E-Views: Switching on and off is our responsibility

Feb. 16, 2011

Ahh, those halcyon days when quality time meant calling the babysitter or grammy to watch over the kids while mommy and daddy went out on a date to gaze into each other's eyes over dinner, only to recall what it was like to be free of responsibility.

Or, sacrificing several appointments on your calendar in order to spend quality time with one of your children since you have five or six of them and can't remember their names; let alone the fact that you've forgotten to engage in real conversation with them.

Some might ask, "Well, with all this communications technology on the rise, we're engaged in constant communication. So, what's the big worry?"

High technology is mesmerizing. It is sensational and attractive. We just can't let it go.

It exercises the sensory portion of our brains that appeals to us as much as staring at fireworks, hearing ocean sounds, smelling bread, tasting sweets or touching bubble wrap.

High technology seems to appeal to all the senses. Are we hedonistic?

As much as we want to believe that high technology will foster connection, we might be gravely wrong. It's the word "connection" that we want to address.

Since we humans seem to favor fast over slow, these connections seem to be much faster (and more abundant) these days. Since our brains are becoming more accustomed to faster, and more, connections, the other brain portions are not being worked.

As Kenzie Yoshimura so aptly states in E-Views (Jan. 19), "The same technology … that allows us to keep up with the world is also what is ironically leading us farther away from the people in it."

As our other brain portions aren't being tweaked, we're forgetting about the countless advantages of slowing down. We're forgetting about quality time again because we're so caught up in all of it that we're forgetting to call the babysitter or grammy or stopping anything in order to take a deep breath.

We're forgetting to tweak a basic need for intimacy; that simple moment it takes to gaze into someone's eyes. That simple second it takes to connect with someone at a deeper level other than sensory.

As technological advances "will only add to the growing void in how we relate to one another," it is our responsibility to realize that we have the power to turn off our sensory switches in order to accommodate our emotional switches.

Now that it's the 21st century, perhaps our quality time can be defined as temporarily nixing all sophisticated equipment in order to be free of responsibility. In order to have more face-to-face time. Now, THAT'S a hot date.

Mary Jane Heppe lives in Hood River. She owns one iPhone and one Mac. "Both are avoided/turned off/not on the table when I want a real conversation."

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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