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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

I was really looking forward to this weekend. I had so much planned. I was going out to dinner, really going out and getting dressed up. I was meeting with a few chair members to discuss plans for a big fundraiser coming up this summer. And of course I had all the usual engagements: time with my personal trainer at the gym, my therapy session, some errands to run, a hair appointment, and always work to catch up on.  But. We had about 3 feet of snow come down all at once, faster than high speed wireless; accompanied by a huge drop in temperature creating a very heavy crust of ice over everything. It started coming down late yesterday afternoon and didn’t stop. The kind of snow where you look down and get involved in something and when you look up, you think you have time traveled to a different era.  One in which everything is varying shades of white and all living things have become statues.  Kids around town were cheering even more than the usual sugary Saturday morning.  But I can’t stop the frown that has formed at the corners of my mouth. Everything is down. Internet’s gone, phone lines gone, roads are impassible, power is out.  The world is closed for the day, come back later.

It’s at least a moment to reflect on how amazing the internet is.  A way to break down our false sense of isolation, of living on an island and instead to realize that Croatian farmers have as much in common with Japanese woodworkers as elderly hospice patients have in common with mural artists in Central America. Before, maybe no one I know has anything to say about, oh, the best way to prepare a cup of coffee. But then you go online and hundreds of people are sharing their methods, their recipes, their love for a particular style of coffee. It’s like traveling all over the globe to as thousands of people one question; you can simultaneously have a conversation with women in Nicaragua and France as if they were neighbors you could just walk over and ask any old afternoon. Maybe I am pushing the point to far, waxing too poetically the beauty of the world wide web. But think about the abstract shift in thinking this creates. Suddenly, you can be in two places at once. Our barriers to language are over because online translating requires just the click of a button. People who have never breathed the same air can have a conversation together. Our lines of separation are disappearing- there is literally a way to connect everyone together. History and the future come together in a place where time does not have to be linear. Our illusions about separation are crumbling as we realize the common threads we share. And the greatest part about it is that there is no one creator, dictator, leader organizing this web. The internet is not stored in some big warehouse with a lock and key. It is made up of all of us – all of our computers and cds and thumb drives contain more information than could possibly be contained and erased.   But at this moment, my access to this magic cloud is cut off and it’s as if my lungs are crushed by the weight of it.  I can hardly breathe.   I live outside town, a four mile walk to the nearest bus stop, gas station, local grocery store. Great. Well. I guess I will just have to re-arrange my schedule. I still have my iPhone. Errands can wait. If the internet comes back (it always comes back!) then I can have the meeting become a virtual conference; I can call and re-schedule our dinner date, and I can always get work done for next week. I sit and make notes and memos for a while. Clean out old e-notes and re-organize my apps and calendar. This isn’t so bad.

 

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Yes!  It’s a celebration that doesn’t really make sense anymore, and  I revel in the senselessness of it- the disconnect from our daily identities, the impossible amounts of sweets, a night when it’s not only acceptable but demanded that we walk the streets in large loud groups, passing through the amber circles of street and porch lights. Finally, we all get together and party, like Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, where neighbors are family and everyone walking by your door is a close friend.  But of course, here it’s much better than there- we’ve got warehouses of costumes and entire buildings devoted to liquor.  Two essential ingredients to my night last weekend.  Actually, I usually find a party is best described by the state of the house the morning after.  
Red plastic cups populate the living room in crumpled quiet.  A light bulb burns hot, forgotten even with the sunlight streaming in. The couch trades a rigid upright posture for sagging tired springs, and a crisp white towel for a limp leopard print bowtie.  It served guests with silent stoicism, but is now generally regarded with disgust.  What is under those cushions and smeared into the material- no one wants to know.  Three high heels, all unmatching, have flung themselves into various corners of the house.  The owners have not searched for them.  The kitchen is devoid of any space on a horizontal plane- the counters, the sink, the stove, even the shelves in the fridge are hidden beneath half-filled cups of mystery liquids, empty bottles of cheap vodka and cheaper beer, pizza slices and cupcakes stripped of their toppings.  A group of us gathers sometime late in the morning and a decision is made: we need food and coffee.  Stat.  So we find something decent to wear (Kat proudly keeps her lion tamer top hat on) and head to the diner.  Robbie’s got the hood of his sweatshirt up, a couple of us have sunglasses on to keep the morning-after headaches at bay, I toss back a few aspirin with my coffee.  And we re-live the night.  Reminding each other of our follies and victories.  Poking fun at connections made, commiserating over drinks lost to belligerence, glorifying the events before they can hardly be considered history.  Dude, it was awesome to watch whatever it was you were doing on the stairs… Did I really say that? … Girl, you looked like a super star wearing those suspenders and I know that Jake noticed…  By the time we are done eating, every single scene from the party has paraded in front of us again, even brighter and more clearly than in actuality.  For a moment, everything is so fun and young and alive, we don’t even think about the work it will take to get the sofa back to normal.  
(Haha! Sounds like college.  So, here’s a question for you: You mention “glorifying the events before they can even be considered history,” and with today’s social networking and picture sharing, it’s easy to re-live events and experience nostalgia at a much faster pace than ever before.  Do you think this affects the way you see your experiences?  Do you think it will ultimately be a good or bad thing?)
Well, for now, I think it’s great.  It’s like intentionally creating permanent memories- you can’t really forget what is fresh in your mind.  So replaying the party in our minds, cemented by the pictures put online the next day, help us maintain a really vivid experience.  It’s like in my English classes, where if you just read something, you get some percentage of the information in your brain.  But after to talk about it in class or ask a question, a higher percentage sticks in there.  Like experience is strengthened by keeping it active in our brains, or something. You know how you look at baby pictures and suddenly you “remember” that day you first rode your bike down the neighborhood sidewalk?  Well, what do you think are the odds you would have remembered that without the aid of the picture? How many details do you remember from college, and how much is just a hazy blend of everything?  I’m not saying that it’s good to remember everything…(We’ve all got memories we’d rather have buried…), and I’m not saying I have any idea of how this will affect us in the long run.  I just think that, for now, it’s pretty awesome.

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I only have an hour, is that okay? I serve on two non-profit boards, am acting as a financial consultant to a handful of people, am in the process of bidding on a few properties, have had the largest client base of my career, and am diving in to a new hobby of website design so I’m sorry if I seem rushed to find time to even eat a sandwich.

A lot of people would see my schedule and shudder.  Do you want to take a look?  Okay, here’s my Google calendar –ahooh! looks like I just got that email response I’ve been waiting for- okay sorry, so here’s the calendar…  Now see, I can flip through the next few weeks and there’s nothi-wait- here’s a two hour break on the 13th maybe I can call Jen back and tell her I could meet up then, great.  I love my iPhone, see how easy all that was? Just a tiny flick of the fingers and email, phone calls, planners, camera, music, weather, shopping, I mean whatever is right there immediately, it’s probably why I’ve been so successful and busy lately because it just streamlines everything, so that’s definitely the answer to your question: I use my free time to fill up my free time with other stuff.  I love being busy, I love making contacts and networking and communicating with people.  We live in such a unique time in human history- never before has an individual been able to instantly talk with someone across the globe connect with complete strangers on a shared experience via the web sell and buy goods internationally without ever physically exchanging currency musicians and artists and writers can share their creations with millions of people governments and businesses can update policies fluidly.  I could go on, but the idea still blows my mind: we are part of this ever-flowing and constantly adapting and interchanging current of ideas and energy.

So you clearly have enthusiasm for networking and the advance of digital development.  But there has to be something you enjoy outside of work. 

Of course.  I guess my response sounds a little overkill. Yes, there are lots of things I enjoy outside of work like  I always feel great after a forty-five minute run at the gym I like to travel to big cities -I actually live a little ways outside of town, the house my partner and I bought was just too beautiful to pass up and besides, it’s not too long of a drive to downtown- but I always get a thrill from the speed and anonymity of sky scrapers and buses and concrete one of my favorite parts of the day is when I get up (really early) and brew a cup of dark, fragrant, arid coffee and  I sit beside the glass wall of the kitchen and read the NY times on my phone as the mug steams up a soft-sided, egg-shaped section of the window.  Often I see a neighbor woman who gets up early too.  She either likes to sit in one spot in her kitchen all day (I can’t imagine!) or has some physical disability and can’t stand and I only guess this because sometimes I come home from lunch and still see her sitting there.  Speaking of sitting, I’ve got to get up and go Thanks so much for your time and your questions I look forward to continuing this chat did I mention I really support your public radio station?  I believe I donated this year let me check hmmm yes here it is great  keep it up good bye!

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