Category Archives: Technology

Books Equals Life

I am a bibliomaniac and I have passed the gene onto my daughter.

Nicholas A. Basbanes titled his tome about the passion A Gentle Madness. A fine name for an exquisite affliction.

We both have those books that are tired and worn, read many times over, and sitting in a special section of the bookshelf reserved for well loved books.

One prized gem is the first edition Man O’ War by Walter Farley, a gift from my parents at 10 years old when I knew I could talk them into keeping a horse out in the back. Living in town was not a deterrent, I being convinced it was all so possible. The hardcover sits with the Breyer horse from my dad in consolation that Christmas.

And the paperback of Nine Tomorrows by Issac Asimov in my possession since high school, its brittle pages restricting any further outings in my purse. A meeting with (and a sweet kiss from) the author just adds more color to our history together.

My girl has her own touchstones, books as much a part of her life as her threadbare Sammy. These are the boxes we carry from place to place. They are the first into the van, and the reason everyone must have a bookshelf in their first apartment. After that, they have become a piece of your soul.

I say someone needs to develop and perfect a new techie book vault. Filled with the precious cargo, I would aim a hand-held unit at it to shrink it to a small key in my hand, transporting it to be refreshed at a new location.

I am aware that we already have the ability to carry libraries on tablets and cell phones. Thank you, Kindle. I use the program all the time. But that’s just convenience so I don’t have to carry each of Ken Follett’s three pound Century Trilogy books around (and I can read on the sly.) I need the paper, the physical relic that can share reflected memories of my heart by just a touch, a look, a musty scent.

Hermione Granger placed an Undetectable Extension Charm on her purse during the Second Wizarding War. When I saw her pulling books out of that thing, I knew it needed to exist.

That’s what I want. Apple, let’s get on it. That and Star Trek’s Transporter. I’m so over flying.



Filed under Memoir, Personal Life, Technology

In Search of my Well Lived life

Chick Corea. An off-handed song intro from the band’s drummer flipped a switch. Like a car that can do zero to sixty in remarkable time, a hollow memory became crowded with snapshots: an album cover, a turntable sitting on a makeshift entertainment center of milk cartons and shelving, and books, so many books.
I turned to my friend and said in disbelief “I’ve had a previous life!” We all have, she answered. She misread my meaning. We have all had different incarnations, styles, and even names such as daughter, student, performer, mom. But to be frank, my memory of times past is terrible. Joan Didion spoke of me when she said “I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.” This torrent bubbled up from somewhere hidden away. While I was warmed by the fact it was still somewhere within me, I wasn’t prepared for the quake of its arrival.

She went back to the jazz performance and I went back to the show in my head. The music was soundtrack to the flood of memories of my years away at college that I had shed like snakeskin. The thoughts, ideas, the sheer joy of college life came along on the backs of scenes I hadn’t thought of in a very long time. Mornings of black coffee without the luxury of milk, nights of pub pool, and how egg drop soup can make a meal – all returning to me. And books by the likes of Hermann Hesse and Aldous Huxley alongside James Herriot and Douglas Adams, making just enough of a mix to ward off youthful pretense. The more serious mile markers of my reading life remain with me today and sit on my shelves offering warmth and comfort. But the actual memories of what surrounded me when they were shiny and fresh were dormant, and apparently waiting to startle me with a singular keyword.
Afterward, my friend asked if I enjoyed the show. I felt that was an understatement. Something had shifted in me. I had retrieved a part of my being, one that wasn’t just forgotten but indefinitely buried.

I felt like kissing the drummer.

Am I living the literal definition of losing one’s mind? No, I think it’s less nefarious than that and, like many baby boomers, I am unsettled by the fact that I am getting old. Somewhere along the line, we thought we were promised eternal youth and felt, no, we feel that continued good health, long lifespan, and access to every last memory is our real entitlement, all those fundamental rights to be pried from our grasp. By you and what army.

If all of my experiences total up to one true being, maybe like simple math, I need to find X to solve the narrative of what, and why, I am now before it permanently fades away. I can’t think of a better way of completing my own circle than by mining my past.
Oh, but fellow boomers, it’s time to face the music.

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Filed under Baby Boomer, Personal Life


Haven’t you always wondered where all your extra time and money goes?  I’ve been thinking about all our grownup toys like iPads, cell phones, and DVRs. With all these minions working for us, we should be ahead of the game. They all promise the savings as something to help our day-to-day living. Although I am no techno geek, I am a disciple at the altar of technology. I have all the basic equipment and a kid who keeps me current. Why aren’t I showing more savings, in time and money, now that I have so many things to do my thinking, shopping, bill paying, taping?

I think I’ve figured it out.  Maybe it was the $275 billed from a satellite TV company when I cancelled after the one month trial and before the year was up, even though I never got a signal. (The two holes drilled into my stucco by the installer continue to haunt me.) Or maybe it’s the $179 about which I fought for eight months when I, fool that I am, tried to do my part to reduce e-waste by fixing my own hard drive.

Have you gotten it? Does it sound familiar? I’m sure it does. You probably have a couple of title fights in your past, each complete with a file of backup paperwork the size of a novel and carrying memories of abusive (or, on the other hand, clueless) sales assistants, boxes sitting in the dining room for months (so as not to let it fall off your own personal radar), and mounds of money, retained by companies, faceless voices from the void of a phone line, punishing you for your stupidity for purchasing their product.

But I rant. Let me try to sound more logical. The ironic thing that has come to me like a blast of fresh air is this: we buy things to save time and we spend double or triple the amount of time trying to fix the deed, losing money in the process. Most of the time, it’s pretty clear-cut, such as my hard drive incident. A friend gave me a computer when she upgraded and we both knew there was no warranty left on it. When it crashed, I called the company and paid by the minute for the tech department to tell me I needed a hard drive. I ordered it and was told I had a 16-day money back guarantee. Okay, so when I got it and called the technical department, as instructed by the guarantee paperwork, the voice told me, after an hour on and off hold, in a heavy, impenetrable Indian accent, that he couldn’t help me because my computer was not under warranty. What?

Now, if it wasn’t happening to me, and if there wasn’t a lot of money at stake, and it wasn’t my money, and I hadn’t listened to an hour’s worth of hold music, and it wasn’t the second time in a year this type of idiocy happened to me, well, I would have actually LMFAO.

But it was happening to me. In other words it was personal. The way I see it, outside forces are entering the privacy of our world by our invitation and doing terrible things to us. And we are paying them a lot of money to do it, at a price low enough to purchase, yet too high to walk away from and call it a loss. And, in doing so, we allow them to steal our precious time.

So how do we correct this paradox and still surf along with everyone else in the 21st century? I mean, I love to purchase online and by phone. It makes my life easier. And we live in a world of immediate gratification, one for which, to my dismay, I have been inadvertently grooming my daughter.

Here is where we must take charge. We punish the offenders. We tell everyone we know to tell everyone they know not to use (fill in the blank). We pick and choose whom we buy from and what we buy, and learn to grow some patience about getting a few things. It beats learning it the hard way when you have to call the same number for eight months for a refund. One more thing: cut the cord. Oh, yes I did, and I’ve gone a blissful 8 months without any conversation with a cable company.

And if you get into a firefight again, repeat after me – “small claims court”.


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Filed under Personal Life, Technology