A Material Girl living in an technologically advanced, pre-packaged world!

by Anna Blanch on November 26, 2008

It is easy to dis progress, to whine about the destruction of a slower life, to rail against the impositions of technology on our lives. Some of which I do like we all do.
But, I have been thinking, lately, about how much I actually benefit from the technological advances of the last couple of decades. I love peace and quiet and I usually stay away from technology at least a few days to a week every now and then to ensure that I don’t lose my sanity and entirely mind-meld with the ether that is convenience, be it internet, cell, PDA, or pre-packaged cooked chicken breasts and stovetop stuffing. But, for all the criticism that this has made our world and societies (at least in the West) faster paced – and it has – at least we have the tools to exist in the brave new world.

This may end up a meme – if that so interests you (in which case, link back to this post and send me a link to yours!). But here, in appropriately bite sized form, are some things that really have impacted my life for the better.

Information Access

  • Access to vast stores of scanned manuscript and original editions. It has become apparent to me recently that without projects like Google Books, OAISTER, and ECCO, there is no way I would be in a position to say anything sensible about Hannah More and the Cheap Repository Tracts (1794-1798). Although, admittedly, it is still not a lock i will actually say something sensible, let alone new, but at least it is possible now! I should also add that I have actually started to be disappointed when i cannot simply download a .pdf copy of an article and i have to actually go to the library and make a copy – I mean, seriously, you’d think they’d have it all figured out by now.
  • Mobile telephone technology (cell phones here in the US) make my life easier and the lives of many around me – just this morning I helped a stranded friend who called me on her cell to ask if I could look up the extension of the professor she was to meet. I looked up the online directory and within seconds she had the number and could call his office so he could let her into an otherwise locked building. This may seem trivial, but life is full of trivia – without this she would have been forced to walk quite a distance to find an open building that may have had a directory though seeing as this campus has no pay phones she may still have been out of luck. Why, you might be saying (though you are probably not) didn’t she just jump up and down waving her arms about wildly until someone noticed….? Not exactly practical my friend, would be my answer! Practically and pragmatically speaking, at best she would have missed the meeting. I like n ot having to sit around and wait for calls – I can get out and live my life (which, not as much as I would like, can sometimes involve being outside, in the sun, with people or a good book) As an aside, i do actually feel safer with a cell phone when i am out and about – it’s like a life-line in Do you want to be a Millionaire? You don’t always need to use it, but geez Louise you are pleased when you can. In response to the reasonable complaint that others get offended if you deign to not be contactable by either not answering or turning off your cell I say be bold….and declare that’s their problem – the number one rule of technology as in all things in life – you control it, it doesn’t or shouldn’t control you; that’s why there is an off button.
  • Skype! I could just leave it there…but that’s not how I am feeling today, so i won’t! Skype materially contributes to my well-being. What? (you say…) It is just a free piece of software that allows you to talk for free across the information super highway, how could that materially (you are puttin’ on a little ‘tude) benefit you? – have you noticed that you are being a little snippy today…well, in case you missed it, you are…so with that I would deal. The benefit is that for free (big benefit) I can speak to my family and friends on 3 other continents. The best part is that the quality of sound is usually excellent – Skype has its bad days like every else, but that is usually when it asks for a performance review. Don’t you wish that people around you who were annoying you on any given day chose that day to ask for a performance review! (yep, i am in that kind of mood today – put it down to enough sleep.
One of the Most important Things in Life!

I love to eat – and, so much more importantly, I love to eat fresh food that I have prepared myself. But I have so little time that speed of preparation and nutritional value take precedence over my inner slow foodie.

  • Pre packaged food – This doesn’t sound appetising but this is not processed food – this is pre- cut, pre-washed vegetables, cooked chicken breasts, and frozen vegies. This isn’t actually the way i’d like to be doing things, but when that extra half an hour or an hour is critical I can handle the compromise. Nutrition with most of the taste. There is nothing that beats beans off the vine, corn off the stalk, and my grandfather’s tomoatoes, pumpkin, or strawberries. But, the reality is that I live on the other side of the world so I am making do!
  • Crock-pot. This has been around for centuries, but i like my electric version. Many a yummy meal (yummy – that is a first for this blog!) has been made in my crockpot. The crock-pot in its own way lets me imagine that i am a gourmand (term used loosely) while letting me get on with my work. That, and it cannot be forgotten that it has heated Ginger’s incredibly easy but oh-so-not-good for you “little boys” on many an occasion. Besides, if you cook a roast in one of these babies and your mum will be so proud – and what is better than that!
  • Bottled water. Okay, so before some of you yell…..let me explain. I have travelled to many places, heck arguably I live in such a place, where the water is less than drinkable. Bottled water has allowed me to keep my innards and my sanity intact (innards, that’s another first…). Like all modern working women (cough cough) I carry a bottle with me just about all the time – water fountains are just not as common as they used to be.
Have you noticed a pattern? I need to be information rich and pre-packaged rich, because I am oh-so, time-poor. Can I tell you, in my defence, that i never thought it would be this way. Not me, I would never be one of those people who couldn’t spare an extra five minutes to cut up a sweet potato! One of my great luxuries, other than sitting here on a Wednesday morning and typing a blog post, is taking time, lots of time to make a good meal. You want to make me happy?

Good Meal, Good Wine, and Good Company will do it every time!

This post is in part, a very very veiled, an apology for my lack of attention to the blog lately. There are people and things to blame but because i am feeling magnanimous today they shall remain nameless (that, and i like my job). I don’t have a pre-packaged life. It is complicated and dynamic. Today is not like yesterday – although some of the articles I been reading lately have all kind of melded into one another, so who can be sure?

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