Tag Archives: technology

Sunday Afternoon Rainy Day Matinee’

Simon's Cat copyright Simon Tolfield UK

Simon’s Cat copyright Simon Tolfield UK

It’s a rainy September Sunday afternoon in Vancouver. The skies are a weird colour combination of lead grey and dull white clouds. The breeze is noticeably chilly, and the rain is hissing down loudly. There was even some thunder earlier today. We don’t get too many thunderstorms in southwestern BC; it’s a bit of a spectacle when they actually happen here.  I debated with myself about what kind of post I should write today. God knows there’s plenty of serious stuff I could comment about, but I’m always thinking about the balance I try to keep between serious topics and humourous ones. I don’t want to ignore the things that I think might matter to people. On the other hand, I want the blog to be enjoyable for my readers (Hi Mum!)

Today I’m going to keep things light. I was mucking about on Youtube recently, when I discovered an animated cat video.

Don’t run away! It’s not THAT kind of Youtube cat video!

There’s a British cartoonist named Simon Tolfield who has created some wonderfully clever animated videos called Simon’s Cat. How have I missed this guy? His videos are hilarious and spot-on. He absolutely nails the attitude and behaviours of cats I’m sure we all have known in our lives.

Our next feature for today’s rainy day matinee’ is a delightfully whimsical cartoon created in France by students from the Gobelins School of Graphic Arts. It’s called Pandore, and it’s based on the famous Greek myth of Pandora’s box.

The next feature is Disney’s beautifully poignant telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous tale The Little Match Girl that he wrote in 1845. It’s such a sad, yet sweet story that I sort of remember from my childhood. It strikes a strong chord in me today because the message in Andersen’s story is still very relevant to all of us in the 21st century. It reminds us all that ‘there but for the Grace of God go I‘. We must all do what we can for those who are desperately in need.

Speaking of the 21st century, our final feature for today’s matinee’ is a very clever cartoon called ‘Glued‘, created in 2012 by Israeli animation students from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. I think this piece speaks volumes about our obsession with technology.

I hope you enjoyed today’s Sunday afternoon matinee’. I thought it might be appropriate on a rainy September weekend 🙂

The Grumpy Ferret (Hey! Who ate all the popcorn?)

I Don’t Own a SmartPhone – And I Feel Fine!

I don’t own a smartphone. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. I have never owned one. I am free range and untethered 🙂 You would think that someone so technologically savvy would obviously be a proud owner of one of these little wireless digital darlings. After working 3 1/2 years at an Apple Store, I’m pretty darned familiar with iPhones and helping people to troubleshoot them (Your internet service isn’t working, you say? Were you using Airplane mode? What’s Airplane mode? Did you check your General Settings? You don’t know how to use General settings? Oh dear…). I mean, it just seems glaringly obvious that an Apple expert would own an iPhone!

I don’t own a smartphone. I don’t need a smartphone.

And do you know what? I’m perfectly fine without it.

I love not being plagued by e-mail, phone calls, or text messages. I like being consciously aware of my environment and what’s going on around me. I like listening to the wind, hearing birds sing, and watching the world go by. I like being able to take the time to think about things without being distracted by technology. Every time I read another report about how most North Americans own a smartphone, I consider it a personal badge of honour NOT to be one of the iLemmings!

I’m definitely not a communications hermit. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Exhibit A – this blog. I check my personal e-mail once in the morning, at noon, and late in the afternoon. I have voice mail on my LAND LINE phone. There’s the biggest lie perpetuated by the pompous little techie geeks and telecom snake oil salesmen. LAND LINES ARE NOT DYING. If you think for one moment that I’m going to give up my land line for wireless technologies that are easily disrupted by power outages, fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic fields, or from solar radiation, forget it. Here on the west coast, when the electricity goes out in a major storm, your land line still has power, so you can call for help.

I think too many people are overly reliant on smartphones. They’re becoming isolated from other people and the world around them. Wait a moment, I hear you protest. E-mail is communicating with other people. Texting is communicating with other people. Phone calls are communicating with other people. These statements are all true. But in all three instances, you’re communicating from a distance. You’re controlling the terms of the communication. You’re keeping the other person at arm’s length. You don’t see their emotional or physical reactions to you what you’re saying. I think that electronic text displayed on a small screen is devoid of context and sterilized of meaning. The very convenience of electronic communication makes direct physical presence seem unnecessary. But don’t take my word for it. Go online and you’ll see articles posted by angst-ridden 20 somethings who talk about the terror they feel of actually talking to someone FACE to FACE! I don’t know whether to laugh hysterically, or despair at what’s happening.

One of the biggest challenges I face as a writer is how to communicate the meaning of my words to you – the reader – over an electronic screen. Not only do I think about what I’m going to say, I also consider how I’m going to say it. The sad truth of the matter is most people don’t do this when sending e-mail or texting on their smartphones. I feel pretty safe saying that 99% of the time, people just stream words wirelessly without thinking about what they’re saying, or how the meaning will be interpreted by the person reading it.

A line has been crossed in this world when we spend more time communicating in isolation than actually being together. We’re social creatures that depend on each other for survival. What’s happening now in 21st century industrialized societies is that we’re increasingly isolating ourselves from each other because  information technology makes it terribly convenient. As I often point out to people, a smartphone is NOT a telephone. It’s a very powerful computer that also lets you make telephone calls. For a smartphone, phone calls are dead easy; they require very little technical power. It’s an extraordinarily powerful mobile computer that can perform all kinds of activities.

In my darker, satirical moments, sometimes I think it’s a pity that there are no 21st century predators prowling about to chow down on distracted human beings who plug up their ears and glue their eyes to the screen constantly. We could use a good culling.

 The Grumpy Ferret (There’s a dinosaur in our backyard)

Why Should I Care?

Smartphone addict

Smartphone Addicts http://www.englishblog.com

I think about things too much. It’s a curse. I’ve always been in interested about current events around the world, because I believe it’s important to be aware of what’s happening. As I’ve said before in other posts, we all live together on this one planet, so I think you need to have some knowledge of what’s going on. But the difficult thing is trying to discern what really matters from what’s banal, trivial, and unimportant. You see it happening every day with people and their smartphones. It’s my anecdotal observation that a great many people are doing very unimportant things with these incredibly complex devices. Do you really need to watch television while standing on the sidewalk? Do you really need to surf the web while trying to navigate your way through a busy train station? Do you really need to sit down beside me on the bus and have a god awful conversation with someone on your smartphone about the fact that you’re on the bus (and I’m resisting the urge to grab your phone from you and hurl it out the window because I’m forced to hear about your terribly bland life?) The smartphone gives people freedom of choice, but are they really making good choices? I don’t think they are – but that’s a topic for another post.

Without further ado, here’s a list of recent events that made me start asking this question:  Why should I care?

Starts channelling his frothing, rabid,

inner news talk radio personality

Why should I care if Toronto mayor Rob Ford was caught on video smoking crack cocaine?

I mean, really. He’s some morbidly obese, bull necked, Canadian redneck pinup boy who lives 3000 miles away from Vancouver. He’s Toronto’s problem, not mine.  Should we care if an elected politician of a major Canadian city may have drug and personal issues that affect his ability to serve its citizens? Hey, the mayor’s brother Doug Ford says the Globe and Mail and Toronto Sun newspaper reporters are all mindless jackals just looking to sell papers. They’re disgusting lowlifes who don’t have anything else to do. It’s all a spurious hatchet job with absolutely no basis in fact. I’m sure Doug Ford never really sold hashish in the 1980’s. Somebody is obviously lying. And the mayor’s former chief of staff was probably screwing up badly anyways – that’s why he was fired.

Why should I care?

Why should I care if Senator Mike Duffy’s $90,000 residential expense tab was paid off by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s now ex-chief of staff Nigel Wright?

I mean, who cares about politicians in Ottawa these days? Really. They get paid huge amounts of money to sit on their asses and congratulate themselves about how important they are to Canada. They don’t think about us, anyways. Why do we even bother electing MP’s to supposedly represent us? Isn’t that what most of us really think about federal politicians when we’re not trying to make a living so we can pay our bills, mortgages, and the kids’ education? What’s the big deal about some morbidly obese ex-TV news reporter with a greatly inflated sense of self who thought he deserved an extra $90,000 to cover his two homes? Does it really matter if ex-Chief of Staff Nigel Wright pitied the guy and generously cut him a cheque? After all, isn’t that what politicians do? Look after each other?  I’m sure Stephen Harper knew nothing about it at all – he’s just so darned busy micro-managing everything else in his government that I know he just couldn’t have known that his personally chosen right hand man was giving away money without his knowledge. It makes perfect sense – doesn’t it?

Why should I care?

Why should I care if 48% of BC voters didn’t cast a ballot in the May, 2013 provincial election?

Adrian Raeside Times Colonist

Adrian Raeside Times Colonist

I mean, come on! Why would anyone vote for those clowns? They don’t deserve our respect, do they? Just look at what they’ve done for BC in the last 12 years? Hey, did they do anything? They’re just businessmen who reward their friends with tax money because they can get away with it. And we all know the NDP are just a bunch of airy-fairy socialists who’ll spend us out of house and home. The Green Party are just tree hugging hipsters who haven’t a hope in hell of forming a government because global climate change is going to kill us all eventually. And the Conservatives are all closet American republicans in disguise who want to protect the wealthy and cut services from those people who are too lazy to go out there and become entrepreneurs. Besides, voting’s a pain. It takes too much time to vote. Voting Day is just a traffic jam. And advance voting days always happen when you’re doing other stuff. And you can’t be bothered to do an absentee ballot because it takes too much time. Besides, what difference does a vote make? Someone else will cover for me who thinks like I do. Not that any of these BC politicians will really represent my views, because they’re just in it for themselves.

Why should I care?

Why should I care if some mindless extremists hacked a guy to death in London, England?

UPI News Photo

UPI News Photo

Look. London is on the other side of the world from Vancouver. It’s not like someone is going to cut some guy’s head off at a Skytrain station. It couldn’t happen here, right? We don’t have Islamic extremists on the west coast. Those guys were just angry young men who got carried away. These things don’t happen all the time. Sure, they’re unnerving, and it’s too bad someone died, but that happens in Europe and Asia, where they’re closer to the Middle East. Besides, CSIS and the RCMP are on the case. They catch these fanatics before they act out. And that Boston bombing was all just Russian Chechen extremists. Al Qaeda’s dead as a terrorist organization, anyways. Canada hasn’t had bombings since the FLQ in the early 1970’s. And those were french separatist extremists.

Why should I care?

Yes, indeed. Why should we care – about what’s happening around us?

The Grumpy Ferret (Whose tongue was FIRMLY planted in cheek while writing this post!)