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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Falls Creek, WAWe’d been camping for three days without cell phone reception. The campground was gorgeous with tall, mossy cedars and maples. A melodic stream rushed past the campsites. Yet I had a hard time adjusting. It took me three days to finally feel comfortable being out-of-touch. And even that acceptance might have been related to the fact that we would be leaving the next day.

Why do I feel such a strong need to be connected? Well, what if our sons needed something? Sure, they’re grown and have moved far away, but still, you never know. What if I have an email waiting, asking me to take on a new work project or a business trip? If I didn’t answer promptly, I could lose out. Someone else might get that trip to Sacramento or San Antonio.Falls Creek Trail, WA

How did we ever manage in the good, old, days? Hubby and I used to take off camping for two or more weeks at a time back before the invention of cell phones. We might call our parents once during the trip to check in, but generally we just sent postcards. One time we returned home to discover that my mother had spent two days in the hospital. Thankfully, she had been released and was doing much better by then, but it gave me a scare. Would we have cut our vacation short had we known? Maybe, maybe not, but we definitely would have called more often. I’m glad we have cell phones now, so the communication is easier.

Hummocks Trail, WAYet sometimes it is good to disconnect. In the stillness of the woods I can relax and feel closer to God, feel more a part of nature, and open myself up to awe and wonder. I can relax from the stress of daily life, including the stress of trying to keep up with my email and text messages. I can just be me. The world of people can somehow manage without me for a few days, and the likelihood I will return home to urgent phone calls and emails is small.

In a way, disconnecting is actually re-connecting. As I step back from the hassles of my daily life into the greenness of towering maples and the enchantment of birdsong, I connect with my soul, I connect with God. An empty well within me fills to overflowing with joy and peace, as the living water pours through me. Pond, Hummocks Trail, WA

How could I forget how much I need the woods?

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Our dishwasher died. The helpful neighborhood plumber said it was the motor. To repair it would cost almost as much as a new dishwasher, so we figured we might as well just get a new one. That seemed easy enough. There are lots of dishwashers out there. And therein lies the problem…

 I’m the type of person who likes to research before buying. I soon discovered there would be lots of choices to make concerning a dishwasher. What color? Stainless steel or plastic tub? Energy Star rating? Decibel level? Brand and model? (I can’t believe how many models each company produces.) And then there’s price. Do we get a cheap one to save money or a quality model that will last until we move out of this old house?

Okay, it shouldn’t be that hard. First stop, Consumer Reports. I even anted up the $5.95 for a month’s online membership so I could see the special rating lists and all. I read up on the most important features. I checked for the most reliable brands, then checked to see which models of said brands fell within our price range, and made a list. So far, so good.

Ew, this stinks.

 Next came the scouting operations. Off to Best Buy to see what they had to offer. Of course, the model the salesman recommended was nowhere on my Consumer Reports list. It had all the features the articles said it needed, but was it reliable? Back home to do more research. After reading up on that model, I was even more confused. It seems people either loved or hated it. I wavered until it went off sale. Oh, well.

More research, followed by a trip to the local family-owned appliance store. That sales person recommended yet another off-list machine. I began to realize one deficiency of my list. Models come out so frequently that there was no way any testing group could keep up. So how could I be sure of the best deal? It was a frustrating task for a perfectionist like me.

 More scouting trips to Lowe’s and Home Depot. Lowe’s was particularly empty, so I had a chance to play around with the dishwashers, opening and closing, pulling out racks, (Oops. That one tends to fall off the track. Forget it.), checking out the controls. Both places carried the one recommended by the local appliance store—and at the same price. I checked it out again: stainless steel tub, stainless steel food disposal, 55 decibels (pretty quiet), good energy ratings, a good warranty, and a rack layout that I like. I think I may have a winner! But first, one more check online. A person just can’t be too careful!

Home for sale?? Or maybe not...

The scary thing is my husband and I are thinking about moving in a few years, although we don’t know where yet. If it takes me this much effort to choose a dishwasher… Oh, dear. Probably best not to think about that right now…

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If there is anything that better symbolizes the peaceful coexistence of the new and the old than Japanese toilets, I have yet to see it.

High-tech toilet

I first experienced this phenomenon in a train station in Japan, not long after I arrived for our two week visit. Needing to use the facilities, I entered the stall labeled “Western style” and was treated to the ultimate in toilet technology. The first thing I noticed was how warm the seat felt. That would be nice on a cold winter day, I supposed. Then I saw the controls. The control pad on the right offered three different bidet options and an air dryer, along with other buttons whose purpose escaped me. I wasn’t surprised when it automatically flushed at the end; toilets in America sometimes do that. However, I was caught off guard to see the lid close itself as I left the stall. Never had I seen such an amazing toilet!

Upon leaving, I glanced into the next stall, which held a traditional Japanese toilet, little more than a long hole in the ground with a bar in front, which I assumed the user could hold to keep her balance while squatting. (For some reason, I didn’t think to take a picture of the old style, but you can find one with a quick Google search.) What a contrast in level of technology! Yet here they were, side by side, new and old on an equal footing.

Perhaps there’s a lesson for us in that.

Something to get your mind off the toilet...

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My son called from Indiana today. “Mom, are you at home?”

“Yes.”

“Could you do me a favor?”

“Probably.”

He was driving somewhere near Indianapolis and had apparently missed a turn. He needed directions to get back to where he was supposed to be. Could I look it up on Google Maps for him?

I typed in “Indianapolis,” moved the map around a bit, and located his position. From there it was easy to find his intended destination and note the best road to get him there. He stayed on the phone until he had made the last turn and was on a familiar road.

How amazing is modern technology! Here I was at my computer in Oregon, directing him to a place I had never even heard of before. Why didn’t that technology exist when I was a kid? I remember that family trip to San Francisco when every road seemed to lead to the Golden Gate Bridge, which was not where we wanted to go. How nice Google Maps or a GPS would have been then!

What we really need, however, is a Google Life. When we reach one of those crossroads in life—which college to attend, what career to choose, whom to marry, where to live—we could just type the choices into Google Life, and it would provide the answer. No staying up late at night weighing the options, no worrying that we had made the wrong decision. Just input the data, and out would come the solution! Wouldn’t that make life easier? I know my son would appreciate it, stuck as he is in that limbo between college graduation and entrance into a career. I could have used it any number of times—it would have saved hours, days, even weeks of indecision.

Unfortunately, Google Life does not exist, and I doubt it ever will. Despite the wonders of technology, we are stuck making decisions the old-fashioned way: thoughtful deliberation, prayer, and, sometimes, a leap of faith. Still, maybe it isn’t that bad. I would rather trust my future to God than to a computer anyway.

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