Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Siri-usly Wondering

Unless you’re Amish my guess is that by now you’ve seen the commercials promising a happier, more informed life – led by Siri. A life where

  • Morons can enter Death Valley with an almost empty gas tank and then query their iPhone to find the closest fueling station

  • Women looking for an excuse to avoid romantic moments with their gorgeous male escort can feign an interest in locating constellations by asking Siri to reveal one (if they had any real interest in astronomy, they would know without asking Siri)

  • Couples who have been instructed by their marriage counselors to spend more time together can use Siri to schedule their spontaneous moments

My oldest son, who is not usually a fan of Apple – for reasons that are fodder for another blog, told me earlier this week that he is actually considering getting an iPhone, because of Siri. If there was a 12 step program for gadget junkies, he would be the organization’s poster child – always on the prowl for some new toy but jaded by the sheer volume of technological marvels that are now so plentiful and so cheap. Siri has captured his attention and he’s moving toward her, like a sailor lured by a siren – full speed ahead and to hell with the boulders! When he speaks about Siri, his tone holds the kind of awe and wonder that should be reserved for discussions about the wife that has given him six children. He can recount one Siri-spoken marvel after another, the way a bookie can tell you the odds on every horse in a major race.

One such recounting was about a gentleman who had, since childhood, made a game of contemplating the destinations of jets passing overhead. Siri can, upon request, provide that information. The gentleman reports that he can now stand in his own front yard, look up, and say something specific that roughly translates to “Siri, give me the destinations of planes overhead.” Siri processes his GPS location, taps into some governmental flight tracking database, and delivers the answer faster than the man can draw another breath. Many of us grew up having to rely on our parents to get us to the library, according to a pre-set plan, so that we could do the research we needed for school reports that were coming due. If you know what I’m talking about – those days where we measured wait time in days or weeks rather than nano or pico seconds - that kind of information delivered as an instantaneous response to a voiced question is magical indeed. And yet, when my son was recounting the anecdote to me, the phrase beating a repetitive refrain in my head was “just because we can doesn’t mean we should”.

I hope his new found ability to get an answer and get it so rapidly serves that gentleman well because it was purchased with the magic of gazing into the sky and simply wondering or imagining where those jets might be taking their passengers. Is that REALLY a better life?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Blog About Nothing

If you’re one of the 8 or 10 people that read this blog, you may have noticed that I took a bit of a hiatus. Very shortly after I posted the last blog, a series of events occurred where I rediscovered that perception is NOT reality and that I really needed to start paying more attention to my BS-ometer.

My BS-ometer is legendary in my family. My oldest son has long been in awe of my ability to detect BS almost immediately upon hearing it. He now stands in awe of the person who managed to escape it for such an extended period of time. What can I say? I’m getting older – something had to slip first. The good thing about what happened is that I discovered, in the person that was able to fool so many for such an incredible length of time, a true talent for storytelling. I’m talking about the kind of talent that could garner serious literary awards if it is properly nurtured and explored. Of course, that takes work and committment so we'll just have to see if that person is willing to make the effort. The downside is that it will be DECADES – if ever – before I automatically assume that what issues from the mouth of this person, from comments about the weather to current state of life, is the truth and not some fantasy fabricated to relieve boredom and combat self-esteem issues. My BS-ometer may be permanently broken since the mere presence of this person makes the lights flash and the alarms ring.

Anyway, during the time I spent NOT blogging, I’ve been on several journeys of self discovery, trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. The blog was on the back burner while I was trying to figure all of that out because it was my plan to turn this into a themed blog – I just needed to find my theme. I only have time (and barely that) to maintain ONE blog so I needed to pick a single theme. What I’ve discovered is that the problem with doing a themed blog is that when I do too much of any one thing, I get really bored with it. The only two activities I’ve found that do not seem to be susceptible to waves of boredom are breathing and eating – not necessarily in that order.

So, this is going to be a blog like Seinfeld’s TV show. It will be a blog about nothing. Nothing other than what’s going through my mind at any particular moment in time. And that’s often nothing. On the days that it’s actually about something – I might even post some pictures to go with it.