Thursday, September 26, 2013

Technology and Human Relationships

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend about three hours of education week at BYU. It was really awesome; there were amazing and valuable insights that are helping my family (mostly by me doing things differently, and better) that I gained during that short time.

One teacher told a story about his son, who was a freshman in high school, and what happened when he got his first cell phone. The son did well the first month, but the second month he used WAY too many texts. Instead of giving him a rule, saying "You need to not use more than this many", the father gave him a principle: texting is for information, not relationships. It took a couple of months for the son to really apply the principle (during which time, and after a warning, the dad took away the phone for a week), but soon the son was able to evaluate his own use of the phone and make more responsible decisions about it.

Side note: I had one friend point out that for her teenage daughter, since the daughter and all her friends have now split apart to attend different schools, texting is the way that they can maintain their friendships. I think that there is great validity to this point.

I've thought a lot about the idea that some of the technology we have is for information, not relationships. To me, this highlights the greatest weakness of "social media": I can put information out there, but I"m not sure who is receiving it or how they are reacting. The connection - that relationship building part of the experience - is missing.

There are quite a few blogs that I really love reading. I am really happy that I am now writing my own blog. (For anyone who reads this on facebook, contact me for the address!) But in both the reading and the writing, I find myself uncertain: Am I connecting with you, my readers? How do you feel about what I am writing? What is your reaction? To some extent, these connections can be made through comments... but that is really like having a conversation in a large room full of people, many of whom you may not even know are there. Depth of conversation and shared experience are simply not the same in this context.

And so, I am beginning to conclude that I want something slightly different. I absolutely still want to read blogs, and I definitely want to keep writing my own; but I want something more than that. I want to email friends, or call them, to reply to what they have posted. Rather than just internet stalking people by reading and never replying (which, admittedly, has been my preference for many years - and  there are some great reasons to do this!), I want to have dialogue with those whose experiences I am exploring through their writing. When I see them again, I don't want to have that awkward feeling when they tell me what's been going on in their life, and I know all about it but they don't know I know all about it.... Instead, I want them to know that I know at least a little of how it's going, I've been following along in their adventures, and I understand a little of what they've been going through or I've celebrated with them or I once had a similar experience or I hope to have that experience someday... When I see them, I want to already have actively been building our relationship, so that our friendship is strong and we can move forward in that shared communication, rather than the one-way comments that are sent off into cyberspace in both directions, and yet the connection is never made.

What do you think? Is anyone reading this? Have you contemplated this at all, and what have you concluded? I welcome comments, emails, phone calls, in-person conversations, and any other means of communication you want to share with me to truly converse, and to maintain and build our relationship.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Spud Day!

This last weekend, I took my dad and my son and drove to Shelly, Idaho for Spud Day! (My husband and daughter had other commitments both Friday and Saturday, and couldn't come.)

We stayed Friday night in Ogden with some friends.

I'm grateful we didn't do the entire drive both ways on Saturday. As it was, we didn't get to Shelley until about noon. I was worried we wouldn't get there in time for my son to participate in the spud picking contest, but we made it with about half an hour to spare.

My grandfather was the "world champion spud picker" for many years, and various uncles and cousins have taken the title more years than not (including both the men's and women's titles this year). My son has never harvested potatoes in his life, but he did pretty well anyway!

My son is on the left in the tie dye t-shirt; the guy in the purple shirt with the microphone was a "total biker dude" - really, there's no better way to describe it - and he was calling for the competition

(If I can figure out how to get video off the video camera and onto the internet, I'll post a bit of the women's world championship potato picking contest, which was won by a 2nd or 3rd cousin of mine by picking 400 lbs of potatoes in 4 minutes and 10 seconds. The men's champion was her older brother, who picked 500 lbs of potatoes in about 4 min 50 seconds.)

After that we checked out some of the booths, like this giant colon from Grand Teton Gastrointerology:

Papa (my dad) inside a giant colon which described various gastrointestinal diseases with text and images

(Most of the booths were far more traditional than this - I just wanted to include this because I thought it was hilarious.) We also got to try Mexican Roasted Corn and funnel cake.

While we were there, my dad suggested we should go back every decade or so; I have to agree! The last time I went, I was seven years old. Next time, though, I hope we remember sunscreen.

On the way back we stopped to see my grandparent's graves, and we got to visit with two of my dad's five surviving brothers. Monday morning my dad called me from my sister's house just to tell me thanks for taking him. It was close to 11 pm before we got home, and the next day was difficult because I was so exhausted, but I am so glad we went. There's no question it was worth the effort.

Volunteer Sunflower

We had a GIANT volunteer sunflower grow right by our front porch.

It was probably about 7-8 feet tall, except that the flower was so heavy it hung up-side-down. Even bent over, the plant was taller than me.

One day as we drove in, there was a little blue bird on the sidewalk flying up to it and eating the seeds one at a time. Unfortunately, he stopped before we could get any pictures.

Last night my husband decided it was time to harvest it. He cut the flower, followed instructions online, and now we have delicious fresh roasted organic home grown sunflower seeds!

Many of the seeds are empty; we saved about 20 of them in hopes of planting them next year, and I hope some of what we saved are not empty and let us repeat this awesomeness!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hairy Legs

My 10 yr old son asked me today about hairy legs; specifically, he wanted to know who shaves their legs and why. I was a little distracted, reading something at that moment... so I thought briefly, and said something about smooth legs being culturally acceptable on women where we live (i.e. in the US) because they are considered sexually attractive.

My son immediately got up to go back to what he was supposed to be doing (practicing his cello) and on his way out the door, said, "I think I'll keep my hairy legs."

Those moments when you had no idea what your kids were thinking.... 

I had to agree that it seemed like a good idea.

9/12/13 - Post edited to change "Harry" to "Hairy" after my husband pointed it out to me - I have to either blame the fact that I've always been a terrible speller, or else too much Harry Potter, or else pregnancy brain, or else all three...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Curse of the Rosin Eating Zombies from Outer Space

Curse of the Rosin Eating Zombies from Outer Space

My daughter, who is in the eighth grade, is in orchestra. She has an awesome teacher, as is evidenced by this piece that she is playing for their October concert: