Friday, August 23, 2019

My Car of the Future

My car has gizmos.

Last year, when I bought it, I didn’t know. I didn’t realize I’d traded my Flintstones’ car for George Jetson’s. I specifically chose the “non-loaded” version of a car for simplicity. My friend Sharon’s brand-new Subaru beeped and chimed constantly, warning us about things approaching us, us approaching things, flies flying too close to the windshield, who knows what else.

I’m not a gizmo person.

So I ended up with a key fob that beeps and a reverse camera. That’s it. I had to check the manual to learn how to program the radio. (The things in red are things I still haven’t figured out.)

Then I got a letter in the mail from Subaru. My Distance-to-Empty logic software needed updating. I thought they’d made a mistake: I don’t have features like that. I don’t have Blue Tooth or satellites or whatevers.

Nevertheless, Subaru made an appointment with my car. They didn’t say, “Oh, no, your car isn’t eligible.” This would be kind of useful, finding out how many more miles I have left in my gas tank. Today was my appointment.

Very-helpful-Eric told me he’d show me how to find my gizmo, but first, he said, check YouTube.

Oh, WOW! There’s a little lever on the steering wheel – with up and down arrows – to switch my dashboard screen to show Distance-to-Empty. It can also tell me how long I’ve been sitting in the car.

It’s just that there are SO MANY little levers and buttons all over the steering wheel, I just ignored them. I thought they all had something to do with cruise control (which used to be the only thing sticking out of the steering wheel). With all those levers, I decided even cruise control was now too complicated. (Distance-to-Empty is the little red arrow.)

Eric showed me I could change the volume on my radio, switch stations, do lots of things from my steering wheel. Aiiieee! I thought the only problems with technologically-distracted driving were cell phones and texting. This is an airplane cockpit (and remember, this is the non-loaded version). I use my steering wheel to steer. It was even hard to find the horn when I first looked for it.

So all this reminds me of the women who have been honored by the Anchorage Athena Society for their valuable contributions to our community. They each received a Saturn car for a year. I overheard one of them commenting to the others after her year was up, “I just loved those heated seats! I’ll miss them.” Looking baffled, the others said, “Heated seats?” After she explained, one groaned, “I can’t believe it; I always thought I had terrible hot flashes in that car.”

And then there was the man who had no idea he had a CD player because the disk loader was in the trunk. He could load five CDs.

But just this past weekend, I rode in Frank’s car. Frank could readjust the height of the shoulder harness so it wouldn’t cut into his neck. He could slide the harness anchor up or down. I wish I had that feature.

I looked again: I have that feature! My shoulder harness moves, too! My car is “loaded” after all.

Just go ahead, ask me how many more miles I can travel on my tank of gas.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Invasion of "the Other"

My husband has retired.

[Pause for those of you who’ve already experienced this and are either cringing or just waiting to hear what I write next.]

It’s an adjustment. First came panic, then came hostility, now there’s … contentment.

The panic had to do with my space. I have my own office/studio, but pretty much, the Whole House has been mine for the last few years. He left in the morning and came back in the evening. I wasn’t observed.

For the first days after he retired, he didn’t just observe, he hovered. That must have been when the hostility surfaced. He thought I was going to be available, and I had my own agenda, I owned my own days. [Look at all these words in bold! These are strong feelings.]

According to quantum theory, observation of something changes that something; and I know that’s actually happening: his observation of me is acting on me, changing me. I can get really existentialist about all this and quote my own philosophy thesis on Sartre’s horror of objectification by “the Other.” My “Other” is looking at me.

Whoa, I just now realized how my two main areas of intellectual interest actually overlap!

Anyhow, we got that straightened out. He mostly leaves the house in the morning, and I can share the house by going somewhere else in it. Thank heavens for rooms, multiple rooms. (Although he has observed that while he keeps all his personal items in his office, my personal items manage to migrate to every single common space in the house.)

When my mother first visited us and met Tim, she was enthralled. She and I were sitting at the dining room table, and Tim was wandering around the house, looking up and around. He was looking for light bulbs that might need changing. My mother oohed, “Oh, he’s handy! He’s looking for projects!”

Right now, as I write this, Tim is trekking the lawn, looking for dandelions that need pulling. Tim relaxes by doing things.

I relax by doing nothing.

I know what you’re thinking: she’s not doing nothing, she’s writing. Well, I only interrupted my doing nothing because I needed to tell you about doing nothing. I’ll go back to doing nothing.

I’ve always had issues with productivity and categorizing myself as lazy. Mostly, I try to consider a day productive if I’ve done two things. It used to be three things, but in the summer, I reduce my requirement to two. I count lying on our deck as the extra because I’m outside and not on the couch.

Yesterday, I picked up a paint chip to see if the color would work for our front door. That counted as one productive effort, so I lost momentum because I was also doing laundry; my productivity quotient was met. I thought today I might wash the door, but since I’m writing this, my door-momentum has faded. Besides, I also returned a book to the library when I was picking up the paint chip.

I am married to a man who will get the paint chip, wash the door, paint the door, clean up afterwards, and count all that as one productive effort. And he would have finished it by now – in one day! – except that I claimed the door as MY (eventual) productive effort. But with one mumbled comment, it’s clear he has observed my inactivity, thus proving Sartre’s – and my – horror of “the Other.” I am seen doing nothing! It doesn’t help that I am also forced to observe his activity.

Fortunately, “the Other” has other benefits, such as companionship. Today’s second productive effort will be going on an outing with him. I adapt.

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