Sunday, November 22, 2009

Technology in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Life For The Rest Of Us
Technology Gone Wild
I know that this is old news by now; but, the month before you are reading this, the business section of The New York Times told me about a wireless router+ home backup hard drive+ digital picture frame. It (D-link DIR-683) will broadcast your internet connection wirelessly and will, with it’s strong Wi-Fi signal, turn your entire house into a Wi-Fi hotspot and give you port forwarding, Application Rules. Individual website blocking, a sophisticated firewall, UpnP, Multicast Streams, Wake on LAN, users and groups, network access lists, scheduled lockouts, log security formats like WPA and WEP and much more including the ability to inspect your router’s settings and the display of dozens of internet informational widgets; weather, headlines, sports, stocks, Twitter posts and- delightfully- photos from your Flickr or Facebook accounts. Are you the brand of person who will now think: how did I ever get along without one?
If so, I say that someone needs to get a life. Someone needs to get back to Luckenbach, Texas.
Waylon Jennings once said “there’s only two things in life that make it worth livin’.”
So, in the spirit of old Waylon and Willie, I ask you: how many things in life does it take to make and keep you happy? What makes ‘life worth livin’?
Name two things.
That’s right, if you were stranded on a desert island, what two things would you absolutely need? If you said ‘a case of beer and that hot number up the street’ you’d be getting warm. If you said ‘my cat and a fuzzy blanket’ you’d be warmer. If you said ‘my Blackberry and my iPod’, or ‘my laptop and internet access’, my friend, you need to realize the difference between the first two and the last; and, how they are conflicting mind sets: the first two afford you the comfort of a tactile reciprocated relationship and the second two do not. Waylon says that his two are “guitars that tune good and firm feelin’ women”--- it’s hard to refute that.
I know what you geeks are thinking: There goes the geezer goon techno-loser self-righteous electronosaurus again. Yes, you’re right. However, to us that remember slow dancing to vinyl records, playing scrabble for laughs and making out in drive-in movies…techno-freaks with palm pilots look like kids in the corner playing with themselves. It’s easy for us to assume that you have nothing else going on in your otherwise non-eventful lives than the stimulus that you get from an inanimate object of communication that you hold in your hand. But it’s hard to talk to you with those plugs in your ears and your eyes on texting. I suspect what really worked for you when you were younger is that you made such a pain in the ass of yourself to your elders that they were glad when you put those things on your ears and shut the fuck up.
I know, I know: your Mama’s raggin’ on you to get the hell off the cell phone and drive your life with direction instead of distraction; in fact, take the Ipod off and live your life to distraction (actually your Mama wants you to do the dishes and clean up your room).
And so we progress… hand written letters give way to the typewriter and to the email and to the text message and to Facebook and Twitter? And now it’s lol, omg, bff and ;-). Books have given way to kindle and e-books and what do I know? I know how to make coffee in a percolator. I can change a ribbon in a manual typewriter. I can replace a needle on a turntable and I’m really close to the printed word on paper. All of those abilities have been made obsolete by newer and less personal gadgets, along with fools such as I. Bfd.
Okay, okay. I’ll roll over to the fact that, used in moderation, technology is a very useful and time saving addition to anybody’s lifestyle; but, when is enough enough? When can you be left alone without someone calling your cell or texting you whenever they pas gas or send you photos that you view on a two by three inch screen? When do you give up the blow by blows and get your news at eleven like a person?
Let me hip you to something that you may not be aware of. In City Park where there was a waste of space golf course, they have created a people pleasure area (read: no more golf course). In this area is a walking trail of about a mile, it is just as you enter the park so it’s not like you can miss it or anything. Take time away from what you consider your life and go there… bring somebody.
If you don’t have your ear in a plug or cell phone or if you’re not too busy texting, about a bit of the way down the path you may notice, a little ways in and to your left, there’s a big oak tree with several sets of wind chimes hanging.
Your instruction here is to go stand underneath that tree. What you will hear is several octaves of chimes set apart so that you are surrounded by a symphony of melodic occurrences that can only to be likened to being inside of an old fashioned music box. Needless to say; it is a very happy place and that’s what I’m talking about.
There was recently an article in The Week magazine entitled “Is technology making us stupid?” Of course I can’t find it right now, what with all this paper and junk around here but you get the gist. A little knowledge is a good thing but you can get lost into that knowledge deep enough to drown out the sounds of your life; except maybe that’s the point of it all.
To make a long story longer, let me say that I don’t personally covet or crave a lifestyle devoid of technology; I love the fact that we can “switch on summer from a slot machine”. I don’t want to live my life in a cave, under a rock or in a tree.
The questions that I have are: at what point does a convenience become an interference, at which juncture does a person’s stubbornness to change act as a limitation to progress and am I that insecure in my lifestyle that I need to criticize yours to make me feel validated? Or, are you yayhoos with your latest gizmos and gadgets really Willie Wonka wannabees?
Self righteousness is such an ugly thing.

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