Trust Issues

Last week I was in the check-out lane at the grocery store, paying for my items in cash. The young man who was the cashier told me I owed $21.78, so I handed him a twenty and a five-dollar bill.  Normally the amount of change I would get back would come up on the computer screen for both of us to see, but he must have entered the wrong amount because according to the screen, I still owed him money.  Quite a lot of money, as a matter of fact.

“No problem.  I’ll figure out your change on this,” he said, whipping out his cell phone and pulling up his calculator app.  He tapped his phone’s screen a few times and then reached into his cash drawer and handed me $4.76.  I’m notoriously bad at math, but even I knew that $25.00 minus $21.78 doesn’t come to $4.76.

“I don’t think that’s right,” I told him.

“Sure it is,” he said.  And held out his phone to me as proof.  “See?”

And sure enough, it did say $4.76 on his screen.  But all that meant was that he had keyed in the wrong amount (again).  I was beginning to think that perhaps being a grocery store cashier was not the ideal job for this particular person.

But the more I thought about it, the more I believed that the real problem wasn’t his habit of hitting the wrong keys when typing in numbers.  The problem was that it never occurred to him to question the accuracy of the information provided by one of his devices. And that got me wondering about how often the rest of us accept whatever facts we get from our devices, instantly and without questions.

Like most people, if I want to find the answer to something quickly and easily, I just “Google it.”  And whatever answer Google comes up with, I believe.  Others, who are more up to date in their devices may also ask “Siri” or “Alexa.”  But honestly, how in the world do we know that Siri and Alexa know what they are talking about?

When home computers first became popular, we were often reminded that they are only as accurate as the information that is programmed into them.  And sometimes technology malfunctions, as anyone who has gotten hopelessly lost following incorrect GPS directions knows all too well.  I admit that I have no idea how Siri or Alexa actually work, or even how Google sifts through thousands of websites to decide which ones show up first on my screen.  But I think it’s a good idea to remember that no technology is infallible, “exhibit A” being Auto-correct and the way it can mangle the simplest of text messages.

Last month I was in Florida with a friend who wanted to hit the beach at low tide because that’s the prime time to find the best shells.  She Googled it, and found that low tide was going to be at 1:30 that afternoon.  At exactly 1:30 we arrived at the beach with our high hopes and empty shelling bags.  And found ourselves staring at a beach that was experiencing what is commonly known as a high tide.  We managed to find some decent shells, but I’m still thinking that someone needs to teach Google a thing or two about the Florida tide cycles.  Or next time, maybe I’ll play it safe and just ask one of the locals.

The Age of Technology

My days are filled with reminders that I am no longer young.  I wake up each morning with stiff and aching joints.  I can’t apply make-up without the help of a magnifying mirror, which is annoying because the magnifying mirror also does a terrific job of revealing every single wrinkle on my face.  (When I use a regular mirror I only notice my sagging chin and eye bags, but I found out the hard way that it’s not a good idea to apply mascara when you can’t actually see your eyelashes.)  I am reminded daily that I have nowhere near the strength or stamina I had even ten years ago.  One way or another, it is impossible for me to forget that I am getting old. And while I may not especially like it, I do accept it.

But accepting the fact that I am, shall we say, “a woman of a certain age” doesn’t mean that I enjoy being treated as if the fact that I am old also means I am incompetent and stupid.  Which is why I tend to get just a bit crabby when either my computer or my smart phone decides to act up and I am stuck with the daunting task of trying to get it fixed.

I’m not the sort of person who panics the minute something goes wrong.  I always try to identify the problem and look up ways to fix it before I finally (and reluctantly) ask for help.  And I put off asking for help because I know that as soon as I do, I will be told by someone half my age that the problem must be that I am doing something wrong.  Because if someone who looks like me (see above reference to sags, bags and wrinkles) is having a problem with her technology, the problem has to be that she isn’t bright enough to work it properly.  It can’t possibly be the fault of the computer, the smart phone, or the I-Pad, etc.

I once spent an hour with an employee at a cell-phone store who kept telling me that the problem I was explaining simply couldn’t exist.  Politely but persistently, I assured him it did.  (We old people can be stubborn.)  And even when, after exhausting all other possible explanations, he finally realized that I was telling the truth, he didn’t actually acknowledge I was right.  He just fiddled with my phone some more and handed it back to me, assuring me that it was now working just fine.  And then then went to “help” the next customer.

I know I’m not a whiz at technology, and that I was born back in the days when phones were rotary, televisions were black and white, and there was no such thing as a personal computer.  None of this comes naturally to me.  But I have learned how to operate a smart phone, publish a blog on the internet, and even send a decent text message as long as I remember to put on my reading glasses before I begin typing.  So I think I have earned the right to at least be given the benefit of the doubt when I say that something on my computer or phone isn’t working properly.

DSC01665There’s so much more I could say on this subject, but I don’t have the time.  My 87-year old mother is having problems opening her emails, and I have to go over to her house and figure out just what she is doing wrong…..

 

No Longer In Service

DSC00209I lost track of my cell phone last Friday morning and I haven’t seen it since.  I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I think I left it in the bathroom at the animal shelter when I was changing clothes after finishing my dog-walking shift.  But whatever happened, my phone didn’t come home with me and I didn’t realize it was missing until Friday night.

Naturally, I was panic-stricken.  That phone had all my contact numbers, my texts and a whole lot of pictures.  I wasn’t sure exactly what kind of havoc someone could wreak with a stolen cell phone, but I imagined all sorts of scenarios ranging from hacked emails to identity theft.  The fact that I had my cell protected by a pass code was a small comfort, but I figured a truly dedicated thief could crack that code eventually.

It didn’t help when I tried to call my service provider to report my phone stolen or missing only to have an automated voice tell me that my account password was incorrect. After three tries, the voice offered to reset my password and send it to my phone.  And while I’m sure whoever stole my phone would appreciate that very much, I personally didn’t think it was such a good idea.

Eventually I got a real live person on the phone and he graciously walked me through the process of turning off my old phone and ordering a new one which I could pick up on Saturday afternoon.  In the end, I was only without a cell phone for less than twenty-four hours, and I even got to keep my old phone number.

Looking back on the whole thing, I’m kind of embarrassed.  Not just because I managed to lose my phone in the exact same bathroom where I had dropped my previous cell phone in the toilet when it fell out of my coat pocket.  (Although I have sworn that I’m never going to use that particular bathroom again, since it seems to be very unlucky, cell phone-wise.)  What I was most embarrassed about was how worked up I got about losing a phone.

When cell phones first came out, I thought they were convenient for making calls while I was away from home, but I vowed that I would never be one of those people who are glued to their phone.  I remember rolling my eyes at a particularly pushy salesman who told me that my cell phone would become the most important thing I owned.  Yet here I was, a few years later, panicking just because my phone was gone.

Yes, it had my texts, my photos and my contacts on it, but I was able to recover most of those from back-ups.  And it was worrying to know that some out-of-town friends who were dropping by on Saturday morning might be trying to get in touch with me, but they also had the numbers of our home phone and my husband’s cell.  Ultimately, the only real problem I encountered by losing my phone (aside from having to pay for a new one) was the mild inconvenience of not being able to easily and constantly communicate with all my family and friends.

I’m almost sixty years old, which means I have spent more years of my life not having a cell phone than having one.  And yet I have obviously managed to become far too dependent on this particular device, and I find that a little disturbing.  Maybe I need to “misplace” my phone every now and then just to remind myself that I really can get along without it. . . at least for a little while.

The Human Touch

I saw a segment on the news this morning about how most cars and trucks will be able to drive themselves in the near future. I’m not a fan of this idea, because my cynical little mind immediately starts to wonder what’s going to happen when those vehicles malfunction, but I’m sure I’ll manage to adapt when the time comes.  Unfortunately, the news segment didn’t just focus on cars and trucks.  I don’t remember the exact facts and figures, but the essence of the story was that most jobs that are now done by humans are going to be performed by machines (mostly robots) in the near future.  And that scared the heck out of me.

I can see the advantage of having robots do jobs that are mindlessly repetitive and hard on the human body, and I understand that machinery and technology allows goods to be produced much more quickly and cheaply than would ever be possible by depending solely on humans.  I get that there is a positive side to all these coming advances, I really do.  But I still have a hard time seeing a world where most of the work is done by robots as a good thing.

The most obvious problem is going to be the loss of jobs for millions of people.  When cars and trucks can drive themselves, who needs truck drivers or taxi drivers?  We already saw what happened when machines took over much of the work on assembly lines, and factories had massive layoffs.  And according to the news story, the job losses aren’t going to be limited to blue-collar workers.  Apparently, computers will be able to predict the rise and fall of the stock market more efficiently than a broker, and diagnose a disease more accurately than a doctor.  They are already creating stores that allow us to “check out” automatically through a phone app, thus removing the need for actual cashiers.  The list went on and on, but you get the picture.

Some experts believe that enough new jobs will be created to replace the ones that are lost, and I hope that’s true. (Although the job mentioned most was designing robots, and how soon will it be before robots are designing new robots?)  Still, what bothers me most about this prediction isn’t the loss of jobs, it’s the loss of human contact that our increasing dependence on technology creates.

It seems to me that the more we rely on machines, the less we feel the need to actually interact with other people.  And that’s not a good thing, because dealing effectively with other people is an essential part of being a happy and whole person.  Interacting with others reminds us that we aren’t the center of the universe, that our needs aren’t the only ones that matter, and that our opinions aren’t the only ones that count.  Other people are the ones that reassure us when we are anxious, comfort us in our grief, share in our joy and in general provide the connections that make life worth living.

I honestly have no idea what the future will bring, other than the fact that we will see technological advances we can’t even dream of today.  But my hope is that this “brave new world” of ours will still value real people and real relationships, and allow us to lead lives that aren’t mostly isolated from each other.  Because I don’t want to live in a world without the “human touch.”

Reality Bytes

img_1906All I wanted to do was take a picture of a sunset.  I was at the beach with my family, watching the sun sink down into the ocean in a dazzling display of orange and yellow when I reached for my cell phone to snap a quick picture.  I clicked on the camera icon, focused the shot and pressed the button to take the picture.  But all I got was an obnoxious message saying that the phone couldn’t take the picture because I had used up all my storage available for photos.  Which meant that instead of enjoying nature’s glorious display, I became focused on trying to figure out what the heck was going on with my cell phone.

Taking the message at face value (a rookie mistake, I admit), I spent the next half hour or so deleting photos from my phone in order to free up space.  But when I was done and tried to take another photo, the same message came up.  Frustrated, I did what I usually do when I can’t figure out what is wrong with my phone:  I handed it to my son with the request that he identify, and fix, the problem immediately.  It took him less than a minute to realize that the problem wasn’t that I was storing too many pictures on my phone, the problem was that I was storing tons of music on it.  Which would have made so much more sense if I had actually ever downloaded music on my phone, but I haven’t.  At least not intentionally.

It turns out that whenever I plug my phone into my computer in order to transfer the photos to the computer, the computer is reciprocating by generously transferring all of the music it has stored on the I-tunes app onto my phone.  Who knew?  My son deleted the music, and my phone decided that it would, once again, allow me to take pictures.  And I was appropriately grateful until the next time I tried to load photos from my phone to my computer, and guess what?  That sneaky little computer tried to load it right back up with music.  I’m pretty sure I stopped it before too many songs crossed over, but I’m not certain.  Nor have I found the “delete” button that my son used to rid my phone of unwanted songs.

I know that I am far from the brightest bulb on the string, but the fact remains that the more technology advances, the dumber I feel.  It’s embarrassing to have to constantly ask my son what is wrong with my phone, or my computer, or my I-pad.  Especially when he tells me that he usually finds the answer to my question simply by Googling it, which is his way of implying that I ought to be able to figure these things out by myself.  And the sad truth is, I usually do try to figure things out by myself, and only turn to him when I find myself too frustrated and angry to think straight.

I know that technology has brought about wonderful advances in the fields of science, medicine and communication.  But I still wish that the formerly simple process of taking and storing photos hadn’t become so incredibly complicated.  Yes, it’s called a “smart phone.”  But does that really mean it needs to be so intent on making me feel stupid?

The Latest and Best?

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I feel distinctly out of step with the modern world.  I may only be fifty-eight years old, but often I feel as if I am already a relic of a past age,  often bewildered by how fast things are changing and wondering exactly where it all will end.  And although I appreciate the many advances our society has made, and I do enjoy the conveniences of certain aspects of modern technology, I also can’t help but think that some of technology’s latest offerings are just plain silly.  And more than a little bit annoying.

I have seen several commercials lately advertising new refrigerators that are actually equipped with cameras on the inside.  Apparently, it is possible to obtain an app for my phone that will allow me to see what’s inside my fridge by looking at my phone, although why I would want to do that, don’t ask me.  Yes, it could come in handy when I’m at the grocery store to see if the milk carton is almost empty.  But only if the milk isn’t hidden behind a big pitcher of lemonade.  Or, as is more likely in my case, a large bottle of wine.  Do the cameras rotate, allowing us to see all possible angles, including the bag of moldy cheddar in the cheese drawer?  Do they zoom in so I can read the sell-by date on the sour cream?   It seems to me that it would be so much easier to simply check the fridge before I went to the store.

DSC00209My household is one of the few in America that still has a landline phone, without the benefit of caller ID, and I’m not ashamed to say that I actually like it (although I will get around to adding the caller ID eventually.)  It works even when our power is out, and I never have to remember to charge it, the way I do my cell phone.  And while I enjoy the convenience of my cell phone, I prefer to use it the “old-fashioned way” by using my hands, rather than my voice, to operate it.  I find it very annoying to listen to someone speaking their text message:  “We made it the cabin.  Period.  The weather is great. Exclamation point.  Hope the fish are biting.  Smiley face.”   Seriously?  That’s better than typing?

And then there’s that mechanical voice called Siri.  If they’re going to install robot voices on phones, they should at least have given us a choice of what kind of voice we wanted and how we wanted it to be respond to us.  Personally, I’d pick a deep male voice with an British accent that always referred to me as “my brilliant darling.”  Now that would be worth listening to.

I appreciate some of the new technologies for cars, like the reverse screen, but I read an article the other day that says they are working on a “smart windshield” that will actually display messages, including Facebook, across the bottom of it.  Apparently, someone out there feels that seeing the latest cute kitten video or photo of someone’s lunch is so important that it needs to be available to us even when we are driving our cars.  Or maybe they’re going to wait until the cars are actually driving themselves, which I’m also told is coming soon.

Is it just me, or do so many of these new “advances” seem intent on making it unnecessary for humans to do much of anything at all for ourselves?  We won’t have to know how to write, we’ll just speak to our screens, which we will use for everything:  banking, shopping, communicating, you name it.  We won’t need to learn to drive, we’ll just hop in, settle back and let our cars take us where they will, hoping they get us to the right destination .  And we won’t need to remember anything, we’ll just ask Siri.  Ditto for doing any kind of research.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when it really does make me long for “the good old days.”  Never have I felt so old…..

Broken Connections

DSC01566I have never thought of myself as a huge fan of technology.  I get annoyed at people who spend too much time staring at their tablets or cell phones; I prefer to shop at real stores rather than buy things off the internet, and according to my son, I have absolutely no understanding of what Wi-Fi is.  So I was a little surprised by just how much my life was disrupted recently when a storm that blew through town knocked out my cable and internet connection for over two days.

At first, I didn’t mind when I realized that the cable was out, meaning I couldn’t watch television or log on to the internet on my computer or phone.   For one thing, I was just grateful that our house had power, since so many of the homes and businesses in our area didn’t.  (Some lost their power for days, ours was out only for two hours.) And I kind of liked the unexpected break from technology, especially since it meant I had more time to do things like read a good book and tackle some of the chores that have been on my to-do list for a long time.  I never quite realized just how much time I wasted “surfing the net” until I suddenly couldn’t do it anymore.  And I may have lost my instant access to the news, but that meant that I was also less stressed and worried than I usually am when I actually know what’s going on in the world.

For a while, I was feeling a little smug about how well I was coping without my cable TV and my internet access.  But I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t very long before I was also feeling a bit anxious.  We had no service on Thursday, which is one of my usual days to publish a blog post.  I actually began to fret about not doing that, as though thousands of readers around the world were going to be logging onto my blog, only to be disappointed to find no new post.  Worse, I had no way of reading or commenting on the many blogs I follow, and worried that I might be offending my fellow bloggers by my absence.  (Because no one can possibly feel they have a successful blog unless they know I’m reading it, right?)  I’ve gone “off the grid” before, but I was always able to let people know ahead of time.

I was supposed to go out to eat with some friends, and  wanted to call the restaurant beforehand to make sure they had power. My first thought was to check their website to get the phone number.  Only I couldn’t do that with no internet, and I also couldn’t remember what I did with all my old phone books.  I needed to buy airline tickets for an upcoming trip, but I knew I didn’t have the patience to try to do that over the phone, since it seems that most airlines have exactly three customer service representatives answering their phones these days and calling them usually means waiting on hold for a day or two.  In short, I kept thinking of things I needed to do, and wanted to do, but no longer actually knew how to do without the help of the internet.

Which brought me to a rather startling realization.  I may not have any idea how my computer or cell phone actually works, and may believe that WiFi is something that exists solely to allow me to play solitaire on the internet, but I have become just as dependent upon technology as everyone else.  I like to think of myself as an old-fashioned sort who has a “take it or leave it” attitude towards technology, but that’s just a sham.  I never thought it could happen, but I’ve become addicted to the internet.  And as far as I know, there’s no twelve-step program to help me cope.

 

Too Much Information

Ann by TVI was born in 1958, which means I was raised during a time when information wasn’t as accessible as it is today.  Our household had one television with four channels, one radio, and one telephone which we all shared.  There was no internet, no personal computers, and no one had a cell phone with the ability to call, text, email, and both take and share photos.  We got our news from daily newspapers and nightly newscasts, and we stayed in touch with faraway friends and family mostly through letters, because long-distance phone calls were expensive.  By today’s standards, we lived very isolated lives.

These days, we are constantly besieged with information.  Thanks to the internet, cable  TV and smart phones, we know instantly about every world conflict, the most recent public health scare, the current political scandal, the latest terrorist threat, the newest environmental crisis, and a whole list of other problems guaranteed to cause us nonstop worry and stress.  We are besieged with images of starving children, violent battles, flooding or droughts, abused animals and angry politicians, just to name a few.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I respond by trying to tune all of it out and just focusing on my own personal business, almost as if all these issues didn’t exist.  It’s not that I believe that they’ll go away if I ignore them, it’s just that I often feel overwhelmed by all the problems and the knowledge that I can’t even begin to understand, much less solve, them all.  It’s depressing, and I don’t particularly like being depressed.

But I know that’s not the answer.  I want to live my life to the fullest, and I know I can’t do that if I allow myself to withdraw from the world.  I don’t want to be uninformed about important issues, because I know that ignorance is not always bliss, and sometimes it’s downright dangerous.  Pretending that the problems of the world don’t exist also means that I don’t do my part, however small, to help make things better.

The answer, I think, is making an intentional decision to filter the information I receive, and to make choices about how I react to it.  I don’t have to let anyone else determine what I need to know or how I need to think and feel.  Technology guarantees that I will always be exposed to more information than I can possibly process, let alone respond to, and that’s okay.  But it’s up to me to decide what I want to dwell on, which issues I want to act on, and which issues I don’t.

I know there will still be times when I long for the days of my youth, when information about all the world’s problems tended to be served up in small and manageable packages.  But those times are gone, for better or for worse, and I remind myself that I really can handle the information age I now live in.  It just a matter of knowing where to draw the line.

Please Enter Your Password

I just got back from my annual doctor’s appointment, where I got some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that they found no health issues, so if all goes well, I don’t have to darken their door for another year.  The bad news is they want me to sign up for their “online patient portal,” which they promise will allow me to access my medical records, ask questions, and make appointments quickly and easily.  Previously, doing any of that meant you had to actually call their office, go through their automated answering system and then be placed on hold until you grew old and died while waiting for an actual human being to come on the line.  I admit that I like the idea of never having to listen to an orchestra play the Rolling Stones’ song “Satisfaction” again, but I doubt that I’m going to sign up for the new system.  Because if I did sign up, I’d have to create yet another password, and I absolutely do not want to do that.

Even though I’ve resisted online banking and am one of the few people in this country who still prefers to go to an actual store to shop rather than sit in my pajamas in front of my computer and simply order stuff that someone else has to deliver to my door, I still have way more passwords than I can handle now.  It would be easy if I could just create one password for everything, but the experts warn against that.  They also warn us not to create passwords based on the names of our pets or children, our birthdays, or something so obvious as “my password.”  Which means that I can’t make a password out of anything I can possibly remember.

IMG_1082I’ve come up with my own system for “remembering” the passwords I have to use when I’m at home on my own computer.  I have a binder that I keep in my desk drawer, right under my computer monitor, clearly labeled, “Important Computer Passwords.”  My son, who does tech auditing for a living, has pointed out that there’s little sense in having passwords if I make it so convenient for everyone to find them.  But I think that if someone has taken the trouble to break into my home with the intention of accessing my computer accounts, the least I could do is make it convenient for them.  That way, they might not be so inclined to mess with my important stuff, like the profile on my Facebook page.

I have heard of online systems for storing and retrieving passwords, on what is called “the cloud.”  But I just don’t see how putting all of my passwords out in cyberspace is a good idea.  Aren’t the people who hack into websites also on cyberspace?  It seems to me that the idea of storing passwords on the cloud is riskier than having them in my notebook.  The chances of a hacker actually showing up at my house to look in my notebook are rather small, but I have already received several of the dreaded “security breach” notices from my credit card company, bank, and insurance company, who all insist on storing important information on the internet.  It seems to me that storing my passwords in cyberspace makes as much sense as me storing my Sunday roast in my dog’s supper dish and expecting her to ignore it.

So, for now, I will decline to join the system that lets me access my doctor’s office via cyberspace, at least until someone comes up with a way to keep that information safe without forcing me to create yet another password I have to worry about.  I know that makes me sound hopelessly old fashioned, and I probably am.  But I’d rather be on hold for thirty minutes than have to admit that, once again, I’ve forgotten my stupid password.

PS:  Many thanks to George, over at the excellent blog called The Off Key of Life, for the inspiration to write this post.

Unplugged

IMG_0083My favorite part of getting my hair done has always been the chance to sit quietly in the salon, reading magazines with absolutely no literary merit while I’m waiting for the color to set.  I don’t have to talk to anyone; I don’t have to remember a word I’m reading; I can just sit and relax for a good forty minutes or so in an oasis of self-centered tranquility, with the added bonus of knowing that by the time I leave, my grey roots will be nothing more than a bad memory. Unless, of course, I forget to turn my cell phone off.

Because when I leave my phone on, someone is sure to call or text, or I’ll hear the familiar ding that lets me know I have a new email, and instead of having my peaceful “me time,” I find myself compulsively checking my phone to see just who wants me to deal with what.  And, of course, answering those texts and emails, or making a mental note to return a call. (I refuse to be one of those people who holds loud, personal conversations on a cell phone in a public place.)

Similarly, almost every morning when I get up, no matter how much I’m rushing around to get out the door on time, I sit down in front of my computer and check my emails, my Facebook page and my blog page.  I answer the emails, reply to or “like” comments on Facebook, and answer any comments on my blog.  I’m not sure why I feel the need to do this at the start of my day, but it has become as much a part of my morning routine as the Diet Coke I drink every morning.  Sometimes what I read on the computer screen makes me smile and starts my day off on a positive note, but other days I read about problems and issues that are very stressful, and I find myself irritated and crabby before I’ve even had breakfast.

I struggle to find a balance between the instant (and constant) connectedness that our technology provides and my need to have some personal space, or a chance to pay attention to what, or who, is right in front of me.  I’m not going to lie, I like the way social media lets me communicate with old and faraway friends, and I get a kick out of seeing their photos and sharing memories.  I value the way I can so easily get in contact with my someone when I need to (remember the old days, when we had to find a pay phone if we wanted to call someone when we were out and about?) My cell phone also makes me feel safer, since I know I can always call for help in an emergency.

But that doesn’t mean I want to be available to other people all the time.  I don’t want someone calling or texting me when I’m out to dinner with my husband or friends, when I’m finally, after a long session at the Humane Society, sitting down to a very late lunch, or when I’m trying to concentrate on my writing.  I don’t need to know instantly how many people liked my latest Facebook post, or even how many people have read my most recent blog post.  And I hate the fact that I have to remind myself of that, each and every time I hear my phone ding, or notice that I have 12 unread emails on my computer.

Maybe it’s because I tend to be compulsive, or maybe it’s because I’m a worrier (I don’t want to ignore a true emergency), but I know that I have to figure out a better way to live with my digital connections.  I have to find that balance between communicating with others and finding the time I need just to live my life in the here and now.  I know that’s not going to happen over night, but I’m going to try to do better.  I have a hair appointment this Tuesday morning, and the minute I sit down in the stylist’s chair, I’m turning my cell phone off.  It’s not much, but it’s a start.