Friday, November 15, 2013

Be my Facebook friend?

What is your favorite television show? 

What music do you prefer?

Do you have a favorite lunch? Dinner?

Why do I ask?

I avoid a personal Facebook page because I prefer not to share with the planet my “like” for my Marie Ormond doll collection or that my “favorite” television program was “Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell”. No one on this side of the Atlantic will understand my love for Pan flute Chinese jazz. These revelations would produce a similar effect as when someone asks me to play checkers and I want to turn the board over for backgammon. People just back away very slowly.

I mention this because we all have developed many different interests, and the reasons for such may be unknown but considered very strange by others.  Truthfully haven’t we all viewed anothers' likes on a Facebook page and wondered “I really didn’t know that about you…and it creeps me out”!  In all honesty, should we really care?

One of the benefits of aging is becoming more accepting and less judgmental when it comes to just what tickles the fancy of those around us.  I may not agree with you politically, spiritually or have any interest in what keeps you awake each day but you are always welcome to sit down, open a Yuengling and tell me about it.

Just don’t ask me to be your Facebook friend.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My life is too slow

My father-in-law spent his entire career working for a major corporation that holds many technology patents and has received numerous defense, government & industrial contracts. He was directly involved in satellite launches and when someone asks, “does it take a rocket scientist to figure this out?” we defer the question to him.   I won’t mention the name of the company but EVERYONE has heard of it.
A few years ago he commented that the wireless technology in my little home router was similar to what was once used for early space & satellite transmissions.
Think of it, we had men and women working in laboratories all across the globe communicating to the far reaches of outer space with something I can now pick up on Ebay for 5 bucks.
Transmissions received from satellites hovering oodles of miles above the nosebleed rung on my aluminum ladder sends photos and videos of weather changes while allowing Google maps to view the location of my little backyard pear tree from orbiting craft. 
Voyager is still out there (God only knows where it resides in the heliosphere) and continues to send back data about unknown origins reminding us there is a whole lot of stuff we don’t know about.

At my little 3-story townhouse I too am equipped with some of the latest gadgets that Best Buy, Amazon, Ebay and Geeks-R-Us has to offer. There are computers, tablets, Internet radios and even a Roku, probably a minimal arsenal by most household standards, but nonetheless we try to stay somewhat current.
All of this amazing science and yet Comcast cannot seem to get me a reasonable Internet connection! Why the heck not? We heard Neil Armstrong give his “one small step” speech from 225,000+ miles away and my Internet buffers while I am trying to watch cats cooking fish sticks on Youtube.
Problems with technology has beset mankind ever since Clyde, the guy who invented the wheel came under fire for his square wheel prototype.  All the other cave dwellers whined incessantly about the bumpy ride until Clyde realized a rounded piece of stone would provide a less painful experience. Wheels, fire and sharp tools were the technological order of the day.

Daily tech problems were not a serious concern during my youth.  We may have had to share a phone with what was called a “party line”.  My transistor radio required a frequent change of 9-volt batteries but late at night the airways were accessible and I could pick up a broadcast on my tiny AM radio all the way from Wheeling, West Virginia, from my bunk bed in Philly without interference. No buffering needed!
Without a rooftop antenna, television reception sometimes demanded attaching wire hangers, aluminum foil or a family member had to hold the “rabbit ears” on top of the set while the others enjoyed the program. Whenever it was television day, we were all on our best behavior so as not to be the daily troublemaker whose penalty was relegated to antenna duty. 
There were a few blessings; with only three channels we had no Kardashians or afternoon Judge shows. 
The biggest problem we faced was trying to share one bathroom with eight people living in a three-bedroom city row house.

So just why is it so difficult to get faster and more consistent Internet from thirty vertical feet away?  An even more puzzling question is “What is my hurry?”
I can think way back to the origins of the Internet when you could take the family on a vacation to Disney World while waiting to download and print a few photos and we were excited in anticipation.
Has increased net speed and “up-to-the-nanosecond CNN gotta have it first news” changed our behavior in such a way that we can’t even wait for the microwave to boil a cup of water without first causing our own patience to bubble over?
In my neighborhood there is a traffic light that tests the sanity of all who approach. Residents submit letters to the editor about it in our local paper. The borough building has set up a special “hot-line” to take the complaint calls. Police dispatch teams in riot gear to the location to send angry townsfolk with torches and pitchforks home to calm down.
I actually took a stopwatch to check out the great offender.  The light takes a whole 38 seconds to change! The nerve of our municipality to expect us to endure this hardship.
My impatience is certainly not a solo journey as I am in a huge majority; actually I observed that nowadays the “easy-does-it take-your-time crowd” is a minority so small they could demand constitutional rights. The rest of us honk horns, butt in line and run on high-octane caffeine.