The Transition Mission Bit

Not a big talker – but nice to have around!

Greetings again from me and my now longtime squirrel-buds! As the world gradually reopens out there (with mixed results here in the States…), I’m still pretty much sticking to home. No, not because of my gray roots. Okay, not only because of my gray roots. I think this squirrel and I both just prefer to proceed with caution.

Plus, I think I’ve finally fallen down a digital rabbit hole and may never leave home again!

When not glued to my tablet, I’ve been using quarantine time to get my apartment in order and have turned up all kinds of different media my family’s used to capture moments across more than a century! I’ve got cards, photos, slides, 8- and 16-mm films, reel-to-reel tapes, VHS tapes, 3/4-inch tapes, cassette tapes, teeny-tiny-I-don’t-know-what-they-are tapes, CD’s, DVD’s and thumb drives! 

Yeah – still a bit of organizing to do…

These represent priceless memories!  But they’re also reminders that my relationship with gadgets and electronics has never been an easy one…

Technology has just never been my thing. And every advancement in it tends to make me want to retreat. In fairness, I did manage to develop skills like dropping a needle into the right groove of a record album back in the day. And before playlists, I figured out how to record ultimate mix tapes on cassette and later how to burn them onto CD’s and even present them as gifts. 

From Grandpa P’s jams on down to mine!

But do those abilities matter anymore? Nooo. No, now it’s all about the clicking and the swiping and the getting my phone at the right angle so my face gets approved and trying not to feel cranky and judged when it doesn’t:  “Too much makeup, oh Great and Powerful Smart Phone? Too little? Seriously, what do you want from me – and you kids over there, get off my lawn!”

I don’t even have a lawn.  That’s how crazy this stuff makes me.

It must be battle fatigue from so many years in the techno-trenches. My old (and much more tech-savvy) friend Judy loved reminding me of the day years ago that I got a new DVD player for our apartment. Judy gave me half an hour to hook it up myself so I could feel like a grown-up and everything – but when time was up, she found me still sitting on the floor with a cord in one hand and directions in the other, entirely bereft of any hope or self esteem.

“Oh my god,” she exclaimed, grabbing the cord.  This goes here. That goes there. And now we can watch a movie while we’re young!”

That’s my whole technical life in a nutshell – just a long series of “OK Boomer” moments.

It’s so bad that when my office switched to single cup coffee makers a few years back, I was traumatized – to me, it was like that monolith from 2001 got imbedded in the break room. I tried staring the thing down from out in the hallway. And I tried sneaking up, thumping on it with the back of my hand and scuttling out – but it still wouldn’t go away and let the pots with the brown handles and the orange handles come back so that life would be understandable again!

I can’t even find the port on this thing.

What to do..? Judy had moved to Ireland, so “phoning a friend” was out. And having someone demonstrate has never been enough since I seem to need the muscle memory of going through motions myself. 

As a last resort, I read the directions, loaded in a pod of my choice, and ended up with a really lovely cup of coffee. Who knew?

Um – kinda the whole rest of the office.

Here in the present, it’s gutting that I can’t visit Mum in assisted living because of the pandemic – but I’m grateful she’s fine with staying in touch through good, old-fashioned phone calling! Most nights, she reads books to me over the phone while I hand sew masks out of t-shirts and dish towels. Basically, we’re characters in our own Jane Austen novel (“Pride and Pandemic”?) – but it works for us!

Even my Star Trek tribble wanted a mask (and, yes, I DO recognize I need to get out more!).

Maybe I was born in the wrong age. With all this technology at hand, a fair part of me still prefers curling up with a book and a mug of tea. I Google stuff all the time, but I also love that when I think of a phrase I once read (and while I might forget what I had for breakfast anymore…), I’ll recall what the spine of the book I read it in looks like, and it’ll just call to me across a crowded shelf! 

Like recently, I was moved to pull down The Once and Future King – T.H. White’s telling of the epic of King Arthur. (Yellow spine, purple writing.) I was looking for the advice I remembered the wizard Merlin’s giving young Arthur when the boy is sad. Merlin counsels that the best cure for sadness is to learn something:  

“That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”

There’s an awful lot going on right now to make one sad. And in the midst of the turmoil, I’ve finally been figuring out how to take a deeper digital dive to work on being better informed and better connected. There are a lot of threads to follow.

Also over the last few months, I’ve “discovered” that technology can help bring on a much-needed smile:

I joined fellow Buster Keaton enthusiasts in a TCM-sponsored watch party of the silent classic “The General”.

I live-streamed NASA’s coverage of the SpaceX Dragon’s launch.

I’ve listened to podcasts covering everything from comedy to Shakespeare to Broadway to LA Kings hockey.

I check in every day to watch Sir Patrick Stewart’s rendering of a Shakespeare sonnet with that wonderful voice of his!

And I hopped onto my first ever Zoom conference call to share cross-country cocktails with former hockey teammates in California, Colorado and Connecticut!

I’ve accomplished all this stuff from right on my couch – I mean, who kne..? 

Yeah, okay. Never mind.

I’m late to the party – I get it.  And I’m not proud that it took a virus to drag me there. I may not be doing any of my beloved traveling right now – but little by little, I’m finding my technically-challenged way to some really amazing places! 

Mum reads to me from a hockey history book (pre-pandemic…).

That’s not to say I don’t still get confused. The other night, I was listening to Mum’s reading a biography of her fellow Grinnell College alum Robert Noyce (of silicon chip fame – so some of this has been his fault!). I got distracted for a moment and, with an instinct only lately acquired, reached for the phone to try and roll the Mumcast back 15 seconds.

True story…

I may have learned and even grown in recent weeks, but hey – it’s still me. Even so, I pledge to keep on learning.

Cheers – and be well and be safe!

Zoomin’ with old friends and clearly having no fun at all!

 

26 comments

  1. Pride And Pandemic!
    That’s a good one.

    I’m not a natural techie either. But I think your techie skills are a good bit ahead of mine.

    Take care. See ya.

    Neil Scheinin

    1. Glad you like the book title! But as far as my being ahead on the tech stuff? I sure wouldn’t count on it! Thanks for reading, and you take care too!

  2. Technology terrifies me too. The more there is, the less I want to use it. Stay safe!

    1. Thanks – you too! And best of luck wrestling with whatever technology you have to contend with in your life! 😃

    2. Oh – and you stay safe as well!

  3. Technology certainly helps us to get through the current dituation. Where would we be without Zoom and podcasts and streaming!
    But looking at your collection reminds us of just how quickly tech goes out of date. Cassettes “ruled” for so long but now I bet it isn’t easy to get hold of a cassette player. And even cd’s ate becoming old hat! Good that vinyl is making a come back.

    1. Yes, I’ve definitely been making a lot more use of technology to help me through these days – and it really was high time. And yes – it seems as soon as we go all in on a device, the clock starts running for the next device to come along. The saddest thing to me about getting rid of my old car a couple years ago was that it had the last cassette player in it that I owned…

      1. My hi fi has a cassette player but I never use it these days.

      2. That’s it – time and technology have marched beyond it. I just never seem to be able to stay in step… Take care!

      3. You too 👍

  4. That’s an impressive range of historic technology! Mum has a collection of 78s and a record player that belonged to her dad, so that’s our oldest. I’ve been quite good at clearing out the obsolete – too good in some cases. When I chucked out a drawer of cassettes, how was I to know that the only recording of a “band” (I use the word advisedly) John was in as a teen was in there? Zoom has certainly been useful in the last few months.

    1. Yes, I’m so glad there are such great ways to stay in touch these days! Sorry about that one cassette tape – but I afraid I err too much on the other side. I’ve transferred lots of things to digital but I still – still – can’t bring myself to throw the originals away… Take care and thanks for reading!

  5. Pride and Pandemic…a book waiting to be written! A book and a cup of tea….perfect…but I am so glad for technology that allows me to communicate quickly and easily with friends and family as I am sure you are too.

    1. Absolutely! It’s wonderful how we can connect these days – and it’s a bit silly that I haven’t made use of those technologies sooner. But I’m catching up! All the best and thanks for reading (perhaps with a nice cup of tea)!

  6. This day is, here in Finland, the first day when life is near normal. I think you and your squirrel are right, better be very careful and stay at home. Loved to read your adventures with technology. We humans are planned to have different skills, you are a great writer, and so we can ask help and help the others.
    The birches here are just now in full leaf.
    Hyvää kesää!

    1. Oh my, kiitos paljon! That’s very kind – and it makes me feel better to imagine I may have other strengths after it took me half an hour and two YouTube videos to “collapse” that blue collapsible backdrop I used in my pictures… Please stay healthy and safe – and enjoy your June!

  7. Jack Niemi · · Reply

    Another masterpiece, Amy. Thanks.

    When the quarantine ends Ruth and I want to invite you to come here to share your newfound skills to help us since we are technologically challenged in a major way.

    I pray you and your mom are doing well and staying healthy.

    Happy June.

    Love you,

    Jack

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. Oh Pastor Jack – as much as I’m trying to embrace staying “connected” with technology, nothing could come close to getting to visit with you two in person! We’re staying well so far, and y’all are in our prayers for health and joy! Thanks for your prayers – and much love from Mum and me!

  8. Amy,
    I cannot tell you how much I relate to this one. I’ve longed called my self a techno-dinosaur, and yet somehow there is still a vital place for us in this world 🙂 Happy learning, Cheers to your Mum, and Peace always, Sweet Friend!

    1. Aw, cheers and prayers to you and yours, Ms. Cara! We’ve had to come a long ways haven’t we from the days when we connected over the top of the stalls in the CCCT ladies room! (A delightful memory!). Thanks for reading – and all the best, m’ dear!

  9. Ah, I’ve just stopped reading stories for my grandchildren. I can’t imagine my Mum reading to me over the phone!

    1. How nice that you read to them! Maybe they’re at an age now where you communicate with emojis..? The reading is just something we fell into doing during this time when I can’t visit her. I think it does both of us good! Take good care and thanks for reading!

  10. Karen Zumsteg · · Reply

    Given that a main trouble with tribbles is that maintaining physical distance appears antithetical to their very nature, having yours wear a mask seems entirely prudent. Thank you for being a responsible, and valuable, person of Earth.

    1. Ha! I see you’re familiar with tribble physiology – so you know the risk I’ve run all these years! Thank YOU, Ms. Karen, for your support! Stay well and safe!

  11. You have a great sense of humour and I enjoy your writing. I have CD’s and Cassettes and the stuff to play them on. I tried to give away some cassettes and got a blank stare. They had heard of them but had nothing to play them on. I finally arrived in the 21st century and tried Audible but closed the account. I prefer the smell and feel of a book in my hands without paying a monthly fee. Kept the one book and have another one on Kindle. MAYBE I will take my tablet with me instead of four books when I go on vacation next week.

    1. Thank you very much! I’m with you on the books – I much prefer the tangible version! But I agree too that electronic versions are great for traveling. More years ago than I want to own to, I did two backpack tours around Europe at a time when there was no choice but to carry fat guidebooks and a few books to read for pleasure – and I wound up grudging every ounce of them… Thanks again for reading and enjoy your vacation!

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