O Lord, You and I recall that announcers used to caution viewers, “Don’t touch that dial!” Now, we’re told, don’t use the wrong remote, hit that delete button or swipe that screen. Keep your voice down, or you’ll confuse Alexa or Siri or Roomba. OMG, it’s bad enough that technology confuses me. I’m supposed to worry about confusing technology?
One day, upon fetching the mail, my husband all but sounded a trumpet as he waved a letter. “Guess what?”
Turns out, he’d won 2021 Doctor of the Year. Not only did the company promise to laud his superior work in syndicated publications, they offered a website where he could obtain a beautiful plaque to commemorate his many accomplishments as a radiologist.
“And I thought you’d done family practice for 41 years.” I crossed my arms. “All this time, you’d been a radiologist? What else haven’t you told me?”
“I didn’t know I was a radiologist, either,” Hubby said. “How nice of them to remind me. Though I might remind them I retired in 2019. And that my name isn’t spelled “P-H-I-L-L-I-P-P.”
“Picky, picky,” I said. “Here, they bestow this incredible honor, and you fuss about silly details.”
After all, nobody has sent me an award. I can think of several I could win, hands down:
- The Technology Hates Me Award. I have no doubt I could win world honors.
- The Ultimate Spreader of Potato Chips on the Kitchen Floor Award.
- The Best Loser of All Important Items, including, but not limited to, purses, keys, IDs, visas, passports and passwords.
- The Ratty Bathrobe Award, granted only to those who display a special talent for anti-romance fashion.
When I protested my marginalization, Hubby agreed. “You should have taken first place in every category.”
“Darn right,” I sniffled. “You’d think they’d at least give me an honorable mention in Garage Crashing.”
Hubby said gently, “As much as I’d love for you to receive all you deserve, too many awards in this household might get expensive.”
“Yep.” He brought up www.dr.phillipp.awesome.radiologist.com. “Seems they want me to pay for my plaque.”
“Pay?” My cheapo gene shriveled. “For an award?”
“Yes. And I’m not the only lucky winner in the world asked to contribute to his prize.”
Hubby showed me an article by Dino Jahić, editor-in-chief of the Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia. He was notified he’d received a special award — one he could pick up for only 4,750 Euros ($5,600) in “participation fees.”
At least, Hubby said, they spelled his name right. He tossed his own vanity award letter into the trash.
“Vanity of vanities; all is vanity,” said wise King Solomon in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. No doubt, God granted him sufficient smarts to realize he shouldn’t pay big bucks to inflate his ego.
After all, God gave Solomon his gifts, so why should he bribe the world to recognize him?
We aren’t obliged to pay them off, either. For those who love Him, God is always on the front row, cheering what we, with His help, accomplish.
Plus, He always spells our names right.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever received a vanity award?
First, we were advised not to go to church. Then forbidden to go.
I’ve attended since a newborn. As a toddler, I sat on the front pew as my mother played the piano. Mom dressed my brother and me in sleepers, as we nodded off before services ended.
Sleepers! In front of God and everybody! An indignity not to be endured.
Finally, Mom gave in, and I wore proper church attire.
Our small church supplied infinite hugs. I played hide-and-seek after services with friends more like cousins. And the potlucks! I still embrace the credo that the church supplies the ultimate food for both body and soul.
Best of all, I not only learned the song, “Jesus Loves Me,” at church, I grew in that truth.
As a teen, though, I fantasized about skipping services. Later, as a busy church music director, I occasionally longed to worship per TV, where everyone sang on key.
Sometimes, the following prayer cropped up: “God, just this Sunday, may I stay in bed?” Worshipping while wearing sleepers sounded downright spiritual.
Then the coronavirus, a dark angel, swooped in.
Watching online worship while wearing bathrobes, our shaggy-haired congregation probably looked quite biblical. So good to see our pastors. To drink in the Scriptures, living water for parched people in a COVID-19 desert.
Yet, a cyber hug can never replace a real one. When restrictions were lifted, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
Except those — including seniors — considered high risk.
As a teen, I’d wanted to sneak out of services. Now I considered sneaking in.
Could I lie about my age to attend church? What if a bouncer carded me — “She’s got Medicare B!” — and tossed me out?
Reluctantly, Hubby and I continued online worship. The small congregation practiced “social distancing,” as if all had forgotten to shower. The long-haired, masked group resembled a gathering of hippie surgeons.
Yet, I ached to be there. …
Finally, when seniors received a sort-of green light, Hubby and I donned masks and went to church, sitting miles away from friends we’d missed so much.
My mask fogged my glasses, causing hymn lyrics to disappear. The mask contracted when I inhaled, poufed when I sang. Still, loving the church family voices around us, Hubby and I belted out hymns with vigor.
Despite the odd, reduced gathering, Jesus was there.
We and our brothers and sisters at home pray fervently that soon, we will all be together again. Meanwhile, we connect through prayer, technology, and conversations across yards, streets, and parking lots.
Above all, we connect through joy that “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Even wearing sleepers for church can’t take that away.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Has the pandemic changed your church?
OMG, I thank You for forward leaps in technology. However, when You introduce me to my heavenly home, I pray its appliances won’t beep at me. That only You, not Google, can track my preferences and movements. And that the most technologically advanced task I will have to accomplish is closing a Ziploc bag.
I know little about our not-so-current remote. Hubby changes its batteries and soothes its moods.
Our remote hides in our home’s every nook and cranny. Today, however, the remote is staring me down. Daring me to write about it.
Its hieroglyphics intimidate me. What if I offend it, and it translates every movie into Egyptian?
I shake myself. Why do I cave to this device? I belong to the brave, dwindling population who remembers life without remotes.
Surprise! Something is older than I. TV remotes preceded my birth by three whole years. In 1950, the Zenith Company created “Lazy Bones,” connected to a television with a cable that tripped and/or strangled anyone who dared leave the sofa. Mothers voted it down.
Zenith produced a cableless “Flash-Matic.” However, controlled by directional flashes of light, the Flash-Matic not only responded to the screen, but to sunshine and ceiling fixtures.
When too many sports fans missed final plays, Robert Adler invented the “Space-Commander,” engineered around sound waves. This innovation increased sales dramatically among humans, who couldn’t hear its high-frequency noise — though it dropped canine sales to zero.
With infrared light improvements — along with inventions of players, devices and consoles — concern increased among health authorities. Studies revealed some viewers had not moved from their recliners since 1979.
Doctors need not have worried. The Telegraph, a British newspaper, cited research claiming viewers’ step counts had increased, due to searching for remotes. An average British man spent 18.5 days per lifetime hunting his remote. A woman spent 12.5 days.
Some families with young children may have spent more. One mother reported not only excessive exercise searching for remotes, but excessive expense. One autumn, she discovered 11 missing devices stuck in a now-leafless bush.
Voice-controlled devices seem a solution. But given software programs, movies and games that require vocal direction — plus 24/7 cell phone conversations — how long before our poor vocal cords collapse?
Let us look to the future, when we may change channels per our brain waves. At a 2011 global technological show, one company’s headset experimented with mind control. Those who donned the headset exploded a video’s animated barrel with a mere thought.
Future action film fans not only will enjoy 57 car chases/crashes per movie, but with a single thought, may detonate their screens.
I, however, question “infallible” technology. Should I entrust my thoughts to technology like my laptop? It possesses meaner hormones than mine.
Worse, do I want my thoughts played out on a screen?
That kind of remote is way too close to home.
My own device beckons: Want to watch a show?
No, thanks. I think I’ll read a book instead.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Where is the oddest place your remote has hidden?
Facebook reunited me with an elementary classmate with whom I shared the zenith of second-grade status: our class chose us as PTO prince and princess.
Reading the school’s purple, mimeographed sheet, Mom raised an eyebrow. “You’ll be asking people for money?”
“Yeah!” I held up the bank-like canister accompanying the information. “Let’s take this to church!”
Mom, more interested in heavenly treasure, considered that “honor” highly overrated.
Since then, I’ve discovered many similar, oh-so-desirable positions. The words “officer” and “chairperson” come to mind. Those who assume titles of “assistant” and “coordinator” often wish they could revert to the “secretary” who wasn’t chained to her laptop weekends, fed on bread and water until projects were completed.
Titles aren’t the only foolers. I despise the word “update,” which slows my phone or laptop to slug speed. Afterward, with one correct swipe, I can enlarge bacteria-sized print to readable material. However, with one wrong swipe, I set off interplanetary war — or open the garage doors of every home in Rhode Island.
Updates rarely include explanations. Instead, I’m to follow the wisdom of a long-distance, twisted techno-geek who needs a laugh: “To accelerate your laptop’s update, submerge it in boiling oil.”
However, technology hasn’t cornered the “overrated” market.
Medical insurance companies like updates, too. Many currently demand that slaves — er, customers — achieve 10,000 steps daily, measured per devices akin to ankle bracelets. Five years ago, such behavior would have labeled the customer obsessive-compulsive. Yet now, companies advocating “wellness” raise premiums — and blood pressures — with noncompliance.
What’s next? Will updates demand we smile while jogging?
Other overrated objects, events and activities include:
- Waistbands. These stifle creativity, not to mention oxygen intake. Especially when buttoned.
- Cars whose designs block back-up vision. Instead of lowering their obnoxious rear ends, we install cameras. Cool! (And costly.)
- Milkshakes. As a busy young mom, the only warm food I ate was melted ice cream. Paying perfectly good money for the equivalent seems overrated.
- HGTV. Should we commiserate with people whining about crushed dreams as they shop for $500,000 houses?
- Tattoos. Though tattoos are considered art, ceramics classes are less painful — and less permanent. A generation hence, I look forward to watching parents explain to skeptical teens why Mom and Dad thought this was a great idea.
- Weed whackers. Mine whacks flowers, strips paint, dents siding — and nibbles weeds. Maybe.
- Roundabouts. Carmel, Indiana, where my daughter lives, boasts more than 100, claiming they reduce accidents and gas usage. However, have statisticians counted how many have died of old age while circling within 10 feet of McDonald’s?
- Vacations. While they promote family togetherness, the amount they generate sometimes reaches toxic levels — as do resulting Visa bills afterward.
- Awards. They glitter in the spotlight, but tarnish quickly and eventually end up in the attic or trash can.
Even the long-ago, fourth-grade PTO princess who actually won the crown probably can’t find it.
Soon, the writing award I coveted but didn’t win will fade from memory as well. Like my mother’s, my treasures may prove to be heavenly, rather than earthly.
Thankfully, those can never be overrated.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What everyday trophies have you learned to treasure?
Oh, my God, I’m trying to thank You for technology. Really. But it’s Wednesday, and I’m already writing an OMG prayer! Please help my Awesome Techie (a.k.a. Hubby) and I figure out why my blog is lying to me, insisting it is sending posts to my subscribers when it is not. Otherwise, OMG, I may be asking You about exorcism.
O my God, our Internet is out! No fun, especially on a Monday. Forced me to go to The Bridge coffeehouse in Upland and crunch this hot, buttery, homemade giant croissant while I work. OMG, isn’t that sad?