Tuesday, April 27, 2010

4G and more

The first mobile phones were unleashed on the world in 1973 by the Motorola Corporation. That first baby was a 2 kilo monster and a far cry from the cute little devices we slip into our pockets today. They were utilitarian, grey, shaped like a brick and there were certainly no cutesy skins or jewels with which to "bling them up". Japan was the first country to launch the first commercially automated cellular network in 1979. Several countries in Europe followed suit two years later, with Canada, Mexico and the bringing up the rear in 1982. The US got their first network in 1983. These were analog systems, kind of clunky with not so great voice reproduction and the sound of white noise ever present in the background; the digital system or 2G networks didn't happen until the early '90's.

So, it's been 37 years since Martin Cooper and his team brought the world that one thing that we seem unable to do without. There are several generations of young adults who don't know what it's like not to have a mobile phone, or who even know what a "land line" is, far less for a telex or telegram! They know nothing about having to "place" an overseas call by calling the overseas operator and booking a time etc. And yet, we somehow survived in the pre-mobile days. Man didn't expire and the species did not die out just because we couldn't speak to someone from the car, movies etc.

What did we do before we had mobile phones? Well we didn't feel we had to relate the sordid details of our night out to all and sundry on the public bus/train etc. We had face to face conversations with people and then we went our way. Has all this immediate ability to connect really improved our ability to communicate? Like everything there are pros and cons. I don't knock mobile phones being the possessor of not one, but two of the darned things. One belongs to my office and the other is mine. I am well trained to respond to the blinking red light signaling a text message, email or BBM. It's been the best and worst of times and we, the phones and I, have a love/hate relationship.

"You didn't answer your phone" has become a more frequent complaint. Well, because I don't think you should have access to me all the time. Leave a message and I'll call you back. Okay, mobile phones are great in an emergency but we seem to spend more quality time with the damn phone than we do people. Maybe because it's easier to communicate when we have an impersonal third party to channel our discussions through. But getting back to the point, I'm driving, hands on the wheel and attention to the road please. I'm not immune, I use the hands-free but really, did I HAVE to tell you about the dress I just bought? Couldn't it wait until I got home? I'm doing something, that's why I didn't answer the phone, that okay with you?

One Saturday I went out to do my errands and forgot the phone home charging. I didn't realise it until it dawned on me that the car had been pretty quiet for a long time; no phone ringing. Determined to stick it out, I went about my business but all the while feeling, naked, as though I were somehow incomplete because I was not tethered by the leash known as Blackberry. In an age where everything is now, things take on equal importance, there is no sense of balance, of understanding the difference between real priorities and things that can wait. That chat with your child as opposed to the twenty things that come up because it's all important.

As we move into the era of better, faster communications I have to wonder, if we had one of those apocalyptic calamities often portrayed in doomsday movies, how the current generation would survive without their steady diet of X-box, Wii, Netflix and the ability to text. Horror of horrors, they might actually be expected to WRITE something down...learn to spell and even worse, wait until they saw someone to actually speak to them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Yellow or pink?

The hills that surround my home have been burnt brown by a combination of bush fires and drought. They are arid, unattractive sentinels, far removed from their usual verdant green...it's been sad to watch them. Every year we go through a version of this, but this year while not the worst that I've seen in the time I've been living in this house, is a telling reminder of the global climate and other changes that we are experiencing. The days are so hot that all you want to do is lie in a cool spot and not move, pity the poor dog with his thick coat. He spends much of his time panting in front of the fan or slipping into the bathroom to lie on the cooler tiles.

And yet, the poui trees, though burnt and battered are once again blooming. Ironically, poui only blooms in the dry weather. They are glorious, pink or yellow, masses of blossoms cover the trees and they stand out against the harsh landscape, beacons of brightness against the parched brown. It is a testament to the resilience of nature that something so beautiful could come of such inhospitable conditions.

I have always prided myself on being resourceful and resilient. No matter how dread my life gets I always find a way. I'm very handy, can fix most things around the house, don't really need anyone to do stuff for me that kind of thing. It does not mean that it wouldn't be nice to have that but there is no expectation that it will be so and so, I do what I have to. Kind of like those poui trees, I expect that no matter how much happens, I'll still bloom. It always comes as a surprise to find that I can't always. That sometimes, you have to wait a season or two to recover or that no one is infallible, even me.

It's understanding that......

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter again

This blog was supposed to be filled with pictures. The little point and shoot was gotten out and plunked into handbag in preparation for a pictorial on the things that caught my eye. Sorry, I missed all those pictures of the sea early in the morning, kites flying in Queen's Park Savannah, the burnt, rain starved hills around my house, I give you instead, my constant companion and my books. All I have done this weekend between lie unmoving before the fan with sweat dripping off extremities and sheets sticking to skin and throwing the ball at the hound in a desultory manner, is work. You heard me right, there are those of us who've had to forget we live in the public holiday capital of the world, roll up our sleeves and "get the job done".

But it is not to whine. In preparation for the long Easter weekend there were multiple visits to the various bookshops who had sales and even those who didn't to pick up a stack. Next to sinking into clear sea water and not coming out until I'm all wrinkled, my other favourite pursuit is to lounge in bed or on the couch with a stack of books at close hand, losing myself in the author's prose. Not everyone's idea of an exciting time to be sure but it is my pleasure. Sure, being out exploring the world is a wonderful thing to do but when you can't, or it is all too much, exploring the pages of a good novel can transport you to places you can only dream about. After all, you could spend a couple of hundred dollars to sit around a bar or otherwise for a few hours, that has its place. On the other hand, you could do without that once or twice and pick up some books in which you can lose yourself over several days or weeks. That you can re-read at leisure or share with like minded friends.

Too often it is easy to get bogged down in all the things that you cannot do instead of enjoying the small pleasures that you can carve out. Like I wish that I'd gotten some more of those oh so delectable intense chocolate cupcakes made by Emma Herrera that were being sold at Reader's Bookshop. The dark chocolate ganache frosting shining against the silver sleeve, red, red cherry on top. The one that I ate with my fingers was so rich, moist, chocolatey and yummy I wanted to lick the foil. Good manners prevailed but I took two to friends who demanded more. As you can see, I managed to sneak in a little down time, enjoyment is where you find it.