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Another View: Living in the material, 3D real world

And Another Thing
By: Susan Rushton
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Ah, yes, you saw George Lay and me on the front page of the Journal a couple of weeks ago (Feb. 9), mesmerized by fancy iPads and learning about the Adult School computer classes. Because that’s life, I told (reporter) Bridget Jones. Get with it. Use it. Learn it. Ubiquitous technology surrounds us, rules us, captivates us, and it’s not going away. Like it or not. Like it or NOT? Come on, Rushton. What’s not to like? Oh, gee whiz. Let me count the ways. Do you know I’ve used the same cell phone since 2006? I can’t help it. It still works. I can call someone and leave a message. I can retrieve messages from my machine at home. Why should I get a new one? Yes, it’s people like me who keep slowing the economy. If only I’d buy new phones, new Kindles, new iPads, new laptops, new cameras, new TVs. All the stuff I have is obsolete. What’s the matter with me? Why do I keep dragging my heels? I just have a hard time stepping away from my window, gazing as the long day wanes, the slow moon climbs. I suppose I could see the same thing on my computer or my plasma TV – if I’d ever break down and buy one. After all, the new HDTVs make everything look so lifelike. The thing is, life itself is pretty lifelike. If I pay attention only to what’s available via microchips, I miss the real stuff — just like that guy last week in the post office parking lot who moseyed in front of me, ignoring my approaching pickup as he checked messages on his iPhone. The dope. Actually, his behavior encouraged me to start paying more attention to the real stuff myself. Last weekend as the sun blazed through the kitchen window onto my just-poured coffee, I watched the patterns that appeared on the hot surface, dancing, racing, disappearing here and popping up somewhere else. How fascinating. How beautiful. How uncomputerized. At the library on Wednesday, I saw two boys from E.V. Cain, each holding something that looked at first like a skateboard. But no — instead their contraptions resembled bookends with spiral-shaped gizmos connected to each end. The shape was familiar. I approached them. “Excuse me,” I said. “Is that DNA?” They acknowledged as how it was. How cool, I thought, thanking them. I didn’t learn about DNA until I was a junior in high school. And they’re learning about it better than I did, building this model — a physical model, mind you. They may have made use of an integrated circuit in learning about DNA, but creating their models involved useful and old-fashioned materials like nails and paper and glue and wood. And as I drove away, I noticed a couple of young men by the stairs to the Library Garden Theater, playing their acoustic guitars. And I saw another arriving to join them. I repeat: acoustic guitars. Not electric. Parking in the Wells Fargo lot on High Street, I saw the knot of people milling around the bicycle-car accident that you read about (Journal, Feb. 22). A cop directed traffic. Another sprayed paint around the crumpled bike. The EMTs hovered around the boy on the ground. The fire engine’s lights blinked and the engine rumbled. And as I watched, I didn’t see anybody checking e-mail, making a phone call or jiggling to the beat of music on his iPod. This was real life. People were paying attention to it. I’m going to do more of that. Care to join me? Susan Rushton’s column appears every other Sunday in the Auburn Journal. Her e-mail address is Rushton@cebridge.net.