Sunday, November 4, 2012

Past Deadline: Ode to George

Here is Past Deadline from Sept. 20, published in The Perth Courier.
Ode to George
I have a problem. (“Just one?” you might ask. Yes, for today.)
This will come as no surprise to those who know me, but I am here to tell you – to admit, actually – that I am addicted to my smartphone.
I have named my phone “George” or, more precisely, “Mr. George BlackBerry, Executive Assistant.” He has been with me for about a year and a half and, quite honestly, I don’t know how I managed without him.
I am self-employed and often work from home, but I also attend a lot of meetings and teach part-time. I used to fret about the e-mails and calls I was missing when away from my desk. Now George quietly and efficiently collects all the messages for me and I can peek at them when the opportunity arises.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, right? I like how I can record things pictorially for future reference (or to record neat events, such as when Sir Lovesalot the knight came through town).
And that’s not all! Sometimes, during meetings (or in social gatherings) a question will arise that no one can answer. George Googles it, and voila! Instant information.
There’s more! Texting and messaging as a quick way to get info or provide answers is awesome. (It’s also handy for asking Groom-boy to get milk on his way home.)
When the mood or an idea strikes me, I can write using George, and frequently do. I wrote most of this here column on George. Amazing!
Like any good executive assistant, he alerts me to appointments, reminds me to do things and can provide directions. George will even wake me up!
So that’s the good stuff. What about the bad?
Well, for one thing, I just can’t seem to put George away in case I miss something. I leave the house, he leaves with me. I go on vacation, so does he. (Remember me complaining that I was having trouble relaxing during my vacation? Unplug, dummy!)
George doesn’t make coffee, but there could be an app for that.
Also, sometimes smartphones just make things a little weird. The other night, for example, my bestie and her kids were over for the evening. She, Groom-boy and I got talking about using our phones to scan QR codes – you know, those little squares you see on ads that can link you to websites? (No, they’re not modern versions of Rorschach inkblot tests – at least not as far as I know.)
I downloaded an app so I could do the QR thing, too. Then we all played with our phones. When toddlers do this it’s called parallel play – playing beside one another, not with one other. (My app wouldn’t work, so it became a mission for me while the other two moved on to something called “Having An Actual Conversation With A Person About Things.”)
Intriguing. I might try the conversation thing next week.
I really knew I had a problem, though, when one evening I couldn’t access the Interwebs with my phone and started to feel agitated. There was even a geography question that needed Googling while Groom-boy and I watched a movie.
Gasp! What to do? Look in an atlas?
They say that when you try doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result, it’s a sign of insanity. Still no Interwebs. Click. Still no Interwebs. Click….
Groom-boy intervened. “Put George away and try again in the morning.”
I backed away from the smartphone. George was fine the next day. Apparently he needs a holiday sometimes, like any employee, and I need to learn to unplug.
Maybe I should take up running….

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