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  • Steve

    October 6, 2011

    I remember when I was 16, seeing the cover of some magazine that featured Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.  Actually I don’t really remember if Wozniak was on the cover or not, all I remember is thinking that Steve Jobs is really cute!   I also remember thinking, wow, he’s just a few years older than me, so young to be so rich and successful.  And then, “I wonder if he has a girlfriend…”

    Steve never became my real life boyfriend, but he’s always been my pretend techno-geek boyfriend.  I’ve always had a crush on him, I’ve always had a thang for smart geeky guys.

    Steve changed the world in many ways, not the least of which, he showed the world that geeks can be hot and that being a geek can be a cool thing.

    But the biggest way he changed the world is in how we communicate and stay connected, how we learn and how we process creativity.

    When the news broke yesterday that Steve Jobs had died, I read different reports on his life and what various people had to say about him. They talked about all he had accomplished and how he changed the world with his products.  And it’s true, because of the products he envisioned and brought to market, people can do more in less time, be more creative, share more, connect more, learn more.  I am one of those people.

    I’ve always been a big fan of the “i” products and recently splurged on an iPad2 for Sean and I.  We love it with a deep intensity and use it all the time.  I have loaded it up with educational games for him and photography and design apps for me and just all kinds of fun and cool stuff.

    Last night Sean and I went out for an early dinner at Chili’s.  He confiscated the cardboard coasters off several nearby tables so that we had a deck of about 20.  While we waited for our food we tried stacking the coasters in different configurations to see what kind of load-bearing structures we could make and how much weight they could bear.  Answer:  Triangle structures can bear the weight of a drinking straw – if you hold your breath and no one bumps the table. When we got bored with that, we divided up the coasters.  I asked him spelling and math questions and if he answered right, he got one of my cards; if he answered wrong, I took one of his cards.  Very low tech, but fun for geeky geeks like us and just a tad educational.  But most importantly, we were engaged.

    As Sean and I were playing our silly made-up coaster games, I noticed a mom and little girl in the booth across the way.  The mom was staring into her iPhone and the little girl was watching something on her iPad, both bathed in the glow of their devices, a separation of less than two feet, but worlds apart.  I am not making a judgment here, just an observation. I realize there are many many reasons why a mom might need to decompress and veg out and that I have no idea what she’s dealing with.  But I will say that AD and I have taken note of how often we see this when we go out, families out to eat together, but not together – silent and zombie-like, the face and spirit of each lit up by their personal device.

    I thought about Steve Jobs and how everyone is talking about how he changed the way we live for the better, that we are better connected than ever.  But, I have to wonder, if perhaps in other ways, we are not changed for the better, if our beloved devices are more of a wedge than a bridge, if we are not more connected than ever, but more disconnected than ever.

    What do you think?


    * * *
    Addendum:  Found this post along the same lines from Jon Acuff who writes Stuff Christians Like:


    My Cool Has Been Revoked

    April 12, 2007

    Owning an iPod may very well net you some cool. However be warned. The iPod giveth cool and the iPod taketh away.

    Recently, I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and get out for a little speed walk. So I put on my running shoes, clipped my iPod onto my waist band and I headed out down the jogging trail. I had my groove thang on and I was stepping lively to an old Michael Jackson song. Let’s dance! Let’s shout! Shout! Shake your body down to the growwwnd! I was pumping my arms and breathing hard and I might have even worked up a bead of sweat.

    I hadn’t gotten too far when in the distance I thought I saw someone I knew, so I raised my hand to wave. And this is where the iPod gods (igods?) decided to mess with me. I caught my hand on the cord and violently yanked one of the earbuds out of my ear. And in a manner that is not only uncanny, but defies science, the earbud went flying out in front of me. So I step it up a bit in an effort to catch the runaway earbud. And I’m reaching and grasping and bobbling it back and forth from hand to hand like a hot potato and I’m stepping longer and longer, but the ear bud won’t be caught.

    And then finally, under the power of gravity, it fell downward and caught between my legs. It wrapped around my thigh with astonishing centrifugal force and then unwrapped and spiraled around the other leg with my next step. So now I have one earbud in my ear and one between my legs. With every excruciatingly long step I take, my head is jerked sharply downward. And for reasons unknown to me, I can’t seem to stop walking like John Cleese.

    So I continue to speed walk, or I should probably say, speed trip. Like an out of control down hill skier, I’m bent over and lurching forward, tripping and tripping, yet not quite giving into falling. My strides are getting impossibly longer and more awkward as though I’m being yank along by an invisible string for the amusement of a giant cat. I am poetry in motion — bad bad coffeehouse poetry at 2am after an evening of cheap wine.

    At the same time I was trying with every muscle in my body not to fall, I was also praying that I would. That I could just fall and get it over with, crash to the ground and maybe even black out and not remember any of it. Maybe wake up with a handsome fireman bent over me checking my vitals.

    Finally, I give in and decide, what the hell, just fall already and be done with it. But no, I can’t even fall with any measure of cool. Just as I prepared to tuck and roll and my knees were mere inches from the pavement, I run into a spider’s web and start flailing and swatting and flapping at the invisible sticky. So then. Now I’m doing some bizarre version of the chicken dance.

    Now, remember at the beginning how I told you that I waved to someone I thought I knew? And how that unleashed the chain reaction of uncool? Well, then imagine for a moment, if you will, how this whole scene might have appeared from their perspective. Yet she bravely continued to walk towards me.

    Finally the iPod gods had had their fun with me and pulled the pins from the Antique Mommy voodoo doll. The world stopped spinning and I am finally able to right myself — just in time to see that the person I waved to? I don’t know her. I don’t even know her. And frankly, I’m relived to know that it wasn’t a neighbor who would start a rumor that Antique Mommy was drunk at 9am. She gives me a quick tight-lipped smile before averting her eyes, no doubt relieved to see that I wasn’t foaming at the mouth and hurries past me.

    I am a total spaztard and should not be allowed out in public with or without an iPod. My cool has been revoked. iPod taketh my cool away and has given it someone worthy. Someone who knows how to walk and wave at the same time.

    IPOD May or May Not Increase Cool Quotient and Rhythmic Abilities

    March 29, 2007

    The other day I decided that my clunky 1980s Sony Walkman with cassette player and AM/FM radio was seriously dragging down my cool quotient and that I should probably make the leap into the new millennium by purchasing an IPOD.

    Always one to be on the trailing edge of what’s hot, hip and happening, I didn’t really know what an IPOD was exactly. Only that it is some sort of personal music Walkman device. And if there is anything that will ratchet down your cool quotient, it’s using the phrase “Walkman device” in the year 2007.

    The Apple commercials left me with the impression that as soon as I bought an IPOD I would automatically become cool, as well as be able to dance in public like nobody’s business. And then maybe get cast in a Gap commercial or something. I may have inferred the Gap commercial part. But that possibility was appealing, you know, in case my blogging career doesn’t pan out and the Gap starts looking for uncool and out of shape 47-year-old women to dance in their ads.

    When I got to the electronics store, I put Sean in the cart and we went up and down the aisles looking for the IPODs. To me, everything in an electronics store looks the same — rows and rows of silver boxes and black carrying cases for the sliver boxes and then cables to plug into the silver boxes.

    After wandering the store for forty years, a sales boy took pity on me and led me into the land of IPOD where he began techno-evangelizing from the book of Apple. I was impressed because I didn’t know that 13-year-olds could even get jobs! And God bless his geeky little heart. My skinny, pimply, ill-clad, shampoo-challenged sales child, he was as smart and as sweet and as earnest as he could be. But we were not speaking the same language.

    I drifted in and out of consciousness while Sales Child painstakingly and thoroughly explained everything. Everything. Anyone. Including Steve Jobs. Ever. Wanted to know about IPODs. But was afraid to ask. I pretended to listen and tried not to yawn overtly. As I stood there watching him talk about gigs and megs and cylinders, I looked at Sean sitting in the cart and then I looked back at Sales Child. And then I realized that he probably wasn’t born a pimply geeky little Sales Child. No, he was probably a cute little boy at one time too. His mother probably still thinks he’s a cute little boy. And then it occurred to me that his mother is probably ten years younger than me. And has a tattoo. And she is probably on her second or third IPOD. And then that line of thinking became unpleasant so I went to my happy place until his lips stopped moving.

    Then finally! He stopped talking! Amen already! And like a good car salesman, he got around to the most important question of the day — what color would the little lady like?

    Maybe you’ve figured out by now that there is no real point to this post other than to report that I am the proud owner of a lime green IPOD. And I love it. Still waiting for my cool to kick in. In the meantime I’m practicing for my Gap audition. Just in case.