Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I got a new phone and phone number last week.  The phone’s pretty cool – but I’m not anywhere near prepared for the learning needed to figure out all that this phone does. I’ve had the same cell phone number for nearly 12 years – that made me easy to find.  And I’ve had a Blackberry for more than 5 years and that makes me a Crackberry addict.   Now they’re both gone – replaced with a new number and a Droid Razr.  Droid??  Razr????  I guess I’m just an old dog thrown into a world of new tricks.  Grrrrrrrrr.

So the first thing I did was send the new number to lots of people I know, on the off chance that any of them were going to call me.  Talk about being an optimist.  I hope I’m not going to be terribly disappointed.  And then I changed from a Blackberry to this Droid – the old one I knew and was comfortable with; with this new one, even the name creeps me out.  I told the guy at the phone store I do lots of email on my phone, and he said these new touch pads are just as good as the Blackberry keypad.  Not.  And the guy at the phone store told me how cool it’d be to more easily surf the web – you know, find the closest gas stations and dim sum restaurants.  Huh?  The Blackberry was not very good at surfing the web and I seemed to get along ok with that.  But, hey, maybe he’s right.  Maybe I do need to spend more time looking for things I don’t really need or was able to get along without before.

But there’s got to be something to these new-fangled devices – I say devices because they go way beyond just being a phone (duh, I guess that’s why they call them smartphones).  Remember the first cell phones – those big old bricks with the hard black antenna – some of them even had a regular old hand set tethered to them.  All it could do was make a call, and even then there wasn’t enough cell coverage to make that a particularly good experience.  But these really are smart….or at least the people who designed them are smart.  Maybe we have to be careful about using the word smart – people are smart, pets can be smart, but phones – I’m not sure smart is the right adjective.  

Ok, so what can I do with this that I couldn’t do before?  Text and email while I talk on the phone – that’s the new multi-tasking standard.  See where I’m walking and heading as I try to find what I’m looking for – that’s the new replacement for stopping and asking for directions (a distasteful task for guys, right?).  Photos, tweets, voice commands, Skype on the go, check the weather and subway routes, read a book, watch tv, listen to the news, and millions (literally) of other things in the app store.

App store?  Yep, in yesterday’s NY Times they announced that there are now more than a million apps available.  I won’t even go into what all of them can do because I can’t even imagine what all of them can do. Or why I’d need any of them. I spent the last few days looking at many these possible apps – I didn’t see one to help me breathe, or make eye contact, or act nicely, or care a lot, or any of the countless things that humans do (and presumably Droids don’t). Yep, I’m an old dog, and learning these any or all of these new tricks may be somewhere between a full time job and impossible for me.

And now that I have this new phone, I’m getting flack for not choosing the iPhone, and challenged why I don’t put down the phone and pay attention to those I’m with.  It ain’t easy going from a Crackberry freak to a Droid – I just hope I don’t forget that I’m a human and not a Droid. I hope I don’t fall farther into the cyber world where connections are on the web rather than face to face.  I hope I don’t start to become one of those people who look more at the small screen rather than at the big picture. I hope… no, I wish, the world would slow down and give us back some of our real people to people world.  I wish I didn’t have to be an old dog in a new world.  

My message this week is about working and interacting with other people up close and personal:

“I can achieve far more if I work amiably with people, if I support other's goals.”     Ruth J. Simmons

Ruth Jean Simmons (born July 3, 1945) was the 18th and current president of Brown University, the first black president of an Ivy League institution.  She stepped down in September, 2011 and will continue at Brown as Professor of Comparative Literature and Africana Studies.

How well do you work with people? Are you the kind of person who claims the spotlight and the glory, or do you share equally with all?  Are you the kind of person who casually leaves the details for others or do you personally dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s?  Are you the kind of person who creates a lot of drama or are you more steady and dependable? Customers, colleagues, family and friends all react better when you’re someone whose knowledge and behaviors can be counted on, whose efforts complement those of others, and whose commitment is beyond question.  You probably know people who take more than they give and are insensitive to how that affects everyone else’s efforts.  Make sure you’re not one of them.  Make sure your involvement and participation benefits everyone.  Make sure you work amiably with others and support their goals.  Make sure you participate effectively today.
Stay well!

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