what my fear is. What could possibly go wrong if we don’t keep a home phone? What if our cell phones die and I need a landline? No, Shannon, husband says, it won’t help because our phones are electronic and without power, they won’t work.  So, if they are plugged in and functional, then why wouldn’t I just charge my cell phone?  Is it because we may have a third person who needs to talk on a phone at the same time we are using our cell phones?  Sure, the chance that someone in the 9-14% of the population without a cell phone is likely to have a sudden urge to make simultaneous calls from my house.

Well, my parents and I have different cell phone carriers and although I get free mobile to mobile, they don’t. So maybe I should keep it so they can continue to call me from their landline to ours and we can use our free long distance and no minutes.  That’s pretty convenient.  Except, yet another flaw, we really only talk on nights and weekends, which is free anyway.

Last but not least…how can I get such an awesome bundle deal from Comcast without a phone line?  Huh, Mr. Smarty Pants?  What do you mean we aren’t getting a good deal?  They raised our monthly bill to what?  Maybe we’ll cancel the whole thing altogether, hotspot our computer from my cell and watch Netflix.

Still, for some reason, it’s easier said than done.  I feel like a technology hoarder now.

 

 

 

Book Reader vs. E-Reader; The Inner Battle

Books and Nook

I live close to a Simon & Schuster distribution center, which likely has people hauling boxes of books and loading tractor trailers so books can reach the shelves for our grubby hands.  Still, I had thought how romantic it would be to work for a big publisher, plus I could probably ride my bike there.

I also want to stop carrying my Mary Poppins purse.  It’s more like luggage these days and I could probably help an army of people survive an epic catastrophe with its contents.  One of the mainstays of my bag is a book, usually just one, but sometimes two.  The weight of this thing is wreaking havoc on my shoulders, so I’ve been seriously considering getting the Nook.

I like the idea of the Nook better than the Kindle because I can borrow from the library still or purchase books at different stores, rather than being stuck to Amazon.com with the Kindle.  I like the idea of having something light and portable, and let’s face it; I could become a greedy American and shout “More is better!”.  Why I would need to carry 1,000 books is beyond me, but maybe it would be cool to read whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and without hauling a pallet of books in tow.

Like most things in life, I’m torn between my appreciation for the old-fashioned or traditional ways but also for how technology can make things so easy.  I certainly don’t want to put Simon & Schuster employees out of work but I also want to keep my shoulders from separating from the rest of my body.  In all honesty, I don’t care if I had one book at a time on the darned thing but new shiny things can be appealing too.  I take that back, it is not shiny; its matte screen is anti-glare for reading in the sun.

Another factor seems to be that it seems easier to find eBooks by our favorite authors online than in print.  Publishers are pushing us toward eBooks because their overhead is drastically minimized from the print options.  They also have the ability to use the force of technology to push additional advertising and multimedia on us with the click of the mouse.

We will see what happens.  For avid readers, there is something special about holding a book and the musty library scent or the fresh smell of printing ink.  If only the Nook was made in America, this decision would feel a heck of a lot easier.

Telegrams -stop- The lost communication?

Electric telegraphy is form of communication which began consistent and worldwide innovation in the 1830’s.  If you have ever watched an old movie, it was the classic way to send word of a scene changing moment.  Telegrams brought tragic news of a loved one to a family or portrayed a swoony leading man providing the details for a dinner date to his leading woman.

The word “telegraphic” actually means “short” or “terse”.  It was initially an unemotional way to send the facts, in a quick and direct nature that initially utilized morse code for practical purposes.  Innovators and scientists throughout the world can be credited for creating this early form of communication.   So many developments in such a short period of time were born of this invention, starting from beekers with coils and chemicals to ultimately creating the earliest form of fax machines.  Though we use telegraphy today, through higher technological avenues such as e-mail or text messaging, the first telegraphy outlet was quite slower and delayed any sort of immediate response.

Though the traditional paper telegram business has gone by the wayside, there are now websites that allow you to join in on the old-fashioned fun.  Just as there is something special about receiving an unelectronic birthday card in the mail, it can be exciting to experience something like a telegram, which was such a common and relevant piece of communication for well over a hundred years.

Check out http://telegramstop.com/which allows you to recreate the traditional telegram.  Having used them myself, I was quite impressed with their effort to make it look quite authentic. For those of you who are just simply too high tech, they also have an iPhone app.  Though they did raise their price in the last few weeks, for $6.45 it’ll make you want to pack your steam trunk and hop a train into the past.

Sample courtesy of Telegramstop.com