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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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Technology

Staying in Touch

Are you old enough to remember a time with no computers? When I was a kid we talked with our friends on the telephone, but only if it was a local call. Now I have friends I communicate with more than once a week: in South Africa, Australia, Michigan, Bulgaria, North Dakota, and right here at home in western New York. We all pay a fee to use the internet which connects us as if we were right next door. Learning about how normal every day things are done differently because of global location is fascinating to me. Last week I had a glitch in my computer and I was having a fit about not being able to “talk” to my international friends. I guess I wouldn’t be a good candidate for one of those ‘month in a wilderness cabin for a lot of money promotions.’ Maybe if I could pre-plan it I could make it work, the money sounds good. I digress. Continue reading “Staying in Touch”

Music to Party By

On the day before gathering around the turkey, gather around the nearest jukebox to celebrate National Jukebox Day! The day before Thanksgiving is known as the best drinking day of the year (in my neck of the woods anyway.) Continue reading “Music to Party By”

Space Travel

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon’s surface and collected dirt and rocks to bring back to earth while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the mother ship. If you weren’t alive at the time, think about that for a minute. The event is called,  “…the single greatest technological achievement of all time.” Continue reading “Space Travel”

Print One for Me

It’s National Camera Day. When you live in the hometown of George Eastman you know how important cameras are. From taking snapshots with an actual camera and printing them, to making film for movie studios to use, all things photo related are common subjects on the news, in the paper and around the table. George Eastman, also known as “The Father of Photography,” did not invent the camera, but he did invent many additions that improved the use, ease, and production of it, making it widely available   around the world.

Just the other day the DJ’s on my favorite morning radio show were talking about when Fugi Film became available and how a local hid the fact they dared use something other than Kodak film. Kodak was a huge business when I was young. The employees started there right out of high school or college and stayed until they retired. The company was almost a cult in that anyone who worked for them also had most of their family time occupied by activities the company had for them. It was a way of life. Unfortunately technology has changed things. A lot of the buildings are gone, the company is small (in comparison) and often struggling, and the retirees have lost their health care. Sad.

This past Saturday my four-year old granddaughter stood next to me as we looked at pictures of her on my computer. She showed me which ones she liked best and her Mom said, “I haven’t seen these.” Sometimes technology isn’t a good thing. So few people have tangible photos anymore. I think I will get my color printer fired up and print eight pictures a year to make a photo album as a high school graduation gift for each of my grandchildren. I’ll also include pictures of our homes and pets, so in the future they will be able to share their lives with their grandchildren. It will be a way to keep the history of my family alive. And you can bet, I will use Kodak paper to print my photos on, but I will probably take the pictures with my phone. No wonder the day of the home use camera has come and gone.

Be On Time

It’s National Watch Day. I’ve always been a punctual person. I believe being on time is showing respect to yourself and others when you arrive at a destination, job, party, or whatever in a timely manner. I also feel people that are constantly late have a control problem. They don’t control themselves, thus they do control the others that are waiting for them. Rude!

As a teenager, I can remember going out in the back yard with my girlfriends during the summer sunshine, beach towels, cokes, and a transistor radio in tow. We would take our watches off so as to not get a white wrist band from them while we soaked in the sun. We would check them every so often to make sure we turned over so we didn’t get too much sun all at once on just one side. The watch was always placed under one corner of the towel. I don’t remember our reasoning that it had to be covered.

When cell phones became the in thing, I gave up my watch because I could always “pull out my phone.” Everyone was doing it. I have recently realized that action can be conceived as rude. Yesterday during a talk at a museum, both my husband and step-son pulled out their phones and started looking up baseball and golf scores. I thought it very disrespectful to the speaker, but have to admit, if mine had vibrated, I would have pulled it out too. Our phone addictions might not be so bad if they helped us be on time.

Watches are coming back in style, and can be chosen to show off your own personality. Of course doctors and nurses have always worn them. I know a few people that have recently gotten new watches, because let’s face it, pulling that phone out is not always convenient (especially when driving) and sometimes just plain rude. I think I need to get myself a new watch to wear, especially when in public.

Text Me

It’s National Telephone Day. The telephone was introduced at the World’s Fair in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 10, 1876. In the crowded Machinery Hall a man’s voice was transmitted from a small horn and carried out through a speaker to the audience. One year later, the White House installed its first phone. The telephone revolution began.

Bell Telephone Company was founded on July 9, 1877, and the first public telephone lines were installed from Boston to Sommerville, Massachusetts the same year.  By the end of the decade, there were nearly 50,000 phones in the United States.  In May of 1967, the 1 millionth telephone was installed. [Courtesy National Day of Calendar]

And now, the landline numbers are dwindling and the cell phone has become the reigning king of communication, game playing, child soother and camera. What is the world coming to? We can even look at each other while we talk. I’m not sure the new technology, especially the game playing, is a good thing. I only say that because we tend to look at our gadgets, rather that the human we are with. Yes, I am guilty.

Recently, due to weather problems, cell phone service was knocked out in the locale my sister lives. Her neighbor had an old rotary phone in the basement that had been her fathers. She took that up and plugged it into the still existing wall plug and voila, they had phone service.  Her grandchildren had never seen a rotary phone so were entranced. They went to school and told their friends. Now it is part of every family gathering to have the privilege of using that phone to call someone. My how times have changed.

I think we take our ability to communicate with each other, no matter how near or far, for granted. It has certainly made the world a smaller place and so much less mysterious. People don’t dream of what it would be like to move west, or sail the ocean because they can watch videos about it on their phone. We don’t check the mail each day in hopes of news from our cousin in another state, we just text them. The telephone has evolved into more than just a form of communication. It’s a hand-held entertainment center with both good and not so good aspects for the human’s daily life.

 

 

Natural or Human

It’s National Big Wind Day. This day commemorates the recording of the highest natural wind gust measured on the Earth’s surface. On the afternoon of April 12, 1934, the Mount Washington Observatory recorded winds at 231 miles per hour. Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6,288 ft, and it is the most prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River.

I can’t imagine the wind blowing at 231 miles an hour. We recently had a wind storm in western New York state that took down lots of trees and power lines and the strongest wind gust was 101 miles an hour. Some people were without power for five days until they got all the lines back up. I think electricity and power is something we currently take for granted in our daily lives. We turn the light on and it works. We boot the computer and communicate with the world any way we choose. It has made the world a smaller place.

I live in an area where windmills have become common scenery. When they were first being erected there was a lot of discourse about whether they were a good thing or not. Some people thought they would ruin the landscape. Personally, I like to sit and watch them turn. I find it mesmerizing and peaceful. There is one I can watch from my sisters kitchen window. We have found it can be noisy and it doesn’t kill birds like people said it would. I haven’t learned about how much energy it creates and if it is performing as they expected.

Another type of wind is human natural gas. You know the type, the sound you try not to make when anyone is around. When my grandson was little, and staying the night with us, he was in one room and one of us (I won’t divulge which grandparent) was in the other room when a “big wind” was let loose. My grandson, in his childish voice exclaimed, “Wow,” as if it were a two syllable word. Now, when a loud noise happens, we emulate the way he spoke that day and marvel at the innocence of youth wishing we all still younger.

Big wind can be defined different ways. My conclusion is that the type that brings relief to the body, and the one that makes energy to run out daily lives are good ones, but too strong a wind outside, can be destructive. May you not have to deal with a destructive big wind.

So this is National Clean Out Your Computer Day. I thought, yeah, they will give me instructions as to “how” to do it. Not to be. The calendar says delete old files, put things in folders, delete duplicate information and old apps not being used. I understand that would be a good thing to do, but alas, I don’t know how to do it.

I recently attended a couple of sessions of a Word Press Meet-Up group. I had heard they could help me learn how to use Word Press to my advantage. Unfortunately I ran into the same thing. They talked about all the neat things one can do with Word Press, that’s the program I am using to write my blog, but they never got into the how of things. When they did get close, the speakers were using so many initial terms I had no idea what meant, I got frustrated. I did ask a guy I was sitting next to where I could learn the how and he told me You-Tube. I need to schedule a time to attempt that feat.

I like writing, but it isn’t super easy for me. When I hit a question or unknown of how to use the computer to get to where I want to go, instead of trying to find an answer, I give up and return to my sewing room where things are easy for me. I still make mistakes in my quilting, mostly because I have convinced myself I know exactly what I’m doing when sometimes I don’t, but I can easily and quickly come up with a finished product for someone to snuggle under.

Maybe what I need in my life is an extra teenager that will be patient with me and walk me through the steps of cleaning out old files. I’m sure my computer would appreciate being less burdened.

Talking to the World

Back in the 1970’s when I was an Air Force wife, I got out my typewriter, used white paper with carbon paper in-between and wrote letters home; or should I say typed. Recently my husband came home from work and told me about one of the young admins that had never seen a typewriter. REALLY! It wasn’t that long ago! Or, is it in the realm of technology?

Today I sit at my computer, write a few words, and share them with the whole world. Amazing! Think about how our elders complained about rising hemlines and the changes in music. I wonder what they would say about the advances in technology? Sometimes I can’t even keep up with it. And we don’t even have to write, we pull out our smart phone and ask Siri. I do think we are losing human interaction along the way, but we sure can find the answers to almost any question when we want. (I miss browsing in the encyclopedias.)

It’s fun to talk to the world and have them talk back. I follow blogs written by people in foreign countries that I will never get to visit. I love to see the pictures they share, and enjoy learning about the different foods. It seems the common threads are we all like animals, nature, food and family.

Is technology power? I’m not sure about that. It certainly does make a difference. I have been saying for years, the way to hurt any advanced country is not with a bomb, but by turning off the power (electricity) for without it, very little happens. Think about that. How many daily functions do you do that are connected to electricity and technology. Kind of scary isn’t it. Oh well, I certainly don’t want to go back to the outhouse days…..giggle. I guess I’ll keep technology, enjoy what it allows me to do and say thank you to the people that make it all work.

 

 

 

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