Category Archives: Technology

Me and my magic wand

Magic wandI bought a magic wand yesterday at Best Buy. It’s shiny red with a silver clip and a soft black rubber tip. Did I mention that it’s magic? Like rabbits in top hats and sawing a woman in half. Presto!

“Just buy it already,” my son said. “It’s only 15 dollars.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know that I’ll even use it.”

And there I stood in an aisle of Best Buy on a Wednesday afternoon, sweating over a very minor purchase. Because I’m borderline OCD inside very picky.

After further contemplation, I found another cherry red stick for $11.99, and that sealed the deal. Because $15 bucks, hell no. But $11.99, hello, gorgeous.

That night when I was all alone, I removed the red stick from its packaging and took it for a test drive. It was light and sleek and fit perfectly in my hand. In no time, it was helping me write, seeking out the correct letters.

Bold. Cut. Copy. It did it all, almost effortlessly. Turning pages forward and back with just a swipe of the hand.

All I needed to do was aim and point and motion. Talk about power.

I was like Harry Potter and Harry Houdini and Mickey in Fantasia all rolled into one.

I couldn’t believe that up until now I was working with only my bare hands as my tool, my fingers clogging the keyboard, falling between the j and the k and turning junk into kunk, over and over and over again.

If you haven’t guessed by now, my magic wand is a tablet stylus. A ruby red stylus like Dorothy’s ruby shoes. It was just like coming home.

In the end, I learned that it’s ok to try new things, to take a chance. And that I’m worth $11.99. Plus tax.

My cell phone: Good enough, smart enough

My phone

This whole blogging thing has been an experiment of sorts.  It’s a way to redirect my energy into something a little more creative and productive than watching marathons of Hoarders or Jerseylicious.

I consider myself a Luddite, or at least as much of a Luddite that I can be in the 21st century and still maintain a job.  I’m kind of like an Amish youth on Rumspringa — allowed to leave the fold to use technology but retaining the ability to return to safety after such folly.

Note: I am writing this blog entry using a computer.  Computers are good.  I like computers.

I work from home as a writer for one of the largest news services in the world.  I have a computer, which allows me to write articles and e-mail them to my boss.  I don’t understand how this works, but it does.  I don’t write my words out longhand like Bartleby the Scrivener or on a typewriter like Erma Bombeck.  I don’t have to drive to the office to deliver a manuscript or hand it off to the local Pony Express guy.  E-mail is fast, and easy and convenient.  It is computer magic.

I am spending some of my free time reading about the art of blogging on my computer.  There is a lot of information on the computer.  Have I mentioned that computers are good?

I have been reading about tagging and category clouds and how to draw readers to your site.  I have been reading other blogs for ideas.

I have noticed that a lot of bloggers use other media such as Facebook and Twitter.  I have heard of Facebook and Twitter.

I tell W that many bloggers use Twitter to drive readership.

“You can’t use Twitter,” she says.  “You don’t have a real phone.”

I don’t know what she means.

I do have a “real” phone.  It is not imaginary or pretend.  It is not made of Legos or Play-Doh.  It doesn’t have large buttons with pictures of farm animals, a shiny mirror and an attached teething ring.  I can make calls and receive calls and even take messages.  I can text people, and they can text me back.

It is not a rotary phone or one of those ginormous cell phones as big as an Air Jordan that Jerry Seinfeld used on his show in the 1990s.

It is not a banana.  You cannot answer a banana.  I have tried.  Every time I buy bananas, I hold one up to my ear.  “Hello?  Hello?  It’s for you,” I say, handing it off to the nearest kid.

No one finds this funny.  Not the kids, not the wife, not the cats.  Moe, Larry and Curly would laugh, but they don’t live here.  (Shemp had a much more sophisticated sense of humor.)

My phone is small and compact.  It fits easily in my pocket, even when I’m not wearing cargo shorts.  It cost $9.99.  I bought granola bars at BJs today.  They cost more.  They are crunchy and delicious but do nothing to further my communication wants and needs.  (See bananas, above.)

People say my phone isn’t “smart,” which implies that it’s dumb.  That I have some kind of idiot phone.

My phone can take pictures and tell the time and store phone numbers.  Lots of them.  It has a programmable alarm, a calendar and a calculator.  How is long division not smart?  When I was a kid, phones couldn’t do any of those things.  They dialed and they rang in all of their one-tone glory and that was about it.  You couldn’t even take them with you.  You had to stretch the curly cord from room to room to hallway closet to get some privacy.

“Can’t you see I’m talking to Stacy?!  Get your galoshes later!”

“Oh, you have a flip phone.  How cute,” people say.  Like it’s a Chihuahua or a Cabbage Patch kid.

Personally, I think so-called smart phones are stupid, like Pajama Jeans and Real Simple magazine.  (Hello?  Your life would be Real Simpler without an added magazine subscription.)  I don’t like to be bombarded by anything.  Not e-mails or news or questions or Nerf air missiles or mini marshmallows.

And, that’s what smartphones do.  They bombard you with information and updates and distractions.  Read this, check on that, play another game of Angry Birds, why don’t you?  Portable electronic temptation.  It’s like a stripper that fits in your pocket.  Or, the mythological Sirens who serenaded sailors with their beautiful, angelic voices in an attempt to entice them to crash their ships on the jagged rocks below.  Nothing but a bloody mess in the end.

I like to control my access to news and media.  Every morning, I read my newspaper.  This is how I find out the news from the previous day.

“Did you hear Sally Ride died?” W asks.

“Uh, no.  I didn’t read tomorrow’s paper yet.”

She is a walking spoiler filled with bad news.

Ernest BorgnineRon PalilloPhyllis Diller.  A shooting at a mosque.  Some lady in New Jersey who decapitated her toddler son.

I am perfectly content waiting for tomorrow for today’s news.  I have never been on the cutting edge of anything, and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t need to change.

I am a creature of habit.  An anal, obsessed, compulsive creature of habit.  Like a Hobbit that hoards or a unicorn with a perfectly alphabetized CD collection.

I like that my cell phone doesn’t tell me anything that I don’t want to know.  It can’t.  Not because it’s not smart but because it knows its limits.  That in and of itself is smart.  Super smart, if you ask me.  With whom would you rather go drinking? Someone who tells you, whoa, I better stop at four Captain and Cokes?  Or, someone who insists that a six-pack of Schlitz malt liquor and 14 shots of Jagermeister is really nothing.  Keep ’em coming?

So, if my phone doesn’t support Twitter, that’s ok with me.  It does everything else that I ask it to do.  It’s like the fair-haired, obedient child I never had.

I’m probably not ready for Twitter yet anyway.