The Gadget Age

My preferred gadgets include my computer, my phone, my iPad, my journal, all the writing instruments, coffee, essential oils, and diffusers aplenty.

The year was 1995 or 1996, and I was taking a communications class in high school. We had the opportunity to use video editing equipment, we produced a morning news show, and we even had software that allowed us to make our own 3D graphics. We upgraded our gadgets from pencil and ink to computers.

Toy Story had come out just 6 or 7 years before. In 1994, Disney made waves with the ballroom, in the cartoon Beauty in the Beast, that was completely rendered with a computer. The “realistic” detail these 1s and 0s were able to employ were magical to watch. Some conversations questioned whether or not cartoonists would have jobs after this revolution came to its fruition. Schoolmates were wowing us by making a 3D ball rotate, getting the shadows rendered appropriately, and to uplevel their skills? They made a goblet, and they poured water out in a sharp-edged realm with no walls or floors. It felt like we were on the cusp of something amazing, and growing up with technology, our home computers, video games, computers controlling cars, it was all going to be amazing.

Today, I have the opportunity to coach people, primarily women, on their technology. I go into their homes, and I teach them how to use their computers, their phones, their tablets, and all the applications within, and show them how these things work together. Every single one of these women are smart, educated, and creative. They’ve led teams, taught students, they use technology to schedule and manage clients, and above all there is confusion. There is confusion, I believe, because none of these things really truly work together. We are making oodles of new gadgets every single day. Let’s stop calling them computer programs, web apps, or apps for our phones. Let’s stop calling these watches, computers, and phones even that – and let’s call them what they truly are: gadgets.

We have gadgeted the gadget, and we wonder why we are so confused with our technology. We have gadgets to check our spelling, to execute spelling, to put words to a form, to reshape those words, to take pictures, to edit the pictures, send the pictures, bookletize the pictures, we share all that, and in the sharing mediums there are similar gadgets to do all those things all over again. We hook them up wirelessly or with cords and we share things via airwaves or by email or messenger, and we never know which gadget is the right one at the time because we never have enough time to spend to get to know the now gadget when the next gadget comes out.

Technocrats idealize our technology, praising all these gadgets for making our lives easier. I am here to tell you, just like with the vacuum cleaner, our houses are no cleaner, our lives or no easier. In fact, I argue that we are even more confused. I have told people that in 1999 when I was working one of my first jobs, I listed 5 or so computer applications (ahem, I mean gadgets) on my resume. Now, I list well over 30.

Every job wants you to know their preferred database (ahem, I mean gadget) for use when there are hundreds to choose from. Every car goes through various upgrades of gadgets. Sometimes you even have to relearn how to start the car! Every computer software program goes through gadget upgrades that change where close buttons and print icons are. The older we get, the less well we handle that kind of small change, and the change only increases every year. Every year, we get more software engineers to design more software related gadgets, and the confusion only continues.

What do you think? Does this resonate with you? Are we at a stage where we’ve out-gadgeted ourselves? How do you cope with the alarming number of gadgets in your life? (I didn’t even mention kitchen gadgets or garage gadgets, which you could fairly add to this mix.)

Other Thinking on the Matter

Post Op Conversation

The nurse called yesterday. We had to go through the normal post-op routine, ensuring things are healing in a timely fashion. I was surprised when we talked, extensively, about essential oils.

I shared how I used the pain blend and other oils on Levi. She expressed surprise and awe that they let me use the oils. Frankly, I was surprised too, and both of us for the same reason – the anti-fragrance policy. I read about it, but I ignored it for a few reasons. 1) I use the oils to manage my own care, and I slather them on daily to support my hormones, my body’s response to allergies, and so much more. They have become my scent. To opt into a “no fragrance” policy means I opt-in to poor health for the day. 2) Pure essential oils are not the same as “fragrances.” I took cannot stand most fragrances, and I often suffer from allergy-induced asthma. Yes, you walk by me dripping with your synthetic perfume, it will make my lungs very unhappy, and I’ll turn to my essential oils to breathe.

This actually happened the other day, in a different part of the facility. Levi and I walked in, sat down, and quickly it got hard for me to breathe. The combination of synthetics to take care of the building, hair products, and body products, and I was quite uncomfortable. So, I pulled out my solutions, quietly using it just for myself. One-half drop of each lavender, lemon, and peppermint, on my finger to the roof of my mouth. A moment later, as I was putting my oils away, someone asked if I was using peppermint. Then, she claimed she was allergic after I offered her some. I said I had already used it for my allergies.

May I offer a point of clarification? Semantics matter. Essential oils are a fatty drop, a part of the plant. Allergies are a reaction to proteins not fat. Yes, one can have a sensitivity to an oil and can be quite uncomfortable, but you cannot be allergic.

Back to the post-op conversation. After sharing all the things I did, our nurse shared a fantastic story. First, you recall, an important piece of healing from a surgery is having a bowel movement. We discussed how that might be difficult, and then she shared how she used peppermint oil when working in a maternity ward! She would either have her patient smell the oil or she would rub it on a toilet seat. She told me it worked every time. Smelling the oil provided comfort for that first bowel movement post surgery.

What way do you use an oil that isn’t often thought of?

An Excerpt a Day – Day 10

I reached the 25,000-word count today, ending the day with 25,712. I only wrote 2,695 words.

Brandywine was both a refuge and an escape. Something she created, controlled, on her own. No fate intervening, like an accidental meeting at a party, like how she and Steve met.

I’m halfway there!

This was not a scheduled writing day, again. And, I just broke 25,000 words! Today is November 10th. The challenge ends in 20 days. 1/3 of the way there in time, halfway there in words. Celebrate!

An Excerpt a Day – Day 9

I wasn’t going to write today. I specifically marked today off as a “no writing” day so I could focus, and give myself permission to focus, on just being there for my son in his surgery and recovery. Well, I cranked about a few hundred words in the waiting room, and now that everyone is in bed, and with the little snooze I had on the couch when we got home, I guess I’m energized. Suddenly, my muse told me I needed to flesh out another character. I needed to revisit some gaps in the timeline and fill them in. And, now… I’ve written 3,838 words today, for a total of 23,019.

“It was six months since Baby Girl had been buried, and he needed some time with her. He was still so surprised at how much he missed this little girl who didn’t have the chance to live life.”

A Day at the Hospital

Okay, well, it was more of a morning than a day, but “a day at the hospital” sounds catchier to me. So, that’s the title of this blog. My son had to get a body part corrected, something we caught during the well-check visit. My husband would not appreciate me posting even that, “Can’t you leave it as it’s a private matter?” “It’s just a body part,” I countered. So, that’s all I’m going to tell you on this forum. The kid had a body part that needed correcting, and we found it in the well-check visit. This post is more about what we use, what we take for granted, what’s improved, and what I was able to use to care for my son.

We have insurance with a local HMO, and the surgery center was fantastic. They were prompt, efficient, and we were well-tended to. There was never a moment where we were waiting to the point we asked, “What are they doing in there?” The surgery center was really set up for day surgeries, so the waiting room wasn’t very large. The furniture was updated, sturdy, with an earthy palette. The kids’ section was delineated by a brighter, yet still, earthy palette, showcasing bright orange contrasted with a creamy white. Every single couch piece of furniture had a table dividing sections with pop-out charging stations. If we still smoked, those pop-outs would have been ashtrays. I love how we’ve upgraded and kept technologies that worked. The irony was not lost.

We were quickly called in, so my admiration of the updated furniture had to wait. The first thing we had to do was slather alcohol-based hand sanitizer on our hands. My eczema sensitive hands immediately dried out from the awful alcohol and other chemicals. We were brought to a partitioned space where we engaged in all the pre-op activities. They have little-stuffed animals to adhere to co-band tape to cover the IV spot. This helps kids to be less scared when they wake up from anesthesia. They let my son take his own stuffed toy, his “lovie” as a comfort. They explained things to him in a gentle, clear way, treating him every bit as a human the entire way. Then, they began explaining the anesthesia, and they brought out the mask he was going to where.

I commented, “Oh! That’s updated from the black one I had to wear when I had surgery.” The anesthesiologist who was giving us the how-to of what would happen replied, “Oh, that was a long time ago!” I think he was maybe my age? It’s so hard to tell sometimes. I asked, “Are you calling me old?” He said no, very matter of factly. But, I laughed and am laughing, still.

Next, they brought out the oils. FDA approved “oils” to be wiped on the mask for anesthesia. I balked, and I hope I had a poker face. I did mention that I have my own oils. I told them my son is sensitive to red dyes, so let’s limit those. So, they brought out the “clear oils”, which were: orange (actually natural), apple (WHAT THE FUCK), and marshmallow (you’re kidding, right?). I allowed Levi to choose one and didn’t press the matter further that I had my own. No, I don’t have “apple” or “marshmallow”.

Soon, he was whisked away, with one hug from me, and I went off to the waiting room. The surgery pharmacy was close by, so I bought acetaminophen for $3.95. The adult version. Why? Because EVERY SINGLE KID VERSION HAS A DYE IN IT. Are you kidding me? We wonder why kids act up when we lace everything they need to have with sugar and dyes with the hope it’ll make it go down better. So, we have adult versions, and I have a chart to feed him the right dosage. This was the first time I actually wanted a pharmaceutical consult!

Later than it should have been, I was called back. Things weren’t presented as expected, so they had to do a bit more. My son was starting to wake up, and as is typical, was acting sort of funny when people come out of anesthesia. He complained of what could best be described as acheyness and severe discomfort at the site of the incision and being dizzy. So, with permission, I put my blend (of frankincense, roman chamomile, and marjoram finished with fractionated coconut oil) on his feet. I tried to tickle him, but he was too groggy. A few minutes later, he asked for lavender. So I put lavender and helichrysum on his forehead. I added the digestive blend a bit after that, and soon, he fell back to sleep for maybe another 20 minutes.

Slowly, but not really slowly, he woke up, and we were home by noon. And, we’ve ended the day with a gifted meal from a friend (homemade fajitas!!!!). A mix of western medicine and natural remedies, and now my kiddo is playing video games until it’s time for bed.

What western ironies have you noted today?

An Excerpt a Day – Day 8

Today, I wrote 3,000 words, bringing my total to 19,181.

“Happy Mother’s Day!” Bounced Jack and Elizabeth as they ran to the king-sized bed and jumped and hoisted themselves up, wrinkling covers, and tugging at Susan’s legs. They each had envelopes in their hands, and they were trailed by their father, her husband of 18 years.

An Excerpt a Day – Day 7

I did not write in the morning, as preferred. So, I only cranked out 1,053 words today – about two scenes. The new total is 16,181. Here’s an excerpt.

“Occasionally they talked about “doing something”. Something that brought all their skills, dreams, and desires together. Something, that maybe, brought them extra cash, outside of their husband’s paychecks. Each woman had a different relationship with money and her respective husband. Sometimes it was really healthy, and they shared and planned together. Sometimes, it was the exact opposite where each spouse hadn’t dealt with their own trust issues and relationships with money and it usually resulted in each spending not according to any perceived plan.”

An Excerpt a Day – Day 6

I did not write over the weekend. Today, I wrote 3,187 words bringing my total to 15,128. Here’s an excerpt.

“No one was home. Sure, he and Susan hadn’t texted much lately, but to not let him know if she was going to be home? That was unusual. Sure, he didn’t usually get home until after 8 pm, and it was only 6:45 pm. But, to not tell him at all. Suddenly, he wondered, what did they do all day? Where was his family?”

An Excerpt a Day – Day 3

11,941 words written, in three days time. I cannot believe this. Yet, here we are. This story is telling itself, and the characters are following me around. My antagonist, who I thought I would vilify when I was considering this story over the summer, is much more complicated than I originally thought. And, now, I see the research I need to do to continue working on the story. Art informs life. Life informs art.

“…houses were bought and sold all the time. Families tended to move on every three to seven years. But a plot of land in a cemetery? The way this American Culture worked, that was permanent.”