“$5 here, $5 there Revisited”

Don’t sweat the little stuff! Yeah, right. What about the big stuff?

In my original “$5 here, $5 there” Blog entry (12-12-11) I used my Internet/cable/phone provider as an illustration of “the little stuff” over which you have no control and how it gets you. Now that one has become big stuff! The increasing cost of service over four years finally hit the tipping point. Enter “Techno Hell!”

In Mid-May I was about to renegotiate cost of my services when another company took over my provider in a corporate buy out that called for getting a new email address by June 14. Of course this was beyond my control but it deeply affected me emotionally and physically. My emotions escalated from frustration to seething anger over this forced change in my life and not having a say in this. Change was coming fast and I had to find out what I could do to regain a “new normal” in my life. Which way should I turn, what services can I get and at what reduced cost?

With channeled [no pun intended!] determination I set out in search of a new communication bundle. My eventual new provider engaged in a campaign to rescue those abandoning my current provider with a bundle that included a lifetime fixed fee at a greatly reduced rate. It included switching from cable to satellite TV, getting a real “land-line” phone and high speed DSL Internet service. Due diligence on all of these satisfied my questions.

The clock was ticking. I spent hours cutting and pasting email files to my computer from my email account that will soon vanish–from my family, my misipi writer cohorts, from the University Press of Mississippi process of creating my book and its title, and from others. I logged on to all the business and professional accounts to change my new email address I had already established. I negotiated details with my new provider, including hanging on to our 43 year-old telephone number and the date for the eventual installation of the new service.

New frustrations began to mount with the waiting, waiting, waiting for the installers and snafu over scheduling. The Internet/phone installers were to come first, then the satellite dish installers. But because my phone number had not migrated from the old provider, the dish installers did their thing first. That meant we went over a week without a land phone line and Internet service. I did let close family and friends know to contact us on our cell phones if needed. At least we had TV service but no RoKu. [Getting RoKu back later entailed a long tedious conversation with someone I suspect was half way round the world!]

We spent more frustrating hours grappling with new remote controls, screen displays and guide, trying to connect the old VCR to our second TV set, and figuring out how to operate the new DVR. Then the first night the new satellite remote control quit working due to nimble fingers punching indiscriminate buttons. No TV!

When the long wait was finally over, we made all the connections and as the last act I turned in the leased equipment to my old provider. That was a cattle call. What a line of silent escapees. As I left, I told the person collecting the equipment he looked like he was working at a funeral home handling all these “dead electronic bodies.” His somber face broke into a hearty grin.

One afternoon during the waiting interim while taking my afternoon walk I heard on NPR radio a researcher talking about how creativity takes place in the pauses of life. The waiting and delay regarding my communication switch turned into somewhat of a spiritual timeout and moment of creative reflection!

Here are some random observations, questions and learnings:

I became acutely aware of how bound I had become to all this new technology that was supposed to enrich my life, but had gotten me into a rut. I felt addicted to checking my emails before I did anything else in the morning and then periodically during the day. This became accentuated when I got my Kindle FIRE and kept it by my bed for a quick fix. Now I was having withdrawal symptoms from the silence of the Internet.

True Confession! I managed a little fix by standing in my neighbor’s driveway at night using their Wi-Fi connection (with permission) checking emails on my FIRE! Being a bit embarrassed at this approach, I went to the local Good Foods Café and connected with their Wi-Fi hotspot.

The TV guide of my subscriptions on screen shows a vast wasteland of stuff — “World’s Best Blender,” “Insanity Workout,” “Uniquely Silver Jewelry,” “The All New Trivia Pack,” “Best Reverse Mortgage,” “Pawn Stars,” “Full and Sexy Hair” and the like. Out of hundreds of channels graphically displayed I am reminded that we watch less than a dozen or so at the very most. Why am I paying for this stuff in which I have no interest?

I agonized over the possibility of loosing our 43 year-old phone number because the old provider would not turn it loose. During the delay I felt like being punished by the provider for leaving! I finally was reconciled to loosing the old number but then I got the call that it was released to the new provider. I fretted over loosing some secondary PBS channels. We lost MSNBC but gained ESPNU in the deal. Bye Bye, Rachael; hello more UK basketball! [As I write this, a heavy thunderstorm blocked the TV Satellite signal for five minutes!]

After a period of time away from the previously numbing technological routines I sensed a significant change taking place–a free feeling of what happens when one turns loose. I can live without this stuff. I had more time for writing three new drafts to post on my Blog before I got my Internet connection back. I wrote a brief Advent devotional for a local church where my wife’s niece attends. I read new books and magazines–both print and digital on my Kindle. I read a book my friend recommended–GUT INSTINCT–about healthy maintenance of the second brain–the abdomen through deep breathing exercises and eating slowly in a quiet setting on a regular basis.

Now the “new normal” has appeared connecting me with family and friends and stuff on TV.  Fraught with new addictions and frustrations? You bet. Alas! How dependent we are. How when we turn loose something it quickly can go away, but how quick some of it comes back. June 14 is here and I am still sorting out what all this means. Fickle, fickle, plain and simple!

Oh yeah. The really positive net gain in this little episode is that we went from nine to eight remote controls for our two TVs! Now that’s progress!

Don’t sweat the little stuff! Baloney! It’s the big stuff that really adds up and gets you; especially when it’s beyond your control. Is that all it has to be?

6-14-13  © McAtee & weegems, 2013

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2 Responses to “$5 here, $5 there Revisited”

  1. July McAtee says:

    UB, I felt all kinds of sympathetic feelings reading this. How technology is treated as this cold, logical, inhuman part of life, but how it in fact taps into our deepest emotional connections with humanity. One of my projects this year has been studying the relationship of 55-and-abovers with digital technology, and your essay is a fascinating addition to my work. 🙂 Love, July

    • weegems says:

      MM, glad you read my latest blog. It was therapeutic just to write. I was planning to write you tomorrow. One of the good things I got out of cutting and pasting my saved emails was the joy of reading some of them in sequence. I found lots of stories from families and friends I did not want to loose. I found all the last ones from Jane; also some family history stuff. I want you to be the family archivist if you want some of this stuff. I can send it to you to read and junk. I thought it might give you some grist for future writings.

      Now when will you be coming back to this side of the waters? I was thinking it is this summer or fall.

      We are plugging along here. Not much to report. I am trying to get in the mood to get rid of a bunch of stuff. I call it “getting ready to be ready” in case we have to make a hasty exit. Don’t intend to yet a while. I guess I need Jenny to organize things! I know there will be a time we can’t stay here. But I ain’t ready yet! However, I am more willing when the time comes than I let on.

      This technology does tap into our deepest emotional connections with humanity. I felt that cut-offness from friends and family without the internet connection. That is where it is for me. The people I connect with on internet are those I have established face-to-face relations with before Internet happened.

      So much of what I hear about with social networks may be fool’s gold.I refer to those that think they are connected but have never laid eyes or hands on the “other” in their cyberspace.That really is not being connected in the deepest sense in my book. But that may be the best they can do. I won’t judge judge them though. Am interested in what you have discovered in you project about us old folks.

      I really enjoyed seeing the pics you had when Craig was in Japan. Such interesting sights. Would love to have heard the sounds. Enough of this now. So glad we have this connection! love, UB

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