Monthly Archives: June 2011

Only Child turns down the technology

Only child buzzed by too much technology

I think I’m all tecked out – at least for a little while. Now you have to bring in the technological gadget to get a part replaced. For example, for a new working adapter for my external hard drive, bringing in the old adapter isn’t enough – they need the whole external hard drive because the adapter comes with a new case and they have to set it up with your external hard drive. Ditto for a new battery for my wireless phone handset. If you don’t know beforehand, that’s two trips for one replacement. Then there is that social networking get together coming up next month. It’s in person but you can’t just reply “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” There are four categories to sign up for – some free, some not. And just now when I went to update my Firefox browser on my laptop (as “it” was urging me to do), “it” told me I had incompatible ad-ons that had to be updated first. So I closed the box. Too technical for me. I’ll have to bring my laptop to my son’s place so he can do this. Strange, as when this happened on my desktop PC, I had no problem updating Firefox. Could it be because the laptop is using Windows 7? Maybe. But I think it’s more that technology is getting away from us.

Stop the world, I need a break.

When I was growing up (back in the grey ages) our biggest technological gadget was the transistor radio – complete with its mono output and one earphone. But I loved taking it to the beach or sitting out in my mother’s garden hooked up to my transistor and listening to the latest top 40 hits – Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin, etc. Check http://www.fotosearch.com/photos-images/transistor-radio.html to see what I’m referring to.

I still have one of the updates from the transistor radio – a Walkman, and it works. And yes, I still have some tapes sitting around. Of course, I moved on to CDs years ago, but I also kept my turntable, records, and as it turns out (pun intended) turntables and LPs are back in style. What does that say for our current technological state? Some of you might think “old foggie baby boomers.” True. But I also wonder if it is a grasp at something less mind-blowing technological, something a little simpler. True you can’t cart it around with you like an iPod, but I’ve heard reports the sound is something better from what you can get from today’s technology. Don’t know if that is true, but there has to be some reason many music artists are recording on both CD and LP.

Let’s get one thing straight. I don’t have anything against the iPod – except maybe some people’s penchant for turning it up so loud, their “music” escapes into the surrounding atmosphere. The iPod is today’s answer to the transistor radio – one way to drown out today’s outside noise and excess technology. The latter may be an oxymoron, but if you are strictly using the iPod listening to music, you are ignoring the constant buzz of e-mails, Twitter, Facebook, not to mention the in-person noise around you. Just be careful and attentive when crossing the street.

So for the upcoming holiday weekend (Canada Day, July 1 in Canada and July 4 Independence Day in the US) why not tone down the technology or even give it a temporary rest? Sure, listen to your iPod but send Twitter, etc. to another planet. Me, I’m going to the beach with a good book (print) and also taking that book out into my garden.

Staying wired almost 24/7 (excluding sleep time, for those of us who still get some sleep) is draining.
Happy holiday.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, iPods, Music, Only child, Stress

Only Child learns to reboot herself

Wasting time rebooting my laptop countless times yesterday thanks to malfunctioning software got me thinking. Why can’t we reboot ourselves when life’s stressors, overwhelms, etc. attack us full force?

My late Mom sure had the right idea for a little girl with no brothers and sisters but a Bully for a friend. In my memoir, in Chapter  4, “Protecting the Princess,” I write:

She (Mom)must know that the others treat me like a pariah. On sunny summer mornings, she parks me outside with my colouring book and crayons at the card table on the front veranda. I sit there in the slowly receding shade from the house and carefully pick out crayons to colour in the trees, flowers, people, and cartoon characters of my vast colouring book collection. Boxes holding only eight crayons are not good enough; I prefer at least 24 crayons because then I can pick out different browns for the hair and different greens for the grass and trees. I pull out a crayon, lift it to my nose to inhale the waxy smell, then apply it to the drawings of people and places. I make sure my crayon stays within the outline and that I shade evenly. No wisps or coloured lines scattered all over the page. Already I am realizing that I need some order in my life. But not without the spontaneous sweetness of nature. Often I lift my head from my shading to stare at the green grass and trees along the block and listen to the birds tweeting. Occasionally, a neighbour strolls by. We don’t wave or say “hello,” but I sense the peacefulness, not just between us, but overall. The neighbourhood is quiet now and I need to absorb this. It is more than just breathing – it is my reboot into living after confrontations with the Bully. Of course, I don’t figure this all out then. I am just content to soak up the moment without any angry outbursts.

I know now that Mom sensed this need and this was her way of getting me back in gear. Perhaps she realized that because I had no brothers or sisters, I had to go it alone. Perhaps she felt guilty because she and Dad had not “given” me a sibling. It certainly had nothing to do with Dad’s cancer because the summer of his diagnosis was still a few years down the road.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford).

So, what’s stopping I or anyone else from doing a reboot? I have finally finished planting and transplanting in the garden and weeding is never-ending. I’ve started sitting out on the backyard patio or the veranda – not to colour with crayons (I still like the waxy smell), but to read a mystery or memoir book or the newspaper. It is my way to connect with nature, with summer and even my youth. As I grew older and moved away from crayons and colouring books, I would sit out in the backyard or on the front veranda and read an Agatha Christie or teen novel – whatever I borrowed from the library. Often I did this instead of studying for high school exams. It was a way to de-stress and disappear into another world, not mine. The characters in the novel might have had difficult situations to deal with but they  would be solved by novel’s end. And they were not my problems. The big key to reading fiction is escapism. And most of us need some of that in this aggressive fast-paced technological world. I could add many more adjectives but you get what I mean.

Take the time to reboot in your garden. If you don’t have a garden or a balcony with containers of flowers and herbs, go to your nearest park or public garden. And sit. And read. And just absorb the surroundings. Reboot. Your psyche will thank you. So will your family, friends and anyone you come into contact with. Beats an angry you flying off the handle at every slight or big conflict.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Balance, Burnout, Crayons and coloring, Health, Only child, Only child memoir, Overwhelm, Peace and quiet, Reboot, Stress

Only Child takes the train

Steam engine like those that fascinated and frightened Only Child when she was much younger. From http://www.copyright-free-photos.org.uk/trains/5-steam-engine.htm

Train travel is in my blood. When I look at all the security hoops of air travel, the current Air Canada customer service employees’ strike, and the high gasoline prices at the pumps, trains look better and better. As many of you have probably read in previous posts, my late father worked for CN Railways (then CNR) as a timekeeper. So, Mom, Dad and I rode the rails for free for our holidays. Back in those grey ages, trains had something else to draw me in – steam engines.  I write in my memoir about encountering a steam engine during one of these trips to my grandfather’s farm:

No steam engines on this train to Guelph – it rolled along pulled by one of the new whippersnappers called a diesel locomotive. But I get my steam engine at Guelph. We’re waiting outside on the Guelph platform for our train to Palmerston. I’m showing Darlene all the tracks way out beyond the station behind us. I see activity between two trains parked on parallel tracks. One train puffs a little steam; the other seems at rest except for the dollies of huge mailbags wheeled from it to the little puffer. The now familiar PA voice broadcasts, “Train #34 for Toronto now boarding on platform 2, Train #174 for Hamilton on platform 3, and Train #… Then I hear it … a distant whoo-oo, whoo-oo that steadily grows louder and then chug-chug- whoo-oo as another train rounds the corner. I put Darlene to my left ear and my right hand over my right ear; my purse dangles by its strap from my right arm. Thick charcoal smoke whirls up and behind the chimney top of the massive black engine charging into the station. The smoke resembles a cloud of dark incense, but smells like soot mixed with tar. This engine leads like a big black God with a stern round face who commands respect and suddenly I feel back in church. When this God grinds to a halt, its mixed bag of followers – mail cars, baggage cars and passenger cars – stop. I remove my hand and doll from my ears and fight the urge to kneel down. Mom grabs my arm and leads me to another trainman standing by another of those steel square footstools.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, Chapter 7 – Riding the Rails with Dad, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford. Darlene is/was one of my dolls.)

Of course, something else besides steam engines is missing from train travel today – all the routes to and stops at the small towns. Heck, many of the train station buildings are gone for good and for the small towns that still are on railway routes, the train station is like a tiny box, smaller than my living room. And these stops are often “flag stops,” i.e., the train doesn’t stop here unless someone gets off or on – and that information goes into the railway’s computer system, another change from coal and fire and water tanks along the way for those steam engines.

But some things about train travel remain – the more relaxed atmosphere inside and the scenery outside the window. Take the Canadian Rockies. An airplane-view in the sky shows small bumps below and a definite disconnect. Going through the Rockies by train puts you right there. And what about going through farmers’ fields on the Prairies and in southwestern Ontario? For those used to 21st century “essentials,” you can hook up to WiFi (or not) on trains; you can read, look out the window, talk to your seatmate, or snooze. And there is more room to put your bags – you can even bring them on board even though some railways limit the number. You aren’t patted down before getting on although signs in the larger railway stations do give security notices that you may need to open your bag for checking.

Then there are the old railway stations still left and open – from the huge Union Station in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to the smaller unique ones in Stratford and Kitchener, Ontario. Unfortunately if your are going to Grimsby and Strathroy, Ontario you get those box-stations.

So, like every summer vacation, I plan to take the train and enjoy despite one physical feature of them that remains – the narrow steel steps onto the train and the precarious and small steel footstool to hoist yourself and all your baggage onto the train.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

and teaches Memoir Writing workshops

for the Toronto Public Library. Next one: June 15/11

Danforth/Coxwell Branch http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca

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Filed under Family, Memoir writing, Only child, Only child memoir, Public Transportation, Railways, Scenery, Steam engines, Train Stations, Train travel, Uncategorized, Vacations

Only Child not keeping cool anywhere

Only Child ponders her problems

Have you ever had one of those week’s where everything seemed to go kaput? I have the past last week, except it was four big problems in four days and two more in the last two days. That, and an ensuing discussion with a friend on Saturday, got me thinking about attitudes, problems and problem solving, and life situations. And no, I’m not going into a long dissertation about all of mine. I guess the bottom line is: what do you think and want (or not want) concerning the problems occurring in your life.

Before I go any further, I need to thank a couple of readers –  I haven’t yet because…

Thanks to Colline and Shirley for their comments on my post last week – Keeping cool in your home office. Usually I reply directly but I couldn’t and the why is one of those aforementioned problems  – disruption in Internet service off and on (mostly off) over three days last week. Unfortunately I was not one of the 99 percent with line problems outside. Nope, the problems were inside. The techie from my ISP/Phone service had to make THREE visits to sort everything out. And in the middle of it all my wireless phone went dead…but that seems to be connected (pun intended) to the ISP line problems because once the line part was fixed, my wireless phone worked. In the end, Mr. Telephone Techie fixed a faulty connector downstairs, updated the split in the line (for phone and ISP) in my home office  and set up a new modem cum router.

Meantime, the adapter for  my external hard drive would no longer connect to the actual peripheral, my kitchen tap set came loose from its setting, and my right eye suddenly developed red eye. Yesterday one of my foot problems kicked in and this morning one of my email servers suddenly isn’t working. A helpful neighbour  (he’s an electrician by the way) fixed the wandering kitchen tap, hopefully the Internet service will continue working and the email service will get fixed – I emailed the company owner about it using my other email account.  I have an appointment with my optometrist  this afternoon. I bought a new adapter and cover for the external hard drive and am still waiting for the other email service.

Enough of those six problems per se. I do find that being an only person is a hindrance. Who do you call for support when you have no siblings, no partner, no… well you get the picture. Not that a partner or sibling could fix all the problems, but misery loves company if only for moral and emotional support and maybe they could call the repair person and deal with him or her some of the time. So, I intend to magnify my GAD (general anxiety disorder) and get angry.

My friend suggested I try meditation and I might – if I can find the time. However, meditation won’t eliminate two things: the influx of too many problems and solving them. I might be a little calmer but I find anger, along with persistence,  helps get me moving to do something about the problems and dealing with any professional I’m trying to get here to fix the problem if he stalls about arriving or messes up in some way. I am polite with my neighbours and friends because I realize they are doing me a favour.  I find the best way to deal with problems is to solve them and get them out of the way as fast as possible. And using your intuition to do so helps – I need to learn to do this more. At the same time I find I get too many problems coming at me.  Which brings me to something else my friend said.

Viewpoint – does your viewpoint change the situation? Nope, not for me. I’ve tried being positive and expecting the best and then I get blindsided by several somethings going haywire. I’ve also been pessimistic and that gets mixed results -often nothing “bad” happens and sometimes it does. So much for the law of attraction or its opposite. I hate to say it but it just might be the “luck of the draw,” whether that luck is good or bad. And I know nobody’s life is problem-free but I also don’t believe that old religious teaching that we never get more crosses than we can bear. Never mind my situation. Look at more serious ones – all the people who have lost their homes through floods and fires, etc. What about people that “lose it” in life after experiencing too many tragedies. True, some people go the other way. Tragedies change them for the better.

Maybe the bottom line is we are all different – not just in who we are but in what we are and how we deal with life situations and just what those life situations are – our environment is a big factor.

What do you think?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Anger, Anxiety, Believing, Decisions, Law of Attraction, Luck, Only child, Overwhelm, Problem solving, Problems, Stress