Tuesday, October 26, 2010

End of an (Technology) Era...

I read in yesterday’s news that Sony has ceased production of their once popular ‘Walkman’ cassette player. Like most people who grew up in the 80’s, I had one. It was white with purple buttons and served me well. It never wore out, so I ended up selling it in a garage sale.

Fast forward twenty years or so and the I-Pod has replaced the Walkman as the compact music player of choice. My almost ten year old niece may or may not have ever seen a Walkman, but she’s going to get an I-Pod touch for Christmas, which (as most people know) is about two thirds the size of a Walkman, but much slimmer and sleeker, and sexier to be completely honest. I am almost jealous, but know that I could have one if I really wanted to.

Thinking back to what I had (gadget-wise) when I was her age, it’s almost laughable. When I was nine years old I got my first tape recorder for Christmas, a 12” x 5” one or two pound monstrosity that I absolutely fell in love with and carried everywhere. To General Electric’s credit the tape recorder was so well-made that it’s still fully functioning today, over thirty years later.

I also had a 110 camera that was a ninth birthday present if I remember correctly. It was a great starter camera because not only was it literally point and shoot, it had film cartridges. There’s nothing easier than drop-in loading.

A co-worker of the same age said she once had a clock radio that she was really excited about. Another co-worker said he had an 8 track player with a radio (it was round and orange) and a Mattel handheld football game (red lights were the football players).

If you go back even further to our parent’s day, among the things they had were: transistor radios, reel-to-reel players, 8 track tape players and phonographs (which go back even further to the days when they were called Victrolas).

It’s interesting to imagine what technology our children’s children will have someday as things gradually get smaller and more powerful.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Year Long Projects

I’m not sure when my love affair with year long projects began. Perhaps it was inspired by reading all of Danny Wallace’s books, particularly Yes Man, when he decides he’s going to say ‘Yes’ to everything for a year and see how it works out for him. As it turns out, it was mostly a good experience for him. Anyway, I digress…

Perhaps my interest came from watching reality TV (shows like “Frontier House,” “1920’s House,” “1940’s House,” etc.) where the participants had to stick it out for the duration of the show and it wasn’t always pretty.

All I know is I especially love reading about people who decide to better themselves by taking on a year-long project and writing about their progress in a blog and maybe a book later.

My five favorites are: Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine; Julie and Julia by Julie Powell; No Impact Man by Colin Beavan; On a Dollar a Day: One Couple’s Unexpected Adventures in Eating in America by Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard; and Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant.

Each certainly had their points and their struggles covering everything from food to product consumption to simply living your best life. Of course they all learned a lot from their experiments and came out as better people afterwards. However, that’s not what inspired me, but rather the spirit of the project, having a goal and purpose and sharing it with others. I especially appreciate that some of the authors above also had day jobs (especially Julie Powell), but still managed to find time to stick to it and keep a log at the same time.

Even though I’m really no different than any of these people, I’m just not sure I could commit to doing anything day after day for a year. After all, I don’t live life in a vacuum. Things come up (“Life is what happens when you make other plans”), and my husband is only so patient and probably wouldn’t appreciate me staying up extra late to complete the day’s assignment if that’s what it took to get it done.

Plus, I’m not even sure what kind of a project I’d like to do. I tend to have lots of great ideas, some I even start to execute, but then eventually fizzle as I lose interest. Perhaps I could dedicate a year to actually following through on some of these things. I’ll get back to you on that…

Friday, October 8, 2010

Things that have recently made me laugh....

Last week's episode of "Top Gear." Jeremy Clarkson, the tallest member of the trio that currently host the popular BBC car show, was doing a segment where he had to drive a Reliant (3-wheeled car) from point A to B somewhere in Britain. Although it was a relatively short distance, due to the instability of the car and the fact that Jeremy likes to take corners rather fast, he kept tipping over (and lucky for him local celebrities always seemed to be around to push his car back over). Since he never got hurt, it was all in good fun and laugh out loud funny.

Last night's episode of "Big Bang Theory." Mayim Bialik was hilarious playing Sheldon's new 'not girlfriend' that Penny nicknamed "Shamey." Even funnier was when Leonard called Sheldon's mom, played by the always funny Laurie Metcalf (of "Roseanne" fame). She's probably my favorite guest star on that show (right after Wil Wheaton of course!)

One of my co-workers telling me that they were making up a rumour about another co-worker losing all his money in Vegas and trying to hitch a ride home. Even though this was a most unlikely scenario, I could still picture it playing out, and I admit it brought a smile to my face.