learning to unplug

Are you “plugged in” to technology–iPads, iPods, iPhones, laptops, PCs and Macs–for the majority of your day? Think about it before you answer. I became concerned about my own “plug-in” problems a couple of weekends back. It was the Sunday I decided to pull the plug on my computer. The decision started with a concern for my physical health. I was experiencing a lot of neck stress, headaches, and my fingers were feeling stiff. It had been only a little more than two months since my last RA infusion; I’d hoped to make it at least six months, the average length of time between symptoms, before needing another, but each patient reacts his own way so the rheumatologist asked me to call him if I felt a flare before six months. Since chemotherapy last year that left my veins uncooperative (or what the nurses called “shot to hell”) we were hoping for at least six months reprieve between needle stabs. The only way to know if my pain was the beginning of flareup, or simply too much time in front of the computer, as I’d begun to suspect, I decided to pull the plug for 24 hours.

The next day there was a slight difference, but still a lot of neck strain. Then Hubby noticed I was squinting and looking upward, straining to see the computer screen through my bifocal. I decided to pull out some old computer glasses I’d had made a few years ago to use with the computer. Voila, after only a day or two I felt the difference. Experiment successful. I was really happy that it wasn’t an arthritic flare after all. But after that Sunday unplug, I had become aware of another, potentially much more serious mental problem that might require more effort to fix.

It was a lot more complicated than just the time spent keeping up with this blog. There was all that time I spent reading and commenting on other blogs. Much of that part is good, I’ve decided, as it leaves me with a sense of connection with the world. All day long on unplug day, I kept thinking of things I wanted to do that required my PC. Answers. To all kinds of things! I’ve gotten in the habit of running to my PC for every little nonsensical thought or question that occurs to me. I click Google or Bing, insert a few keywords and bingo, I have access to everything I want or think I need to know. Medical symptoms. Recipes. Movie reviews. You name it. It’s all there and then some.

Remember in the old days you’d wake up in the middle of the night with this burning question–really serious stuff. The answer would come to you, you knew that, so after you worried with the question for awhile you’d eventually fall asleep again. If you were lucky, the answer floated into your consciousness the very next day, or maybe several days later. But I don’t remember a time when the answer didn’t come eventually. Alternately, you’d run into a friend or co-worker who might know. They either would or not. But it wasn’t that important anyway. In my class on the neurophysiology of the brain the following week, I asked the professor if google could be injurious to our brains and our ability to remember. She admitted she didn’t know, and that she worried a little about that herself. There just wasn’t enough research yet to know. Another student suggested that the harm may be offset somewhat by the work our brains have to do to come up with the right set of tag words to get answers, suggesting we were still assisting the plasticity of our brains to keep them working better as we age. That’s a little of why I blog. To keep reaching for the right word to convey to meaning in my communications, I reasoned, would be a good exercise for my bain.

Back to the Sunday experiment. It hit me at some point that day that I could use my lazy Sunday afternoon to scan recipes from a library loaned cookbook so I could try them at will and go ahead and return the book. But no! That would require plugging back in–to two machines, my scanner/printer setup AND the PC to store them in an electronic file. Couldn’t do that until tomorrow. When I actually started preparations for dinner, at some point I needed to be close to the kitchen to monitor things, but make that time go faster at the same time. My office is right across from the kitchen, so I’ve gotten into the habit of sitting at my computer with an ear to the kitchen and play online cards. Long story short, throughout the day I was drawn like a magnet over and over again to my computer. But Monday morning I felt triumphant! I’d managed to go a full 24 hours without plugging in, not even to check email.

Which brings me to the video below. Last night, Hubby and I attended a lecture/movie at a local college. The movie by a San Francisco filmmaker, Tiffany Schlain, was entitled CONNECTED. It premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Using animation, archival film footage and much of her father’s writings, the movie explores the idea of how and why people are connected through technology. As in all of life, however, there’s always a balance to be achieved between the GOOD and NOT SO GOOD elements of every new discovery that impacts humanity.

Should you be interested in seeing CONNECTED, it’s available on video (to members) on Netflix. In the meantime, this 16 minute video interview with the filmmaker will give you many things to think about. Maybe you’ll have a clearer understanding, as I do, why we’re hearing “where does the time go” over and over again, even by young people. I understand that the majority of these YouTube sharings are rarely seen, but if you’ve ever wondered “where did my day go” or “is all this focus on technology good for me,” I think you’ll indulge me the nudge to watch. Maybe, like me, you’ll decide technology is good overall (perhaps, though the jury’s still out) but, maybe it’s good to unplug now and then.

amusing myself during a yukky day

Old Man Winter showed up sometime last night to pay us a call here in Utah. Since last night it’s either been raining or snowing, giving our roads up here in the hills a slushy reason to pull out the old winter boots. It’s the kind of day meetings get canceled, and planned outings to the gym seem hardly worth the effort. We are planning to venture out for a movie this evening–a free pre-screening of Morning Glory (Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton & Rachel McAdams) that is scheduled for theaters November 12. It’s always nice to see leading movie characters nearer our ages with wrinkles and droopy eyelids just like us. (If I think it’s good, I’ll let you know.)

I really don’t mind snowy days the beginning of winter; it’s just later on I begin to cry Uncle, around January and February, when I’m just plain sick of snow and slush and long underwear. Today it gives me a good excuse to get caught up on a few household chores, after which I began digging away at more old stuff stored in the unused cabinets in the bar downstairs. As always, when I get into this kind of busy work I find things I’d completely forgotten, then spend the rest of day getting lost in old memories. And things to move to the donate pile. Naturally I brought up the old photo albums to scan and organize in my picture files. The one I chose to do today were from a farewell lunch (for Hubby from Battelle in Columbus) in February 1993, just before he transferred to Battelle in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. We moved to Knoxville a few weeks later.

Now that you regular Wintersong readers have gotten to know Hubby from his guest postings during my cancer treatments, I thought you might enjoy seeing this picture that turned up in that file. It was near the end of lunch where everyone has finished making roasting speeches, and the honoree stands up to thank everybody, then somebody calls out Speech! Speech! And he has to make a speech no matter how much it embarrasses him to be the center of attraction.

Is that not the cutest dimple you’ve ever seen? As I look at it, I think what a hunka hunka burning love! But it isn’t Elvis he reminds me of here. It’s Jon Hamm, who plays Don Draper on Mad Men.

I’m pretty sure I was still his barber that year. For years I pretended to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Not only did I cook and bake, but I cut his hair as well because he insisted he liked my cuts better than the barber’s. (I think it was because I was cheaper!) I had to give it up not long after because arthritis started to show up in my hands and made the task more difficult. So I showed these pictures to Hubby and bragged on my hair cutting prowess. I told him he looked like Jon Hamm (back then). He knows how handsome my next door neighbor and I think Jon Hamm is, so he laughed at me and said something equal to you’re crazy! We were both in our late forties at the time. All of were younger–Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, and I don’t think Rachel McAdams had even been born yet.

So now I’m sneaking this picture into this post just to see how long before (and if) he notices. And hope I don’t get into trouble.

Humm! On second thought, I think he looks better than Jon Hamm. Don’t you think so? ‘Gotta get busy now. There’s three more old albums to scan. Maybe I’ll find some pretty(ier) pictures of me in them…one is our wedding day in 1969. Meanwhile, it’s still snowing.

Back later in the week with another first India impressions post.

update: nance dude may live again

Here’s an update for fans of Nancy Ann Kerley (Nance Dude). If the moon continues in the second house with Jupiter in line with Mars, it looks like Nance Dude could soon live again–in celluloid that is. (Digital, actually, but pixel might be even more accurate, but that’s a post for another day.)

That post attracted numerous readers, many of whom were descendants of the family, and still attracts many interested in this murder/mayhem mystery of the early 20th century. Quite sometime ago, my post on Nance Dude attracted a reader who commented that a  movie would be forthcoming, and was indeed in pre-production. I decided it was time for a little detective work.

TIMBERWOLF, which is the title at this time, is a story of how the hardships of an 1800′s family in the Great Smoky Mountains is made worse by the ambitions of a powerful man who is set on revealing a legendary secret. (Anyone unfamiliar with Nance’s life who would like to know more can go here.) So it isn’t exactly clear how the movie will feature Nance’s story, but the characters in the movie list are all fictitious, so it’s probably loosely based on that event and sounds interesting. Here’s what I have learned from a June 14, 2009 update.

The movie is an independent film in pre-production by the Collective Development LLC of Lansing MI, which means presumably there are banks in the negotiations, most likely actors too, and any or all of the following information is subject to change. The latest update was June 14, 2009. Here are some names you might recognize: Dan Haggerty, Cloris Leachman, Erin Gray, Cindy Williams, Wes Studi and Michael Spears. At one time I remember seeing Willie Nelson’s name in the lineup but it’s no longer there. (Mr. Willie’s getting on up there in years, y’know.)

Wes Studi played Joe Leaphorn in Thief of Time, and you’d recognize him from any number of films featuring native Americans, like Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. He played himself as the presenter on Trail of Tears, the Cherokee Legacy that was first featured on PBS television in 2006 and rerun earlier this year. The other actor deserving special mention is Michael Spears, who appeared in Dances With Wolves. The others I believe are commonly known, mostly from television series. One more actor I want to mention: Ralphene Rathbone, who portrays a member of the Eastern Star (the female side of the Masons), and to whom I extend much appreciation for leaving the comment on the original post that led to this update for Nance Dude fans.