4

Why Our Great-Grandchildren Might Have Claws Instead of Hands

What did we ever do before smart phones?

I feel like the real question here is, what the heck are we doing after smart phones?

One of my friends linked me to this article today via Facebook, and I think that this is brilliant.

Photographer Eric Pickersgill chose just this as his subject matter for his latest photographic piece. This series depicts scenes from everyday life – children playing, a bridal party – only with smart phones digitally erased. The resulting series looks, for the most part, silly. The couple shown in the above photo look like anything but a romantic duo; they’ve transformed themselves into a set of human bookends in some sort of Grecian-urn pose.

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5

I Can Cast A Spell

The other day, WeKache came over and we watched a movie together.

“But I hate watching movies on my tiny laptop screen!” said I.

“That’s okay,” said he, “because I have a ChromeCast, I can hook my phone up to your TV and transfer something on my Netflix app to your TV.”

MIND. BLOWN.

The ChromeCast might be the single best thing ever invented. No wires needed, just a wireless password and an outlet and you’re good to go. I ordered one off of Amazon for $30 and it came yesterday. Today, I set it up so that I could watch Jenna Marbles and Mental Floss on Youtube on my television instead of my tiny laptop while eating mac and cheese and folding my laundry on the living room floor.

TECHNOLOGY.

Also, hooray for my second six continent day of 2015! Argentina finally decided to show up to represent South America, not to count out my lovely visitors from North America (Canada, USA), Europe (Monaco [first timer, welcome!], Germany, Norway, France, and the UK), Asia (Turkey, which I’m counting as Asia because it goes both ways), Africa (South Africa and the Gambia) and Oceania (Australia).

16

Electronics: Always Retail, Never Resale

One of the great things about my new car is that finally, finally, I can play music from my iPhone through the sound system.

When I got my previous car, I was hoping to have that capability, but nope, didn’t happen. I even had my friend Rahul, who knows cars, read my manual for me and he confirmed that I couldn’t. Therefore, one of my reasons for the trade-in was so that I could join the 21st century and stop having to hope that people wouldn’t be annoyed by the slight background music.

My new car has an iPod button on the radio, and it even came with a cord…but of course, it’s a 30-pin cord and I have a Lightning.

I have officially cemented myself as a First World citizen.

So, I needed an adapter. I looked online and there was some company selling them for 99 cents, but I decided to go to Best Buy and pay whatever they were offering, which happened to be 30 dollars for the Apple adapter. Needless to say, I probably got cheated, but a) I wanted to have it now, rather than order it and risk it arriving here after I leave next week, and b) electronics tend to be better at retail value, for some reason. At least for me.

There are certain things that are great to buy used or from discount stores/off-brands, to save money. Books? Absolutely. Clothes? Yes, even though my mom disapproves, yet my favorite pair of jeans (RIP) came super cheap from a resale shop. Furniture? Almost always. I have had exactly two items from IKEA that have lasted my last three moves: my night stand (which was wobbly from the get go) and my TV stand (which is not bad, but getting old-looking). All other IKEA things into which I have sunk good money have fallen apart (whoops, almost typed asleep) after one move. Yet, my ancient coffee table has moved from Maryland to Texas to Wisconsin to storage to current apartment with barely any scratches, other than the ones made from the vacuum cleaner, darn edges.

But for quality electronics? I pay retail. If it will work as it’s supposed to forever or at least for a reasonable amount of time, I will give you a blank check. I’ve gone through about 594270 pairs of dollar-store headphones, so many cheapo batteries, and several car chargers, two of the “ISound” brand that looks like it comes from Apple but it does not. Seriously, one stiff gust of wind coming through my car’s window and whoosh, right out of the cigarette lighter.

So $30 Lightning adapter, I hope you’re in it for the long haul, because I don’t want to be wrong, because that is not a world in which I want to raise my future children.

Oh, and when I got home, my mom announced that she had a Best Buy coupon in her purse.

Of course.

1

Don’t Wake the Children, They’re Charging

This isn’t so much of a late night rant, like yesterday’s post, but rather an observation.

Does anyone else out there feel like they have electronic children?

I have three: my laptop, my phone, and my iPad.

And as their parent, my life sometimes seems to revolve around their extracurricular activity of charging them so that I can use them at pretty much every waking moment. Sometimes, my day’s exercise revolves around this, from locating the devices to locating their chargers to finding outlets where I can put them together. And before I leave the house, I have to ask myself a) how long I’ll be gone, b) which items do I need chargers for and b) will I have access to an outlet should I need to charge, and those are all kinda scary if you think about the fact that ten years ago, I had a Nokia phone and a laptop that actually held a charge and didn’t freak out at 60% battery like this one does sometimes.

Today, I woke up with my phone on the elephant table next to my bed. It was at about 30%, but once I finished checking my email and my Words With Friends games, it was down to 22%. It was not on the charger because I’m at my parents’ house, which was built in the 1950s and therefore has a submarginal amount of outlets and iPhone cords don’t stretch very far.

As I go to stick it on the charger, I pick up the iPad. Noticing that it’s on 2%, I put it back down and pick up the laptop, which wasn’t on the charger but still has a lot of power left. I use it until the power gets pretty low, giving me an excuse to get out of bed and find the charger.

I have to finish this later, since my laptop battery is dying.

0

Kiss Today Goodbye…?

The other day, I got this new iPhone 5 and there’s this voice-to-blog feature on WordPress, so let’s see if this works.

I’m just feeling these days like I’m kind of just wasting the day. Not really, but I wake up and it’s already lunchtime so I feel like I haven’t gotten really started with my day, and things being the way they are, with the time of year it’s weird because the sun sets early and it feels like it’s already night and just feel like it’s a constant game of catch-up. It’s like, check my email and then all the BuzzFeed’s and everything and then all of a sudden it’s time for dinner and, oh, by the way haven’t been out of the house or anything like that, so then I have to have dinner and watch Jeopardy! and then it’s already nighttime, my parents are getting ready to go to bed and I’m struggling with writing a blog post and picking a topic.

So that’s what things are like for me right now but from now on, I’m going to at least start and try to finish a post or two a day, with the first one in the morning, and not like I’ve been doing, finishing at like 11:59 PM.

This thing is really weird.

Anyway, I feel like by the time I’ve blogged and caught up on things and watched some TV, it’s already 2 o’clock in the morning and I want to read. I brought home about 30 books and I have only finished one so maybe tonight I should call it in early and then post something in the morning. So that’s a good idea. Practical? Maybe. Who knows.

This blog post was done by phone with only some minor revisions on the computer. TECHNOLOGY.

Oh, what I’ll do for love.

0

Limited Brain Capacity

I think I’ve uncovered the secret to how I’m surviving these days.

Or at least an excuse for forgetting/slacking on things.

I’m going with…Limited Brain Capacity.

Someone, somewhere, said that we only use about ten percent of our brains on a daily basis. Someone somewhere else called that person a big fat liar. I say that they’re both wrong.

These days, my brain feels kind of like an iPhone. Once you have so many apps, photos, videos, songs, etc. on an iPhone, it gives you that “memory almost full, delete some stuff” message. For me, that’s how I’m getting by.

For instance, lines. Last week’s rehearsals were pretty disastrous and I totally blanked on lines, several times. So much so that I was given the option to do the whole show on book. The day of open dress (Wednesday) I took my car to get it fixed, and in the two hours I was given to wait for it, I basically blocked out everything from my mind – state capitals, shopping lists, possibly even the names and ages of all my cousins – and just focused on sweeping out those megabytes of info and sweeping in the lines. Effectively making me a line-bot, or in layman’s terms, an actor. By the time I got to rehearsal that night, I was feeling confident. I did a quick line-thru spit-back thing with Marc, and we managed to get almost all the way through the play with me messing up only a handful of times; and by messing up, I mean completely losing focus, not merely getting words transposed, which happens sometimes to the best of actors. Kat asked me how confident I felt in doing it off book, and I answered affirmatively, and that night I managed not to screw up too badly. Before the next night’s performance, I hadn’t had much time to look over the script, and at two points got completely stymied – not enough to slow down the whole show, but so much so that I needed some saving. Friday afternoon I had a bit of time to look over lines, and that night I believe I gave my best performance, only screwing up a line or two in scene three. There was also another factor that was keeping me on my toes, but that’s for a later post. Saturday night kind of got lazy, with one of my (very few) line flubs causing a whole page of scene one to be skipped, but other than that, a near-perfect acts two and three.

Since then, I’ve not thought much about my lines, but I’ve been extremely careful in managing where exactly my brain is, given that we’ve got a pick-up rehearsal scheduled for Wednesday and three more performances until we close on Saturday night. After that, I will be free to forget. But not until then.

Due to Thanksgiving travel and general play fatigue, I’ve been missing both of my regularly scheduled dance activities, kabuki and ballroom. Ballroom’s kind of a lost cause for me this semester – I’ve resigned to saving it for next semester – but kabuki, one of the things I thought I was doing pretty well in, has become a victim of my Limited Brain Capacity. Seeing as that I’m auditing the class, I can really pick and choose exactly what I want to do. I’ve chosen to do no written work at all, seeing as I don’t have the extremely hard-to-acquire out-of-print textbook, and only focus on studying the performance and improving my own. The final will consist of:

  1. Sword cadence
  2. Fan dance
  3. Bannai
  4. Combat sequence
  5. Monologue (Sukeroku or Agemaki)

The easiest thing for me to remember is Bannai, since it’s basically a short monologue with gestures. I was present in class for the majority of the sword fighting and fan dancing, so I’ve retained most of those. I did miss a few classes where some new moves were added. Today I did the fan dance and I was surprised at how much I had forgotten. Like, even some of the beginning moves, the easier ones, and the sword cadence as well. For the combat sequence, I learned everything up to the final two moves, but since there’s an odd number of students and I’m the only auditor, I’ve been sitting out. The professor, however, told me that if I want to try for the final, I’ve got my pick of partners. Depending on how many people want to go twice, I might be very popular. However, I haven’t practiced it for a while so my memories of the combat routine may have fallen out of my brain along with the rest of the fan dance. As far as the monologues – I’m not even going to try. Lines for the play plus Bannai plus…all the other academic and non-academic stuff I have to remember and use on a daily basis have pretty much caused me to defer any other new information up to the Cloud.

Speaking of academics…

I have finished all assignments for one of my classes, and have blocked it out of my mind completely. For American Drama, all I have left is a final exam, so other than leafing through the plays for the past few weeks, all knowledge from that course has been shifted to the Cloud as well. This leaves me with Cruelty, for which I have one paper due Thursday (which should be in my mind but is not as I have not yet started) and Restoration, for which I have turned in my first draft, so until I get it back tomorrow with comments, is out of my mind. Other things like laundry, eating, cleaning, bathing, reading for pleasure – these familiar fuzzy thoughts are re-materializing, if only for a short while before Cruelty-Restoration-my lines for the play come back to me from the Cloud.

If this isn’t making any sense to you anymore, that makes two of us.

Basically, my point here is that my brain can only take in so much new information at a time, especially info that must be memorized and performed. That’s one of the reasons I don’t miss acting – more on that later.

But in the long run…what does this mean for my brain? Is my ten percent drying up? Am I using more of my brain? Or are my brain cells just having a massive orgy and reproducing at lightning speed?

Because my brain is a curious creature, it went and Google Searched “limited brain capacity finals week.” The first hits were scholarly articles, which I would love to read but my brain does not want to. Next stop on the crazy brain train: Wikipedia. Looking for an simple yet concrete answer, I stumbled upon Baddeley’s model of working memory.

In short, these two guys Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch came up with a system of how our short-term memory works. This model, created in 1974 and amended in 2000, consists of three main areas of focus:

  1. The central executive is the portion of the short term memory that organizes all of the trains of thought; it’s literally the depot. It’s the center in the brain responsible for multi-tasking. Mine is working very hard at the moment, the “notes” function thinking about all the work I have to do and the fact that I have three washer loads that need to hit the dryer and that I need to put on pants and shoes before I can go to the laundry room to do that, as well as playing an mp3 in my brain for a soundtrack (currently, that fan dance song from kabuki class), the video/camera/photos/facetime registering all the colors and symbols on the computer screen, and somehow, through all this, my motor skills, enabling me to type at a relatively rapid speed to put words on the screen without constantly needing to look at my fingers for guidance. Effectively, we’re all multi-taskers by nature.
  2. The phonological loop takes in and interprets sounds and words, so that we may repeat them back. Right now there isn’t any background music or noise, so mine’s got a respite, but reciting lines over and over and hearing them cued to me every night acts sort of like a “voice control” function in the brain. At least that’s how I’m interpreting this concept at the moment.
  3. The visuospatial sketchpad allows us to navigate through our lives, literally. It’s why we don’t have to concentrate so hard on walking, because it can draw internal maps so that we can take advantage of the first two elements of the short-term memory while doing a task such as walking, and not running into walls or tripping and falling over. (sidenote – eight finger knuckle crunch at this moment – this must mean it’s getting serious). This allows me to navigate my apartment, the theatre building, and the stage. At the same time, it helps me go through my blocking, both for the play and for the kabuki dances. This area, my “maps” function, exerts itself pretty heavily these days, with a need for knowing floor patterns essential to my survival as an actor and a kabuki performer.

So what does all this mean?

Basically, I’m not a lunatic. I do have issues to figure out and I’m navigating them to the best of my ability, but as far as me putting things on shelves in my mind, it’s totally appropriate. Right now, my brain is working overtime, but relief will come soon, in the form of tasks and obligations being finished.

But I can’t think about that point in the future too much, lest I drop my internal iPhone in Olestra, causing a need to visit the always helpful-but-not-helpful Apple store and unexpected fluid leakage.

…well that got graphic very quickly.

Eew.

0

Anecdote on a Downward Spiral turned Mini-Crisis

One of those things that gets me down is when things go wrong. That kind of gets everyone down, of course, but making things seem like the absolute worst seems like something that habitually happens.

So, the mini-crisis of the day?

I flew home to Maryland. That’s not the crisis (well, except for the overpriced airport pizza from Wolfgang Puck, the mocha frappuccino I spilled on the floor of the Duty Free, and coming out in departures instead of arrivals for some reason, confounding my parents). After four hours in the air, it was time for four hours in the car; first to Chevy Chase to say hi and bye to all the family members I haven’t seen in a year or more (sans my sister who I saw in March, and my cousin Jenn who randomly showed up in Madison a month ago), we turned the car around, crossing Maryland and Delaware and back into Maryland again, arriving at the beach house in Ocean City, where I sit typing this, and no further along on my paper (crap crap crap..::hand to forehead::) After a disappointing Thanksgiving dinner (deli sandwiches, donuts, and some drinks purchased at the Royal Farms in Bridgeville, Delaware) eaten mostly in the car, we got here and as I went to show my mother my brand new iPad…boom. Dark. Dead. Not turning on. I have a paper to do…WTF. Dad looks up the closest Apple store, and though there are computer stores here in town, the two closest Apple stores are in Annapolis, MD, and Newark, DE. And it’s also Thanksgiving. Dad says that we can go back to Baltimore tomorrow or the next day, and I can even go back to Madison if need be. Then, I turn on the TV, and we find out that the cable’s been turned off because it’s winter.

At this point, my mood is just sour. I felt bad for leaving my laptop at home and having nothing to write my paper with but a pen and paper. I can’t do anything but sit on the couch and scrunch my eyes. No crying, fortunately, but I just felt disconnected. Lost. How am I going to get my paper done? I’m not, and I’m going to fail the class, and then fail out of grad school, and then…

So I called Rachel for help. She suggested holding the two buttons on the iPad to reset it. WALLA.

Things immediately get better. My face loosens up, my jaw unclenches, my appetite returns, and now I can do my paper. Or at least find other things to distract me. We can stay here in Ocean City until Saturday night/Sunday morning as planned, and all is right with the world. I still have a paper to do, but now I can actually do it.

This story had no point but at least now I can rest easier tonight knowing that things are working. Also, I’m so mentally drained I can’t think of anything creative to write about, and I haven’t even finished a book so I can’t even do a book review.

In other news, my mother just told me that my father woke her up at 5:00 this morning with a gigantic fart, after which she couldn’t fall back asleep. More details as the story breaks.