Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Just Tell Me What to Do...

I stopped to talk to a friend about the Magic Jack phone today after my workout.  I know that sounds very trendy, but I go as often as I can every weekday morning to a new, small physical therapy unit opened in our small town.  It has a dozen exercise machines and fitness options and a small pool for water therapy and water aerobics.  For a minimal monthly fee I can go work out and get in the pool and relax in front of water jets and still exercise without feeling like I'm really working at it.  It has become my lifesaver this winter, literally.

My friend had mentioned having this Magic Jack and I wanted to pick her brain about how well she liked it.  In this advent of everything techno in our lives and every child, 5 years or older having their own cell phone, I often feel hopelessly out of it.  Of course, with all of this advancing technology is the rather hefty price tag.  The younger generations seem to shrug this off as just part of daily living but a $100 a month bill for satellite television for 400 channels, only an eighth of which I actually use, seems out of kilter to my rural, economizing, German background, somehow.  I am learning that if I would only pay attention to all those infomercials on tv, there is a world of people who feel exactly as I do and they are constantly inventing ways for me to get ahead of this rat race at only $19.99, and they'll throw in whatever will enhance the experience for free.  I usually disregard all of these, but the Magic Jack I had seen and it was recommended by my computer "guy", and coming from him I took notice.  We now own two cell phones and paying over $50 a month for our land line in addition to the cell phones, just doesn't make sense.  I could give up the land line and that seemed the course of action, but it is the number I use for everything when a phone number must be given.  It is the number I have had for 35 years, (yes, I've lived in this house all of my married life, how weird is that), and I've become sentimentally and some would say, stupidly, attached to it.  One of the hooks for the new Magic Jack phone was that you could port your old land line telephone number over to the Magic Jack and then cancel the service.  The Magic Jack runs off the internet.  I was all set to order this wonder from Amazon and then I started reading the reviews of it.  There were over a hundred reviews and roughly fifty per cent were unfavorable.  Many cited difficulty of porting the number over and the cost to do so and because everything is done online there is no "real" person you can talk to for technical support, even if that tech support sounds suspiciously like they are coming from Bangladesh. 

So there I was inquiring of my friend how she liked  the Magic Jack.  They had had it two years and she was well satisfied with it, but a caveat, her husband is retired and very computer nerdy...   I greatly admire how they live comfortably with many of the new technologies but adapted to fit a useful lifestyle, not just having them to have them and spending hours playing on Facebook on your $200 smart phone.  As we talked, she laughed and said, "If someone would just tell me what to do".    Ding, ding, ding.  Ain't it the truth.  The older I get and the more supposedly wise, the more I just wish someone would tell me what to do.  Everyone says, "research it on the Web", and if you are doing trivial pursuit of some kind, the web can be very helpful, but it doesn't tell me practically how to make life's great decisions.  They may not be life's great decisions, but they seem to clog up my airwaves with noise clutter and I just wish someone would hand me, "The Guide to Get You Through Life".   Many would say its already there, and if I only pay attention I will get it. 

I have been reading books on the Amish.  They know from early childhood on what their daily roles are.  As they grow the genders assume roles pertinent to their age and bearing within the family.  While it sounds monotonous and hopelessly boring to many, it is saved in all of these things by the faithful commitment to God and family, the Amish exhibit.  They are happiest in their family and the community.  There is a sense of belonging and knowing who you are that I wish often I had.  Too often I feel like I'm dog paddling in a circle.  I get to see 360 degrees, but I'm sure not going anywhere or learning anything.

We use cookbooks to learn to cook.  Many of us like to free style in our cooking or just know recipes from making them for so long, we are pretty much assured of the outcome.  We learn to read and then can't remember when we didn't know how.  We learned the simple jobs that were once part of our existence and know how to rectify disasters and break downs.  But technology has left many of us in the dust.  It has moved so much faster, I all too often, feel like those salmon trying to swim upstream.  We have cellphones, ipads, laptops, net books, high def. televisions and video streaming.  We may know how to adapt many of these things to our daily living, at least my kids do, but what if they have a techno glitch?   It goes back to the place of purchase or they go online and hope for advice in customer support.  You can call and talk to the a fore mentioned, tech support out of Pakistan, which I have done in the past and is not a pleasant experience, or you can try to avoid as much of the new technology as possible.  It often seems the best alternative, but once hooked on the newest smart phone or ipad, there is no going back.  I could no more go back to dial up with my computer after having high speed, than I could go back to black and white television after having color and not just color but now high definition color.  Where does it all end?  That's the scary, million dollar question and sometimes I just wish some one would tell me what to do....

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