Sunday, October 18, 2009

If it were E.T. phoning home, I'd be more OK with it

I press a button near my ear. There's a little *bleep*, and a digital female voice says, "Say command."

"Call home," I reply.

"Did you say, 'Call home?' "



The province is introducing a law at the end of the month prohibiting the use of hand-held devices while driving. Cell phones. MP3 players. As of the end of the month, you have to be able to operate them hands-free if you're behind the wheel.

If only they could prohibit pedestrians from using the same distracting hand-held devices while crossing the street, we'd be all set. I had two separate potential my-fault-accidents walk out in front of me — without looking, against their signals and into the middle of downtown traffic — while talking on their phones this Friday afternoon. But I digress.

I get it, I really do, and I fully support the law. I don't use my cell phone in the car that much, but I'm certainly guilty of taking and making calls once in a while while driving, and it's a convenience that I'm not willing to give up. What that means, though, is that I'm being dragged kicking and screaming into a little more technology in my daily life than I am completely comfortable with.

I'm of that in-between generation. The internet started to become more widely used while I was an undergraduate in the early 90s, but the web didn't come about for several years after that. I was an early, if slightly reluctant, internet user, but it quickly became integral to how I communicated with friends. I could telnet into a MUSH and talk with them in real-time when I was on the other side of the ocean. Email was a necessity. When the WWW came in, I was in my early 20s, and I acclimated just fine. These days, I check my email compulsively and usually have my laptop nearby. I'm a Mac girl, through and through.

It took me longer to get a cell phone than an ISP. It seemed... too much connectivity. I finally broke down in 1998 after a car accident in Western PA, and we realized how much issue it would have been had we not had family right there with us to help out. Only a handful of people have the number, and to this day, my cell plan is the cheapest one I can get that includes voicemail. I do not have an IPhone or a Blackberry, it's just a basic cell phone. It has a camera, that's kind of cool, but whatever. I do not have data or text messaging. Honestly, I have three email addresses and I check them 50 bazillion times a day. I'm not hard to reach. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Which brings us to today, me sitting in a cafe with a bizarre-looking earpiece sticking out of my ear. I figured I'd try this hands-free cellphone thingy out when it's not critical, so we set it up and I went out to do some errands on a Sunday afternoon. I'll admit, the voice-dialing thing is neat. I knew the phone had the feature, I just never used it.

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I was heading out the door, and realized that I look like one of those people that annoy the living shit out of me - earpiece sticking out of their ear, you never know when they might stop talking to you to take a phone call that you didn't hear coming. They talk loudly, and apparently to themselves, in the coffee shop or in the line instead of ordering or paying. I'm reminded of one of those stories where everyone is plugged into their technology all the time and it takes over their minds. I sighed.

"I look ridiculous."

DH stuck his head around the corner.

"Hey, just pretend you're like Uhura. 'Captain, you have a call...' "

I grinned. You know, I hadn't thought of it that way.

"Captain, Priority One message for you from Starfleet," I said in my best phone-professional voice.

"There you go!"

Sometimes, he really knows what to say to make me feel better. If Uhura can have that thing sticking out of her ear and still be awesome, I'm good, right?


"Did you say, 'Call home?' "


The line begins to ring on the other end, and my husband answers the phone.

"Starbase 5-8-0-0 here."

"Hi, honey."

"You broke the ship again, didn't you?"

I break into peals of laugher. I love that man.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

[Insert witty title here]

I am beat. Spent. Wiped.

Also, I am in Edmonton at the moment.

These two things seem to be related.

The first conference talk of the month, and I did not make an ass of myself. In my world, that is an unqualified success. (ETA *)

The last month has been a frenzy of preparing lectures, doing revisions, writing conferences papers (one to go, in two weeks), helping to run events, band concerts, wrangling sick cats, battling moths and sticking a thermometer in the mouth of a sick husband. There have been occasional moments here and there of knitting, dyeing and weaving, but they have been few and very far between. My schedule is so screwed up, I'm not sure I could immediately recognize my husband when he's awake.

We pulled out Audrey the Indigo Vat last week to get her going again for our annual early October dye day. She wasn't quite at full speed for the day last Saturday, but I've heard that she's going gangbusters now. She's still hanging out at friend Helena's house, in the shed, on her heating pad, since I was preparing for Edmonton this week and didn't have a chance to go pick up and wrangle back home a big Rubbermaid bin containing a very stinky4-gallon jar of 18-month old fermented urine. It's good to have friends who understand "BYOP", and do it without question.

Also, I finished the neverending double-knit not-a-toque. It's big and warm and comfy.

A real update, with pictures and everything, perhaps when I get home tomorrow. After I commune a bit with my bed, cats and husband, not necessarily in that order.

* Well, Would you look at that. Huh. I guess it went better than I thought.