Just Put the Phone Down, and No One Will Get Hurt

Comedic Christian blogger and writer Jon Acuff wrote a great post on his blog yesterday — “How to improve your marriage instantly” — that every iPhone or smartphone owner, or even computer or video game owner, could benefit from reading. I said years ago I could write a blog post “How the iPhone killed my marriage” because it had such a major affect on my interests, my habits, my time, etc., as well as my late husband’s.

The iPhone and products like it are revolutionary. But of course, but with such big change comes both the good and the bad and comes great responsibility. As Acuff said, “It’s like having the entire world in your pocket!” He’s right! It is! There is nothing the thing cannot do. It has replaced my pocket calendar, address book, wrist watch, purse-sized dictionary and Bible, camera, and even scrap-paper grocery lists. Like the marketing phrase goes, “There’s an app for that.”

But what Acuff says, and says well using his clever humor and style, is that all of that functionality can rob us of face to face time. Not Facetime, the video phone app — face-to-face time between actual faces.

I highly recommend reading the post and I’m glad Acuff tackled a very important topic in a way that people can relate. What made an even bigger impression on me than Acuff’s words, though, are those who commented on the post and some of the hurt and frustration from people who have felt ignored or unimportant, etc. from someone texting or iPhoning too much. I’ve been on both sides — feeling that way and making others feel that way, and it stings either way.

As several pointed out in comments, paring back on iPhone time would not just benefit marriages but any relationship — friendships, family, co-workers. I am often convicted of too much iPhone and computer time while my kids are around and needing/wanting my attention. Do I really want them feeling that way? ‘Course not.


Why We Talkin’ ‘Bout Practice?

My immediate reaction to Get Off The Phone, Soccer Parents | BlogHer was to be defensive at being called a “jerk” for using my smartphone while my kids are practicing their sport. I was defensive because the blogger commented that she had with her a book to read. Seems kinda hypocritical to me to diss someone for doing something other than watching their kid practice if you yourself brought something else to do during practice it’s just that that something else is more acceptable to you.

One — People may be reading a book on their smartphone. I use the Kindle for iPhone app to read books on my phone or will read blogs (like BlogHer) in my Google Reader via the phone.

Two — if a person is texting (one of the thing the writer criticize: “Thumbs are flying and smiles spread over their faces as they continue to communicate with their digital world that they’ve brought with them to the soccer field”) it’s possible they are texting a parent who is not at practice about the practice. At a recent practice that David couldn’t make I texted “Finn is trying out for catcher,” so he was able to share in the practice despite not being there. Or maybe they’re making plans for who’s going to pick up dinner or so on. We live in a world where communication and real life can and do co-exist and not at the cost of the other.

This has been something I have had to learn, and not learned easily and am still learning, in fact. I used to (and sometimes still have to be conscientious about it) criticize David for using his phone while we were at some event, claiming that you can’t be in two different places, that one suffers in deference to the other. There is some truth to that, but I think there’s contextual considerations that have to be weighed as well. I struggle with being a hypocrite in this area myself but tried/trying to do better.

Also, it’s practice. Practice. I’m reminded of the Allen Iverson “Practice” news conference (link). “We talkin’ about practice. Not a game. Not a game. Not a game. Practice.” Neglecting to watch your child’s game in deference to reading a book (whether real or via electronic device) or texting would be a bad thing for a parent to do, I think. At that point your child and their team has worked hard to learn and finesse their skills and now this is what it’s all about. When I learned piano as a kid my parents often sat in the car during the 30 minute lesson. Some parents chose to sit in on the lesson; that was their prerogative. I, personally, didn’t care about my mom hearing me practice and could actually do better at the lesson without her there. But at my recital? Yes, that is the time to give me your attention.

I take my boys to baseball practice and I get them set up with their gear and then I sit either in the car (if it’s cold, like it has been lately) or in a chair near the field and I read a book. I look up occasionally to see how they’re doing, to see what they’re working on, if they’re behaving/listening to coach, to assess things they may need to work on more at home or need encouragement in. And then I read in my book and kinda bounce back and forth between keeping an eye on practice and reading my book. I think that’s OK. If a parent wants to watch the practice, that’s OK too. But don’t fault other parents for not having the same passion you have about your child’s practice or for allowing their child to practice with their team and it be just about that.

On game day — my book will stay at home and I’ll be proudly cheering on my boys and their teammates. Until then, I’m very content letting them enjoy their activity and have a good time with their teammates while I enjoy relaxing to a book to the background noise of their happy sounds.

My First Stevenote

I watched my first Stevenote yesterday. I watched liveblogging of my first Stevenote yesterday. (I posted that I “watched” the Stevenote on Facebook and @pumpkinshirt was quick to correct me. I didn’t watch the note itself, I watched the “liveblogging” of the note. Thanks, pumpkinshirt, for the correction.)

I was aware that David used to pay attention to these things whenever they happened (when do they happen by the way? Just once a year?) but I never had a reason to pay attention myself. Even after buying the iPhone two years ago, I had no interest in it. I refused to give in to the cult-like “our leader speaks, we must listen” mentality. Well, whatever. I changed my mind. And that’s pretty much how it happened. I still think it’s funny to compare Mac users to what it’s like being in a cult — they’re lots of similarities — but more seriously, it’s really cool to see (via liveblogging ;) ) what the company is coming up with next.

Like the new iPhone. The iPhone 4.

I don’t need it. I upgraded last year to the 3GS, and it really has everything I need (need being relative, of course). But the iPhone 4 is cool. Very cool. LED flash. Video phone capability. Sharper resolution. HD. Glass and steel and lighter and smaller but better and more battery life? What’s not to love. It’s the kind of temptation that makes your heart pound and you want it so bad you can almost taste it.

(Deep breath)

But I digress. Because the most exciting moment for me from first-ever Stevenote experience was this image:

Yep, that’s right, Apple <3’s Target. Which means I <3 Apple even more.

March 365

This is the March calendar from my 365 project where I take and post a photo every day, from that day. I think it’s neat to see the snapshot of the whole month like this, seeing the mix of black & white shots with color and the various activities, places and moods that made up my month. This is the first month I’ve filled up the calendar — there were days in January and February that were left blank because either I didn’t take a photo that day or I didn’t like the ones I took. Over the days and weeks I’ve grown more in-tune to my settings, seeing photo opportunities everywhere, and also more accepting of posting a “bad” photo over no photo all.

All photos taken with my iPhone and edited with PhotoShop Mobile and/or CameraBag apps for iPhone.


I finally read a book, start to finish, on my Kindle.

The pros?

The best part about the Kindle that anyone will tell you is being able to carry several books at one time without the bulk of carrying several books at one time. I mean, that’s the point of the thing, right? I’m typically reading 2-3 books at any given time, and while carrying 2-3 books around doesn’t sound overly cumbersome, in a purse where I’m already carrying multiple checkbooks, wallet, hand sanitizer, sunglasses (mine, John’s and the boys’), lip gloss, powder, iPhone, keys, hairbrush, and the occasional airplane, Happy Meal toy or Nintendo DS — several books just add to the clutter. When traveling on an airplane and wanting to take something to read, books on Kindle vs. on paper can save a lot of space (and weight on your shoulder). On our recent vacation, in addition to the Kindle I took two other actual books. If I’d had those two books on the Kindle also I would have had a lighter and easier to tote carry on instead of the jam-packed, overflowing bag I had.

Also, over the course of months and years all of those books have to go somewhere, and the bookshelves are overflowing as it is. So having less actual books is probably a good thing. Also, how many books do we read that we’re never going to read again or not even loan to someone, so they just sit on the shelf? What a waste of space, right? This way, you read the book first, if you like it well enough to add to the permanent collection you can always buy it later on the discount shelf or the used bookstore and probably still come out cheaper than if you’d bought the original hardback, or even some paperbacks. Right now I have a dozen books stacked up on my bedside table, easily taking up half the space and making that area look kind of cluttered. With the Kindle, I could have all that space back, which not only looks better but also gives me extra space to use.

Kindle books are, of course, cheaper — $9 on Kindle vs. $16 for the same book in the airport bookstore. That’s 7 extra dollars for souvenirs.

I’ve not experienced this yet but my friend Lisa tells me one of the things she likes best about the Kindle is reading stuff she may not have read (or even heard about) because of free sample chapters. My “to read” list is too long right now to read something random but someday.

One other pro-Kindle point is not really about the Kindle device itself, per se, because it’s about the Kindle app on iPhone. With the iPhone Kindle app I am able to read on my Kindle even if I don’t have it with me. One night at dinner the kids were both asleep and John was talking work stuff with his co-worker; I had nothing to add the conversation so started reading my book on the Kindle iPhone app. The app and the device “sync” so your place is kept on both devices.


About half-way through the trip, on the long flight from LA to Kauai, I noticed something: the Kindle is not backlit. I’m so spoiled to the iPhone being backlit that once in a dark situation (like a plane at night) I noticed immediately that the Kindle wasn’t. I had never read it in the dark before. If I read in bed I have the lamp on beside my bed so I had never noticed before that it wasn’t backlit. I had to turn on the bright overhead airplane light which was … bright … and overhead … like I was in a police interrogation. So I think a backlit Kindle would be a nice upgrade.

I don’t like that if I read a great book I can’t share it with anyone, save adding them as one of the users on my Kindle account and that seems a little much every time I want to loan someone a book.

But the biggest “con” of course is it’s not a book. There are no pages to turn. I can’t use a cute bookmark to hold my page. I can’t look at where the bookmark is placed to know how far I am in the book, which can be an important part of the book-reading experience if you’re the type (and I am) to use things like how far I am in the book as a gauge for where I am in the plot line. The difference in the book-reading experience is what scares people away from the Kindle, and that frankly makes me wonder if I was right to want one. I made a comment on here awhile back about seeing movies in theaters vs. on DVD and how it’s all the same if the point is the story. (I was promptly corrected, by the way, and conceded that while that’s true for some movies it’s not true for them all. Some, do, thrive off of the cinematic experience.) So carry that same idea — that the movie is the movie no matter where you watch it — over to books and … that’s harder for me to buy into. Before e-reading devices ever existed we might not have appreciated the “book-reading experience” as much, but it’s there, and after having now finished my first e-book I know that even more. Holding a bound volume of paper, turning pages, being able to see how many pages I have yet to go, being able to underline or dog-ear pages to mark passages I like, even being able to loan a friend a copy of a book I really liked — all of that is part of the “reading experience” and some of that is lost in e-readers like the Kindle. It’s the reason a Kindle ad on my desk touts its “paper-like display” and the interface of the new iPad has pages that virtually “turn.”

I’m not taking it back or anything. I started out talking about the pros, and those are all true things. But it might take a little getting used to.

Afterthought: These thoughts on e-readers (especially iPad) and books I found interesting and relevant, particularly this quote:

“When people lament the loss of the printed book, this — comfort — is usually what they’re talking about. My eyes tire more easily, they say. The batteries run out, the screen is tough to read in sunlight. It doesn’t like bath tubs.

“Important to note is that these aren’t complaints about the text losing meaning. Books don’t become harder to understand, or confusing just because they’re digital. It’s mainly issues concerning quality. … [T]echnology is closing the gap (through advancements in screens and batteries) and because of additional features (note taking, bookmarking, searching), will inevitably surpass the comfort level of reading on paper.”

46 Down, 300 or so to go

If you’re not following along with  my 365 project you’re missing out on some good photography, even if I do say so myself. (Wow, was that vain or what?!?)  Seriously, this project has been so much fun, especially when I end up with a photo I’m proud of. I’ve noticed that I’m thinking about things around me differently, seeing photo opportunities in everything, examining the use of light and angles and focusing on composition. I see things differently, recognizing photo opportunities in mundane things and being creative. The photo at the top, for example, was taken in the drive-thru at Captain D’s. Who knew such simplistic beauty could exist at fastfood fish place?

Some days it’s a struggle to find something, anything that will make an interesting photo. All day long I keep my eyes peeled, and I try to take photos throughout the day so at the end of the day I have some choices of what to use.

All of my photos are taken with my iPhone, and it’s been a little fun to play with a few photo editing apps on the phone to enhance my photos. I try to keep the editing to a minimum and really focus on using only the tools that will accentuate the technique(s) I used to get the photo, not recreate it or rob of it of my interpretation. That said, my favorite editing apps on the iPhone are Photoshop and Camerabag.

Here’s a few recent favorites and a couple never-before-seen rejects. Also check out David’s 365 project too since he’s the one who got me into this (and because he has some pretty decent photos himself.)