Category Archives: Technology

The joys and challenges of living in a world where technology is omnipresent.

Happy Anniversary Baby, I’ve Got You on My Mind

We’ve been celebrating our anniversary for a month, and it has been a great month.

This year we celebrate 35 years of marriage.

Yes, that is a long time.

And, if you must know, yes, we were young when we got married. Around 10 years old, I think—at least that is my story and I’m sticking with it.

But I digress.

We had thought of going to Hawaii, or some big trip to France or Italy, but frankly, making the time wasn’t working, and we’d rather not have that cash outlay right now. So, we decided to have some fun here.

We bought new phones, which we love. They are fast, sleek, have big screens and do lots of thing—and the cameras on them are very good, for snapshots and things you’d need day to day.  And we got small tablets for ourselves, which make it easy to read books, nicer than the phones for searching without dragging out the laptop. Who doesn’t like new toys?  So, even though we bought them a month before our actual anniversary, we counted these as “Anniversary gifts”.

Then we went on the mega work trip. And it was work—not a vacation at all.  We were up early to go to client sites to prep the rooms, ate the free breakfasts at inexpensive hotels (expensive hotels don’t offer free breakfast!) where we stayed, lived on weak conference coffee and when available, ate free dinners, which are usually carb heavy (Lasagna, Potatoes and gravy, rice) and lots of lettuce, with maybe some cheap wine offered for good measure.  However, free is free, and really, on the road unless we are going someplace really special, most of the time   we end up eating salad for dinner anyway.

But, we also took a day off and toured the Missions in San Antonio, TX one Saturday. And went to the Lodi Zinfest the next Saturday when we were in California. And it was great fun.  For us, both counted as anniversary celebrations.  We stopped for a couple of wine tastings when we finished our appointments. We had small plates one night and people watched from a sidewalk table. On our way home on a Saturday, when they announced the flight was overbooked, we scored free tickets for an upcoming flight simply for waiting in an airport for a few extra hours—and while we were there we shared a glass of wine and some pâté at an airport restaurant that we never would have found without the extra time.  We define all of this as part of the anniversary celebration.

Since our actual anniversary was a “school night” we defined the day before as the actual celebration day. We went to a new restaurant that had just opened a few blocks from our home and had appetizers and shared a glass of wine before going to a movie at a new theater. After the show, we bought macarons and took them home for dessert for the official anniversary dinner at home—where we had filets, baked potato, asparagus and a split of 1997 Opus One wine in our own dining room.

I guess it is hard to define a celebration when life is to be celebrated. We may not buy cards or flowers or balloons to punctuate every life event, but we do tend to have a good time wherever we happen to be. I think we succeed in making the commas in our life story enough fun that we don’t have to wait for exclamation points!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

snow © Dale Wagler Dreamstime Stock Photos

It was supposed to be 10 below this week, and I can’t tell you if it made it because I was nestled all snug in my bed.  But this week, the schools in the area have been closed 5 days out of 5 because of cold, frozen roads and snow.  I’m not sure of our exact amount, but we had nearly a foot of snow in the driveway.  So, when a couple of teens came buy asking if we wanted it shoveled, the answer was “How much.” (I’m not stupid) and then, when they gave me a reasonable price, the answer was “YES!”    It appeared to be a brother and sister, they did a fine job and I tipped them about 1/3 of what they were asking, just because I didn’t have to do it myself, they weren’t charging that much and did I mention– I didn’t have to do it myself!  If it keeps snowing these big snows every year, I may have to break down and buy a snow blower.  Or just keep paying whatever kids comes by to shovel.

As usual, when it snowed, I worked from home.  This year, Philip was home as well.  He’s missed a couple of snowdays in the last couple of years by being off in some warmer climate while I was snowed in, but this year, he was home. Since we are hooked up to work at home anyway, it is not a hardship to stay home and we didn’t have to play “avoid the maniac” on the roads.

Wherever you are, I hope you are warm and safe and going to have a great weekend.

My Bags are Packed, It’s Early Morn

A day in my life–

Wake up at 3 AM

Shower

Finish packing

Leave house at 4 AM

Drive to airport parking area

Board shuttle

Arrive at airport 5 AM, check baggage

5:50 Board plane

6:15 Jet pulls away from gate

6:30 Jet returns to gate

Disembark

7:15 Board new plane

7:15 Sleep during take-off

7:35 Log on to computer (Yay inflight Wi-Fi)

Drink coffee while flying

Send Emails while flying

Drink more coffee and eat little package of airline cookies

Fly over Grand Canyon

Fill out online form

Land

Make traditional airport restroom visit

Wait for luggage

Drag luggage to car rental shuttle

Ride Bus to Car Rental Office

Wait with luggage while Philip checks out car

Admire Mustang and BMWs in parking lot

Drive away in Chevy Cruze

Follow Garmin instructions to get to meeting

Eat a fat free cheese stick in car

Go to meeting

Drink coffee

Talk shop

Talk shop some more

Get in car

Look for fast food along way to next meeting—must be before we get to freeway and on the right side of the street No luck

Drive rapidly toward next meeting

See highway patrol

Drive more slowly

Find place for next meeting.

Notice hot dog stand across street from building

Buy 2 hotdogs while Philip confirms meeting location.

Walk to meeting building—would be 3 PM at home Have been up for 12 hours (excluding 15 minutes on plane)

Eat hotdogs on steps of building

Old saying “Hunger is the best sauce” is proven by incredible perfection of hot dogs

Enter building and discover a Peet’s coffee bar—but no time to grab coffee.

Go to meeting

Listen to first presenter—he is great

Philip presents, also great, and well received

Tour facility

Schmooze

End meeting and drive to hotel

Check in

We have now been up for nearly 19 hours, after 4 hours sleep the
previous night–take 45 minute nap

Go to dinner–split an order of Chicken Masala.

Return to room–drink decaf, prep for next day’s work

Lay out clothing,

Put on “Life is good” sleep shirts–it is 1:30 AM in our home time zone.

Sleep(Yay!)

Dragged Kicking and Screaming into the 21rst Century

Image

I am usually pretty tech savvy, but I had to be coerced to join Facebook.

I told people about 5 years ago that “I don’t have kids, I don’t have grandkids and I’m not trying to hook up—why do I want to be on Facebook?”

But, I was on a committee using it to communicate with members, so I joined and ended up with friends from that organization. And I never checked it. It took me a while to even “get” how it worked. Every time I logged in, I had so many posts from one friend with her picture showing up, I thought I was logging on to her page! Like I said, it took me a while to “get” it.

Later, a cousin was blogging about his cancer treatments via Facebook (he’s in remission and things look good btw) so I ended up friends with some family members. Then I accidently (not kidding here) accepted a friend request from an old classmate. A few weeks later, I got more friend requests from old classmates—hence the term viral, I guess. I will admit, I thought about dropping off of Facebook and ignoring their requests.  It took me a couple of weeks to think it over before I decided that I would “Friend”  these people—I don’t live near my old hometown and haven’t kept up with many people there, but—I also have nothing against most of them. So I did.

And that started the avalanche— I have “Friends” on Facebook I’ve not seen face to face in 20 years, people I see several times a month and relatives, both my age and younger.  I have them in distinct groups for my rare posts (not everyone gets everything—if I’m posting correctly) and I begrudgingly check Facebook every couple of days—ok, probably more like every day now.

And while I’m not in love with it, I am starting to see some value to it.

For one thing, I’m becoming better acquainted with some of the younger members of my family, which has been nice. And I’m also able to keep track of my friends and acquaintances locally, who I don’t see as often since work has become ever busier.

I went to a going away party tonight for a friend. There were a lot of people there, many I have not seen in a long time, between their schedules and mine.  However, I knew what most of them were up to, thanks to Facebook. For, buried amidst the forwarded cat pictures, the marketing dross and the “hit like if you love your son, your granddaughter or your gun” posts and the countless pictures of cute babies, there is enough real information that I was remarkably up to date with is happening in my friends’ lives.

I know whose mother is moving in with her, whose brother is very sick, and who is looking for a new job. In fact, I learned that my friend was moving out of state via Facebook when she announced her house was up for sale and that she was closing on a condo!

So, while I read Facebook more than I post (Cue my mom saying  “Everyone says that.” ) I acknowledge people’s situations and posts and make this bit of social media a tool that really does help me keep me in the loop. Thus I will begrudgingly admit I’m glad I joined Facebook.

But I need to get better at the ins and outs of using it, because earlier this week, I once again accidently accepted a friend request when I was trying to hit “not now.”

I Need a Snow Day

2011 Holiday Queens Park Table

I need a real, retro snow day.

Once upon a time, if it snowed—really snowed—I ended up with a day off.  If the busses couldn’t run, if the streets were not clearable, once the local weather man declared it a snow day, or I got a call from the office phone tree—I could crawl back into bed and pull the comforter up to my chin until 10!  When I finally got up, I could putter around the house in thick socks, flirt with Philip, drink cocoa by the fireplace, watch daytime tv or old movies or read or putter without guilt, since I had a free day off that was completely unplanned.

Today, if it snows 11 inches and the streets by my house are not cleared until late in the day if at all, schools and businesses and offices in a 60 mile radius are closed and my driveway looks like Siberia on a bad day–I still am able and expected to work.

It is one of the few times when technology turns on me.

When once I would not have been able to get my voice mail, now it is delivered to my email inbox as an attachment, which goes directly to my smartphone.  When once I would not have been able to access work files, the Cloud and our VPN let me work on any file, anywhere, any time. All of the things that make it possible for me to be productive on the road come back to bite me when the weather is awful and the fireplace alluring.

I miss the random Tuesday of the homebound luxury of being out of the office with no way to get to work.

Now, to get a snow day, I have to schedule it!

Overheard at the Denver Airport

This snippet of a conversation. . .

Two young men—late teens, early 20s—were discussing books.

Pete:  “Do you read much?”

RePete:  “You mean like, books?  Not really.”

Pete: “I was reading a book last week that is really good.  Amazingly, it was from the 1930s, I think.”

RePete: “Were you reading it like ‘words on a page’ or like an audio?”

Pete:  “An audio—why would I read words on a page?”

My initial thought is “What? You aren’t reading when you listen to an audio book!”

But that may just be my expectation that people use words accurately—reading is a specific action.  My second thought is my belief that people process information we read differently than we process information we hear—I think reading is easier and faster than listening to someone else read, and easier to review if you want to clarify something—you don’t have to play back on an MP3, just reread.  I also know my mind sometimes wanders and plays “let’s free associate” when I am listening to a book while driving. So for me, the two things are not interchangeable.

But I know people differ on how they process information, and some people with certain learning disabilities might find this the best method to get information.  I also know a lot of people listen to books while doing housework or other repetitive tasks, or while driving.  But do they consider it “reading”.  Somehow, I’d be more comfortable if the kid had said “I listened to a book the other night that was written in the 1930s.”

Or, maybe I should get with the program and go read a show on NPR.