Monday, April 20, 2009

Someday Soon, Avaroo Will Be Able To Read This, At Which Time She'll Know She Saved My Life

Every so often, I get depressed about the modern world. I have become an old fart, and that’s what old farts do. They bemoan how things aren’t what they once were.

Now, I’m not so dense that I can’t see that some things are better than they used to be. And I’m also not so dense as to miss the fact that I’m using one of those things right now. I’m blogging, for goodness’ sakes. The term itself was unknown just a short while back. However, there’s a difference between what I’m doing and what is becoming the norm. As someone wiser than me pointed out – on their blog, last week, and I’m too lazy to backtrack and find out who, so this loses some of it’s power by that admission, but at least I’m honest – Bloggers write, while Twitterers just keep saying "Me! Me! Me!" in 240 character bursts.

I see people walking down the street (or, worse, driving down the street) with cell phones glued to their ears, and I become depressed. Or texting. That depresses me even more. It’s as though an entire generation has been raised to be deathly afraid of ever being alone. They don’t know how to deal with silence, and they very rarely stop gabbing long enough to actually think. Obviously, it’s a nice thing if people want to communicate, but it’s easy to see, from the way many of those communications take place, that communicating something of importance isn’t the point. If they truly wanted to communicate something of importance, they’d learn to spell (not to mention the fact that they wouldn’t get all bent out of shape when someone else actually uses more than two sentences when relaying their thoughts or more than two minutes to tell them whatever earth-shattering news couldn’t wait until they got home from the supermarket. It’s more like these people have gigantic long-distance umbilical cords.)

Just last week, someone asked me my opinion on...

(Well, no, that’s a lie. Nobody asked me concerning the opinion I’m about to spout off. I just offered it up, out of the blue, so, yeah, I’m no better than some of the folks I’m castigating. That’s OK. They’re too busy running their thumbs over tiny little keyboards to give a shit if I’m a hypocrite.)

Anyway, I proudly proclaimed myself a Luddite. I said that I had never owned a cell phone and that I never want to own a cell phone. I averred that I was usually pissed about receiving phone calls on my archaic landline, let alone a cell phone. Usually, the call is an unwanted interruption to whatever I’m doing when the phone rang. Why in hell would I want to carry around a portable interrupting device? However, I use a computer, watch TV, and listen to radio, so I’m something of a reformed Luddite.

(Yes, yes, yes. If someone whom I love has called me, then I’m generally glad they did. But that’s getting to be a shorter list every day. And most of the calls I receive are trying to sell me health insurance - I'm an old fart, remember? – or, worse yet, trying to get me to switch phone carriers and also buy a cell phone. Grrrrrrrrrrr.)

This could well turn into a rant of epic proportion, but the point of telling you all of the above, aside from general pissiness, was as set-up for a reason why I have hope.

You’ll perhaps recall my niece, Ava. Or, as she once named herself and which I still like to call her, Avaroo. She has started going to pre-school, and what she did there has given me a brief glimmer of hope. I received the following report from my sister-in-law, Ava’s mother.

"Ava informed me yesterday that, while she is at school, she does not play, does not go to the bathroom, and does not eat."

Certainly, those aren’t reasons to celebrate. Let’s continue, though.

"I thought I should check on this, with her teacher, and she said that Ava does play (after some coaxing) and she does go to the bathroom, but she has refused all food since she started."

That could be somewhat alarming, especially with a little girl. It sounds like the beginning of a serious eating disorder. However, again, let us continue listening to Ava’s mother.

"Yesterday, the teacher was trying to encourage her to try something (meals are included in the fee, and I say, ‘The more free meals, the better!’)

Ava said, ‘I’m not here for the food. I want to learn to read.’

I can’t decide if that was rude or not..."

"I’m not here for the food. I want to learn to read."

God bless her. She has given me the strength to continue for another day without hanging myself.

Soon, with more better stuff.

(Addendum: Credit where credit is due. Chris Mauger points out to me that The Essential Bastard came up with the line about Bloggers versus Twitterers.)


Peter N said...

Hi Sul. 4 in a row for the good guys. Happy Patriots Day, and the rain WILL hold off for Masty's first '09 start. May the win streak continue...on and on and on be continued.

GreenJello said...

She sounds like my kind of girl! I taught myself to read around age 3 or 4, from the friendly help of 'Sesame Street' and 'The Electric Company'.

But I would die without my Blackberry. I couldn't run my internet business without it.

Urbie said...

Hi, Jim --

Good piece; but you're wrong about Twitter. OK, when I first heard about it, I thought it was the new Stupidest Thing Ever™. But then, I tried it and thought, hey, what a great way to get bowling news out! Those who signed up to follow urbie4 last weekend got up-to-the-minute results from the 20-string Easter Classic, up at Leda Lanes in Nashua. After every string, I pulled out the CrackBerry and sent out a note giving the leaders and their scores -- including updates in the middle of the last two strings (it was a barn-burner between John Zappi and Jeff Surette). So it's not all "Me Me Me!" :-D .... Urb

Michael said...

Ava is a lady after my own heart.

I see you're a fan of too!


Sniffles and Smiles said...

Fantastic!!!! I am encouraged as well! Thanks for this post!!! I thought I was the only one out here who wasn't a techie...So nice to commiserate!

Michelle H. said...

Avaroo is just precious. No teacher should possibly take it as an insult.

Same boat here. Hate phones with a passion because of how childlike my voice sounds. I'm still on the fence with Twitter. I haven't been over there in weeks.

Buck said...

Good on Avaroo. She may change her mind about the food, tho, once she gets the reading thing down.

I'm with Urbie on Twitter... which is invaluable now that the playoffs are here. I follow too many hockey sources to keep up on my own... and Twitter tells me when there's either a new post on a hockey blog I read or a new article I might want to check out in the newspaper sports sections across the US and Canada. Good stuff!

I'm with you 100% on the texting thing, though. My cell phone takes voice calls, and that's IT. I haven't had a landline since 1999. They don't work too well in RVs...

Sarah said...

Wow. I'm actually a little teary over here.

I'm only 27, but I've been scared for the up and coming generation and their seeming lack of enthusiasm for reading and just knowledge in general.

What a smart little girl!

Karen said...

Good for Avaroo! Having learned to read and write many moons ago, I am now very happy having a cell phone glued to my left hand so I can talk to my daughter and granddaughter whenever they decide to call!

Ananda girl said...

I loved this story! My kids freak out when my cell goes off and I just ignore it. Panic ensues and begging! It's like the world is ending. It says in the phone who called. I can call them when I finish typing, cooking, etc.

Life is moving fast enough. I do not need to be rushed through it. I like to use my cell for emergency. I drive a beater, so it's a must on the freeway. But it's not a convenience when it becomes a pain. I like your thoughts.

Big smile.

lakeviewer said...

From the mouth of babes and old farts...

Ruth and Glen said...

Bravo for Avaroo !!
Great story Jim.

Chris said...

Nice work, Jim, Avaroo rocks. And I believe it was the Essential Bastard who wrote the "Twitterers Twitter, Bloggers Blog" reference.

Kris, in New England said...

Avaroo is da bomb!

I love my cell phone - it rarely rings. The texting thing does drive me nuts. Just yesterday the hubby and I were trying to park in a busy parking lot (I know, shopping on a Sunday...). A young couple, with a baby in a stroller, were sauntering along in front of the spot we were trying to get into. Oblivious. Why? Because the wife was texting and the husband was pushing the stroller.

Because it's all about them.

Fire Fox said...

I'm still waiting for you to write the kids book..."Avaroo". She certainly has given you enough material! I don't have time for Twitter. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my own blog, Facebook, email and providing witty comments on friends blogs. Oh, and work... which I should go do now.

Expat From Hell said...

I am a new fan of Avaroo, and not one of Twitter.

I am an official Qwitter.

Great post, and good for your girl. Will look forward to her blogging career - for sure coming soon!


Diane said...

I came over from Fhina's...

After reading this post, I've discovered that I'm an old fart, too. Thanks for that.

Bless Avaroo's little heart... her kind will save us :). My daughter (9-years-old) is a huge reader. I read the first 3 Harry Potter's to her when she was 5, decided to take a break (thematically they were getting a bit advanced) and then found her hiding under the covers with a flashlight, reading #4 by herself.

She and Avaroo would get on beautifully :)

Diane said...

That was supposed to be Potters and not Potter's. Geez.

Shrinky said...

Ahhh, she obviously has your genes, eh?

I am sooo with you on the cell-phone front. I have four kids, hell, why on earth would I want to be instantly on call for them 24/7? I figure as they obviously can't live without theirs, I can reach them perfectly well on theirs as and when should I ever want to. And that's another thing, what is it about all these gismo's always being "improved" so the latest generation comes up that much more tiny and smaller than the last? I don't know how you can even dial these without the aid of a toothpick. I've never sent a text in my life - though I did try once (shudder). Never again.

lime said...

"i can't decide if that was rude or not."

ok, here is where i go off on my own rant. the child clearly expressed a desire to gain an important a teacher...and the teacher has to think if there is value in that statement or worries about the social propriety of the remark. someone please fire this woman and hire someone who wouldn't give it a second thought but would rather seize on that enthusiasm and give the child her wings!

god bless avaroo. that child is a gem. i wish her all the joy that reading could ever bring her. in fact, send her to me. i have shelves of books we could have an absolute blast with.

Mrs. C. said...

What a girl. There are many days I pull my face out of a fabulous book and say, "Time to fix dinner already? But I never even ate lunch...."

Go get those books, Avaroo!

MVD said...

Thanks for the plug, Suldog. Since you mentioned it, here is the unabridged text of my Twitter rant:

"Those who can write, blog. Those who can’t, tweet. And those lacking the patience, intellect, or vocabulary to read a thoughtfully constructed article, happily masturbate to the plebeian travails of their Twitter-happy common man, or Ashton Kutcher, or some other vacuous celebrity whore with nothing to say and the grammatically incorrect means to say it."

And I had to laugh about your comment regarding phone "interruptions." I've maintained that opinion for years.

Best to you and Avaroo!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

I have shut dont my twitter and facebook....twitter I just was so bored by it.....and facebook too....why when i can pick up the phone and talk or just send an email...I didnt 'get' either..
but hey we are all different eh?

Nana Net said...

inally a child who knows what she wants! And is not afraid to let you know it! Way to go Avaroo!!!!!
I do believe this young lady will go far in life. You have been blessed Suldog! To think that she wants to read, instead of watching tv, playing video games or even eating is a blessing my dear! To bad the teachers do not listen to her and do as she asks!

tshsmom said...

I'm proud to say that my 16-yr-old son doesn't want a cell phone!

Twitter and Facebook are like texting on a computer. To me, blogging is all about reading well written opinions and, hopefully, writing my own opinions in a well thought out manner.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Oooh I think she may be a chip off the old block Suldog! This is a good thing of course but I assure you that when she is older you shall have a mobile and you shall be texting her. Let it be so ;-)

Gennasus said...

Three cheers for Ava! There is hope for the younger generation after all.

I like some modern technology, (computers, blogging and digital photography, of course)but there are many other areas of it that my brain just refuses to even acknowledge. I have never understood the point of Twitter. You will not find me tweeting.

I have answered your Duffus question on my blog. Here's another interesting local place name for you - Fochabers. Get your tongue round that one if you dare.

Jenn said...

Ah Jim, it is so nice to read that there might just be some smart ones out there in 30 years when we are all withering away and they are running the world. Well, Ava will be running the world and hopefully putting everyone who "kant spel" into a prison for the grammar challenged and not releasing them until they live up to her exacting standards. She is my new hero too.

Shammickite said...

You say "It’s as though an entire generation has been raised to be deathly afraid of ever being alone".
But, most of the time they are using these new-fangled technical communication devices, they ARE alone. They don't communicate with others face to face, they do it through electronic machinery..... all by themselves.
I'm just as bad, sitting here in my house all by myself, typing rubbish to someone I don't even know.
Progress, I suppose.

Snowbrush said...

"Old fart." You're, what, 52? Why man, you're practically a child. Why I'm 60. Now, THAT'S old. At YOUR age, women probably still leer at you and try to grope you when you've had a few too many.

I agree totally about cell phones. We don't hate them (you and I) because we're old, but because they deserve to be hated. They are evil, vicious, maybe even demonic.

Luddite? Card carrying or just a sympathizer?

Hilary said...

That child is a gem. Her uncle is pretty cool too. :)

Angie Ledbetter said...

That's some good gene pool y'all swimming around in!

Moannie said...

I'm totally with Lime, as always. Yesterday, in London, I was ablaze with rage at the amount of people bumping in to me, walking in zig zags,mobiles glued to their ears and glazed expressions on their faces. Twitter sounds totally daft and I fail to see the point of them. I ground my remaining teeth at the tinny sound emerging from the ipod of a man in the seat behind me on the train going up to London and shared looks of exasperation with those around me...guess who climbed out of her seat and faced the guy [shoutinng quite loudly to get his attention making 'turn down the sound ' motions and miming 'please'.
Daughter no 2 and I tried to remember what people did before mobiles [cell phones]. Guess we waited till we got home to tell people we were on a train.

Avaroo is a diamond and shows there is hope. What an idiot teache.

i beati said...

How about snail mail ?Do you like to receive that still, a card in your hand??

I seldom use a cell phone- only on the road for hours in emergencies. Otherwise 25.00 on a phone will last me months ..another old fart

Pat - Arkansas said...

Three cheers for Avaroo! Loved this post! Three cheers for Uncle Suldog, too!

I hope Ava learns to read soon, and eventually will learn to spell correctly.

I do carry a charged cell phone with me at all times, even inside my home. At my age, however, it's a security device rather than one for casual communication. I have a morbid, sometimes unrational, fear of falling, breaking a hip or other critical bone, and not being able to reach a "land-line" to call for assistance.

Jeni said...

I don't have a cell phone but all three of my kids do. I see no need for me to have one since I rarely go anyplace and if someone wants to chat, they can call the land line, as in days of yore. I do have a Twitter account though I'm not sure why as I rarely use it. Imagine how difficult it is for me to Twitter since the character length allowed is not the 240 as you stated but rather a measly little 140 characters! I just can't chop my thoughts and words down that much, as you know by now, don't you?
But I loved Ava's logic -she was there to learn to read and let's get on with that program, folks! Smart child! Very smart child. And here's hoping once she learns to read that she realizes what a great talent it is to have and it can provide so much fun, excitement over her years, along with a way to take her on trips around the world without ever leaving her comfiest chair!
Peace. (The recipe will arrive later today.)

A Woman Of No Importance said...

You are our favourite old fart, luddite, and probably old base/soft/someother ball player, Suldog!

Rant on, you are not alone, and your niece sounds like a chip off the old blockster!

jo said...

Normally i would agree whole heartedly with you. After answering the phone all bloody day at work the last thing I do is want en electronic leash to track me home and around my house, but one caveat must be added. I have found in this day and age that THE only way to communicate with the teenagers I employ is texting. They ignore email, they ignore the phone and say "Oh I didn't get the message until today", 3 days after you left it. But if i text? They answer immediately. Et voila! I have no idea what this means to our future, but it mens I get shifts covered!

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