read between the lines

It is hardly surprising that children should enthusiastically start their education at
an early age with the Absolute Knowledge of computer science;
while they are unable to read, for reading demands making judgments at every line.
Conversation is almost dead, and soon so too will be those who knew how to speak.”

Guy deBord

autocorrect_big2

Chances are if you’ve ever received a text from me or even an email or…
ashamedly I confess, if you’ve ever read a post of mine…
you’ve most likely had to read between the lines….

Because between auto-correct, misinformed spell check and a life long issue with a bit of
dyslexia…what you see is often not what you’re meant to get…
Certainly not always what was intended…

However because you know me, or you understand the gist, or you are great at deciphering,
you understand what I’m saying without missing a beat….

Most of us are good like that.

I am heartened by the fact that I have a dear friend who has a automated tag line
on her phone’s messages that reads
“sorry if my iphone decided to spell words entirely on its own!”

What a relief knowing that someone out there understands me and knows
I’m not a complete moron!!!

Yet how good are we at reading between the lines of the times in which we currently
find ourselves living???

Yesterday evening I caught a bit of the news, coming in on a story about a staged walkout
in NYC among the city’s high school kids, with many of the kids appearing to be
Jr High age as well.

It seems that this protest was sent out over social media.
Not having seen the Facebook posts or tweets, I don’t know the gist of the alert but
it seems as if hundreds of kids headed the call at a particular time
to defiantly get up from class, file out of school,
filling and clogging the streets, carrying posters while laughing and chanting.

It seem the walkout was staged to protest President Trump’s travel ban.

A reporter was in the mix, stopping kids, asking them various questions.

Reporter: “What classes are you currently skipping?”

Student: “Calculus”

Reporter: “What happens if the teacher fails you for missing class or for missing a test?”

Student: “F*%k the A@$ hole”

I don’t know…
I taught high school for 31 years…

phrases like “F*%k the A@$ hole” …if I read between the lines, tells me that
this young person has really no clue as to what they’re doing or why they protesting..
they simply skipped Calculus, that’s all….
Plus….

If one of my kids had told a reporter such flippant garbage about me and my class,
well let’s just say the next day’s conversation would have been a bit one-sided…
with me being on the one side…

All the while reminding this young person about what it means to be an example,
how to carry of oneself in public,
self respect, along with a bit of a history lesson involved….
add to that, that I had never given this student any reason to speak about such
in said manner to a reporter,….
I would allow maybe a 10 second rebuttal before making a phone call home….

No reading between the lines on that…pretty frank, pretty clear.

Yet I wonder what the parent(s) would say….

Would the parent(s) defend their 16 year old’s “right” to walk out of a public school?
(public meaning the education is relatively free)
Would they be troubled about their child missing class, using profanity on national
television while addressing an adult…???
What about their child appearing as more hooligan than one who is educated,
well versed and mature ….

Maybe if they were attending a private school, where the parent was having to shell out
upwards of 20 grand a year, walking out might come with an entirely different reaction….

Would they puff up with bravado while supporting a child’s right to cut class and curse while
publicly disrespecting the President of the United States in a crude and crass manner?

Hummmm…

But then we’d get into that whole business about our youth and their self esteem issues
and God forbid that we should dare hold them responsible or accountable for their actions,
good or bad, with resulting repercussions for the bad…

Hence that whole “F#%$ the A$# hole teacher who’d fail me” mentality…

The student was holding a homemade sign.
The reporter asked about the sign.

It read “Punch Nazis”

The reporter reminded the student that she had just told him that she was nonviolent
yet is holding a sign about punching Nazis…

Reporter: “I thought you just said you were nonviolent”

Student: “Oh, uh, I’m against gun violence”

The reporter went on, continuing his off the cuff random interviews of about a dozen or so of
the hundreds of kids, with nary a one of the students interviewed being able to name the
7 countries on the travel ban.

When asked what was wrong with strong vetting of folks wanting come into this country from
known Terrorist nations one student quipped back that “we live in a Terrorist Nation…”

Sigh….

This walkout was just an apparent adolescent attempt to jump on
the currently very sad national bandwagon…

But who can blame them.

Didn’t it look absolutely thrilling when masked salaried anarchists were hurling bricks and
using hammers to smash the plate-glass windows belonging to banks and store fronts along
the streets of Washington D.C. all because an elected president was being sworn in?

And didn’t it look invigorating to see hundreds of women marching en masse while shouting
vulgar slurs while wearing “vagina” hats demanding their rights to abort babies while
cursing the reigning Nazis….

And so we wonder why kids now want in on the act…

So it might behoove us to get better at reading between the lines because the signs of the times
ain’t looking so hot….

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive,
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable,
slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous,
reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Avoid such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Technology, Bah Humbug!!

“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”
― Pablo Picasso

“The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.”
― Karl Marx

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Oh dear Lord, what is happening to me when I find myself thinking a quote by Karl Marx makes sense?!
Or even one from Pablo Picasso?
I know what you’re thinking. You figured all art teachers would like Picasso.
Well I’m not a fan of the bigger than life ego which Picasso could lay claim to. Nor am I a huge fan of cubism but I’d be digressing if I went off on that tangent.

How many times today have I bemoaned that “I hate technology”?
Was it the time I hung up my cell phone and put it away while it inadvertently “face timed” my son for about the 5th time?
Who by the way thinks face time is the greatest thing.
Who thinks that?!
It’s bad enough that I try looking presentable when I’m out in public, this whole face time business does not cast one in the best of light. You should have seen my hair on that screen!!

Or was it when I made the trip to Staples to find a new set of cordless phones for the house?
I really didn’t think the batch we had was all that old but for some reason there has been some crazy message on the phone claiming we had a “New Voice Message” complete with a blinking amber light that won’t go away.

I have an answering machine.
Why in the heck would my phone keep telling me that there’s some sort of new voice mail out there somewhere?
I tried pushing the buttons.
It promoted me to enter the access code.
Access code?!
What access code?
I push more buttons.
Some sort of busy sound comes up but the light is still blinking and the message is still listed.

I find the manual.
“Hold down the # button”
Okay, holding it down.
“Beep”
Oh thank God—no blinking light, no message.
The phone rings.
After hanging up, the message mysteriously appears again plus the phone is blinking again.
WHAT?!

My husband also notices the blinking light.
You know it’s big if a husband notices something blinking.
He tells me we must need new phones because a yellow light keeps blinking.
Really? I ask rather incredulously, “ya think?!”
But then he tells me, “no, don’t get new phones, I think the blinking light keeps the cat off the bed at night”
“What?!”
“Yeah, I think when she comes in the bedroom at night to jump on the bed, which always wakes me up, the light blinking by the bed, scares her off. . .”
I just shake my head at him as I walk out of the room.

So off I go to Staples in order to buy a new set of cordless phones.
And that’s another issue.
So many people today no longer have “land lines”
Land lines.
What is up with that?
Yes I have a cell phone, but if you want to have a decent conversation with someone that does not break up, cut off or sound as if you’re in a can. . .then a “real” phone is the only solution.
Hence my desire to keep a “real” phone in the house.
And I’m sorry but there’s just something odd about telling a person via this texting business that WYWH
I think saying “wish you were here” sounds so much nicer coming from a voice rather than a bunch of letters popping up on a screen don’t you?
How personal, how touching, how emotional can a letter be versers the tenderness of a voice?!
But then I would need to digress onto the tangent about this generation’s lack of the ability to communicate face to face—God forbid!
I mean really!

As I stand alone on the phone aisle at Staples, perusing the batch of cordless phones available, I pick out a Panasonic set— thinking the existing batch at home, which blink, must be a different brand. Sadly once home I see I’ve bought the same brand.
Hummm.
Surely these won’t blink.
Do you know how irritating it is to roll over in the middle of the night only to wake to a strobe light going off in the dark?. . .blink, blink, blink.
I am the type of person who prefers darkness when it comes to sleeping, not blinking lights.

Finally, once home, I unpack the box with all the new little cordless phones. I open the backs, putting in the batteries. I next go unplug all the current blinking phones–yes all 4 cordless phones blink.
I plug up all the new phones.
I proceed to conduct the initial test.
I call the house from my cell phone.
Nothing.
What?!
I pick up the new phone. Despite not being fully charged it claims that it’s working.
Hummm.
I look at the box.
“Make certain you hear a click when plugging in the phone line cord into both the phone as well as the phone jack”
I check the connections.
Ahhhh, the wall outlet end wasn’t pushed in all the way.
Whew!

Oh, I need to record a message.
I hate hearing my voice.
Who knew I sounded like a high pitched squeaky rat?
A high pitched squeaky Southern rat at that.
Ok, test number 2

It rings, sounding a bit odd, almost like a ring a cling—not a ring a ring.
Oh well, new phone—new sound. I can live with that.
Suddenly—again. . .WHAT?
Message: New Voice Mail
AGGGGHHHHHH.
I grab the manual. . .again.
It explains that one’s service provider must supply an access code.
Are you freaking kidding me?! I’ve got to call AT&T?
Trust me, the thought of being on hold for hours, only to speak with someone in India, is not how I wish to spend my afternoon.

A lady answers.
She can’t help me as it appears as if we are actually hooked up through UVerse.
What the heck? When did they become two separate entities? Gees!!
She transfers me to India.
I explain to the young lady, with the very heavy accent named Lisa, what my problem is and she reassures me that she understands and will be happy to help me.

She tells me I need an access code.
Ya think?
I explain that I don’t have an access code.
She then tells me that she’ll set me up with one.
I explain that I have an answering machine already asking why I need AT&T or UVerse, or whomever, providing me with a voice mail system when my phone has an answering machine.
She puts me on hold.
After a couple of minutes she comes back.
“Julie do you still see the message?”
Well it’s a bit difficult to see the message as I’m on the phone”
“uh”
“How ’bout I hang up the cordless phone picking up the wall mount phone?”
“Oh good idea, Julie”

I do what I can.

Sure enough—I pick up the wall mount receiver, putting down the cordless.
Message: New Voice Message.
“May I put you on hold again Julie?”
What am I going to say, No?
I wait again for Lisa to work whatever magic she does behind the scenes.
“Is it still there Julie?”
“Yes, but I have an idea. How about we hang up, so that when the phones’ not in use, I can check the screen?”
“Oh very good idea Julie, I will call you back in 2 minutes”

Low n behold. No message!!!
Hallelujah!!!!
The phone rings.
“hello Lisa”
“Hello Julie, I must tell you that this call may be recorded”
“Yes, Lisa, I know”
“Good news, there is no message”
“Oh Julie, I am so glad. Is there anything else that I can do for you?
“No Lisa, but I greatly appreciate your help.”

And so went my entire afternoon but at least I now have 4 new phones that do not blink nor post erroneous messages that simply never go away.

I’m certain that those of you who are reading this, who are of a certain youthful age, are flippantly thinking how old fashioned I am. You marvel over technology as it is all you have ever known. My son, the mid twenty somethings, are the last group who were not “babysat” by things like iPads. His world’s gadget was the Gameboy. My world’s gadget was the Barbie. Hummm

The technology gods can’t wait for my generation to die off.
Those of us who spend 10 minutes texting our children a mere “I love you” verses the clicky little ILY spit out in a nano second.
We enjoy hearing connected voices without the worry of data plans and over usage fees.
We enjoy voices verses letters.
We enjoy face to face conversations while being in the same room with other people verses being in a room full of people whose heads are cast downward, fingers and thumbs working feverishly while nary a sound is uttered.
We prefer real tangible books. The feel of paper, the weight and heft of a real volume.
We still enjoy the art of writing. Pen to paper. Not the click click of a key pad.
There are several boxes of classic vinyl LPs and 48s in the basement. . .
I miss them.

There’s just something about being “old school” and believe you me, I’m proud of it and still going strong. Now if I could just figure out how to use the remote to this new “smart” TV—what in the heck is a smart TV and why did we need one?!

“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation…tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.”
― Jean Arp