E-views: Modern Samurai or techno-chained?

March 5, 2011

It seems that as fast as I gain speed and comfort in my e-technology management, I will always trail behind (in this order) my daughters and my husband.

It's not that I am wary or reticent to participate in the wired world. Rather, it's just a fact of nature that youth and gender offer a bit of an advantage to my in-family competitors.

I'll mention, briefly and with some embarrassment, the speed and skill with which my two daughters can text, Facebook message and tweet, sometimes simultaneously. They are like secular whirling dervishes when it comes to abbreviations and YouTube links.

However worried I am by this questionable prowess, I am most profoundly challenged to see the way in which my (similarly aged) husband has embraced all aspects of technology tool utilization.

It came home to me acutely as we recently passed through the security line at Portland International Airport.

My husband, looking much like a modern-day Samurai, began removing his electronic warrior's armor piece by piece, placing each item - laptop, cell phone, iPod, digital camera, chargers, ear buds and pager - ceremoniously into the scanning tubs.

Following his successful pass through the latest security scanners (with explicit body imaging!) it took him a full 5 minutes to reposition his gear, aligning each piece for optimal speed of handling.

Here, I noted to myself, is where the years spent pretending to be a wild-west gun-fighter or Star Wars light-saber-wielding rebel have paid off.

Sitting there, waiting for him to reconstruct his world-proofing techno-belt, I was struck, somewhat profoundly, by a memory from our shared marital past. The contrasting images hit me like a cold splash of water.

My husband and I were six months into our marriage. We were traveling to Mexico to serve in a medical mission for a few weeks. We carried with us on our trip, nothing more than our two half-empty backpacks.

We began our travels by walking from a parking lot directly onto a tarmac, with only our travel agent issued tickets in hand for proof of legitimacy to board.

We had no phones, no laptops, no portable music and no idea of the up-to-the minute political or economic realities of the place we were heading to.

Shockingly, we didn't even think we needed any of those things.

We were headed out to experience the larger world, and to serve. We brought with us only our hearts, hands, minds and spirits.

Perhaps, untroubled by bombarding electronic inputs and free to rely strictly on ourselves, we were a simpler kind of warrior.

No, that's not quite correct. We were in fact, not warriors at all - just average young people with the desire to make the world a little kinder, the innocence to believe it possible and the unfettered freedom to pursue that dream.

I wonder if my children, and theirs, will ever feel that blissful, empowering kind of naïve self-reliance I once did, not so long ago.

Or will they, with hypnotic, lightening speed connections surrounding every waking moment, end up strapped down in their sleep like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians?

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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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