Technology, Part Two

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR “LIFELINE” goes south? I kept hoping against all odds that my phone would survive its impromptu swim in the toilet, but as the week progressed, though it could be turned on and it was “working”, fewer and fewer of the apps responded to my touch properly and it would randomly shut down. I was unable to get into my calendar to make sure I’d “synced” everything to the huge wall calendar in the kitchen. It will be interesting to see if I miss any important appointments. I couldn’t get the cloud and the phone to communicate to backup anything—photos, most current addresses and phone numbers (sigh). About the only thing that worked reliably was my Scrabble game (go figure—but even that stopped opening for me). I was receiving texted, but couldn’t open them at times (talk about frustrating …) and thankfully, I’d already had all calls transferred to my other phone. Which, by the way, is not the best phone in the world. It either takes forever to get opened when a call comes in (thus, I miss it!) or the moment I touch the phone (in picking it up) I accidentally drop the incoming call. It’s been a comedy of errors—and all I can do is smile … and laugh (otherwise I’d go bonkers)!

So … I started being a bit more philosophical about all these electronic devices in my life. I’ve succesfully cut down drastically the amount of time I spend on the television—that felt good. Do I really need this iPhone? Yes, I am extremely dependent upon it … but do I need to be?  Once I started thinking about what it would require—the changes I’d need to make—I warmed to the idea of shedding the expensive smart phone for something a little less … technology-heavy. Less? You might ask how on earth will I survive. By using my Fitbit as a pedometer (until the rechargable battery dies, then revert to my less expensive, less all-functioning Fitbit that simply counts my steps and has no alarms or timers) and manually log the steps on paper—which I’m doing now (or maybe into the online page—maybe—that’s more technology … and my DSL is slower than molasses compared to the smart phone).

As I contemplated this concept, I became more and more comfortable with it. That is … until I realised I needed something for my credit card reader—for the business end of my life. Book and art sales. And I’ve grown to depend on the clarity of the photo app (and my cool little special apps for tweaking the photos—all business related) Oh, drats. Since I don’t have any book signings coming up anytime soon, I’ve not been fretting about it (too much) … and I do have other cameras I can fall back onto. So, I’m just weighing the options and was waiting on a response from my inquiry at the credit card reader’s web site to see if they have any suggestions (they weren’t that helpful, but gave me some things to research). But, that means I either need to go back to the iPhone (I’ve already started looking at refurbished phones—they’re about half the price of the current model, but still pricey) … or go to another platform within Apple—or look to other brands of phones. Oh, yes … I figure with all these changes, I’ll be changing carriers too (when you can’t receive calls in the house—where I spend an awful lot of my time—it’s time to change).

I certainly have been online a whole lot less … kinda nice, but discovering that I’m not as prompt in responding to business communications (oops). There must be a compromise that allows me to be freer of technology, yet allows me to be in touch where I need to be. I’ve not missed Facebook (though, again … I’ve got two business pages that need to be cared for)—when I come online, I’ve a huge number of notifications that need to be addressed … both personal and business. Sigh.

So, what have I decided after a week on being less visible? Technology has it’s place if I don’t let it run my life (personally or professionally). Once I get my new phone (and it will be a smart phone) I will probably be shedding quite a few apps—the ones that tether me to my phone way too much. I’m still trying to decide which one’s those are, but I know there will be quite a few I’ll be saying g’bye to: the ones I don’t use but once in a while … oh, I’ve got a ton of those! But there are still quite a few that I know I’ll be keeping—wonder if I’ll ever feel I can live without them.

So much for escaping the digital world.

Have you ever run into this kind of dilemma? What have you done—go with the flow or rebel against the technology? Please let me hear what you’ve got to say.

Until then, may your Friday and the week ahead be blessed beyond belief!

Techno vs One-on-One

WELL, I MISSED THE FIRST FRIDAY Art Walk in Salinas last week—I’d promised a new friend I’d make sure to attend. But, alas, it wasn’t on my calendar … my portable brain, so completely forgotten. Maybe today. Maybe …

I didn’t even get out and about till 2:30 or so that day. So, I also missed the Friday Farmers Market at Monterey Peninsula College, with all their lovely fresh fruits and veggies—and eggs. Plus the chance to walk around in fresh air. I just might make it this week (yay) as it seems I’m getting a better handle on getting my blogs done “on time” for a change.

“Curses to this computer!” I say … and to my smart phone! Sigh … too much—way too much—of my life is attached to it: blogging, my manuscripts, maintenance of my websites, keeping up with friends and associates on FB and the other social media sites, attempting to stay on top of emails (and failing miserably) … enough to make ones head spin. Unwillingly tethered to the technology to do the things I need and want to do to pursue.

Wonder how many other things I have forgotten and will miss because they are not on my portable brain(s)? I have the smart phone and a huge wall calendar that I try to remember to manually sync on a regular basis. I did so much better when it was just the monster wall calender. Now, many times I’ve had that nagging feeling there was something I was supposed to be doing, but when I find nothing on my wall calendar or in my phone … what can I do? (insert very sad face)

Getting out and being social is a good thing—away from the extremely non-personal social media of the internet. Yes, it’s fun to interact with near and far-away friends, plus it’s virtually (no pun intended) free. But, getting away from all of the technology is very freeing and allows for connecting on a more personal level. Sigh. I haven’t had much of that lately—the one-on-one stuff in real time—but when I have, it’s been delightful. Invigorating even.

I did manage to spend some time with a friend on Tuesday—it was delightful. An overcast—and eventually drizzly (yay! we need every tiny bit of it)—afternoon together, starting with a drink at Starbucks (well, I brought my own tea—I know, bad girl).

We continued walking around the Alvarado Street Farmer’s Market in Monterey, lingering at too many booths a wee bit too long (I eventually end up buying if I stay too long. Sigh). One place my friend wanted to check out was a used clothes store—we were there for a quite a while, managing a lovely chat with the clerk as we browsed the merchandise. I left with a beautiful pale green scarf. After even more meandering in the Market, we had a delightful dinner chicken special with artichoke and mushrooms at Rosine’s (I planned on having their salmon, but when he mentioned the special, I began to drool—oh, it was delicious!). There was absolutely no room for dessert!

Then, we popped into Old Capitol Books where a friend was doing a book reading (a tiny bit late—she’d already started her reading). My friend browsed the books while I listened. This is a neat store that I must revisit very soon and check their book selection. The monthly reading is definitely something I’ll have to sign up for. Looks like fun—and terrifying … intimidating for me with a fairly intellectual crowd of adults (country bumpkin that I am). Maybe a little too intellectual for a fantasy storyline? I did ask the group if they’d be interested in a MG/YA fantasy. They sounded surprisingly enthusiastic. I’ll be brave—remember, I’m a one-on-one kinda gal. I do okay in groups, but prefer small … very small. Perhaps I’ll even ask the proprietor if he’d be open to a book signing one of these days. We’ll see.

After even more wandering the streets of Monterey, we said our good-byes and I dashed home to take care of my critters. It was already dark. Five hours of exploration, interactions and fun. All in all, it was a wonderful reprieve from my time in the house (or coffee shops) on the computer. And for someone that hates shopping, all the outdoor walking made the shopping/browsing excursion far more enjoyable. The walking was delightful!

Guess I wouldn’t make a very good hermit 😉 I enjoy the company—personal, one-on-one (or three) interactions—of people too much. I do like my solitude, but … yeah.

I know I keep saying it, but I really do think it’s time to get back to Old School Ways. Get away from the Electronic Age we are so entrenched in. Ways I can do this is by working my manuscript by hand (to be transcribed into the computer later—can’t get away from that part completely), switching to a flip phone (just forward my calls from the smart phone to it), hand scribing my blogs (again, to be transcribed later) … so many things I could do to disconnect without completely giving “IT” up. Just stepping back a bit. Putting some space between me and all those electronic techno gadgets.

Engaging life again more fully.

Then again, there are days that are just the opposite—crammed full of things that I do, leaving very little time to breath. A little too engaged with life. Thankfully, those are only peppered into my calendar schedule … but some how this week had an abundance of those days scheduled in. Thankfully, a few of them fell through.

I know God helps me balance those chaotic days. Absolutely. Especially when I forget to do it myself. The unexpected call from my friend to spend some time together is one perfect example. Another is the last minute cancellations. He wants to remind me that balance in my life is important.

Now, it’s up to me to keep that balance. With His help, of course. It’s never wrong to lean on God when needed.

May your days be filled with blessings and balance.

Technology dinosaur

SEEMS I’M ALWAYS HOPPING onto the train as it’s pulling out of the station. I guess I’m one heck of a dinosaur.

It took me forever to start using a pager for communication, beyond the land lines, and only because my ailing father needed to be able to reach me no matter where I was.  I finally “graduated” to a cell phone long after all my friends.  My poor daughter was relegated to old fashioned phone lines until she was in high school–until then, when she begged, I’d explain that all her friends (they were pretty much attached to her hip anyway) had phones, so why did she need one?  And the computer?  My husband was quite adept at using it.  When I got in front of it, it froze–especially when I tried to get onto the internet.  I hated it.

It was another age or two before I used a computer for anything more than a glorified word processor.  After my husband died, I had to be trained by my daughter in the art of the using the internet, as she rolled her eyes (like ‘tweeners’ and teenagers do).   It helped that we switched to the more user-friendly Macs.  My husband–an IBMer– was an avid PC user and to use anything else was sacrilegious.  But, with the change, we got through it.  She still has to give me advice now and then…she’s 24 now.

When my young daughter wanted to get a Facebook account, I got one too & knew her password, so I could monitor activity on her account (little did I know that she’d ever think of opening another account–sigh).  She was a very smart kid.  But also prudent, careful, and didn’t do the stupid things you hear about less fortunate kids, thank God.  At least I taught her well.  But, as she became more mature & able to deal with it on her own, without my monitoring, I fell away from Facebook.  The account remained, but I never visited it and forgot it even existed.

Once she went off to college, one way to keep in touch was via Facebook (and texting–her favorite way of communicating, so I upped my texting plan to unlimited so I would not go broke).  I revisited my FB account and began accumulating friends.  Only a few.  I built in a “50-friend” limit — I’d seen some people with hundreds and hundreds of people as “friends”.  Goodness!  That is ridiculous.  Now, my friend base is a bit more and my “limit” is gone, but I maintain it for relatives & friends I want to keep in touch with.  It is a love-hate relationship with this creature called Facebook.  But I won’t go into that–I’m sure you are aware of the issues.

I love the feel & heft of a book in my hand…snuggling up on the couch, or even in bed, with the book, turning pages and reading.  I just recently discovered (after a trip to the Trinity College Library in Dublin) how much I love the smell of books, too. So, it’s only within the last three years that I switched to actively using my computer to initiate my stories.  I love the action of writing, too.  So, before the switch, I would hand write, then transfer onto the computer.  I’m struggling with the fact that I am in the minority on wanting to read hard bound books.  I must seriously consider, as I work on getting my book published, adding the e-reader option as a necessity.  Personally, I have tried reading e-books, but it is just not the same.  For some reason, I lose interest.  I don’t know why.  I will stick with the “real deal” as long as I can and leave the e-books for those that don’t want the paper.

It’s only been since this year that I have embraced my blog completely. I doubt I’ll ever use Twitter.  Why would anyone want to tell the world all of these mundane things–and how on earth can I limit my tweet to so few words?  I’m content to blog away into cyberspace, not knowing who might see it.

I guess I’ll never be a “cutting edge” sort of person.  And I’m fine with that.  If it’s something that will help me in my endeavors, then I’ll check it out.

…as soon as that last car of the train is nearly ready to leave the station.