Living Outside the Screen


Spell Check Hazards
September 26, 2012, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Funny, Work | Tags: ,

Got an email from a senior colleague this evening: “Are you stoned?”

“Huh?” I replied.

“Whoops.” he replied, “Spell check changed atoned to stoned.”

Today was Yom Kippur.

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Where Does it End?

I realize most people don’t feel as strongly about this stuff as I do, but where does it end?

We know doctors and nurses are people too, and so even they can’t resist the lure of the screen either.  They are texting during brain surgery, spinal surgery, intubation, stuff like that.  That’s not CRAZY at all.  Want to know more?  Read the NYTimes article.

Seriously, when is this going to get under control?



I Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up
November 30, 2011, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Funny, Kids, Life

Yesterday, we got an email from my daughter’s 1st grade teachers…titled “Technology Mishap (1001-5)”…who knew there were so many?

Dear Parents,

In our teaching we are applying more and more opportunities to use technology in the classroom. We have found many websites, apps and videos to use when instructing science, phonics and mathematical skills.  Before we introduce any video or game online we try our best to review them carefully.

Today in our math lesson we had a technology mishap.  After showing video stories on subtraction using Sesame Street, we unfortunately played a subtraction song that surprised us with an inappropriate word.  We turned off the computer immediately and stressed to the students it was a mistake an inappropriate.  We also reinforced that cursing is not allowed and that we would apologize to the parents.

Our sincere apologies,



Happiness is Spending Time with Girlfriends
October 26, 2011, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Mission

I’m finally getting around to reading The Happiness Project (by Gretchen Rubin), about a year of living the research on happiness.  In a nutshell, it’s similar to what I set out to do (but she actually worked at it, while I big-time blew it.)

Anyway, she spent a year trying out all the happiness theories by setting  goals around a new theme each month.  For example, January was Energy – so more sleep, more exercise, less clutter.  February was love, as in nurturing relationships.  For more on her happiness theories without reading her book, see Rubin’s Happiness Blog.

Here’s the best part – it turns out that universally (for both men and women) feelings of intimacy are acquired by spending time
with women.  That’s right, time spent with men is basically a net wash, a waste, useless in terms of combatting loneliness.  And I quote “the most
reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women.  Time spent with men doesn’t make a difference.”

So forget the every 2 week thing, which I hopelessly failed at anyway. I’m now just going to spend less time with my husband and see how that
helps my level of joy.



Teched up Schools
September 4, 2011, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Kids, Research on Negative Mental Impact

When we looked for a daycare for the older one, we chose a place withOUT computers.

When we looked for a good public school district, we toured many places that touted “smartboards”.  The one time I saw one being used, here’s what I saw…  A class of 2nd graders bouncing around their seats while a guest speaker fiddled with the technology.  (Coincidentally, or not, at my old company, we wasted way too much time dealing with projector issues at every meeting at work, even though we used the same system for years.  In the new company, I’m the only fool who even uses slides.)  I asked one principle what they use smartboards for – he babbled incoherently.  We ended up picking a school district that has them sequestered off to the side, not really utilized, and a computer class just once a week.

We finally bought an iPad at home, which the kids picked up within an hour.  It was not a lengthy learning process.  Reading was.

The NY Times this Sunday featured a story called “In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores“.  A school in Arizona is inundating the day with technology, using the teacher as a “guide” rather than an “lecturer”, while students take themselves through their learning experience “at their own pace”.  Standardized tests scores have fallen behind their peers.

In general, the accumulation of laptops, smartboards, computer classes and such comes with an opportunity cost.  It comes with a diversion of funds and time from things like music, art, textbooks.  We don’t often think about opportunity costs when it comes to technology in the classroom, but we need to remember that school budgets (and hours) are an absolute number.  Putting computers in the classroom means putting less of something else in, and diverting time away from the creative subjects that have shaped American students’ one competitive advantage in the global economy – creative thinking.



The Not So Far-off Future
August 16, 2011, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I slogged through half a novel a few months back on a business trip (back when I used to take those).  It’s called “Super Sad True Love Story”, and it’s about the ridiculousness of the future, among other things (love).

Here’s what Gary Shteyngart makes fun of.  In the future:

– No one can spell

– Everyone lives by their apparat (BB, iPhone, etc)

– People virtual shop together

– The US economy is pegged to the yuan

– People “verbal” on a rare occassion

– Staten Island is the new Brooklyn

Doesn’t seem so unlikely?



Email Charter to End the Spiral
July 17, 2011, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Email

Pretty good advice here – check out the email charter from the curator of TED talks.  10 rules for email etiquette to end the email spiral.  The central tenent is that the sender should spend more time composing so the reader can spend less time reading.  (If I had more time, I’d send you a shorter letter.)

A former boss and insomniac used to send me emails all night long with long attachments and subject lines like “Maybe we can do something with this…” or “Thoughts?”  Now that I’m in a new job, I realize how crazy that was.   Thoughts are for romantic teenagers.

I’d also like to add my own pet peeve to the list – “Use correct spelling and grammar.”  Poor grammar automatically discredits the sender.  Spellcheck is built in to programs for a reason.  Again, spend a bit more time on your end to save time on mine.