Even Jesus Wants An iPad

14 11 2010

Approximately one day before I was officially hired at my job, the boss spontaneously decided to give the entire staff free iPads.  I was still technically a paid intern on that day, so I didn’t receive one, and it stung. BADLY.

Over the next couple of weeks, I sat in my desk pouting while every single person I share a table with made a huge to-do about his iPad, comparing apps, drawing little pictures of spiders with his draw tools and then passing the damn thing around to show everyone, talking about data plans, etc., and it was all I could do not to punch the whole staff in the face, one by one, for their egregious insensitivity toward my situation.

From that day forward, securing a free iPad became kind of symbolic for me.  It became the Holy Grail of legitimacy, or acceptance, or respect, or something.  Every time one of my co-workers whipped out his iPad to wave it around in my face, I imagined myself as Mel Gibson, riding my little horse around the office with a half-blue painted face talking about iPads and freedom in a bad Scottish accent until they all drummed up the motivation to fight for my rights as a new staffer.

And on Friday, it happened.  I was typing away, minding my own business, when a package was casually dropped onto my desk.  I ripped it open to confirm that it was, in fact, a free iPad, and that it was mine.  I was so elated that I made a little papoose for it out of my scarf and carried it around with me on my lunch breaks and bathroom breaks and to the water cooler.  If I could have spoon-fed it mashed avocados and burped it on my shoulder, I would have.

It wasn’t until I finally got it home and sat it on my coffee table that I realized I had no clue what to do with it.  What are iPads even for?  I literally just stared at it for about 20 minutes, feeling guilty, like I had promised to entertain it or something and was horribly failing to do so.  So I dialed for back-up.

“Mom!” I said. “Guess what?!  I got a free iPad!”

“Ohhhh, I’m so jealous!” she said.

“Yea you are!  So wait, why are you jealous?”

“I want an iPad so badly!” she said.  “It’s like a bigger version of the iPhone that you can carry around in your purse, but you can’t call people on it.”

“OK. I don’t get why you would want a bigger phone that doesn’t call people,” I said.

“Well for people like me with bad eyes, it’s awesome.  Everything on the screen is just bigger!”

Is that what this is?  A super-sized iPhone for old people?  Because I’m actually quite pleased with my normal-sized iPhone that does call people.

I turned to my roommate for a second opinion.

“Jodi!” I said.  “I got a free iPad!!!”

“Woohoooooo!” she shouted.  “Have you downloaded Fruit Ninja?”


“Fruit Ninja– that game where the pieces of fruit fly up on the screen and you slice them with your finger!”

“Um. Ok. But for those of us who aren’t into slicing fruit on a screen,” I said, and then observed the look of profound sadness and confusion on her face. “Nevermind. I’ll download fruit ninja.”

I mentioned my free iPad to about 12 other people that day, and all of them nearly peed their pants over it in the middle of the street, but not one of them was able to give me a solid reason why I should be excited about it.

“You can draw things on it with your finger.”

Cool, I can draw on a piece of paper with a pen.  Next?

“You can store all your pictures and music on it!”

Cool, I already store all my pictures and music on my laptop. Is that seriously all you people can come up with?

So the Holy Grail sat in its little white box on my coffee table, untouched, all weekend.  I was a little dismayed about the whole situation until Sunday morning, when I was awakened at 8:30 am by a text message.  I rolled over, glanced at the text, and then dropped my iPhone face up on my chest as I dozed off again.

When I opened my eyes about ten minutes later, I noticed that there was some light streaming in from my window that was reflecting off the surface of my iPhone and making one of those little light spots on the ceiling that dogs and babies go nuts for.  I was lying perfectly still, but the light spot on the ceiling was jerking about an inch to the left every second or so, in tandem with my heartbeat.  My iPhone was resting on my chest, and every time the blood pulsed through my veins, it moved the phone ever so slightly, allowing me to actually watch my heartbeat projected on the ceiling.

What was cool about this, to me, was that the neatest thing I had ever seen my iPhone do had happened while it was turned off.  It was basic science: light reflecting and refracting, obviously, and that whole phenomenon (I don’t know what it’s called) where the tiniest movement happens in the center of a circle and it projects into a much larger movement around the circumference.  I’m geeking out here, but THE POINT IS, computers are still just physical objects, subject to all the rules of the universe, even when they can do things like throw bananas up on the screen and let you slice them with your finger.  So my plan is to think of all the exciting things my free iPad and I can do together that don’t necessitate him being powered on.

For instance, maybe I’ll slice real fruit on him when all my cutting boards are in the dishwasher.  Or I could use him as a tiny personal yoga mat, and if he wants to play some music while that happens, that’s his prerogative.  Maybe I’ll hang him on our doorknob and stick passive aggressive post-it notes on him for my roommates to find as they’re leaving the house.

…Or I could just give him as a Christmas present to a kid who really wants one, because the truth is, I don’t really have room in my polygamous marriage with my iPhone and Macbook to fall in love with another piece of useless technology.


Twitter Etiquette: Tweets vs. Twats

22 06 2010

I was very wary of Twitter when it first came out, because I perceived it to be a purified extraction of the worst aspect of Facebook:  the incessant, mundane, over-sharing wall update.

“Just flossed my teeth and brushed for four minutes with flouride! Take that, gum disease!”

“Everybody pray for my Grandma… she’s having a colonoscopy tomorrow morning. :-(”

Gross. Nobody cares.  So I avoided Twitter like the plague until I was 5 months into unemployment and started seeing it under “required skills” on job postings:  Must be well-versed in social media–we will look for active Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn accounts!

I desperately needed a job, so I sucked it up and decided to conquer Twitter.  Now it’s an every day part of my existence, and I have discovered the many ways it can be useful outside of “I just wiped with 5 squares of toilet paper” kinds of tweets, which I will hereon refer to as “twats.”

I honestly think that Twitter would be a much nicer place if everyone understood the difference between tweets and twats. A tweet is a useful, funny, information-sharing post.  For instance, I am following political blogger/columnist Ezra Klein on Twitter, and his tweets are usually snoozefests.  But yesterday, right around the end of the day when I had ceased to be productive, he tweeted:

“Unlike the KFC Double Down, this guy’s got all the calories you’d expect: http://bit.ly/900ONA“.

I clicked on it, and it was a fabulous article about a cheeseburger with 2 grilled cheese sandwiches for buns that totally made my day and sparked an energetic office conversation about ridiculous foods.  That was a legitimate tweet because it actually improved people’s lives for a few minutes.

Similarly, Wall Street Journal tweeted this morning:

“Google is preparing to roll out a music download service tied to its search engine later this year http://on.wsj.com/daH2WO.”

Neat, we all know something new now.

Another example of a good tweet is one that isn’t necessarily useful or informative, but is at least universally appealing.  Even if it’s not laugh out loud funny, it refreshes and entertains people for a minute. Actor Russell Brand tweeted this morning:

“I’m in Ireland!  I’m snogging the Liffey, I’m caressing the castle and I can’t tell you what I’m gonna do to the Blarney stone.”

Cool, Russell Brand’s in Ireland, and he announced it in cool and mildly funny way.  My life is not worse for having read that, it just moves on.

Now onto the twats.  A classic twat is either boring, wildly inappropriate, self-promoting, a public “love-tweet” to another person (ahem Ashton and Demi), or has a picture of oneself (probably taken by their own laptop) attached.

Twat examples:

Angie Jackson live-tweeted (or live-twatted) her abortion and miscarriage on Twitter.  Inappropriate.

Paula Adbul twatted:  “But everyone’s armpits are in my face & I can’t see! Lol! Just kidding! :))) xoxoP www.PaulaAbdul.com.”  Dumb, pointless, self-promoting, too many emoticons.

Mark Shurtleff, Utah’s attorney general, twatted his approval for Gardner to receive death by firing squad last week: “I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner’s execution. May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims.”  ….Wildly inappropriate!

And a girl I barely know who went to U.Va. used to post twats like, “I love it when I wake up to a sweet e-mail from my boyfriend!”  While I’m sure she’s a great person, I am not “following” her anymore, because her twats gave me cavities. And probably hepatitis, or something.

The good news is that you can easily remove all the twatters from your “follow” list so they can’t take a poop on your life every day with their mundane updates.  But if everyone would just make an effort to understand the difference between tweets and twats and ONLY publish the former, Twitter could improve from 50% cool to 99% cool.  I’m just sayin’.

Feed the Idiot Box

10 06 2010

Speaking of morbid obesity, do you 9-to-6’ers ever worry about what it does to your health when you have to sit in a chair staring at a computer screen for 9 hours a day?  It just seems so unnatural, especially on days like this when it’s sunny and beautiful outside.  I can just feel the pancake-butt coming on, and I don’t like it.

Adding to my paranoia, I just read an article in the New York Post yesterday about how pro video gamers– who stare at a screen for 10 hours a day, a mere one hour longer than I do– have the fitness level of 60-year-old chain smokers.  And of course there is this disturbing video of a kid whose mom cancelled his World of Warcraft account:

This kid represents the extreme, but I think there are many teenagers who aren’t too far off from the point where they would simulate sodomy on themselves with a remote control after being cut off from a computer game.  I worry that our society is becoming soft, not just physically, but psychologically.  We are so used to having our entertainment in a box and our air-conditioned cars and rooms that we are losing sight of what’s really good about life.

You know that rush you feel when you go to the beach and spend the entire day in the sun, wearing yourself out in the salt water and getting your bathing suit full of sand and baking your skin, and then coming back into the condo/hotel room/house completely dirty and parched and starving? It’s the best feeling ever, and most of us only get to experience it like once a year on vacation.  Sometimes I wonder what the hell I’m doing working in an office when I could be a deckhand on a sailboat in St. Lucia, not caring about my career goals or gym membership or Comcast bill.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  What are the benefits of commuting to an office every day, coming home to watch TV or run on a treadmill and then doing it again?

Seriously, can anyone answer that?  I need a pep talk.

Come Here, Let Me Ultrasound Your Balls.

12 05 2010

Great news for women: University of North Carolina experts believe a blast of ultrasound to the testes can safely stop sperm production for six months.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding their research, which could produce the first safe, effective form of male birth control on the market.

Now, I know many men are going to read this and think, Oh hell no. Even the ability to be infertile for six months isn’t worth a doctor “blasting” anything at my testes.  But you know what?  I think it would be kinda nice for the burden of birth control to fall on men for a change.  Many of us have to take a pill every day that makes some of our lady parts non-functional, and those pills are not only expensive, but they can have a wide range of side effects.  Maybe we could set up some sort of a system where we rotate– you blast the sperm out of your balls for 6 months, and in return, we will take the pill for the next 6 months.  Sound good?

My only problem with this whole sperm-blasting ultrasound idea is that, in my imagination, sperm + radiation = two-headed, eight-limbed babies.  And who wants to be a guinea pig for a study like that?

I nominate Tiger Woods.

Are Computers Ruining Our Lives?

7 05 2010

This man probably has testicle cancer.

I read an article in the UK Telegraph a couple days ago entitled “Women Blame Blackberrys and iPhones for Poor Sex Life,” about the issue of modern internet-phones distracting people’s husbands in the bedroom.  I mean, Blackberrys and iPhones are definitely taking a little away from relationship intimacy these days, but I think it’s silly to blame it on the men.  Men, stop checking your Blackberrys while your little lady waits in vain for your full attention!  No.  Women are just as guilty of this– but it is becoming a problem.

I know that I get really annoyed when I am in a conversation with someone or at dinner or sitting around a living room drinking wine and they check their email on their phone– I find it insulting and worrisome.  Really?  Am I boring you so much that you would rather see what’s going on on the little screen on your phone then focus on this conversation?  Then I get all nostalgic for the days when people would sit around on their porches, talking, drinking, knitting, churning butter, whatever it was they did, without any form of cell phone or computerized distraction.  Once the conversation dispersed, people would go home and read their books for entertainment.  Seems much healthier than the way things are now, doesn’t it? Not to mention much more romantic.

Unfortunately, I’m just as guilty of the computer addiction.  I sit at work all day staring at a computer screen, wishing I were outside enjoying the beautiful Spring weather.  Then lunch break happens, and as I step out the building, I call my mom.  Then the work day ends, I get on the bus and start playing Boggle or Scrabble on my iPhone to pass the time on the ride home.  I get home, plug my computer back in, and check it and my iPhone periodically thoughout the night to see if I got any more emails, to see what the weather’s gonna be like tomorrow, to make flight reservations, to search for adoptable dogs, to check out my fourth grade teacher’s new pictures on Facebook.  What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I be content to sit in a park with my book and a blanket?

I find it alarming, and I think internet addiction is going to be the next alcoholism.  I think we’re going to have to be really careful to coach our kids to spend at least as much time doing actual physical activities and bonding with people in person as they do texting, gchatting and playing video games.  It’s bad for our mental health as well as our physical health– we don’t know what kinds of cancers we’re exposing ourselves to through laptops and phones and the whole wireless environment.  I actually just googled “man cancer testicles laptop,” and the first three links that came up were all the same panicked question: “Will resting a laptop on my lap cause testicle cancer?!”

What’s funny and ironic about this is that this man is so worried about the connection between laptops and testicle cancer that he probably put his laptop on his lap to type in that question.  The internet may be slowly killing us, so let’s get on the internet to find out all the ways that can happen!

I’m not sure what to do about the impending cancer, but I think at least the intimacy issue can be solved if we just sit down with our friends and significant others every once in a while and say, “Tonight we’re gonna ditch our phones and computers and just enjoy hanging out with each other.”  Maybe we could go for a walk and leave the phone at home, or just put it on silent once we get home from work so we’re not tempted to check it every time we hear a text or email come through.  We may never return to the days of churning butter on the porch, but at least we can try to unplug ourselves for a couple hours a night.  Right??

You Are Entering The Twilight Zone.

12 04 2010

So I had a real 2010 moment this weekend that kind of freaked me out.

A couple weeks ago, the bottom of one of the drawers of my crappy IKEA dresser dropped out.  Ever since, I’ve been living partially out of a suitcase in my own room, which is a little ridiculous.  I finally got fed up with this situation on Friday and went online to find a new dresser.  Under the “furniture” section on Craig’s List, I spotted a listing for a solid wood 6-drawer dresser with a dark cherry finish and gold handles, nearly new, $90.  Boom.  So I e-mailed the girl, “I’d like to buy your dresser. When can I come pick it up?”

She got back to me in under 3 minutes.  “Sold– you can come pick it up anytime on Sunday.  Here is my address: xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx.”

I wrote back, “Great, I’ll come around 1pm and bring cash.”  Donezo.

Sunday arrives, I buy a bottled water at the grocery store so that I can use the “cash back” option to pull out $90 in cash sans crippling ATM fee (borderline genius), and I drive out to her place to make the exchange.  As I’m dragging my shiny new real-person dresser down the hall, feeling pretty proud of myself for the ease with which I have executed this business transaction, the lady says, “Oh, by the way.  After we exchanged a few e-mails you made it into my contact list, so I clicked the link on your g-chat status.  I love your blog– I’m totally hooked on it.”

I almost dropped the dresser on my foot.  “What? Whoa, thanks,” I said, running over my recent blog posts in my mind, trying to mentally comb through all the personal details this (lovely) stranger now knows about me.  I mean, I understand that when you write a blog, people you’ve never met are bound to eventually read it.  But I’m rarely in a position where I am standing face to face with someone I’ve never met before, have zero friends in common with and know nothing about at all, who can probably recite the story about my recent embarrassing experience with yoga or my terrible first date.  It was surreal.

So yes, I’m sorry I bored you with that mundane story, but you have to admit– it’s kind of weird how, via this online transaction, I found myself in this random woman’s bedroom purchasing her used dresser and talking to her about what is essentially my online diary.

Have you guys ever had a freaky-deaky new millennium technology moment?

Internet Smackdown: Online Dating vs. Porn

26 03 2010

Some of the facts in this internet dating study posted by OnlineSchools.com are really, um, interesting.

Do I believe that the online dating industry, which combs in over a billion dollars per year, is bigger than the porn industry? No.  Not even close. I don’t think the porn industry can even be measured it’s so big.  Really interesting, though, that the porn industry blames its recent $74 million decline on the online dating industry.  Hm, should I look at porn today, or should I fill out a 400 question compatibility survey and seek out a lifelong mate?  Only have time for one! …No.  The porn industry is losing money for the same reason the newspaper industry is– free content.

Am I surprised that men lie about their incomes while women lie about their bodies?  No.  But it’s really sad what that says about gender relations.

Is it infuriating that a woman’s online desirability “peaks at age 21,” and that by age 48, men have twice as many online pursuers as women?  Yes.  It’s kind of sick that men see women as having an expiration date.  But I’m not really surprised about that either.

My favorite statistic: eHarmony boasts that  236 of its members are married each day.  But have they ever counted how many of their members get molested each day by the 1 out of 10 sex offenders using their site?

I doubt it.