Saturday, August 28, 2010

Whatever Happened to Debbie?

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Where Is Debbie Today?

At my friend's half-way-to-90 birthday party last night, she reminded me of a boy we had known in high school who was so gorgeous, such a player, so skilled at flirting, he moved even *me*. Now, he also had a beautiful sister, Debbie, but she never flirted with me.

As the birthday-girl reminisced about a magical boat-ride she once got to take with him and a guy friend, I thought of the boy's sister and wondered whatever happened to her. This morning, I was still wondering, so I googled her name and found that if any of the women listed is her, then she could be a:
  • "Professional actor & voiceover artist"
  • Co-owner of a winery
  • Rabbi
  • Computer graphic artist....
I wonder if any of these people is her. A number look to be the right age, but none has the same long, dark, straight hair and perfectly proportionate features that she had.

Better to live in the present, but still, it's fun to have a number of friends who have shared memories of high school.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Will the Pool Dry Up?

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

A Year Or More

"Did you receive your 'Dear John' letter, Sarah?" Lou asks as we pass each other the other day in the Clifton YMHA.

"Not yet, but maybe I missed it."

This is the third reference of the morning to the Y's potential closing. Lou is 87 and cannot hear well at all, so he mostly just talks and then smiles in response to my answers and keeps going. "Well, you should get it in the mail soon. I like your hair that way!" (My hair is styled only by a vigorous, post-shampoo towel-rubbing. Lou is a big flirt. He always makes my day.)

As I walk in, I see one of the early-bird s who's already done with her laps; she tells me, "We have one more year and then it's either going to be sold to people for the property, or to the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and in either case, we won't be able to swim here anymore."

"How do you know that?"

"I have a friend in the [Jewish] Federation [the organization that will raise the funds or sell it]."

Going in to the pool, I see my 80ish-year-old friend, who says, "Are you going to go to L.A. Fitness when this pool closes?"

"No, I want to go to a Jewish place again, I said, "How about you?"

She shrugs, and then, "The Paramus JCC is probably the nearest one besides Clifton."

I feel so sad, having this conversation with my friend. I don't want the pool to close and I don't want this community of swimmers to scatter. Pat & I've been swimming there for five years.

In five years, I've met a Holocaust survivor, an Italian great-grandmother, a contemporary lane-hog, who's half my size, but who takes a lane and a half, a guy in his late-60s who likes to swim with snorkeling gear and another lesbian couple who also were able to join as a couple, among others.

I hope the pool stays open. Change is hard.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pat & My Mom Are Tied

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.


Now, Pat is tied with my mother as the person with whom I have lived the longest in my life. I find myself making deals with my mom that I hope she can keep, and being reminded of that song I've written about here before, from "Into the Woods:" "No One is Alone:"
No one is alone. Truly.
No one is alone.
Sometimes people leave you.
Halfway through the wood.
Others may deceive you.
You decide what's good.
You decide alone.
But no one is alone.
I don't want my mom, or Pat, leaving me, "...halfway through the wood" the way my dad of blessed memory had to do so due to cancer. Actually, my dad (z"l) left me less than half-way through the wood.

This morning, I find myself, saying to my mom: "Let's both go swimming in the Teachers College pool just before I graduate," which will be more than a year from now. This November, God willing, my mom will turn 85. She has lived longer without my dad than with him. they were married for 27 years when he died, and she's been without him for 30 years.

Funny how I bargained with myself at the start of this vacation that I wanted to stay in the present and enjoy every drop of the vacation...but something about having time off to think is making me reflective about how much time any of my loved ones (and I) have left, and it's making me think existentially, not just about this week vs. the rest of my work-year.

Today, I pray that Pat and I will live for long enough to:
  • Marry legally, ideally while our mothers are still alive
  • Travel through Israel and Ireland while we're still able-bodied
  • Pay off our mortgage (which should be done in less than eight years)
  • Earn more leisure-time together.
I also pray that my mom and I will live for long enough to:
  • Be at Pat's and my wedding
  • Swim together in the TC pool just prior to my graduation
  • See me march for my Master's in Adult Learning and Leadership.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Augmented or Diminished Reality?

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Not Better or Worse, Just Different

If you'd have asked for my definition of "augmented reality" (AR) before I became aware of the technical definition, I'd have replied, "My reality is augmented by family -- including pets -- and friends who love me; art to enjoy and produce; sensual pleasure; communities with which I affiliate; meaningful work, including substantial cultural exchanges; and the means to: give charity, buy healthy food, nice clothes, a lovely home, a comfortable car and gifts."

That definition still works, even as I was introduced to a different, technical definition of the term recently by a colleague and friend who invents AR apps: "...a layer of information on top of reality."

The same colleague pointed me to a link of an AR app demo, showing how IBM let Wimbledon attendees watch games through walls while waiting on line to get in. I told another colleague, who's proudly anti-Web 2.0, about how IBM has created an AR version of Madison Square Park in NYC, so that he could point his smart-phone at the Flatiron Building to learn about it.

He said, "Now *that* would interest me." For him, it would be like turning the world into a museum with exhibit labels.

A relative who's an artist wondered if AR was such a good idea. She, who is a talented photographer as well as painter, said, "I've stopped taking my camera everywhere I go because I was feeling less present with it."

"It's true that this could make us feel more removed from reality than a part of it," I responded. I've been thinking further, though:

The dark side could be isolation and also another dimension of the societal division of the haves and have-nots. The up-side could be cultural enrichment and fun, as well as performance aids, if not full-blown, profound learning, plus universal access over time, i.e., no haves/have-nots.

One of the constant tensions of technology, I think, is that it can remove us from what's traditionally seen as organic/natural *and* it can expand our vista a million-fold, e.g., cars remove us from nature, and from people...and cars enable us to see and enjoy more/other people/nature than we could on our own arms-and-legs power.

Recently, a Group Dynamics classmate in the School Psychology program was complaining about how a number of us from the Adult Learning and Leadership and Org. Psych. programs had amazing access to global resources -- people and technological -- while in his experience, he was lucky to get a desk at work.

It struck me: A) I knew from his Facebook page that he went to one of the most privileged of he Ivy League schools for undergrad, and so perhaps, he was mourning the loss of his prior, routine sense of privilege and B) certainly seemed to use social media outside of work, and so I didn't know why he was complaining. He chose a line of work, where by design, it's all local and nearly all face-to-face.

To me, AR will always consist of the definition I gave above, but my friend's technical definition is intriguing, too. I don't think her AR definition is better or worse than plain-old reality; it's just different. I think that people who feel isolated don't need help from the Internet; they're likely that way offline, too...and at a minimum, AR could make their natural isolation more interesting, and help them feel more connected in other ways.

Personally, I'm an extrovert and yet have also written here about having an unusually large sense of loneliness, no matter how many people appreciate me. For someone like me, ultimately, the technical version of augmented reality seems like a way to help me feel more connected to the world and other people, for example, I'm the sort of person who would likely exclaim aloud, "Wow!" if I saw something cool as a result of AR, and would need to share what I learned with whoever was in closest proximity; for me, AR would likely serve as a conversation starter, i.e., a device for connecting with others.