Friday, October 11, 2013

High Tech

Every now and then I clean out my Word files and find forgotten fragments or completed pieces I didn't post. Here's one from April, 2013. 

I followed a bus home this morning with this advertisement on the back: “ANSWER YOUR DOOR WITH YOUR CELL PHONE.” I thought: Is this the epitome of laziness? Are we no longer expected to bother going to the door to peep out or greet someone in person?

When I first noticed the ad, I pictured the homeowner deciding from the couch whether to “unlock external device” remotely with his phone, but perhaps this gimmick is designed to be used away from home. After all, a traveler can now start a car parked in the airport lot before she gets off the plane. I suppose we could answer our door from the doctor’s office or a bar, too, but why would we?

Maybe I’m missing some vital point. The photo in the ad showed a man waiting outside an entry door. I can understand wanting to know who is ringing the doorbell, even if you don’t live in a questionable neighborhood or haven’t been victimized in the past. I live in a safe area, but I keep my doors locked whether or not I am home.

If answering your door is the stupidest use of a cell phone yet, then checking in at the airport while you are still at home is the most ridiculous use of the Internet. You can go online and check in to avoid those pesky lines at the terminal, and I’m sure many people do it; but, as Tina Turner said near the beginning of “Proud Mary,” “There’s just one thing.” You aren’t there.

How do you know you won’t get a flat tire on the way to the airport, end up by the side of the road wailing for help like the GEICO Gecko, and miss your flight? You don’t.

I do try to keep up with technology, but we all have to make choices. For me it makes sense to ignore some high-tech applications. If you ring my doorbell, I'll still answer it in person. 

Fall Cleaning

By now my collection of stuffed bats should be populating the living and dining rooms. The candlesticks with the spider webs should be decorating the mantle, and my framed picture of “Father Devlin” from The Ghoulish Gallery should be displayed where visitors can watch the somber priest turn into a screaming vampire.

I’m slightly behind schedule.

My collection, built around the theme of my Dracula memoir, is most suitable for Halloween. In the beginning I kept “everybody” in my office. Black bats, a carved Dracula, my little doll of Christopher Lee as the Count, an evil eye from Turkey, Father Devlin, and others surrounded me while I worked. A few years ago I ran out of room and had to put most of my little friends in storage. In October they get to take over the house for a few weeks. I hang the little ones from my dining-room chandelier and put the rest on the tables and chairs.

And, because I skipped spring cleaning, fall cleaning is strongly indicated as a preliminary step. The signals are all there; for instance, every autumn as I track in and out, small fallen leaves from the locust tree out front blow in and settle on my carpets. When I look down, chances are good that I’ll think at least one is a bug. That’s a perfect incentive to vacuum.

This is the weekend.

I started yesterday, but instead of starting in the rooms people would see, I sat on the bedroom floor and de-cluttered a few of my dresser drawers. It’s very important, you know, to divide travel gadgets into backpacking and non- and to separate non-latex bandages from the regular kind in one’s medical kit.

Before I went to Romania, I bought a “healthy traveler" kit online in anticipation of--well, if you know me at all, you can fill in that blank: in anticipation of every possible ailment short of a vampire bite. The kit was filled with little packets of pills, every label unfamiliar. Luckily the names were decoded on a sheet of cardboard included with the medications, but every now and then I have to go back in and sort through the pile and organize it. Oh, yes. It wouldn’t do to pop a couple Alcalak when what you really need is Decorel Forte.

You can see why I didn’t vacuum.

I hope to be able to report in a few days that I’ve decorated for Halloween. That would indicate an absence of autumn leaves as well, although I have so many that I could sprinkle them along the mantle instead, the way people do with Christmas greens. Happy October!