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Your External Brain and the iDrain

imagesI read recently how having a smartphone is like having a slot machine in your hand. Every time you pick it up, you wonder what you’ll get. You’ve just got to know what you’ve received since you put it down.  On your email, texts, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Three cherries?

A friend said, “Having this object within your reach is addicting.” I thought she meant that having the Encyclopedia Britannica in hand to answer your every question in the moment was addicting. She meant the slot machine.

There are other effects: texting neck, thumbs supposedly growing larger, people losing the ability to read facial cues, families texting instead of talking within the home, device lights bedside ruining sleep, mysterious waves irradiating our brains…who knows? For sure: teens hiding in their darkened rooms gaming (weird) instead of fleeing their parents (normal) to run around in the woods (healthy).

A woman on a plane told me she’d instructed her grandkids, “Leave those things in the car.” Horrified, they asked, “What will we do?” Her response:  Talk to each other.

When people go on such “screen diets,” limiting their hours on devices, they feel freed yet perilously untethered. When we misplace our phones we absolutely panic, the cost and nuisance aside. We are disconnected, lost at sea. An animal cut off from its herd. Danger!

I once asked a techy friend a techy question and he said he knew the answer at one time but no longer needed to commit anything to memory because his External Brain had all the answers. How many times have you looked up a fact on your device and immediately forgotten the answer? Because you don’t need to know it any more.

Your “multi-purpose mobile computing device” has crazy stuff inside: a magnetometer, proximity sensors, barometer, gyroscope and accelerometer (Wikipedia!). Is all that in our internal brains?

The stats about smartphone use – 3 hours daily for adults, way more for teens – boggle.  A decade ago it was 90 minutes. Apps are designed for addiction, with intentionally varying (slot machine!) reward patterns that tease your brain’s reward circuitry. We’re hooked.

With my phone, I mainly communicate – a lot.  I’m hooked on communicating. I stress when I realize I haven’t responded to a missive, when the reality is that people send so many that they are hardly waiting for my answer.

If your kid constantly consulted an encyclopedia, you’d be thrilled. That’s the gorgeous Internet. But how many people are doing this? I do searches and read various newses, but mostly I’m texting and forwarding funny stuff. I “Google” with tremendous urgency things like, “Who’s hosting SNL?” or “What does Serena Williams weigh?” Not: “What is a Rhodes Scholar?”

So despite what most impresses about our devices — the world at our fingertips — many IMG_9440use ours mostly to spread joy. Nice! Until: suddenly the day’s over and your free time went down the iDrain. Your room untidy, tasks incomplete…and that class you were gonna take? The bridge club you were to form? All gone. When I’m in Boston I’m texting Vermont and when in Vermont I’m texting Boston when, really, who cares what I’m up to? Why do I have to “report in?” Send a photo? Suggest a restaurant?

I mostly quit Facebook. Because every time I went in, OOPS, there went another :45. I could’ve learned a musical instrument in the hours I wasted reading rampant, silly pandering in there – “Beautiful!”, “That roast looks delicious!” or, the worst, “You look like sisters!” where a woman and her daughter are pictured. Madness.

The line for phone etiquette is ever moving. First, it was rude to talk on your phone in an elevator with trapped others listening to the asininity of your half-convo. Then that became fine, then to be on your phone at a meal. Then to set your child up at a restaurant with an iPad, no earbuds. We don’t look up from our phone when people speak to us. We answer their questions while typing. Lately, I don’t look at them while we’re talking no matter what I’m doing. I first ascribed that to the increased concentration required in your 50s for word retrieval and recalling the names of celebrities. I’m staring a chair leg trying to describe a movie (Ryan … Gosling? Wait: Reynolds … er … O’Neal? Let me check my External Brain.) No, I’m not old; I’m just rude.

hare IIWhat’s  the solution? Tweet suggestions to #rudeandgoingblindfromlooking10inchesawayallday. Happy Pesach, Happy Easter, and good day.

I can be reached at uppervalleygirl@gmail.com or @uvgvt. Or by opening your mouth and forming words I receive with 2 sensors on my head.

 

The Stone Man Cometh

bahr 1…and goeth…and leaveth behind a thing of beauty.

Greg Bahr — native Vermonter, neighbor, artistic madman behind Bahr’s Stoneworks — has a far-out genius for putting rocks together. Here’s a recent wall of his in downtown Bethel, incorporating old bottles and bones he found on-site. “Are the bones human?” everyone asks. “I’m not sure,” says Greg.

 

[Ed. note: Who knows, maybe a barfight behind the Pink Pony one night in the 70s…yes, I’m dating myself…no one remembers the Pony.]bahr 3 bahr 2 bahr site bahr sign

The Calm After the Storm

Tunbridge 12.13.14We hate to say it when so many have been without power after New England’s second last-minutely predicted storm this season, but:  Damn, it’s gorgeous out there.

There has been no wind, so the snow/ice keeps Winter Wonderlanding on the trees.

For good and bad. They bending.

Corporate Bullshit Generator

CBGGeez, if only mankind would stop picking the low-hanging fruit and kicking the can down the road in granular, bricks-and-clicks efforts at synergetic pushback 24/365, just think how far we’d have gotten by now!

If you don’t work in a a corporate environment, you won’t find that to be annoying, or even English. You may have been mercifully unexposed to unintelligibly strung-together words that sound important yet have no meaning.

But if you do, and haven’t, the sites below will transfix you…or should I say, their robust, outcomes-based, multi-tiered platforms will integrate your scalable branding:

Here click on MORE BS, PLEASE! for a fresh batch of lifelike BS.

On this gem hit MAKE BS and watch it pull from three Parts of Speech columns.

This is pretty, but will make you insane.

A Brit one offers “A random piece of business bullshit every time you visit this site.” You can even submit!

Happily, some people make corporate jargon Bingo cards before meetings and see who gets Bingo first based upon hearing their words in the meeting. Not sure what the prize is. The last link offers a delicious twist that makes me wish I still attended such meetings. Click Bingo tab at top.

We’ll Use Anything for Storage

Canadian Passport…in rural America. This one’s sporting a mullet.

Sometimes the DOT Can Read Your Mind

Rough RoadAnd when it does, it’s usually not that good.

[Note storm blowing in for emphasis, just in case you were deluding yourself.]

Making Hay (lit. and fig.) While the Sun Shines

Susan M. Carter Flikr.com

With last week’s cosmic Soopermoon and unexpected low humidity, Vermonters were feeling their oats—a horsey expression referring to “hot” feeds such as oats that provide extra equine energy. Carbo-loading for ponies.

We’ve been flat-out frolicking. As we bike, swim, and tool about our gorgeous state via horse, cycle, and golf cart, we inhale gnats and drink in the astounding natural beauty of the Land. No matter our troubles, her scenic landscape’s backdrop to our drama grows, flows, and enchants mightily. The Creatures of the Land also sparkle. Musicians strum, hummingbirds hum, and stories fill out ears with delight. Campfires! Charades! Laffs!

forktender.wordpress.com

forktender.wordpress.com

Deliriously happy, we pack on summer blubber by way of chips and macaroni salads (hot feeds), with dripping cones, toasted marshmallows and extra mayo all around. Chomping chewing gum with the ferocity of a jungle cat, I wear a bikini as a disturbing incentive to avoid the snack bar lakeside. Unsightly, but y’all don’t look that slender, either. As a friend’s father happily observed, “There are no Beautiful People at Silver Lake.” It’s Vermont. We just don’t care.

With little rain, the long and sunny days demand movement. Soopermovement. Early we rise, to tend gardens and hit balls, knowing that pacing oneself now is not an option. For soon the air will grow cold, leaves will float down the brooks, and the Tunbridge World’s Fair will be upon us. Is this year’s theme The Year of the Insect?? Giant horseflies take meaty chunks from us daily. I hope they are having a good time.

The tourists are. As they cram our roads with Corvette Clubs, motorcycle brigades, and kayak-lidded vehicles, they stuff our coffers with (hopefully) enough wampum to get us through what friend Sassy calls “the dark months.” While we lament oftentimes the physical and financial hardships of Vermont, visitors envy our visual bounty from the windows of inns and restaurants. Let us see, as they do, that the grass is in fact greener here. There’s a heck of a lot more of it.

With all our rivers, woods, and contradancing, we get physical without pricey gym memberships. Fishing and tennis are almost no-cost, and you can’t live here without knowing someone with a canoe or bike to borrow. We get our ya-ya’s out for next to contranothing. People everywhere need to get their ya-ya’s out because life in Modern Tymes is vexing. Tech nuisances drive us batty, our free time devoured by the modern bane that is overcommunication. Which disPinterested, Twitterless, Linked Out Facebidiots like me don’t do much of, yet it’s still exhausting. Many here lack—or shun—the [devil’s!] tools needed to overcommunicate, a source of ruin. Good for them. It seems to me that the more we communicate, the more we worry. More people to worry about, I guess. More worrisome details shared. Just. More. Worrying.

I told my friend Kay I was glad in some ways I have no kids, so in our “sandwich generation” years I am open-faced, with only parents to be concerned about. Her reply:

“One thing better about parenting elders than parenting kids is that people are not competitive about their aging parents.  Imagine if they were.  ‘My mother got into Green Mountain Golden Years Assisted Living.  It was her reach facility, but she got in!  Her safeties were Maple Heritage and Mellow Manor Northeast Kingdom.’   ‘Well, my mother was sent to prison and it’s not costing me a dime. Free dental!” We could brag about who has lasted the longest without a walker.  That would be like lettering in track.   Blood test results as SAT scores…’My dad’s combined LDL and HDL were under 250!’  ‘Wow, you must be so proud.  I’m going to make my dad take it again. Surely he can improve over last time.’ I feel a Roz Chast cartoon coming on… ”

A toast to Green Mountain splendour, hay-makers, canoe-loaners, tech-shunners, shenaniganers, parenters, summer fatties, and sooperfriends who supply laffs. Thank you all. Good day.

 

Come to Vermont…Post-Peak

later foliageWe’ve saved a few colored leaves for you, have oxygen in ample supply, and our inns and B&Bs with fireplaces wait to cozy you up now that the full-throttle foliage traffic has passed. Our book stores are not chains and our yard sales boast the prices of yesteryear.

Learn about our human leaf forecaster here. And while Vermont’s colors may not be at peak, I can assure you that her nutters are.

Ah, Teenagers

teenagersI don’t have any, but I get where this is coming from.

Dig the Thomas Paine print job.

Some Like it Hot…ter ‘n Hell

ddicks

Hot & sweet with a tropical twist, like the label says.

There’s hot, there’s sooper hot, and then there’s just too bloody hot. Dirty Dick’s Hot Pepper Sauce is sooper hot.  I didn’t know that when I soaked a cracker in it.  Hoo!  I then made Dirty Dick’s Mayo (for mini ham sandwiches on crackers), Dirty Dick’s Tomato Bisque, Dirty Dick’s Home Fries, a Dirty Dick’s Bloody Mary, and a Dirty Dick’s Vanilla Ice Cream Cone. Why not? It’s won awards incl. a first place Screaming Mimi award at the 2013 NYC Hot Sauce Expo. Everyone loves a winner.

The label graphic appears to be of a flaming, drunk pig. A serving suggestion? Just marinate the little feller in some some Dirty Dick’s, add a splash of hooch, and spark up the grill!

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