Tech dependence and Cell Phone addiction

I’m probably the only person in the tech-hub silicon valley who, for practicality reasons, resists the idea of putting everything onto a smartphone. I realize that it’s pretty cool that you can access all data from it, that you can control your house lights, and banking, and door locks, and  everything you’ve ever auto-saved onto the cloud. But at the end of the day, it is a delicate phone, and it has many physical limitations; and it just seems insane to me to make something so frail THIS essential to my ability to function in daily life.

I once dated a guy who was obsessed with having a Tech-House.  He spent thousands on web linked cameras that he could access from his phone, and Hue smart lights, that had programmable color change settings; blue-tooth smart locks, that unlocked the front door when your phone was near, and motion sensors that digitally notes which rooms were entered at what times, and then text-alerts him if he is not home.
All This is based on the idea that our phones are fully functional, and in our possession at all times.
Once, he was blackout drunk unconscious on the couch, and he had left all the house lights on. I was Unable to navigate his phone to open the App to turn them off, so I simply unplugged the lights.      The next day, he asked how I was able to do it. I told him, and he chuckled, As If it wasn’t a dire inadequacy with this whole smart-house system. His tech-bro-meat-head couldn’t comprehend how impractical having lights that ONLY he could control by phone was.

I wrote something last week about how ‘intangible’ things are getting; everything is viewable on our phones, but not tangible. And the feedback I got was from people realizing that CDs were obsolete technology. People no longer buy or burn physical disks to enjoy in their cars or share with friends. They have MP3 players, in their phones. Everything is in our phones.
All this ties back into how I feel about Smart Phones.  What happens if it breaks?  Or gets stolen? Or the battery dies?
We depended on this single piece of technology for everything.  It’s our camera, our map, our radio, our communicator, our address book, our lifeline, our key, our games, our light-switch, and so much more..  Is it wise to put so much expectation onto something that can be neutralized by the common elements?

For security reasons, my office doesn’t allow cameras (like the ones on our phones) in any of the rooms where confidential information is being kept, OR near the computers that can access them.  So, I’ve grown accustomed to not having my phone on me during main work-week hours; Only to discover that I don’t miss it, and now I’m quite cautious about what I use it for, knowing that I won’t always have access to it.
Yesterday, someone socially said that they’d send me something so that I could have it on my phone.   I told them that I don’t rely on my phone, and would prefer it by alternate means. They tried to convince me otherwise, and insisted that they have no other means of getting it to me. And the amazing part of the conversation, was that they were serious. It took them several minutes before they remembered a variety of [established 10-year-old] transfer methods that were compatible with their current new tech set up.
The millennial techies are so quick to move forward, that they forget how things used to be just a few years ago.
& Generation Z might be totally useless without their tech.


Media aggregators, instead of conversationalists

Young people that have had access to smart phones since its invention in 2007 are now adults.  If you were born in 1995, you would be 21-yrsold right now. Meaning you were 12 when internet-able smart phones started becoming popular, and you most likely received one in high school. Maybe it was a distraction to your education, maybe it helped with that teen-angst, maybe it was a way for your parents to spy on you. That small pocket device that could access all human knowledge and connect with anyone on the planet, is now raising children.
–  I was walking on the street and spotted a toddler in a stroller who was gaming on a smart phone.
It’s no secret that technology has changed the world. But people seem to resist the idea that it’s changing themselves at a basic level. There have been a few news articles this week, about how the new adults of Generation Z aren’t equipped to do basic things that were normal 6 years prior.
I can’t say I’m surprised, being able to google something basically eliminates the need for formal education. “I’m not sure, let me google it”, is suddenly the most adult thing you could say. It’s just a shame that such a helpful tool is being used as a distraction for the masses.
– I see middle school children on social media 24-hours a day, and young adults who never learned how to punctuate.
I’m sure that the basic skill set that adolescents acquire while growing-up have changed dramatically since the smart phone. There are no longer any paper notes being passed in class, no printed photos, no scrapbooks, no CDs, no face to face real-life interactions. Everything is done online, and most likely on our always-handy mobile device. Entertainment, communication, socialization.  Nothing tangible, only viewable through that little pocket device.
In 5 years, we will see what occupations the youth gravitates towards. We will see if they naturally have learned some valuable job skills, or if  they  were all too distracted to learn anything useful, and subsequently become a generation of low skill workers.
Technology might pick up the slack, and create new gadgets to help us with our shortcomings. Cars will soon be self-driving.  Difficult jobs will be downsized and streamlined, computerized and outsourced.
– We will be Media aggregators, instead of conversationalists, and have ‘everything’ Mass produced for our easy consumption.  So that we all conform to the Factory standard ‘life-style’. –  The movie Idiocracy comes to mind.

Tiny Houses and Housing Crisis

I’ve been fascinated by Tiny Houses for a while now.
There are a few youtube channels dedicated to tours of tiny house designs, and from what I’ve seen they’re all perfectly livable. Modern, quaint, beautiful, and efficient. I have a few reservations about composting toilets, but after watching interviews with the people who have lived with them for a while,  it doesn’t seem like an unbearable adjustment. A full size house almost seems like a waste of space after seeing how functional a tiny house actually is.
Most tiny houses are built on trailers because of building code restrictions, so they are limited to RV sizes at no more than 8.5-feet wide, 40-feet long, and no more than 13.5-feet tall. Most of them have a bed loft above the kitchen/bathroom to maximize the space. I have a background in design, so I’ve been inspired to draw plans for dozens of tiny houses this year. I’ve experimented with designing them as compact as possible. But there’s a cliff for what I consider a reasonable living space situation. I wouldn’t design a living space less than 8 x 14-feet, even though it is possible, because I don’t consider it comfortable for 2 people.
After finding the ideal space required for 2 people, at 8 x 30-feet [240-squarefeet], I started seeing trends in what features I preferred in a house. I like booth tables with storage in the bench, desks with organizers above, couches with drawers underneath, and cabinet-stairs.
Unfortunately, Tiny Houses aren’t mainstream enough for any major home developers to mass produce.  Tiny houses are frequently custom built, so they don’t have mass appeal, and therefor are difficult to re-sell and don’t hold their value as well.   Plain one-size-fits-all apartment buildings are favored by cities, because of their predictable re-sell value.  Very few cities in CA welcome communities of tiny houses.
Meaning that even if you acquire a tiny house, you still need to purchase/rent the land where you want to park it, and then treat it like an RV. I saw an article about a couple who are being evicted from their own land/home because the city won’t allow them to permanently ‘live’ in structures that are off-grid.   Having a main-structure nearby that you can claim as the primary on-grid dwelling is essential to establishing a ‘legal’ Tiny residence.

Lately, I’ve started designing houses out of shipping containers.  I made the transition to shipping containers because of a news article, which indicated that because they can be constructed in a factory-setting, like an RV, they are inspected before they are shipped, and therefore are already up-to-code as a dwelling. They can be outfitted in the factory, and trucked to their destination, where they are simply hooked up to the grid like a mobile home.   A single 40-foot shipping container is perfect for 2 people.  Add another  20-foot container, and it’s perfect for a family of 3-4people. And it’s much less expensive than a regular house.
Tiny living has become a new passion for me, as I face concerns about long term housing costs in my area. “There have been 500,000 new jobs created in the Bay Area since the recession ended,” says Carol Galante, professor of affordable housing and urban policy at Cal, “but only 50,000 new housing units have been built. …we’ve still seen double-digit rent increases ….”. The home prices in the area have sky-rocketed, making it impossible for me to buy a home. This year, I’ve had to accept that if I ever want to settle down, I will either be forced to move far away from my hometown OR live in unconventional housing, like a tiny home.

College or TradeSchool

I found an old college syllabus in the bottom of a drawer. It’s function was to outline the goals and assignments of the class, but this one just rambles on-and-on about impossible university expectations/objectives. I can’t recall now if they all looked this absurd.  I’m also impressed that someone like myself [easily stressed out] still managed to take and complete the class that describes itself like this.

This 1 course required that I spend 8-12 hours every week on class projects, in addition to the lecture time itself. Followed by wordy descriptions of Class Rules for Respect, Diversity, and Deadlines. And then Various Rules about Integrity, and the official Rule about not submitting the same paper to multiple classes. and Something about a Counseling Center for Excellence. Academic Integrity, Campus policies for Compliance, Tech Resources, Learning Assistance, Grading Policies, ect.
This syllabus highlights Learning Objectives: Globalization Awareness, Information Literacy, Criticism, and Social Responsibility. And Demands that all writings I do for the class be: Compelling, Complete, Coherent, Concise, and Correct. And ‘Display my Ability to Competently Communicate in a variety of Theoretical and Interpersonal Contexts, as well as Demonstrate Social Responsibility and Community Engagement in a Practical Application that meets the Obligation of Democratic Citizens’……… this, grammatically, makes very little sense… but as I recall, that teacher was useless.
As I glance over this packet of daunting expectations, I wonder how anyone survives college. If I was reading it as a job posting, I might think that the job wasn’t humanly realistic. How could anyone do all these things willingly? Work under such restrictions? Obey such an unyielding employer? Why go to college at all?

I realize that the most of the people I know in real life didn’t go to college. And the people who did, aren’t currently using what they learned in college.
About half of each group has grown to be responsible adults, and the other half will most likely work hard, but still find themselves either living impoverished and/or in debt.  One would think that the college grads would be better off, but it doesn’t seem like they are.
With the knowledge that graduates are likely to have higher incomes, how is it that their quality of life isn’t significantly better?  Well, college is expensive and it’s likely that people who attend will have an impoverished lifestyle while they pay it off. An education doesn’t make a person less lazy or more responsible. It doesn’t ensure that they will have a comfortable life or a high paying job.

In hindsight, it’s very obvious to me that American University doesn’t do a great job at preparing young people for the future. It’s an archaic educational system that’s too slow to change and too inflexible [and expensive] to allow people the freedom to pursue their changing personal interests. Does the stress of college re-prioritize a young person’s efforts? Are some people better off Not having gone?   Most College Graduates are bound to graduate in a debt hole, and can anticipate decades of poverty before they can acquire the financial stability necessary for a ‘home’ purchase and a family. But it still seems like the American public finds a college education preferable over a Trade-school profession.

compounding discrimination and gender inequality

It’s common knowledge that half the population is female.  It’s also common knowledge that women don’t make as much money as men. In the USA, a white woman makes 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. But ethnic women makes as low as 54 cents for every male dollar.
In the 1950s, women had stereo-typically female professions, but were also expected to be: domestic, raise children, and care for their bread-winning husbands. It is difficult to believe that in 60+ years we’ve made so little progress.  In 2016, Women are still burdened with the expectation of caring for family,    but as it becomes more normal for a woman to financially support herself, women everywhere face mountains of discrimination every step of the way.
Women are not guaranteed paid maternity leave, or child care.  Clinics that provide women’s reproductive health services are frequently de-funded and under fire.  There’s also the conspiracy of the woman-tax (pink-tax), where women’s items are priced higher than equivalent items marketed toward men. [A 1995 California study revealed women pay $1,351 a year more for the same products as men].  Women everywhere are given Less, and expected to do More than men.

Women are frequently overlooked for job advancements and high paying positions. Women are cornered-out of working in certain fields, and denied job opportunities in typical-male environments [and the women who do make it IN face discrimination and harassment at work]. Architects, Tech jobs, Construction jobs, are all male dominated. There’s been a lot of chatter about women in Hollywood making significantly less than men in the same field.  Actresses, filmmakers, TV reporters. The lower pay ‘devalues’ their hard work, and makes them more ‘replaceable’ to their employers. The Equal Pay law of 1963, appears to have been forgotten.
With a lower income, a woman might never be able to afford the same life luxuries as a man.
Even women who Decide to go the conventional route of marriage-and-family face discrimination at work. A pregnant woman Going on Maternity Leave could have their hours cut or be forced out of her job entirely. Putting the livelihood of the family at risk. A Family Household has an Increased cost of medical care, plus food and clothing for the children, and educational costs, and the cost of the larger house itself. The socio-economic costs of children in the modern age could plummet a family into poverty. Especially, if the household depends on having 2 incomes.

There are a number of cultural phenomenon regarding the social treatment of women. Rape Culture, Over-Sexualization, Glamor/Fashion Industry.  Things that put more pressure and social expectations onto women. Society Slut-Shames women who dress ‘provocatively’, and fails to protect or seek justice for women when they are assaulted by men.
A court in Oklahoma 2014 ruled that “state law doesn’t criminalize oral sex with a victim who is completely unconscious.”  Many States find ways to deny women’s health services altogether, with either alarming ignorance or blatant disregard for women’s health. Even Young Girls in school are being punished for wearing tight clothing ‘which is distracting to the boys’, setting the precedent that a boys are inherently more important than girls. The war on women is real, and happening everyday.
This week,  a Stanford Athlete was convicted of a felony for raping an intoxicated female student, and received a laughable 6month jail sentence [with the possibility for parole]. 2016.

Manipulative Mother

When I was 15, my mom barged into my room and demanded that I immediately decide on a career path, so that I could apply to college. I was dumbfounded. Not only was this the first time she had ever insinuated that I was allowed to make decisions for myself, this was also the first time she had ‘asked’ what I wanted for myself and expected a real ‘response’.
In hindsight, this interaction was probably because my brother is 2 years older than myself, and was the right age to apply for college. But I was in 10th grade, and had never considered my future. I was too young to drive, never had a job, and wasn’t allowed any hobbies. What’s a career? Up until this point, every moment of my life had been: keep your head down, do as you’re told, schoolwork, homework. Repeat.
Like any 15 year old without a semblance of freewill, I waited for her to dictate the correct response.
me: ‘…I donno Mom, what should I do?’
Her: ‘What do you like?’
me: ‘…nothing’
Her: ‘you like sewing.’
me:  ‘……I guess’
In reality, sewing was just something I had to do because my parents rarely saw the need to take me clothing shopping. This was the exact age where I grew too tall to wear my child clothing or my mom’s/aunt’s hand-me downs. Every shirt was suddenly a crop top on me. I started needing to tailor the clothing to fit me. It was far from a hobby, more like a necessity. I didn’t like or hate it.  But my mother and I have never seen eye to eye, and I suppose she thought I was doing it because I enjoyed it.   Something else to observe about that incident, is that she didn’t actually know what else I was good at. That was the only thing she knew about me.

I wish she had the foresight to know that 90% of the time Art doesn’t pay the bills. After graduating from Art school, I was largely unsuccessful at getting full-time work. The economy was bad, and Art school didn’t exactly equip me with marketable skills.  I had always been accepting of my Mother’s will, and this time she dictated that I should go back to school to learn something ‘useful’. That conversation still haunts me. The part that hurts the most, is that It felt like It was all for nothing. She sent me to do something, I Did It, She decided it wasn’t good enough, and sent me to go do something else.
A decade went by, and I  came to realize that she had forgotten all the compromises I had made at her request.   I’m like a trained dog to her. A lesser being that needs to be managed.   Somewhere along the line “Mother knows best” became “Mother wont love me if I don’t follow her command”.     Etching away at the pillars of my individuality over the last dozen years, I realize that trying to keep her ‘love’ has been the single most destructive force in helping me [a young adult] find my own life happiness.  I’ve come to terms with the situation, and have been more mindful of her demands.

This year, I’d love to do something all on my own. But this involves: Finding something new, and Keeping It A Secret from her.
She came for a visit recently, and in the first hour she already started lashing out. She was very vocal about wanting more attention out of me, and threw around insults and complaints about this new ‘defect’ in my personality. But I know that it’s all a manipulative tantrum to stir more communication between us. She’s very good at that.
Now I just need to Stay Strong for another 40 years.