Pokemon, where have you gone to? – Part 2

If you find yourself at a dead stop behind a non-moving vehicle in the middle of parking lot, there’s a good chance the operator of the vehicle is playing Pokemon Go. This happened to me and my son the other day. The woman was staring down into her lap, obviously trying to hide something, her eyes bugging out of her head with enough concentration to burst a dam. Could it be? Of course! she’s playing Pokemon Go!

This determination is common and even more severe than anyone could have imagined. The headlines are rife with tragedies and mishaps. Players falling off cliffs, crashing into cop cars, and getting stabbed. On the lighter side, I read a hopeful story about the rescue of a stray kitten, later named Mewtwo (yes, from the game). Poor, little Mewtwo was stuck in a tree with injuries and couldn’t get down. I’m betting it was Pokemon Go players who drove the poor cat up the tree in the first place, arriving in hoards, stepping on her tail or something much worse.

And did you hear the news? (Although it’s hard to top Mewtwo.) Nick Johnson, a New Yorker, has caught all the Pokemon! Yes, really. He did it in two weeks with a little help from Uber. No crashing into cop cars here. He caught them in two weeks with little or no sleep. It kind of feels like he got the Golden Ticket. He still needs to catch the rare creatures who only exist in Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe. And what luck! Marriott Rewards is going to partner with him to help him locate the last remaining Pokemon.

My son shouts, “Mom! We should have done this!” For free trips to all these places, I totally would have done this. Just picture the headline:

Mother and Son TEAM catch all the Pokemon

I mean, doesn’t that have a better ring to it?

So far, my progress is dismal. I’m at Level 6. And my son? He’s watched some YouTube video that’s shown him how to hack into the game and play Pokemon Go from a horizontal, resting position on the couch (i.e., he doesn’t have to GO anywhere!). He tells me this game is for people who need to get out and he already gets out enough.

So, he’s playing the game as if he’s walking around San Francisco and he’s catching a lot of fish. As you might imagine, this has put a damper on our Pokemon bonding experience. But he’s busy because you need to capture 132 fish to evolve one of your fishes. You need to capture like a whole school. And what will he tell his cousin, whom we’re meeting in San Francisco when he’s already caught all the Pokemon there? His secret will be out!

Meanwhile, back at that ranch, I got a new line on an old phone given to me by mother-in-law so my younger son has a Pokemon device. Sprint requires not only your account information but also your first-born and a DNA sample…and still, they won’t unlock the phone! It turns out they won’t unlock iPhones. What a bust.

My family and I have been in San Jose over the past few days for the Junior Olympics Water Polo tournament and, in between games, the hotel was a flurry of Pokemon Go activity.

Our hotel, in fact, had a PokeStop. It was this Oasis:

HotelOasis
Calm and peaceful. A perfect place for a PokeStop.

This made me wonder if the game makers sought permission for naming their PokeSpots. While the hotel might appreciate the free advertising, it may be a tad disturbing to their paying guests to have all these extra “guests” while ensconced poolside at their hotel. My son assured me that no one has given any permission for any PokeStop and that that trespassing is rampant. In fact, people are walking into the backyards of people’s houses looking for PokeStops. What could be a PokeStop in someone’s backyard, I wonder.

Perhaps it’s a fountain like the one we saw at the De Anza College campus in Cupertino, California:

This gets PokeStop status.

Or a sculpture:

OmubakaSculpture
Here we have the Omubaka Ambassador Sculpture and, apparently, an Ambassador to the PokeStop.

I vote for this turtle, who wasn’t a PokeStop:

Turtle_DeAnza
What gives?

Sometimes, a PokeStop truly is deserving, like this plaque celebrating an English professor. My son remarked that the quote was nice. Indeed:

plaque2

plaque
It reads: In the shooting lights of thy wild eyes…from a verse from William Wordsworth.

My son used my phone to play and we let the game track our every move, which doesn’t seem to bother anyone anymore. Not in the case of Pokemon Go. Me, I’m betting there’s some other game probably already in the works. You know, like something darker out of a dystopian novel, like play or be eaten. Although what could be darker than enslaving Pokemon to fight until they fade and pass out while fighting in that innocent, healthy arena called a “Gym.”

My son ran around with his buddies later in the week. Without their devices. They were playing a game you may have heard of. Hide-and-Go-Seek.

Yeah, they did. It’s a classic.

My Adventures in Pokemon Go – Part 1

“Mom, slow down. I need to get some progress on my egg.” No, we’re not farmers. These are the words of my son when we’re playing Pokemon Go. Okay, and we’re cheating. Just a little. We’re in our car and we should be walking or biking. You see if you move too fast, your egg won’t incubate and you’re likely to miss all kinds of nearby Pokemon.

Let me pause and say whoever thought us this Pokemon Go is an absolute genius. It gets kids (and adults) off the couch and out of the house, all while still playing a video game. Imagine that! I thought I’d document my little adventures as I play alongside my sons, both very video savvy. As for me, I’m an absolute beginner and have never been a gamer, but we’re having a great time so far.

Yesterday, my son and I rode bikes around the Intel campus after dark on the hunt for a memorial plaque. I come to find out that there’s this beautiful little lake with trails I never knew about. We also found that someone around Intel is really scary with a lot of power. (I mean in the game, of course!) Right now, because my son and I are new to the game, we’re weak and so want to keep our distance.

We are also a bit too weak to contend with anything having to do with the “gym.” My son tried to fend off someone in a gym in the produce section at the supermarket, but was unsuccessful. You can easily recognize a gym on your phone. It’s a big and menacing, blinking tower.

Tonight, my younger son joined us. We drove to a reservoir nearby, a small body of water I haven’t been to in years, and had never seen at dusk.

WillowCreek1
Willow Creek Reservoir. It’s a simple walk around the lake. Perfect for a short stroll.

So pretty.

WillowCreek2

My younger son is hooked now and wants to play. Unfortunately, his iPad doesn’t have a data plan. We may resurrect an old phone and see about changing that. I think it could be worth it. Anything to get these kids outside. This is working! We’ve tried to get out in nature before, but it always seems to be a dreadful thing for my younger son. Tonight, he was skipping along.

WillowCreek3
Looking at a screen, but off the couch and outside. The air was perfect!

And lo and behold, a Pokestop in front of another grocery story I frequent all the time. Pokestops are my favorite. Free stuff and more pokeballs to catch the Pokemon. And guess what? It has a compass in the front I’ve never seen before. Who knew?

Compass
Are those ghost Pokemons? Nah.

I’m at Level 4, so I know we have many more adventures ahead, and I have to catch up to my son who’s at Level 10. He shakes his head at me, but he’s patient and explains things about the ever-changing Pokemon.

What about you? Have you tried it? Curious?

Aside

Have you ever felt that you needed a life coach? Not someone to help with the fancy decisions in life, but the day-to-day tasks such as eating, getting dressed, organizing your to-do list. Your life coach would sit by you, patient, forgiving, non-judging. S/he/it would watch you closely, let you make choices first. As it watched, it might say, “Uh huh,” or “No, no.” In counseling you to make a better choice, it would then usher you to a nice, comfortable chair and tell you, “I recommend you revise your decision.”

I guess my life coach has turned into an “it.” Actually, I think a robot would be a fair choice. No emotional baggage, it would deliver just the facts. The voice would be soothing though and feel soft enough that you might give it a hug, physically soft like a pet. Well, that could be an option. It would mostly be helpful, and if you didn’t like what it had to say, you could just turn it off. In appearance, it would be pleasant like its voice, but you could throw it away or stuff it in the closet if you got tired of it.

If you were whiling away the day, procrastinating, wasting time, making poor choices, it could buzz you, like your phone, but more present, and give your gentle reminders like:

You should be writing now.

Don’t forget to call your mother.

Why don’t you read a book instead of binge watching House of Cards?

They would understand you, but still offer the best advice. It would be a conscience that you can see and touch, and unlike your conscience, you could put it away.

You might say, don’t we already have this? We have a conscience we wrestle with all the time, anytime, day or night. Sure, but sometimes your conscience is not enough; it doesn’t have good sense and is easily distracted. This is flip-the-on-switch answers and the right answers. Well, only if you want them.

You could get this from humans, but let’s face it, can they really give you their undivided attention? And let’s be honest. Isn’t their advice usually predicated on their experience or by what their conscience tells them? Is this really what you want to hear? Your conscience is not same as theirs.

You could assign your Life Coach Robot moods: small talk, philosophical, flirty, friend, motherly/fatherly, straight talk, tough talk.

Traveling, on-the-go, or maybe you’re just stepping out for a bit, you can download your Life Coach Robot. There’s an App for that.

So, do you want one? Let’s assume it works like a charm, no complications and you can afford it. It would never take over your real identity or stand in for you. There would be a switch for that, a kind of temperature gauge. You’d have complete control.

It’s your Life Coach at your fingertips. Should I sign you up? Are you creeped out? I want a decision either way. Please let me know in the comments, and if you would so be kind, an explanation. I’ll be working in my garage all day, so let me you know if you want one.

photo credit: IMGP5485 via photopin (license)

Life Coach, Anyone?

confessional.com


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She turned her wheel looking at me in my rearview mirror. What did she expect me to do? Who made eye contact for Christ’s sake? Doesn’t eye contact mean anything to anyone any more?

Bitch. My hands shook while I poured my coffee. Fucking bitch. I burnt my toast. My stomach grumbled. Fucking, self-serving bitch. Did she expect me to worship the ground she walked on? Or drove on rather?

As I thought it, I knew it was ridiculous.

It happened at the line of cars at the school drop off. Morning, people in a hurry to get to their next destination, shuffling kids around. I tried to let her go in front of me. She was in such a hurry, but then she got so pissed. We called each other names into our rear-view mirrors.

I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror. She’s probably forgotten all about it my now.

I thumbed through my mail. Abigail Tribly. I saw my name appear on bill after bill. No one called me Abigail, not even my parents. It was always Abby. Whenever I saw my name printed on a piece of mail, I thought of Abigail as the wrong addressee. Just who is Abigail? Could she let this whole drop off disaster go? How could I have lost such control in such a short amount of time?

If Doreen were here, she would make me feel better, the only decent person I could trust and who didn’t judge. Doreen Henderson, she’d tell me to buck up, thicken my skin, and drop it. If only I could hear it from her lips. I called her. No answer, so I left a voicemail.

An hour later, this woman’s face kept flashing before my eyes, even when I closed them and tried to meditate. Especially when I tried to meditate. I couldn’t seem to get away from her. She had that scowl, fuming at me, revealing the most uncomfortable expressions. Oh, if she could only see herself, she would stop making those expressions instantly, on the spot. Did she really think she was such a badass for yelling at me in a minivan packed full of kids. Way to set a good example for our youth; our promise for a brighter tomorrow.

My chest tightened when I saw her face. I exhaled deeply. Again and again. There she still was. Then I marveled and lambasted myself for wasting all my time on her; time this precious resource so easily thrown away. I could have confessed it to “The Confessional” by now and been done with it.

Doreen had told me all about it at her house over a glass of wine after the kids were in bed. The Confessional was an anonymous website where anyone could go to confess. It’s just like it sounds. So long as you’re at least 18 years old and have a credit card, and a pair of standard device glasses handy, you could sign up and participate. That’s the thing though. You must participate. You can’t sign up unless you agree to confess. Doreen made that clear. Besides, everyone was doing it these days.

“Like who?” I asked, dipping my pita chip in humus. Doreen was the kind of person who provided snacks with the wine. A decent person, as I said.

“I don’t know. A lot of people do it. Just people you wouldn’t expect. My boss did it.”

“Oh,” I was genuinely surprised she had known this intimate detail about her boss, even though I knew she was infatuated with him. Entirely innocent, of course. “Well…did you get any bits?”

Doreen’s eyes turned glassy, and she was absolutely still. She surveyed the room like it was new and unfamiliar.

“It’s not like anyone talks about it. It’s kind of secret. That’s kind of the point.” She poured more wine.

“What about murderers? Lurkers?”

“That’s not allowed,” Doreen said firmly. “That’s against the ‘Rules of Engagement.’”

“Is that like the Ten Commandments?” I teased.

Doreen pursed her lips. “Kind of.” She was deadly serious.

“So you’ve done it,” I said, surprised.

She didn’t respond with a verbal reply, but I saw it in her eyes as she greedily returned her wine glass to her lips. She’d done it, and more than once as I had suspected.

If she did it, why couldn’t I? Just one time.

I typed in “confessional.com” to a sea of happy, uplifted faces, posing by sailboats, riding bikes, and walking dogs. A family joined at a picnic. Everyone smiling, all ethnicities represented. It wasn’t the self-punishing, sinister, dark-alley confessional I had imagined. This was happiness, like fall colors or an ice cream cone enjoyed on the seashore with salt spray in your hair. A joy inflated with ear-to-ear grins. Something was unsettling, but Doreen had seemed to place so much value in it.

A yellow arrow indicated the starting place. One click and a video screen appeared. The presenter was a good-looking man, forties, wearing a business suit. He probably drank protein drinks every day, and his glowing white teeth looked like tall white shutters. If this guy accomplished nothing else in his lifetime, he would at least have this set of glossy veneers to flash for the screen.

He sat awkwardly on a stool, the background portrait studio tan. He spoke:

Confess it here among friends. Lighten your outlook on life. You are not alone. People are here, just like you, to get through a difficult time and to talk about how they’re feeling in the comfort of their own home. There’s no need to hunt down a therapist. If you’re here, I’m betting you have something to get off your chest.

A montage of more happy people and then a few testimonials from participants.

You’re going to love the Confessional. People here just want to share and help.

Since I’ve signed up, I rest easy at night.

Okay, I was ready. I wanted to just get it over with. I tried to stop the video and got flashing text: “It is highly recommended you watch this video. Opting out of the video requires you to sign a waiver to participate.”

Fine, I clicked to continue. A woman appeared onscreen now, Mr. Protein Drink’s counterpart, equally lovely, African-American, in a tan business suit.

This isn’t a gossip colony or a place to spread rumors like other websites. This is about you. Don’t worry. Your privacy is guaranteed.

More rambling about requirements of confessing, support groups, setting up a profile. I almost forgot my confessional altogether. The urgency was almost all but lost until the screen blinked, “Are you ready to confess?”

Had I not talked to Doreen about it, honestly I just as easily could have closed the site. I had work to do, deadlines, but I had already invested twenty minutes watching a video. I pressed on, as my confession loomed; but more than anything, I wanted to experience it.

Clicking the button brought on a whole new subset of conditions. I picked an avatar from a selection of homely looking cartoonish male and female characters. I could select from male or female and then dress them up with glasses, or ribbons, a tie, or a mustache. If desired, I could further accessorize with a dark cloak, much like a monk. A character was also capable of expressing emotion, indicated by emoticons on the screen: sad, happy, angry, fearful, or joyful. Just the five emotions.

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After I positioned the glasses device on my head and pushed the green “Start” button, I was inside “The Confessional.” It appeared as a maze of rooms with dark hallways poorly lit by glowing candles; more for effect than function. The tunnels and stone walls resembled a castle. We were all knights and princesses now? I thought of role-playing games and wondered if there was a different setting. Instantly, I felt claustrophobic, surrounded by columns and dark cloaks milling about outside the rooms.

A bubble of text flashed onscreen dictating my next move. “You may now choose a room.”

I vaguely recall this got a mention in the instructional video, although it was a bit fuzzy. I hadn’t expected so many bodies.

As if feeling my unease, a new set of instructions surfaced asking me to rate my confession on a scale of 1 to 5: one, being soft and five, severe. What was soft? Severe? What about a middle ground? A reference would be helpful, and then I felt ridiculous for playing along with this obvious scam. Once again, I was on the ledge of jumping back and quietly shutting my computer down. Something told me it wasn’t going to be that simple anyway. They had all my information.

I wandered into a random room, not knowing the assigned category of soft to severe. It didn’t help that every time I thought of soft, I wanted to lay down on a pillow. A rambunctious fellow in a hooded cloak and red tie was in my face gesturing some kind of sign language, and I wanted to crouch in a corner; I saw others had flocked to the corner like wallflowers at a dance, their hoods in the shadows.

A red light glowed on my screen and within seconds a queue of texts formed on a sidebar. Another item I had glossed over in the video was that apparently I could write my confession, which would appear as text; I could have it spoken for me, or speak it myself. Undoubtedly, users chose to have their voices disguised, as this was also an option. A male or female voice was a choice, similar to the avatar selection.

Momentarily, the thought occurred to me that I could have a male avatar and select a female voice, not that anyone would really know. More blinking lights than a ride at Disneyland flickered on-screen. I laid back in my chair and watched. Showtime.

More text streamed and then one-by-one, a series of confessions:

I pissed on my sister’s plant.

I masturbated out in the parking lot.

I’m in love with my boss. I flirted with him in a meeting. Now everybody knows.

No doubt a sexual theme permeated this room. The “time remaining” ticked away and I clicked in another room worried about supply of minutes. In this new room, I noticed a change in mood with the voices more edgy and tentative.

I stole money from my mom again for a fix. She thinks it was for a doctor’s bill.

I stole underwear and pajamas. It’s not my fault if they’re not paying attention.

My confession was like a tickle fight on the playground and dwarfed in comparison to these maniacs. I wanted to run for the door, except there was no door. I was tempted to disband the eyewear and then a blinking button appeared as if a personal message, “Are you ready to confess?”

I slipped into yet another room with fewer participants, and for this reason, felt more calm. With less confessions, the time in between seemed more relaxed. There wasn’t this big jump to reveal your innermost secret. It appeared as if these confessions were a bit more drawn out, more conversational, more personal is how I would describe them. Here avatars were sitting on a couch as if in therapy. I listened in:

He doesn’t have to cry about it. It’s not my fault if the team lost the game. It’s just a goddamn game. Whoever thought people would let it rule their lives?

And then a few activated voices, most likely disguised but wavering.

I’m tired of my life. I want a happy Facebook life. I’m almost forty and got nothing to show for it.

This seemed more of a life crisis than admittance of any wrongdoing. I paused to look on the screen for more clues, still familiarizing myself with the dashboard.

I want to sleep with my therapist. What should I do? I need to be in therapy because of therapy. Therapy is never going to work.

This was juicy soap opera fodder and my mind referenced people in my own inner circle. Did I know anyone going to therapy? Was it someone I knew? Probably not, since these people could conceivably be from anywhere. On the other side of the world perhaps…or were they?

Another warning button flashed and then a voice articulated, “Confess or prepare to pay a penalty. Time remaining: two minutes.”

I clicked to the grey queue area and, within seconds, it was my turn. After all that listening in, I was completely unprepared to throw my confession into the ring.

I clicked for the voice option since my hands were shaking too much to type; my confession felt stupid and pointless. What did I want? Validation for confessing? Support for being a dumbass? I almost wanted to make up something else, something better, but my ability to form coherent thoughts was questionable. I could do nothing but go with my gut. What was the saying: if you told the truth you don’t have to remember the lie.

Here goes nothing.

I selected “Male” to generate my words as I spoke into the microphone on my computer. There was a slight delay in projecting my words to the group of avatars still posed on the couch, which gave me the sensation of speaking into a cavernous room, the voice echoing. It was unexpected and threw me off. I couldn’t even think straight, but the words left my lips:

I flipped off this woman in the parking lot at my kid’s school this morning. She got so pissed. We yelled at each other in our rear-view mirrors and I…I..I

my voice echoed….

I lost it. I called her names.

That was it? All this trouble and this was all I could muster? I continued, even though it looked like my turn was over.

I wanted to wring her neck.

I improvised that last remark, although certainly I had felt that way. Had I not? A group of five or six avatars nodded, and I felt reassured by their bobbing heads. No one expressed silly emoticons.

I clicked for feedback when the session was over, buying additional time as needed. The few that remained said things like everyone has their best intentions at drop off in the morning and that it could happen to anyone. It really could, too. I felt my face ease in a more relaxed position. I may have even been smiling.

And then there was this exchange:

I was a bitch this morning, too. I don’t even know what happened. I wasn’t being myself at all.

A pink heart landed in my avatar’s hand that said “hugs.” Could this hug-thrower actually be my accused? The woman I wished to inflict bodily harm upon only hours ago, and mentally bashed with insults? Could be or might as well be. Wasn’t it enough? Could it be enough?

How I could feel liberated by a bunch of pixellated images identified as mere numbers was beyond reason. It had felt like the most transparent exchange I had encountered in some time. A camaraderie of the spirit, of being human, of acceptance.

I felt cleansed, ready to take on the day.

I felt something else, too. I recognized it right away.

I wanted to do it again.

photo credits: Anglepoise Apple iMac and Windows via photopin (license)Karim Grib (Le Lab) via photopin (license)

What the World Needs Now is Phenomenal Customer Service

What the world needs now is phenomenal customer service.

Of course, this implies we have customer service to begin with. Scratch that. What the World Needs Now is ANY Customer Service. With the increase of personal debt, the need has never been greater.

Recently, I helped my mother with her creditors in a proactive effort to handle her debt. My mother had suffered a fall and subsequent delusions, so I gladly stepped in. Even though I was somewhat removed from her financial situation since it was not my debt, the process of actually talking to someone was emotionally exhausting.

As I made phone call after phone call, I thought to myself, we spend some of life’s most miserable moments waiting to talk to a human on the other end of the line. We go through endless prompts, punching in numbers, the sixteen-digit account number, the last four social, zip code, phone number, address, etc,…only to repeat the exact set of information to a live human after an often agonizing wait. Why? Why do we this?

It’s to break us down, to make us feel powerless. That’s why.

I know it’s for security purposes, but there must be a better way. Shouldn’t all this technology eliminate steps, not add them, and make the process more efficient? Ha!

It didn’t used to be this way. Remember when you could simply dial and talk to a live person? For those of you who have never experienced this, it’s a real thing that used to happen. A problem could be handled swiftly. They would ask for your name first, not a number.

They certainly wouldn’t question you if you wanted to cancel something. I mistakenly got cable a few months back. I was swindled. This lady kept me on the line, talked my head off, promised me several “gift cards,” so the cost of signing up was nil; it would all balance out. I broke, I agreed. Of course, in the end, the ONE CHANNEL I wanted was NOT in my package.

After cashing in the gifts, I put in an email to cancel. They charged us for the next month anyway. Apparently, the way it works is that you need to give a verbal cancel to process the electronic cancel. I couldn’t talk to anyone again, so my loving husband assumed the task of canceling, which took over an hour. I felt truly terrible. It was all my fault!

I wouldn’t be surprised if wedding vows soon incorporate a non-cable clause:

Do you solemnly swear to never subscribe to cable for so long as you both shall live?

I do.

Somehow, wanting to go back to the simple phone call with a human feels like I’m balking the progress of technology. It seems to be written in the stars that we will have a relationship with robots. Science fiction promises we will, and most everything in sci-fi comes true, right? I’m all for sci-fi dreams coming true via Star Trek:

Computer: Fix me a roast beef sandwich and delete all my email messages.

It seems we wouldn’t be too far from that email request, but the one big hurdle for robots seems to be intelligence. I listened to a NPR interview recently where I learned that a robot is really not bright enough to differentiate trash from critical information. Thus, the menial task of cleaning a desk is an impossible request for a robot.

Siri, my lovely, seems to be unavailable when I need her most. She’s “unable to take requests right now.” Really? Is she doing her nails? Talking to SKYNET, hmm?

In the meantime, I know that I don’t like talking to the tinny voice of a robot calling and pretending he’s human. Do you know this call? I hang up immediately, thinking I’m not talking to this voice that makes my hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Seeing all the robots join forces at Amazon for the big holiday rush ($775 million dollars worth of robots) makes me shudder. Just a bit.

Kiva robots ready and waiting. Photo source: Business Insider
Kiva robots ready and waiting. Photo source: Business Insider

 

Photo Credit: Brandon Bailey/AP
Robots at work. Photo Credit: Brandon Bailey/AP

Does this make me anti-technology? Is the gap of humans coexisting with robots too preliminary to even care. They’re not very smart. Yet. Personally, I think we should keep it that way. Even Stephen Hawking, one of our finest minds, voices caution. You know, the singularity is near.

But this begs the question, how stupid is useless? It’s a conundrum. If they are too stupid, we have no need for them.

We could have lots of jobs in customer service, bring them all back. There could be the possibility of service with a smile on the other end of the line. The possibility at least.

I know one thing. If Amazon sends you the wrong gift this holiday season, it could be the robot’s fault.

photo credit: plαdys via photopin cc

Connecting Moments and Neurons in the Digital Age

Recently, I listened to an interview on NPR called, “How To Stay Afloat In Your Infinite Stream Of Photos.” If you feel buried in photos like I do, you may find these tips useful:

  1. Thoughtfulness. When “making” photos, be thoughtful and mindful. Notice how I did not say “taking.” We make photos: we see the shot, frame it, and then “make” the picture.
  2. If it’s worth sharing, it’s worth printing. If you share this picture with the world, it’s probably a keeper.
  3. Use online photo centers to manage photos. Many online photo centers have easy ways to capture memories. You could set something up, for example, to make a photo book after every 500 images. (I suppose the key here is to be consistent, so you don’t get behind.)

Friends, I’m behind. My pictures sit in a cyber waiting room, neglected, forgotten…unconnected.

But I did do this….once.

Scrapbook
A page out my son’s baby book. Here I have all the grandparents on one page. A proud moment. I was so ambitious.

Don’t forget those neurons

What I found particularly fascinating in the interview was that despite our fanaticism in picture-taking, we do not actually review their photos at a later time. During the interview, a psychologist remarked that by not reviewing photos, we are not activating:

“…those neurons in our brain that are involved in creating a memory experience.”

She went on to say that we when we look at a photo from the past, we experience the moment by looking at a shirt, remembering that color of shirt, that place where you wore it, what you thought about at that moment. You re-experience the moment by activating those connections.

Remember in the pre-digital age when we had a limited number exposures on a roll of film? With one photo left, we steadied ourselves, and attempted to capture the moment with genuine sincerity. Nowadays, with unlimited photo-taking, many photos are taken to capture the “moment.”

My husband will easily snap thirty or more pictures of a “moment.” Often, I don’t even know when he’s taking the picture and you can tell. I’m in mid-sentence, in motion, not looking at the camera, slobbering, whatever. It’s a picture worthy of the trash bin. As my kids have trouble sitting for more than two seconds, and I, personally, feel compelled to not miss a thing, we have gotten into this habit of overtaking.

The best shot out of 65 photos and example of my kids sitting still. The bonus: If you flip through these pictures on a computer, it's like a stop-motion movie.
The best shot out of 65 photos! And, an example of my kids sitting still. The bonus: Flipping through all these pictures is like a stop-motion movie.

Analog days

Beyond photos, I began to wonder how else we are not connecting those neurons. In our more simple, analog days, I could recite phone numbers, remember designated channels of TV shows…I could spell words. I could pick up a paper and understand the power of a singular headline. I might savor a re-read of a letter I received in the mail.

Now, I take in so many headlines, tweets, videos, images, and photos. In social media, many comments I type, I send off never to be read again.

My brain has no method to reconnect with these experiences. With all this information at our fingertips, it seems somehow harder for our brain to access. Isn’t is ironic that in our quest to fill ourselves with so much information, we are diminished in our capacity to retain it?

Stop to make connections

I no longer think it’s an early onset of Alzheimer’s. When my memory is slacking, it is my brain signaling that  I am on overload, memory full, connection lost.

It is perhaps a signal to take my head out of my screen to notice my surroundings. For example, observe the fake plant in the corner or realize I know the person standing next to me. And like “making” photos, I need to make my information more meaningful.

It’s my summer project to commit my digital memories to paper, and hopefully connect those neurons and realize memories. I will focus on the keepers and maybe not make quite so many photos.

There’s always the old-fashioned way. I can close my eyes and make a mental picture.

href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/birthintobeing/11841180046/”>Birth Into Being via photopin <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

What the Wi-Fi Do You Know, Huh?

Recently, my mother visited and told me she was ready to have a smart phone. I explained that if you have a smart phone, you need a data plan for your data streaming needs. Otherwise, the alternative is Wi-Fi. With Wi-Fi you’re covered and don’t need to worry about your data plan.

She nodded in satisfaction, until…until she asked, Well, what is Wi-Fi?

“Wi-Fi? Oh, well, it comes out of that silver box,” I said, pointing to the corner. “And, you can get it at Starbucks.”

“Hmm,” she said.

She seemed displeased with my answer. I can’t imagine why. It seemed plenty good enough to me. Was she seeking something more tech-savvy?

I wondered if anyone else had a better answer to satisfy her curiosity, so I asked around. After all, Wi-Fi is necessary for our survival.

Source: weknowmemes.com

When we need it, we expect it to be there. If it’s something so critical to the functioning of daily lives, certainly someone can explain it.

My question to my sample was simple:

What is Wi-Fi and can you please explain it?

Here’s what I got. Occupations and ages follow.

My Dad (77)
Why? Is it anything like hi-fi?
Ha ha. Good one!

Professor of Political Science, 45
It is the electronic space in which we operate. A specific broadcast is signaled to your phone from the wireless server.

IT Professional, 51
Wireless is configured to go through wireless and then you type in a security code.
Me: How does it work?
It just works. You can’t see it; it’s invisible.

Instructional Designer, 52
It means wireless. Wireless fiber optics. Hell, if I know how it works.

Caregiver, 48
It’s a wireless connection. The computer sends out a signal by satellite.

Kids, ages 7-10
I have no idea.
Internet connection wireless. A radio tower or satellite gives you a signal.

Comic Book Store Employee (late twenties)
If helps you get the Internet, right? Does anything else matter?
Oh, touchy.

Engineer, 47
Wireless fidelity means Internet without land lines.
Me: And, then how?…Hello.

Why don’t I just ask the experts? What do you know, I just happened to bump into the AT&T service rep in my neighborhood. They love talking about Wi-Fi. Here’s what the rep had to say:

Wi-Fi is your wireless Internet connection. The router gives off a wireless Internet connection for a wireless enabled device to pick up a connection.

Uh, huh…I think I’m really getting it now.

Should my mother ask for an explanation, I have a newly defined sense of Wi-Fi, which I’ll share with you now, because I know you can’t go another day without knowing. (Oh, ,and I’ve added a couple of flourishes.)

Wi-Fi is this:

We have this box in the corner, and it hooks into something that pulses beneath us underground (fiber optics) and then shoots up into the satellites and beams back down to Earth, wrapping around us in electrical, sparkling, invisible currents, allowing Internet routers to enable other wireless devices to join in wireless fidelity, and we can get it at Starbucks or anywhere we damn well need it, otherwise we’ll be extremely sad, anxious, and incomplete. We get it, use it, and have it when we want it, and then feel warm and fuzzy all over.

That’s all you really need to know…like you can explain it any better. You’re going to Google it now, aren’t you? Rest assured, this is the best definition you’ll find. Oh, you’re welcome. It was my pleasure.