If It Ain’t Broke…

With the advent of Google Buzz, I’m starting to get tired of all the rapid changes in technology and social media.  If technology is going to progress so quickly, I’d like to be able to choose whether or not I can opt in or opt out of these changes.  For instance, Google Buzz simply swooped in and gave its Gmail users Twitter-like abilities and public profiles without fair warning. Facebook has changed its image and added more features so many times that it’s becoming frustrating.  What was wrong with the first 500 versions of the website? 

Today’s phones don’t just take calls, but also videos, photos, hold music, store important documents, act as a GPS, balance your check book, and count your calories.  Anything you’d want to do in your daily life, now there is a phone app for that.  Remember when text messaging was a novel concept?!

It’s hard to keep up with all these changes, especially when I preferred some of the older models better than their newer counterpoints.  I’m still adjusting to the fact that VHS tapes are out along with video rental stores like Blockbuster.

In honor of my favorite “oldies, but goodies,” here are 5 technologies that are fine just the way they are:

 1) The boom box.  Do you really need to bring your personal computer around with you to provide music at parties? The boom box did just fine.  Plus it still plays your old mix tapes.

 2) The overhead projector.  Invented during the 1940s, this is hands down the best way to display information on a wall in front of large groups of people.  No need to worry about memory stick problems or losing your connection to the internet during a presentation.

 3) A physical book.  No digital reader can ever replace the feeling of holding a book in your hands and feeling the pages between your fingers (and of course the new book smell).

 4) The Nokia cell phone.  I agree, we all need cell phones, but you can’t even use a touch screen with your winter gloves! Flip phones tend to snap in half eventually, but the Nokia can fly down a flight of stairs (and even survive a drop in the toilet) and still accept your calls and text messages.

 5) The single air conditioner unit. Forget central air.  I just want my bedroom to be cold. The noise these things make is soothing, especially if white noise helps you sleep. I don’t need my whole house to be cold all the time and I like how easy you can control the temperature on these things.

What are some of your favorite technological “oldies but goodies”?

No Valentine? No Problem!

As another Valentine’s Day rolls around, those without Valentines need not worry.  If you are flying solo on February 14th, there is no reason to panic or even give it a second thought.  While everyone else scrambles to order flowers, secure reservations for the local dark bistro, and set the mood lighting at their hotel room, you will have something even better planned: A Valentine’s Day pub crawl.

Last Valentine’s Day, I attended a Valentine’s Day Pub Crawl throughout the streets of downtown Boston.  Singletons and non-singletons alike packed these bars to the brim.  Most places even had lines of people waiting to enter.  This record-breaking turnout made me stop and wonder, are there really that many single people around? How refreshing!  My friend found this organized pub crawl through some social group, but if you’re too lazy to find a pre-organized crawl, you can make your own!

The homemade pub crawl never disappoints.  All you need is to pick a neighborhood of local bars, decide an order and a drink minimum per bar.  If you live on a line of public transportation, try to visit a bar at each stop.  For instance, my pal and I used to do what we called The Red Line Challenge in Boston/Cambridge, MA.  Starting at the Park Street stop off of Boston Common, we headed North towards the end of the line at Alewife, picking one bar per stop.   Usually by the Davis Square stop (just before the end of the line), we had to call it quits due to exhaustion. 

If your route permits, I suggest stopping by a hotel bar. The third stop on our Red Line Challenge was always the Kendall Square’s Marriott bar, Characters, a clean dive bar. With complimentary popcorn, pool tables, a permeating smell of the hotel pool, foreign bartenders, and intriguing hotel guests, our experience at Characters always provided a good story to tell the next day. 

Finally, making t-shirts for your pub crawl is key in building camaraderie amongst pub crawlers and helping you keep track of your route and friends, should you forget.  Even if you’re not single, you should have been expressing your undying devotion all along, not solely on Valentine’s Day.  You have 364 other days to express your love and affection, but the Valentine’s Day Pub Crawl comes but once a year!

If Lauren Conrad Can Write and Publish Books, We All Can

Former reality TV star Lauren Conrad is on a book tour promoting her teen series, L.A. Candy.  A movie is already in the works! If she can write and publish teen novels, we all can right? Probably,  if you subscribe to the whole everyone-has-one-good-novel-in-them theory.

The more important question is, what is the likelihood of having your teen novel published? Conrad is not a writer by trade, but she has the social capital to get anything she wants published or turned into a movie/television show.  Publishers approach her to pen a ten series about a reality TV star.  I certainly don’t have publishers knocking down my door (except in my dreams).  In fact, I’m lucky if a publisher doesn’t throw my un-opened manuscripts straight into the trash bin.

Then there’s Stephanie Meyer.   She had never written so much as a short story before in her life.  Then, she wrote Twilight, a story that came to her in a dream.  Meyer had intended to keep the story to herself, but after reading the finished version, her sister convinced her to send it to a publisher.  Meyer wrote 15 letters; 9 were rejected, 5 went unanswered and 1 was positive.  Finally, there was an auction for her manuscript and Ms. Meyer received $750,000 for her Twilight series. Not too shabby for a woman who never wrote.  Maybe there is still some hope in getting published the old-fashioned way! Maybe all it takes to get published is coming up with an original, heart wrenching story idea  plus an effective pitch letter.

There’s always self publishing, I suppose, if you are in to that sort of thing.  The verdict is still out on that.  People on Twitter try to convince me daily that self-publishing my work is the way to go, but I’m not too sure.  I could be convinced.

I guess there are worse things for celebrities to do besides write teen novels.  At least Lauren Conrad’s claim to fame is not undergoing multiple plastic surgeries like her Hills nemesis, Heidi Montag.  Regardless, I still like to think that if Lauren Conrad can write teen novels, I can, too.

Fight Monday Morning Dread With The Breakfast Sandwich

Every Sunday night around seven o’clock, I start to feel what I call “The Sunday Night Blues.”  It’s a feeling that stems from wanting to extend the weekend and thinking about all the things I neglected to do to prepare for the Monday morning work day.  When I taught middle school, “The Sunday Night Blues” were more of a personal guilt trip: “I really should’ve graded that stack of personal narratives instead of watching movies all day.” Now that I’m not teaching, it’s more of a feeling like, “I should’ve been in bed three hours ago, but this Lifetime movie is so riveting.”  Inevitably Monday morning rolls around leaving me unprepared and reluctant to attack the work day head on.  Why can’t it still be the weekend?   Instead of enjoying a nice breakfast with the morning paper, I grab a few peanut butter breakfast bars for the road, praying public transportation works in my favor.  More often than not, I suffer from a case of The Mondays.

Enter the breakfast sandwich–a cure-all for fighting Monday morning dread! Any time I can wake up and make myself an egg sandwich, I feel refreshed, even energized. It puts an extra little bounce in my step.   There’s no greater sense of accomplishment than waking up a half an hour earlier to fry up a delicate, but delicious breakfast sandwich.  Some people feel that same sense of accomplishment by running five miles at 5 am.

The breakfast sandwich is so easy to make and worth every minute of your time! You’ll need two eggs, an English muffin, two slices of tomato, and your favorite veggies.  Start by toasting your english muffin.  Then cut up all of your vegetables.  I use two slices of tomato, a few slices of pepper (could be green, orange, red, or yellow), one small mushroom, and sometimes zucchini or asparagus.  After toasting the English muffin, I immediately slab on some mustard, my favorite condiment!  Setting the English muffin aside, I saute two slices of tomato along with my veggies.  When they are ready, I place a slice of tomato on each piece of English muffin.  Next, I stack on my peppers.  Finally, I fry two eggs over medium and place them above the peppers.  To put on the finishing touches, I put the mushrooms over the eggs and voila! The breakfast sandwich!

(Don’t forget the side of bacon.)