Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Last week, two young men came into the tea shop.  They were probably in college, although they didn’t look very old.  They ordered their drinks, one tea and one hot chocolate, then sat near the window.  I don’t recall how long they were there, but as far as I could tell, they spent most of the time hunched over their phones, not interacting with each other at all.

This is a phenomenon I’ve noticed time and time again: this sitting together, not paying attention to the other human or humans but focusing intently on the “others” caught inside that bit of technology.  Coffee shops have become all too often places where people go to be alone together.  It’s something I understand for people who are on their own and simply want to be around other people while they work or read.  I understand if people meet to work together.  And trust me, I understand the urge to check my email, see what’s been posted on Facebook, or check to see who’s liked my blog for the day.  Before smartphones, it was easy to talk and laugh with someone else without distractions.  There was no internet, no siren song luring you to abandon the puny human before you and take off into the outer reaches of the world.

But I implore you.  Don’t be the person who ignores a friend for the internet.  When you spend time with a person in person, spend time with him or her, not simply sitting in the same vicinity.  Look at him, talk to her, let your friend know that you value him by taking some time to care enough to put aside technology to listen. Leave the phone in your purse or pocket; put it face down on the table, off to the side.  Maybe she’ll do the same and you’ll both feel cherished.

I’m challenging you this spring to take the time to really be with people and to step away from the phone! It will be worth it, I promise.

Last night, in an attempt to figure out a problem importing photos from my iPhone to my (non-Apple) laptop, I spent a lot of time waiting, first for one tech support guy, then to be connected with a supervisor (who never showed up.)  At the same time, my husband and I were also searching the Web for information on the problem and finding no answers.  Eventually, I finally found the answer purely by chance, disconnected, then realized I still had a post to put out for today.  Here’s a photo from my day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha on Sunday that illustrates how my evening went.  I hasten to add that Apple tech support is unlikely to be the only one that gives this effect and the effect isn’t limited to computer support but to “support” from many businesses.

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High above the clouds, on my way from 75 F to 7 (or lower), I’m disconnected. Although this is one of the (pay) Wi-Fi flights, I have as usual resorted to a book on Kindle or pen and paper. Besides a dramatic change in temperature, on returning home I’ll experience a dramatic change in internet access as well.

At home, I have internet available constantly and, with my first smart phone, I can be online as much as I like…or as I can stand. (I can’t imagine wanting to read off my phone’s tiny screen and the small “keys” and tri-keyboard make typing onerous for one who excelled in typing.) But on a visit to Arizona, I return, if not to the Stone Age, to at least a quantum leap from an all-day-online-if-I-like world.

My parents not only don’t have internet, they don’t have or use a computer. Neither do they—are you sitting down?—use the ATM or have a smart phone and they favor paying in cash rather than with a credit card. You know what? They get along fine, although Dad has discovered the advantages of a daughter with internet access. Be that as it may, that sort of life is going to get more difficult as things convert to digital.

At home, the siren call of the internet tempts me to take “just one quick look at my (or someone else’s) blog”, “take a peek at Facebook” or send “just one email.” Minutes can morph unnoticed into half an hour or more while the things I really need or want to do go begging for attention.  But while visiting my parents, I have to go to the library or a Starbucks to go online for anything larger than what I want to do on my cell phone. I find myself anxious to get done and get back to relaxing, reading, going to art galleries, seeing the desert, lying in the sun or visiting. I start slipping more easily out of the online world than in, although I go through emails on my phone and delete whenever possible, leaving the ones I want to read or save. I love being able to easily connect with friends, but I find real life taking over more and more.

That’s a good thing.

That’s a break we all need now and then and are less and less likely to get or take. Because these days, you have to take that time back, get off the internet in whatever form, leave your phone behind once in awhile and certainly don’t look at it all the time even when you take it with you.

Talk with someone while in a line.
Look at your spouse when you talk to him or her, rather than at the tiny screen on your phone.
Watch a movie or TV together without being on another device; sit together on the couch.
Go for a walk.
Work a crossword puzzle or do a Sudoku.
Play a game NOT on a device.

There can be real life going on all around you. Disconnect and get back to it.

Just step away from the devices!

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I don’t think Ben Franklin would be at all surprised to see the boats of this year’s America’s Cup, boats which seem no longer like sailboats but like an almost mythical hybrid of water creature and bird, equally at home flying through the water or above it. Ben Franklin admired the outriggers used by the Pacific Islanders, realizing that they were fast and stable.

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The America’s Cup boat:

America's Cup boat 1 (more…)

Patience is something that has taken me many years to develop and it’s still sometimes a work in progress.  I think that patience will be harder and harder to learn in an era where results and information are expected instantly.  You don’t even have to wait for letters anymore;  you can email or Skype.  Recently, I came across this quote which contains some valuable thoughts and advice for the practice of patience.

Traditionally, a journey was a rhythm of three forces: time, self and space.  Now the digital virus has truncated time and space.  Marooned on each instant, we have forfeited the practice of patience. . .The self has become anxious for what the next instant might bring.  The greed for destination obliterates the journey.

But a great journey needs plenty of time.  It should not be rushed; if it is, your life becomes a kind of abstract package tour devoid of beauty and meaning.  There is such a constant whirr of movement that you never know where you are.  You have no time to give yourself to the present experience.  When you accumulate experiences at such a tempo, everything becomes thin.  Consequently, you become ever more absent from your life and this fosters emptiness that haunts the heart.

When you take the time to travel with reverence, a richer life unfolds before you.  Moments of beauty begin to brand your days.  When your mind becomes more acquainted with reverence, the light, grace and elegance of beauty find you more frequently.

John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

(Thanks to The Writing Sisters for this quote from their blog post:  http://writingsistersblog.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/draw-near-to-god-day-three/.  Check out their blog for inspiring thoughts about writing.)

Some good things just take time to develop, such as this redwood that fell in 1930 in Muir Woods.

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After almost six days of working to get 28 years worth of things packed and ready to move, or tossing them, I’m ready for a bit of fun. Since the Photo Booth app came up in blog conversation a few days ago, I thought I’d play around with it a bit as I sat comatose in my chair in the evening, thinking about what to blog. Here’s what happened when the focus was on my laptop.

Laptop as art with the kaleidoscope:

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I was assaulted yesterday at the gas station while attempting to fill the van without having to take out a payday loan.  Exiting into the biting wind, the blare of the outdoor televisions forced its way into my ears, alternately urging me to buy some product I know will kill me (and not even having the courtesy to taste good while doing so) and telling me everything I never wanted to know about “entertainment news.”  (more…)