Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I keep my iPod and Kindle chargers in an antique drawer but only to protect them from Victoria's teeth.

A recent last minute change in plans gave me the opportunity to sit in my favorite coffeehouse on campus (albeit sipping Fair Trade orange blossom green tea), seated at the bar which looks out the front window as all the cushy, leather chairs at tables were taken. 

I didn't mind, it gave me an opportunity to read amongst the students sitting at the bar with their laptops plugged in as well as earphones.  The noise level was at high decibel as students were celebrating the end of finals as well as graduation weekend.  Those still hard at work were undoubtedly graduate students who have no summer break.  :)

In between sips of tea and rereading Almost Amish (the nonfiction version) on my Kindle, a great deal of people watching was accomplished.  The streets of campus were filled with friends, families, and graduates in their caps and gowns. 

In a rather miraculous coincidence of timing... amongst thousands of people... I had also just bumped into one of Sheila's boys who was home from the nation's capitol to see his girlfriend graduate.   He had graduated last year and immediately joined Obama's reelection team in Ohio (we are friends, anyway).  It doesn't seem possible it has been a year already.

I have sat through four long graduation ceremonies at this University.  The first was my husband's Master's degree, then my daughter's Bachelor of Arts degree, then my son-in-law's PhD, and finally... just last December... my son's Bachelor of Science degree.

As I thought about the four graduations, I realized there was about thirty-five years from the first to the last.  It seemed impossible that time had flown by that quickly.   But the world was an entirely different place. 

At that first graduation, the U.S. was still entrenched deeply in a cold war with Russia.  By the time of my son-in-law's graduation, Christopher and I noticed a young man from Russia was receiving his PhD in Nuclear Engineering.  Times had certainly changed...  :)

When my husband received his undergrad degree, computers were only used by professionals and students turned in data to receive punched cardboard cards to have them run through computers in large, cold rooms.  Phones were attached to the wall via a cord and walking around was limited to the length of said cord.   Only Jane Jetson could see the person she was talking to on the other phone.

By the time Christopher graduated in December, he had been using the computer himself since about the age of eight or nine.  He specializes in designing something called an App for mini computers called iPhones, which one can carry in their pocket.  Something that was not around when his sister graduated from the University.

So I found it a true irony that as I was in the coffeehouse drinking tea, reading a book on a machine, sitting next to a long line of laptops and tablets... I was reading about the subject of limiting our use of technology.  The author was asking the question, "Is the amount of technology available to us today too much of a good thing?"

I was pondering that question when I saw my husband and waved for him to find me amongst the crowd.  It was a good thing he wasn't any later, I'd been saving the last of my orange blossom green tea (Fair Trade mind you) for him to taste but I was about to devour it for myself.  One only has so much willpower.  He agreed it was delicious so I was glad (kinda') that I'd saved the rest for him.  ;)

I closed the Kindle and picked up my cell phone... putting both in my purse as we left.  The point of sitting at the coffeehouse was waiting for him, anyway.   I was still pondering the question when we arrived home to a house with two TVs (one hooked up to a satellite dish and the other to an old fashioned antennae) and now with only one working computer in a home which once had five. 

No kidding, my Computer Science son had three... a laptop, a desktop computer, and the one he built... although the one he built only worked off and on.  He says he learned why computers are built in dust free factories so it truly was a learning experience.  Then I guess his smart phone could be considered a fourth computer.

I have less technology than many these days, especially since the last time my cell phone broke I chose to stay with a flip top style and refrain from going the way of the smart phone.  I'm back to working on a desktop, which now seems huge but it works just fine (even though technically it belongs to my husband).  I wash and dry dishes the old fashioned way and actually enjoy the process as I look out the window over the sink.

Usually I can wrap up a Sunday Afternoon Tea post with a definite answer to the life question I am pondering but this time... well, this time the jury is still out.  Technology enables me to text my daughter from the coffeehouse to plan having coffee together there when she visits.  It also allowed me to receive photos from my son who was at a playoff game. 

Technology has allowed me to make wonderful friends through the years, many of you are amongst them.  It makes it possible to hear beautiful music while I walk... from a device the size of a pink eraser.  It allows me to download a book in sixty seconds.  It can be amazing.

But I've also learned to turn off the itty bitty iPod when I come to the (literally) babbling brook and stop to listen to the water and the frogs and the birds and the sounds of various insects.  I love my Kindle but I love the feel and aroma of old books better, those which were previously owned and loved and earmarked at their favorite places.

I suspect the tension between my love of technology and my need for quiet and nature will never be fully reconciled.  But it is indeed a subject to ponder, if nothing else to realize there truly is a choice and sometimes it is to turn the technology... off.


lynneinMN said...

i'm so glad your hubby is willing to "share" his computer with you, so that we can receive the benefits of your ponderings. :-)
tell him "thank you" from a devoted reader. now, it is time for me to shut the technology off, and pick up an old fashioned book, and enjoy the last few minutes of Sunday sunlight. God Bless You. lynne

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

One is not necessarily better than the other. Both have great value to us. I say that the key is to make sure you are the master of your technology and not that it is mastering you!

I love real books, nature, doing things in a low tech way. But I love that I could FaceTime with my husband and daughters last year when they were in Africa! So amazing....


Vee said...

The first thought that came to mind was that just a few years ago many were saying that Kindles and readers would never take over for books because how would anyone read in the hammock with the PC? Ha! Now the truth of it comes's the smell and feel of the book. If they get that figured out, I suppose it will be the end of books as we've known them. I have so few of the gadgets that I gasped when you said that your music is on something the size of a pink eraser. My goodness! How is that possible? As with most things, there is a balance.

Anonymous said...

My hubby & I are more low-tech, for the most part, although he loves "toys." But we go camping & I love disconnecting tech & reconnecting with nature/my husband, etc. We even turn off our wi-fi at night, to ensure a better nights' sleep (it really does help). I love my Nook, but I mostly use it for travel, so I'm not packing 12 books per trip. I like the convenience, but won't let it rule, except at work, where it's truly a necessity. Fun to think about - thanks for the ponder!

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

I'm like Deanna and still prefer real books. I basically use my Kindle to run my Swagbucks TV app and to read blogs:)
Techonology is a double edged sword. I wouldn't know how to do half the things I do if it wasn't for Google,YouTube etc. It's such a great learning tool. But when I see people at dinner and everybody is looking at their cell phones...that disconnect with real people just makes me sad.

Anonymous said...

Interesting ponderings, Brenda. I at first HATED the internet because in the early days of it, my daughter found her 1st husband, which eventually ended in divorce (no surprise to us because of who he was)...and for years after all that sorrow, would not allow one in our house. Later when our youngest needed to have it at home for school, I relented and it had to be out in the central area of our home to hopefully not find ourselves in another such situation. Things have been fine...this is since about 2002 or so...and one of my very best friends and I "met" via internet. It also allowed me to learn some very interesting and helpful things about my ancestry. In fact, in July I plan to meet a VERY distant cousin I never knew of before (we share the same GGG grandmother) when we go to California to see more closer kin. I am so glad to have had some very good experiences to offset the first ones. But hubby and I have limited ourselves with technology that we use too...we have VERY simple cell phones that do very little for example. Having worked in nuclear power hubby is most concerned about the effects on our health of some of that technology stuff...we use headphones or ear buds if we are long on cell phones or our cordless telephone...
Elizabeth now in WA for the summer!!