Family ties to technology

I didn’t have a good weekend. It rained all day Saturday and we were running around all day Sunday because it was Mother’s Day. Of course the daughter decided that Sunday would be a day she would grind against the grain of everyone else and, as much as I love her, single-handedly ruined an otherwise good day with family. I’m starting to notice a pattern though and will be putting in some strict restrictions on the use of anything that contains a screen and run on electricity. She lost her iPhone for 4 weeks because of her last quarter grades. We both noticed a marked improvement in her attitude and behavior that regressed literally an hour or two after she got it back. The girl is hopelessly addicted to all things screen and her typical “I’m not stopping until I want to” attitude always gets in the way. My wife doesn’t help matters either as she is just as addicted to her mobile as well and it’s been a struggle to hold a conversation with her that wasn’t disconnected and unintelligible. I’ve since refused to talk with her when her attention is on the phone screen as I already know, you can’t multi-task with an electronic device, it just isn’t possible. Anyone out there who thinks they can multi-task; verbal conversation and use their phone, they’re just fooling themselves and doing two things barely mediocre.

My level of frustration the last few weeks has unfortunately gone up. My wife tells the daughter to stop yelling at her, yet my wife yells at her to stop yelling. It really is counter-productive in my opinion. I, on the other hand, have manged to keep my tone and outward display of anger to a minimum (for the most part) as it tends to get better results. Our daughter is old enough to know and understand the impact of what she says and how she says certain things, so there really is no excuse for downright disrespect for the sake of exercising control despite her losing the privileged of what she’s trying to control. The whole thing is just counter-productive and doesn’t really make any sense to me. The daughter refuses to do anything when she’s on her phone, playing what I consider real stupid time-suck games, and only listens to either of us once we’ve taken the phone away. Then of course its a fight to get her to do what we’re asking because now she’s angry she lost her phone as a result of her own actions; but it’s our fault, always.

The evaluation of technology in my life is taking a very dark and negative turn, to the point where I get frustrated with anyone using a device near me when I’m trying to say or do something. I’ve respected them by putting my phone, laptop, etc. down but rarely get that in return. The old adage “lead by example” just doesn’t seem to fit when technology is involved. I’m not even going to the “do unto others” space right now. My wife has conveniently forgotten, consistently, that I deleted Facebook and has conversations with me based on Facebook information. When I say I’m not on Facebook anymore, she’s reminded that I abandoned the platform and just stops talking; the subject doesn’t change, she just stops and returns to the screen. I just don’t get it. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, at least that’s what we’ve been told for years, but all I ever see is the negative side of it. People who can’t hold a conversation unless it’s in text form. Social gatherings consist of an entire table of people on their phones. Parents hold up iPads at recitals to “record” their children without a seconds thought of the 9.4″ of blocking capability the iPad produces for the people behind them. Having a conversation with someone under the age of 30 consists of “so”, “like” and “uhm” being practically every¬†fourth word. Call me crazy, but I don’t say any of those words when holding conversation with people. Hearing them tossed at me just derails my train of thought and makes it difficult to actually listen.

There are days that I wish someone would set off an electro-magnetic pulse bomb rendering anything electronic essentially a brick. Our civilization would literally fall apart in the span of a few days though, so it’s not a wish rooted in logic. It’s a wish rooted in frustration, as in “See, technology doesn’t make anything better, none of you can actually hold a conversation to literally save your lives.” Our futures in this world are in jeopardy if we can’t learn to ride the fine line between technology assistance and technology addiction. The Internet was commercially available around 1992, anyone born after that date has never lived without it. What ever happened to learning the hard way first in order to appreciate the easy way second?

I’m ready for a vacation

The last few months I’ve become painfully aware of one truth that I had, for years, denied myself from believing. It’s the truth that unless something drastically changes in the lives of my family, we’re going to forever be owing money to other people. Mortgage loan servicers, credit card companies, auto financiers, utility companies, insurance companies, etc.. The list goes on and on and anyone living the “American Dream” is painfully aware of how difficult and out of reach that dream really is. I’m far from being uncomfortable right now, in fact, I think we’re living just inside our means as I’ve consistently said “No” more than I’ve said “Yes” for the last year since moving into our current home. The problem is that we’re in a home where we aren’t certain what has and has not been properly maintained and it seems we find out when its the most inconvenient. Murphy’s Law in full effect for our household. In the last year, we’ve repaired or replaced:

  • Main water line (inside the house)
  • Water softener
  • Hot water heater
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Front door
  • Garage doors and openers

We’ve also had the back yard fenced in with post & rail with green goat fence stapled to the inside. We really didn’t need a fence, but the dog was getting bolder in going after rabbits and would make it much farther into the field before deciding to listen to our screams to come back. She’s a good dog, but damn, that girl is determined to get a rabbit in her mouth. We paid cash for the fence, cash that I had saved up rather painfully for several months to establish a cushion. One bank statement a few months back that the wife looked at saw the money and was like “we have money, we’re getting a fence.” Who am I to argue. My back thanked me for not having to sleep on the sofa if I said anything other than “Yes.” I’ve since converted our statements to paperless and they’re emailed to my account now ūüôā

The wife isn’t working through the summer, it’s school break time. We have very little cushion at this point and it’s started to irritate my normally pragmatic approach to finances. I should have held my ground firmer and explained what the savings were for, like the hidden problem that will cost a few hundred or more that we’re not aware of yet for example. I know the air conditioner is too small for the house and it’s only a matter of time before the thing overloads and burns out. Internet and air conditioning are two necessities that I rank higher than anything else in the household; only the mortgage is higher priority. She doesn’t get it and is rather impatient with the whole waiting to replace things aspect of having a house that wasn’t built to our specifications. I have sometimes questioned why we moved in the first place when a few changes could have made our previous house workable. Hindsight is a bitch.

I’ve made so many changes and cuts to our monthly budget with very little difference to show for it. Every time I think we’re backing away from the edge some unforseen repair or payment pushes me back to the edge again. The most depressing part about all of this is that I’m nursing pants, shirts, shoes and other items to their bitter end before breaking down and buying some new stuff. Not because I want to, but more because I know that the daughter needs them more than I do. That girl grew almost 2″ from November to now and she is in the same size shoe as my wife……the daughter is 10 by the way. I’m not growing that much and can handle a few stitch repairs to extend the life of a shirt, but she literally is growing out of her stuff every 6-9 months.

What to do, what to do. The summer is going to be really tight and with me doing all the finances, I’m the one that worries and bears the burden of making sure there’s a roof with utilities for us to live in. I may just have to swallow my disgust and start letting people know I’m doing computer work on the side again to bring in some extra cash. I can only take so many “I don’t know how that malware got there” excuses before I get cranky with people’s attitudes towards security, or lack thereof. I need a vacation.

Mystery Blogger Award

The mystery bloggers award

Dacia of Britestfyrefly nominated me for the Mystery Blogger’s Award, and I thank her for doing so as I was in a rut as to what my topic today should be. ¬†Here is her Mystery Blogger’s Award post if you’re interested in seeing her questions and answers. ¬†I’ve been following her for a while now and I can’t recall if she followed me first or if I followed her first; it really doesn’t matter. ¬†Something about her writing, how she presented herself, is what kept me following. ¬†It didn’t hurt that we had similar interests and I think my sagely advice might have helped a little too ūüôā

This award was originally created by Okoto Enigma and you can find her blog HERE.

As part of the award, I have to answer 5 questions she has asked of me.  First though, there are some rules.  It’s an honor to reciprocate this award, but there is a little more to it:

  1. Post the award/ image on your blog (see above)
  2. Thank whoever nominated you and give a link back to their blog.
  3. Mention the creator of the award and give a link back to their blog.
  4. Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  5. Nominate 10-20 deserving bloggers and notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  6. Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice; including one weird or funny question.
  7. Share a link to your best post.

Three things about me:

  1. I’ve lived in Pennsylvania since I was 4 years old.
  2. My blogging career spans more than two decades; 11 pen/paper, 10 online, last 5 at this blog site.
  3. Been married for 17 years and have a 10 year old daughter, who’s a handful at times and growing up way too fast.

Here are the questions Dacia posed to me:

  1. If your blog had a theme song, what would it be and why?

    The cover of “The Sound Of Silence” by Disturbed. ¬†Although I’ve heard this already from Simon & Garfunkel a hundred times, it was something totally new after hearing it from Disturbed. ¬†At various points of time in my life, I’ve connected with the lyrics of the song and being an introvert, it’s comforting in a way to listen to this and know that things will pass eventually and get better. ¬†It’s a reminder that music can and does heal everything.

  2. What is your writing routine?  Do you have one?  Should you have one?  What would be your ideal writing life?

    This is four questions in one and is bending the rules slightly ūüėÄ ¬†I tend to write when the mood strikes or there is something rolling around in my head that needs to be processed in a way that writing it out can solve. ¬†The routine is random, so not really much of a routine, but I do average at least a few hours through the week to sit down and write. ¬†At any given time, there are several drafts in-progress saved to my laptop. ¬†I’m not sold on the rigid writing routine as anything creative tends to be random and when the mood strikes. ¬†My ideal writing life would be a sound proof room, disconnected from everything, with the ability to write whenever I feel it necessary to do so without the worry of having to work and pay the bills.

  3. In the movie of your life, what actor could best portray you?

    Drew Carey, hands down. ¬†I’m a geek and proud to be one too. ¬†Drew is similar in build, appearance, and temperament. ¬†With a few tweaks of his clothes and glasses, he would be a perfect actor to protray me. ¬†The movie of course would be really boring and filled with lots of “processing” while sitting at computer.

  4. What are you currently reading?

    I actually don’t actively read despite the fact that I’ve read a lot of books. ¬†I get into a groove every so often where I’ll rip through two or three books and then not pick one up for months. ¬†I do read online news sites, blogs, and opinion sites on a daily basis though as I contribute to another blog focused on political opinion. ¬†The link to that is in the sidebar.

  5. Describe the most trying time of your life?

    Hands down, high school. ¬†It was the only time so far in my life where I felt completely lost and worthless to the world. ¬†It took me more than a decade to get past the issues I pushed deep down before I dug them out and dealt with it in my adult life. ¬†I’ve not attended or seen anyone from that time of my life and I doubt I ever will. ¬†There is nothing from high school that I want to celebrate or even remember as people can be damagingly cruel to others. ¬†I’ve since lived my life in a place of tolerance, respect, and understanding.

Here are the lucky 10 bloggers that I’ve bestowed this award on:

  1. Erika at DorkyMomDoodles
  2. John at The Ripening Wanderer
  3. Emily at Nerd In The Brain
  4. Deb at The Moster In Your Closet
  5. Juls at The Indecisive Eejit
  6. The Snail of Happiness
  7. Ally at The Spectacled Bean
  8. The Chatty Introvert
  9. In Search of It All
  10. Lobotero at In Saner Thought

Here are the questions I’ve asked of them:

  1. When did you start blogging and why?
  2. If you had one vehicle to puchase in your entire life, what would it be and why?
  3. Are you a citizen of more than one country?  Which ones?
  4. What is your favorite meal?
  5. If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be and why?

My best post:

By far, my best post and one of the most active with over 44 comments. ¬†I’d never broken more than 20 on anything previous. ¬†The post is titled The inauguration speech¬†and is a break down of the speech Donald Trump gave on January 20th, 2017. ¬†This was one of those posts that I was fired up about and need to process it through writing.

Off my game and cranky

I’ve soooooooo been off my game lately. Not that I’m complaining per say, but it’s starting to get a little ridiculous at this point. For the last several weeks I’ve consistently been thinking about technology and how it’s literally invaded the lives of everyone around me. I realized just how pervasive technology has been during the weekend teaching my daughter how to dial a phone number on a spare mobile phone we just activated for her to use when we’re not home or out on errands. I went back to my childhood and realized that I’d known how to use a telephone (ones attached to wires, hanging on the wall…..i’m old) around 7 or 8. Those were the days when you called someone and if they didn’t answer, no one was home. Getting in touch with someone was a crapshoot because the phones were stationary for the most part.

Back to my daughter, teaching her how to dial a phone number. She grabbed the phone out of my hand saying “I know how to make a phone call” then stared at the screen after going into the phone app. Well, she didn’t know and smartbutt had to give the phone back to me. I showed her where to dial in the number, how to select someone from the contacts list and how to add someone to the contacts list. There is a parental control app that monitors who gets added so I or my wife can approve/block/delete before she sees it if we feel it’s not appropriate. I showed her that only numbers in the contact list are allowed to ring through, all others are blocked. Really a slick app that I have installed in Parent mode on my own mobile phone. She complained until I told her she won’t have control of her own phone until she pays for her own phone, so the complaining was brief. A locked down phone is better than no phone I guess. Where is the drive to want to learn how things work?

I know how to use computers, technology in general, because I want to learn how they work and how to use them. Technology was a new thing for my generation and for those that took to it, bleeding edge stuff, its been a life filled with learning. Technology being pervasive and having invaded our lives completely, the drive to learn how things work and how to use them has diminished greatly. My daughter doesn’t want to know how the laptop works as long as the power button turns the thing on and takes her to her apps/games. She also doesn’t care how the Xbox works as long as it powers on and connects her to YouTube so she can watch stupid videos of other people recording themselves playing Minecraft. She has asked no less than 10 times for me to create a profile for her friend on our Xbox that I’ve refused to do with the statement “Figure it out on your own, you’ll thank me later.” She hasn’t even tried.

All this brings me to my off gameness. For the last two decades I’ve lived, eaten and breathed technology in all aspects. How quickly it has changed just in the last year or so makes me question whether it’s actually made my life better or not. I don’t talk with my wife while she’s on her phone, I refuse to compete with a glowing screen. I don’t ask my daughter to do anything while there is a screen, any screen, lit up in her line of sight. I also deleted Facebook, as you all know already, because there is nothing social about connecting with people through an application or website virtually. Many people my age, as I’ve read and talked to, are getting to the same point with the technology in their lives. I’ve even curtailed the amount of television I stream because, honestly, the content is getting contrived and commercialized. Watch Bill Nye Saves the World on Netflix and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. I was a huge fan of Bill Nye The Science Guy back in the day by the way. I was disappointed with his new show.

Technology and me will be having a heart to heart very soon in the near future I think. I don’t think technology has good odds. Time will be the ultimate judge.

Unintended disconnect

I’ve been sick the last 6 days and finally starting to feel better. ¬†This was a hard one this time as I had seasonal allergies on top of the usual symptoms from a cold. ¬†The last thing I wanted to do was pick up a piece of technology let alone look at a screen, so I had an unintended disconnect from the online world. ¬†I can’t say that it’s been all that bad, but I do feel eerily disconnected from a lot more than just technology. ¬†The last 6 days I’ve done hardly anything other than lay around and binge watch (then watch again after falling asleep) some older shows.

It’s going to take me a few days to get back into the normal routine as I’ve returned to work today after a few days suffering. ¬†My usual thing is to work from home during a sickness, but my aversion to anything technology forced me to just take the time. ¬†After more than a year at my current job and taking almost no sick time, I’ve accrued quite a bit of it according to my last pay stub. ¬†I said screw it, I’m taking sick time because they are giving it to me and I really didn’t have any motivation to focus on anything. ¬†Of all the years I’ve been in IT to some degree, I’ve rarely been so disconnected from everything; at least not without a lot of stress. ¬†This time, no stress, not a care actually; it was quite relaxing despite having a horrible cold.

Yeah, I hear you all now, a “man-cold” isn’t serious stuff…..blah blah. ¬†For almost two days I was at the point where the pressure in my head felt like it was going to explode and nothing helped. ¬†Hot shower with steam, no relief. ¬†Vicks in hot water with a towel over the head, didn’t make a dent. ¬†Nasal decongestant spray, 12-hour no less, barely let me get through the night without getting stuffed up again. ¬†Things were so bad at one point I almost went to the doctor, something I never do usually, because I was almost convinced that it was a sinus infection. ¬†Well, it wasn’t and pushing through the pressure I got out on the other side and feel almost back to normal. ¬†It bothers me that this time it didn’t have the pre-requisite two days of my throat being on fire indicating that a cold was on the way.

I have it down to get around to my normal Monday post, Three Things Thursday and hopefully I won’t miss my Weekend post. ¬†Then again, having them down doesn’t mean they’ll get done, so no promises. ¬†Being offline, so to speak, for a few days has me evaluating my reliance on technology in general as actually is possible to survive without being connected. ¬†I realized this as my wife continued to use her phone after we went to bed last night and was still on it two hours later when I was woken up by the dog. ¬†I’m not sure she got anything productive out of those two hours and I’d rather not be slave to things like that.