Tag Archives: computers

Why I’m Glad I Grew Up When I Did

Children of the ’80s and early ’90s had to endure the mental anguish of trying to manually untwist the insides of  a cassette tape, but all in all, I look back and think we were pretty damn lucky.

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Now: Pinterest and “vision boards”

Then: A bulletin board filled with color-coordinated push pins, pictures of teen heartthrobs, quotes created from random cutout letters that end up looking more like white trash ransom notes and school pictures of friends that perfectly captured their awkwardness. Speaking of which…

Now: Selfies (for the record, I have never taken a “selfie”)

Then: Cameras. People took pictures when something special happened, not when they ate breakfast. As kids, school picture day was a big deal with the most important decision being what “laser”-color background you wanted. You couldn’t wait to get the free black plastic comb so you could bend that sucker back and forth a few times until it got hot and brand the kid next to you with a touch.

And the anticipation of getting a roll of film developed really can’t be overstated.

Now: Jeggings and skinny jeans

Then: Stirrup pants and stonewashed jeans. Pants today are basically tights, which were something I loathed when forced to wear. Stirrup pants—they’ll stay in place forever!—and stonewashed jeans—they’ll hide any wear and tear!—were designed for function much more than fashion.

Now: Blogs

Then: Diaries, and god save anyone who tried to pick the flimsy lock and read the drama of trying to decide what color rubber bands to get in your braces. Thoughts were private and you didn’t WANT to share every detail of your day, mostly because like pictures taken of yourself in the bathroom—see above—you were aware that no one would care.

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Now: Politically correct “holiday” parties with “refreshments” from Costco or Whole Foods in which there is no trace of sugar, peanuts, lactose, gluten or fun.

Then: Actual Halloween/Valentine’s Day parties with room mothers who would bring in homemade goodies and roller skating parties with a “couples” skate when pre-teens with sweaty hands would shuffle across the rink together with Boyz II Men playing in the background.

Now: Reality TV

Then: The only real slime on TV came from “Double Dare” and we had actual TV shows with actors and a real TGIF lineup. I’m talking about Full House, The Cosby Show, Family Matters and Alf, that smart-mouthed, cat-murdering alien we loved.

Now: Smartphones and texting

Then: Landlines and notes. I remember dragging the cord into my room to have what I’m sure was a very important discussion about Punky Brewster or zits. Instead of texting and getting instantly rejected, we were forced to actually write notes, those of which an inordinate amount of time was spent folding into a specific shape for delivery.

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Plus, we knew how to spell and how to write—even cursive. OMG. LOL.

Now: Ecards

Then: Because computers were huge monstrosities with a four-color screen, use was relegated to games of Junior Jeopardy or Oregon Trail. While we eventually got Print Shop to make birthday cards and banners, hours were spent cutting out construction paper to create our own cards with scented markers we had to resist the urge to lick.

Also, the joy of getting a card in the mail also can’t be overstated.

Now: Kindles and iPads

Then: Scholastic book orders, Book-It and the smell of library book pages illicitly dog-eared and worn. It was fun to wait for the order or go to the store. True, Book-It rewarded kids for reading with a free personal pan pizza full of grease and devoid of veggies, but we all lived to tell—and read—the tale.

Plus unlike a Kindle, books don’t break when you drop them.

Now: Instant gratification

Then: Patience

Okay, maybe not patience, but we had to wait for our favorite songs to play on the radio, stand in a line without checking a phone and make up games or Mad Libs on car trips instead of watching a DVD on an iPad. We kept ourselves busy by creating things instead of relying on something else to keep us busy.

True, it might have involved law jarts and hypercolor T-shirts—Sweaty armpits? Show them off with your heat-sensitive teal shirt and hot pink pit stains!—but at least no one could take a picture on their phone and share it on Twitter.

Ugh, like, gag me with a spoon.

I’m glad I grew up when I did.

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Where Do I Send the Check?

Being a single woman who supports herself and an increasingly needy feline, I’m kind of picky on how I spend my increasingly decreasing money.

I prioritize—general bills, quality food that I want and enjoy and catnip so the hairball will leave me alone while I stare at a blank page on the screen. I don’t buy fancy clothes or makeup, I rarely eat out or party and obviously I don’t have cash to spend on a fancy blog design—or any at all.

Wow. That would be the worst singles ad ever.

With that out of the way, there are some things I will never hesitate to pay someone else to do. These are things I could probably do myself to some extent if I was willing to a) learn and b) pay for it by losing what sanity I might have left.

I can’t afford to lose any more sanity, so instead I just lose a few bucks.

My Taxes

This time of year everyone is buzzing about trying to find their 1099 or WD40 forms or what have you. I am a creative person. I am not a numbers person. All I know about taxes is that the small woodland creatures I keep fed in my back yard cannot count as deductions and that people dressed like Uncle Sam/Lady Liberty holding “Fast Tax Services” signs dominate busy street corners.

Considering the penalty for making a mistake on your taxes isn’t as simple as crossing something out and writing “Oops!” like I do in my checkbook, I’ll gladly pay a trusted professional—not one dressed in a costume—to figure all these things out.

Anything Automotive

Aside from putting gas in my Blazer and scheduling oil changes, I’m clueless when it comes to automotive repair. As a female it pains me to say that because it’s such a stereotype, but it’s true. If there’s a problem that can’t be solved by turning up the radio so I don’t hear the dysfunctional sound it’s making, I’m calling in an expert.

I can’t be trusted to not accidentally triple-knot my shoelaces, so this includes changing a tire.

Cut My Hair

I’ve accepted the fact that my hair’s “awkward phase” has lasted about seven years. Because of that, I’m not above coloring my hair from a box.

But ever since an unfortunate incident when I was six and cut my own hair (and that of our dog,) put it in envelopes and hid it under the couch, I have not gone near my hair with scissors. Considering my hair is lame anyway, it’s worth it to me to pay a lovely woman a few bucks to trim up what’s left and blame her for how it will look.

Anything with My Computer

I have basic computer knowledge in that I can overshare on Facebook, send out email writing pitches that I never hear back from and find pictures of sloths wearing makeup. I cannot do HTML or self-host my blog, and when I receive an error message or my computer freaks out in some way, I freak out in every way.

A phone call is made. A check is written.

Make Sushi

While I’m all about making my own food 99 percent of the time, I don’t understand people who make sushi at home. Okay. I get that it can be fun to have a “sushi rolling party” or whatever, but when I want veggie sushi I don’t want to spend three hours trying to get rice and perfectly sliced veggies to stick to a sushi mat before rolling it up, getting distracted and knocking the roll off the counter.

It will probably cost me three times more in supplies and 100 times more in frustration to attempt this on my own. Plus, when I’m hungry I get cranky, meaning there’s a good chance sharp chopsticks should be nowhere in the vicinity.

However, that tantrum might be worth paying to see.

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Aside from major medical procedures and house construction, what are the things you never hesitate to pay someone to do?

Control Is (just a) Key

Sometimes the universe reminds you (or me) that control is nothing more than a key on a laptop that somehow gets a virus and will require $150 to fix only to be returned to you completely “renewed,” as in, all of your settings, downloads, documents, drafts of blog posts and some pictures are no longer part of the deal.

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The mixture of this event and several others might leave you (or me) lying on the floor in the fetal position next to the cat, cursing Comcast while sobbing and apologizing for being a horrible cat mom.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

But then once you get those sobs out, you (or I) might realize that people in third world countries would kick your ass if they knew you were upset over losing half-written blog posts, having your credit card hacked (a different story) or cleaning up cat puke.

It could always be worse, but sometimes that’s hard to remember. Things add up and the straw that broke the camel’s back can often break you down. The realization that things are out of your control and less than ideal is annoying and frustrating.

It’s also pointless to fight.

A lot of my stress (and maybe yours) isn’t because I honestly feel like physical chaos will ensue when things go wrong, but rather that a situation won’t be (my version) of ideal and mental chaos will ensue.

So I plan things like having a post ready, make sure I can workout or that a meal won’t be rushed, eaten later than preferred or (gasp!) a disappointment. I like knowing that I can do “A” at time “B” and the result will be a predictable “C.”

Hello? Laptops getting sick, credit cards getting hacked and Snooki getting a spin-off show fit nowhere in that plan!

Anyway, after finding myself lying on the floor in the fetal position next to the cat, cursing Comcast while sobbing and apologizing for being a horrible cat mom—hypothetically speaking, of course—I had a thought. Well, two of them actually.

1) Wow, there’s a lot of catnip in this carpet.

2) How’s “predictable C” working out for me?

Of course at this point it wasn’t only about the laptop—although I was (and am) still kind of freaking out about that. No, it was the general realization—again—that sometimes you (or I) have to let go and just go with the flow.

Learning to accept the world as it is rather than being annoyed with it, stressed by it, mad at it or trying to change it into what we want it to be is really all we can do.

And I have to admit that my computer is running much faster. While this stinks, I can turn that around and say now I have an uncluttered canvas that can be filled with whatever might suit me right now. And we can continue the cheesy metaphor and say doing  a different “A” at time “B” can result in a new and improved “C.”

Exclamation point!

Of course at this point it’s still not only about the laptop and I’m still lying on the (now freshly vacuumed) floor. However, it’s not because I’m sobbing and losing my shit, but simply because I stood up and a piece of broccoli fell out of my shirt.

I can’t find it.

I’ve learned to accept this will happen. Not being annoyed with it, stressed by it, mad at it or trying to change it into what I want it to be is really all I can do until someone sends me a bib that can double as a superhero cape.

You pick your battles, people.

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Rage Against the Machine

If you’re reading this, you’re on a computer or at least have online access, which means there is a temporarily symbiotic relationship between you and said technological device.

This is not always the case for me, and I have brought it to my own attention that much like my house, my computer often mocks me.

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The passive aggressive nature of this mockery causes me to be much more aggressive than passive, and I often find myself raging against the machine and muttering, now you do what they told ya as I vainly try and do anything other than hit control + alt + delete. 

For example, I will attempt do a simple Google search. After the computer arrogantly tries to read my mind—no, I’m searching for “avocado,” not “Avon,” but thanks for the baseless suggestion—I often click on a link and am told that the page cannot be found.

Well, perhaps you should try a wee bit harder, seeing as it’s your JOB to find the page.

If the page is not available, then don’t offer it as a suggestion. That’s like wafting the smell of pesto pizza under my nose only to tell me that it’s not available. Ever. At that point I’m more emotionally involved with the pizza than I am with most people, so the disappointment could result in a violent outburst unless a suitable replacement is given.

In other words, find the damn page or download a pesto pizza.  Two options. Your call.

But doing a search implies that the computer is willing to at least comply with my request on a basic level. There are many times when my computer won’t even put up a pretense of productivity.

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Instead I am given messages such as: “Not responding,” “The program has unexpectedly quit/stopped working” or the patronizing “Something is technically wrong. Thanks for noticing.”

As if we had a choice? 

I’ve also noticed that it’s become rather possessive and sneaky, often separating me from my friends at times by casting judgment on their messages/comments and labeling them as “Spam” long before I have the opportunity to judge/ignore them for myself.

No one takes away my right to judge/ignore people for myself.

I’ve tried to be nice—gently petting it while whispering soft words of encouragement and then restarting it in hopes it operates a bit more cooperatively, knitting it a little sweater to try and prevent it from freezing up—but no luck. I am pretty much powerless against the spinning beach ball of death that appears whenever the hell it wants to.

Perhaps I’m just jealous and need to model my own behavior after my computer a little bit more.

Not only does it have the option to “sleep” and “hibernate,” but the whole “not responding” thing sounds like something I wouldn’t mind officially implementing into my day.

Then again, the computer still can’t download a pizza while all I have to do is turn on the oven and wait 15 minutes. Well, unless the oven’s in cahoots with my computer.

If that’s the case, I’m screwed.

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I Basically Invented Pinterest

I’m not one who thinks everything I don’t understand or like is stupid (with the exception of “Jersey Shore” and low-fat peanut butter. No reason for these things, people.)

However, I’m so sick of hearing about Pinterest that the only thing I want to do with pins is poke them in my eyes so I don’t have to read about how much everyone loves Pinterest.

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There are a couple reasons as to why this is, but the most important one is that I was the ORIGINAL creator of “pinning” things. Have I received any of the credit?

The answer to that would be, “no.”

First, a little background.

If you’re unfamiliar, Pinterest is the latest social media craze that “lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

Apparently the mission is to connect everyone in the world through the “things” they find interesting, seeing as Facebook, Twitter, email and actual social interaction with other human beings was insufficient to fill that need.

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Everywhere you go on the Internet someone is talking about Pinterest, mostly in reference to how much time they’re spending/wasting on Pinterest. These same people talk about how busy they are, but yet spend hours “pinning” things they won’t have the time to create because they’re too busy “pinning” things.

But to be fair, I suppose that I understand the appeal.

You virtually rip pictures out and put them on your boards for “inspiration” without actually having to talk to anyone else in the process. In theory, the fact that you don’t have to interact with or “friend” people sounds perfect for me, except I’m not into lifestyle things, crafting, home decorating, inspiration or spending any more time on the computer looking for things I don’t need.

Considering a falling paper clip distracts my attention, the last thing I need is another diversion.

Primitive Pinterest

But as I mentioned, the real reason I’m over Pinterest is that I was the ORIGINAL “pinner” when I was younger and haven’t received a cut of the profits now that this craze has caught on.

Back in the day when computers were as large as an industrial refrigerator, I had a huge bulletin board in my room that I took pride in filling with things that reflected whoever I was on that day—a little bit athlete, a little bit artist, a lot more weirdo—or what I thought would look cool to my friends.

So I would scour magazines for pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio and Mariah Carey, inspirational quotes and just weird things I could pin next to personal photos that perfectly captured my awkwardness and ribbons and medals from horse shows and swim meets.

I understood these to be the most creative collages ever.

It was my own primitive Pinterest.

Now there are no glue or color-coordinated push pins required, no danger of paper cuts and no need to piece together random letters to create quotes that end up looking more like white trash ransom notes. Just a click of the mouse and your “pinning” power is revealed.

Sigh.

Just like I was ahead of my time when it came to wearing workout pants and no makeup in public—the kids call it “casual chic” now, right?—it appears this is the case once again. I was pinning sayings I wasn’t clever enough to think of and photos I wish I had taken decades before this “Pinterest” thing.

But do I get the credit?

No, because someone else went ahead and actually beat me to it (which I admit wasn’t hard to do seeing as I wasn’t actually trying.) But still…hrmph.

Pin me, “Bitter. Party of one.”

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