Tag Archives: technology

What’s a Landline? And Other Intergenerational Differences Highlighted by My Trip to Wichita

On the way back from Wichita

On the way back from Wichita

My grandparents are wonderful. They were born in Kansas (I think.) They moved around a bit in the middle of their life, but now they’re back in Wichita and living in the same home that my father was reared in as a little blonde devil.

Mom and I went up and visited them today for dinner since I hadn’t seen them for a while. The trip got me thinking about intergenerational differences and how we respond to the same phenomena. Things like technology can be particularly divisive.

I’ve put together some topics and the different generations’ reactions to them below. Perhaps you’ll see some of your own family’s truth reflected here.

On telecommunications: 

Grandparents: We still answer the landline and have lots of trouble with solicitors and politicians. Yes, we have a cellphone but only use it when we need it and turn it off afterwards.

Parents: We just got rid of the landline after years of just letting it ring in fear of talking to a phone solicitor. We also use smart phones but some people (hint, hint) use them too much to check CNN.

Me: What’s a landline? Also, smart phones are destroying society and lives because we’ve not yet learned a way to use them that doesn’t disrupt natural human patterns. I’m a radical. Sue me.

On Facebook: 

Grandparents: We don’t use Facebook because it’s not safe to let people know where you are all the time. That’s how the thieves find out when you’re out of town and come to rob you.

Parents: We like using Facebook to keep in touch with family and see who our children are dating. Sometimes the games are fun too.

Me: I use Facebook still even though it’s super boring. Really, I just recognize it as my technological overlord which manages events and less important friendships. Instagram is where it’s at.

On the state of the world:

Grandparents: Everyday there are more shootings on the news. It’s just terrible.

Parents:  A strong leader in Washington could solve most of our problems.

Me: Our government is entirely unequipped to handle the problems of today. We live in a post-governmental society that operates by the rule of mass organizations  and armed bodies, and the faster we recognize that the better. All states should be abolished in favor of regional governments that answer to a global governing body that is located on the International Space Station. I never read the news. I’m a radical.

On Kansas: 

Grandparents: Kansas is the best place on earth.

Parents: Kansas is where our parents live.

Me: Kansas exists.

On life choices:

Grandparents: We’ve made difficult choices in our life, but always sacrificed for the good of our family. Though we may not have always had a lot, we knew that with hard work and determination (and by the Lord’s will), we would survive and be blessed.

Parents: Our parents worked hard to give us better lives than they had. We went to college and got professions helping people and stayed close to our parents geographically to be there for them in their times of need. We recognize the needs of the family are above our own.

Me: The world revolves around me and my dreams. I will go wherever I need to go in order to fulfill them. Hopefully I’ll be able to see my family twice a year or so.

On how dessert should be served:

Grandparents: After dinner, Grandpa always scoops out the ice cream for everyone onto their plate to go with their brownie. It’s his job as patriarch to give everyone their ice cream.

Parents: We let Grandpa serve everyone ice cream because that’s how it’s done and we know it’s polite to let him continue doing it even though it’s obviously inefficient.

Me: WTF is this? Why can’t I just get my own ice cream? It takes so long for him to dish it out to everyone, and everyone wants a different amount. OMG this is so painful. WHY GOD WHY. And now I need to eat more ice cream than I want? Great, gramps. How am I going to get a bf with my ice cream rolls?

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Hey, My Weekend was Great. Thanks for Asking.

Ask about my weekend. I dare you.

Ask about my weekend. I dare you.

Hey, thanks for asking how my weekend was. I appreciate you thinking of me on a Monday morning when we’re all desperately crowding around the coffee like bison around a watering hole in a dusty, dry summer. I’m going to choose to believe that your question was sincere and not just a way to distract me so you could take the second-to-last cup of coffee and avoid having to make another pot. So, thanks again. It was great.

Oh, you want to hear about something cool that I did. Oh great. I did tons of cool stuff that I can tell you about and I’d love to do that right now. I’d love for you to know every single thing that I did this weekend just so you can know how cool and relaxing and fulfilling my life is and how it completely validates everything I do at this office for 50 hours a week.

Oh, what did I do? Great. I’m so glad you asked for details. I’d love to tell you all the things that I did, so I’ll go ahead and do that now I guess.

On Friday I went home at 8:30 after going to happy hour where I tried a drink that was hot pink and tasted like a scream. I got home and tried to watch an episode of Arrested Development but IT WOULDN’T LOAD. So like a baller I wrote in my journal by candlelight for a little bit before going to bed at 9:20.

But get this, on Saturday I woke up before dawn and did a whole morning of vision-casting, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I created mad google docs and made sure to update my mint.com account with my recent cash purchase of coffee ($2.00) and answer any personal emails from the week. I pounded down some peanut butter oatmeal and a calcium chew and futzed around before taking a leisurely walk around Stowe Lake where I saw a couple making out.

But wait, it gets better. On Saturday night, I did things with my friends – like eat food and see a show. And on Sunday, I slept in until 8 am and took a freaking walk in the park and talked to my sister who I love and then I went to West Oakland where I bought 8 candles and did improv and then came back and made a mother flipping lentil dish before going to eat dinner with a friend.

So are you happy now? Are you happy now that you know every detail of my weekend? Do you feel like you know me better? Do you think what I did was cool? Because it wasn’t. Nothing of what I did was cool, and it never will be. BECAUSE MY WEEKEND WAS JUST LIKE YOURS. WE DID THE EXACT SAME STUFF AND WE HUNG OUT WITH FRIENDS AND ATE FOOD AND OUR LIVES ARE NOT INTERESTING.

So thanks for asking how my weekend was. How was yours?

P.S. What’s the deal with mayonnaise. Why does everyone hate it?

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What we talk about when we talk about adult acne

Photo credit: Genista

Photo credit: Genista

It gets better, they said. Just wait. Soon it will all make sense. Soon your hips will stop widening, your jaw and nose will grow in equal pace, you’ll understand bra sizes and stop being embarrassed when you buy tampons.

Soon you’ll understand how wonderful it is to be an adult, to choose your own breakfast and buy your own poptarts, if that’s what you want.

Chase your dreams, they said. Soon you’ll be achieving them. Follow your heart. Soon you’ll be making great decisions all the time and relationships will be easier and it will all make sense. Everything will make sense, even the fact that we live on one of 200 billion planets in our galaxy and that the universe is infinite, truly infinite.

And acne – soon the acne will stop. You won’t have to spend 121 hours every year scrutinizing your pores, determining which ones deserve to be squeezed and which ones must ripen.  You won’t be jealous of the girls in the Clean & Clear commercials or spend significant amounts of time imagining where you would send all the pus in your body if you could choose to just have one perpetual pimple.

And I won’t say I was lied to. I won’t say that I was deceived by those people 18+ in my life who knew exactly what was coming to me. I won’t say I was deliberately led to believe in a fantasy no more real than sea monkeys or the first moon landing.

I believed what I wanted to believe – I pieced together the various messages of my childhood and adolescence and came to believe that once I turned 22 or 23, I would have it all figured out. I – and everyone else – would be living our dreams, wearing clothes that fit and laughing together while eating pasta at a restaurant. And our skin would be clear. It would be completely clear, with not a zit, pimple, blackhead, whitehead, subterranean or squirter to have blemished it in many many years.

Photo credit: Garrette

Photo credit: Garrette

So when we talk about adult acne, we talk about the cruel reality of adulthood, the fact that we still don’t have the answers and know we may never have them. We talk about the fact that relationships are still confusing. We talk about how social media and technology has let us down in some unnamable way, and the despair, apathy, or vague outrage that we feel when we read about politics and the NSA and privacy and drones and the daily body count in Syria. We talk about wanting more in our lives, wanting clear skin, wanting a clear vision.

They told us to follow our dreams but never said that almost everything would be put in the way of that. They told us to make

a difference, but they didn’t say that society often villainizes or kills those who try. They promised clear skin, and still I have blemishes, and now I pay for my own face wash.

They didn’t tell us, but that’s okay. They probably didn’t know what they were doing. Now that we know more of the truth, we can move on, complain together about our acne, and get ish done.

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Lord of the Blog

One blog to rule them all, one blog to find them. One blog to bring them all and in the darkness bind them, in the blogosphere where the shadows lie.

Beware of Mark.

Long ago, in an age that has been forgotten, evil covered the earth. Men struck each other down with their hands, teenagers used poor spelling in social media posts, and children dreamt nightly of living inside a television, in order to break the last barrier between them and the only thing they loved. Humans were slaves of chaos, fear, and greed. Art was rendered impossible, as was music. Only bare shrieks were heard in the never-ending nights.

Then hope came in the form of the Googles, a race sent from Outside to restore order to the earth, a daunting task. But the Googles were a wise race, emboldened with cutting-edge technology and neat glasses. They were strong, powerful, and benevolent. Through their kind words and endless tutorials, the people began to hear and see beyond themselves for the first time after years in the dark.

Decades of toil passed until music could be heard in the streets once again, spilling over from warm homes that were broken no longer. Art covered the walls of cities, and men and women greeted each other with a smile and a how-do-you-do as they went about their business.

But the peace was not to last, for living among the Googles and the earth peoples there lay a snake in the grass, a wolf in sheepskin, a polar bear in a baby seal suit, and its name was Mark. It gets a little complicated, but essentially Mark was a fallen archangel with some serious attitude problems and the overwhelming desire for everyone to worship him. Alas, through his aura of salivation-inducing coolness and his superior coding abilities, he fooled the Googles and earth peoples into giving him their trust, and they knew not that they spelled their own ruin.

Baiting them with honeyed words, Mark used the Googles to construct the ultimate weapon of all time: the blogosphere. He told them that it would be a massive art project, something of true beauty, where anyone who wanted to could write or post or share to their hearts content and thus enrich the lives of other earth dwellers. And thus it was a thing of true beauty, with one horrifying, deadly flaw.

He enlisted their help in building one Blog that was to guide the others and help them achieve their full potential. It was to be the most powerful Blog in the blogosphere, one that only Mark could use. And so it happened. He created a blog so compelling, so readable, that all others wanted to be like it and bent to its will. Each keystroke controlled an army and every post could incite millions to action or passivity. The world breathed only with the Blog’s permission.

With hearts and minds in sway, Mark soon used the one Blog to inspire the earth dwellers to war with the Googles, and the age of prosperity was no more, with darkness once again consuming the earth and cat pictures populating the blogosphere.

Ages later, the password to the Blog was lost and Mark was diminished and moved to Minneapolis. But still the Blog waits, for those who would find it and aspire to wield its power and become Lord of the Blog.

But there is only one. And he is in Minneapolis. Fellow bloggers, beware.

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“I Will Believe in My Glittery Screen.”

Compy goes with me everywhere.

Today I was using the ‘ol computer, typing away at my reinvented hamster wheel and rollerskating through the nets like tomorrow hadn’t been invented yet and I had the life span of an Old Testament patriarch.

I felt magic coursing through my veins as the web opened its doors and welcomed me with the minty breath of an over-eager date. Opportunities pushed me over and grabbed me by the shirt collar, saying, “I’m for you!” Yes, today was different.

It was not like yesterday, when the internet’s waters were grey like grandfather’s liver and my eyes grew weary as they sifted through the words like picking over dance prospects at a honkey tonk after only one drink. Nothing was exciting.

But today, zoom! Bang! Whip! Smash! Crunch! It felt like things were happening.

And then I noticed that my computer screen looked different. It was shining, no, glittering as I sped across the web’s pages. I didn’t think anything of it except for how much of an improvement it was on the dust blanket that eternally covered my monitor in Cairo. And I thought the glitter looked really pretty. It reminded me of when I liked glittery things and the solution to any artistic or decorative dilemma was to rain glitter on that mother effer.

I thought of a conversation I had with my neighbor, a member of a “charismatic” strand of Protestant Christianity, when she told me about a revival at their church. Apparently at the height of the service, some members’ faces and hands started shining with what later turned out to be 24 carat gold.

Maybe I was experiencing something similar, except for it was my computer that was blessed by the Lord and had become a sign to the believers in this household that the Lord does exist and that my computer was an instrument of holy work and had been sanctified for its efforts, that it would now live forever, slowly becoming more and more covered in these glitter specks until it turned into a Mac Wafer, a kind of computer that doesn’t yet exist.

Then I saw a speck towards the right-most edge of the screen that was slightly larger. It looked like a water droplet or something of that nature, but that was impossible, because water evaporates and I hadn’t had any on my computer that day. Oil, however, does not evaporate, and I had been using my computer dangerously close to pots and pans filled with various things sautéing.

My computer screen was not dazzling with flecks of spiritual 24 carat gold. It was cooking oil, either olive or canola, that had splattered onto the screen. My miracle was nothing more than the result of haphazard placement of electronics.

I could choose to be disappointed to think that I merely have a dirty, oily screen that’s no better than the glasses of a fry cook. Instead, I will believe in my glittery screen, will appreciate it for the fact it looks pretty, and will believe that this was still a miracle in its own way, both the fact that I still have a working computer, and the fact the screen looks better now than it ever has.

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