Friday, February 17, 2017

Confessions of a Technophobe


It made more sound than I had expected.  It was remarkably satisfying to hear. It helped that the windows were down and the sun roof was open on my rental car as I pitched it. I had reached the end of my tether; I could no longer tolerate the evil machine's random beeps and chimes. Of course, each sound is part of some elaborate code, but I am unable to decipher their meanings.

The devise had already ruined my relationship with my older brother, a technophobe in his own right. Somehow he took to the smart phone like a lamb to the slaughter and now takes it as a personal affront that I don't respond to his text messages in three minutes or less. The smart phone screen, however, does not reliably respond to my touch. My thumbs are evidently too transparent, to compose even the briefest replies, so I have stopped trying. I told my brother that if he wants to communicate with me, print out his text message on twenty four pound card stock and put a stamp on it.

I'm driving this rental car because my own car is in the repair shop.  I backed into some poor slob’s car in the grocery store parking lot while distracted by the unrelenting chirping from the Beast. It was still ring-toning (or whatever one calls the incessant noise it generates) as my stress level shot through the roof. After impact, I pulled forward, disengaging from the original damage, dropped my transmission in reverse and hit the car again. I knew that my insurance would go up regardless of the number of dents I inflicted.   It felt good.
Perhaps it is cosmic irony, but the last thing I used the damnable device before pitching it out the window was to watch a YouTube video of Stanley Kubrick’s movie "Space Odyssey".  In the scene I watched, Dave, the astronaut, has a disturbing conversation with HAL, the shipboard computer. HAL, having greater intellectual capacity than Dave, decides that the mission they were on was too important to be left to fallible humans. Dave, floating outside the mother ship in his little pod, pleads "Open the pod bay doors please, HAL. Open the pod bay doors."  HAL was not going to let Dave ruin the show. Dave was going to float in his little pod until he starved to death.

 In the end, our human hero found a way to gain entry and dismantled HAL’s memory. HAL was defeated.

That’s how it happens in the movies. In reality, I'm not sure humans will prevail. Smart phones are the latest attempt by machines to ensnare the human race by making it acceptable to bend to the will of the machine.  Just look at a queue of commuters waiting for a train. Most, if not all, are ruining their posture and delivering their souls to the electronic leash. The technology is training us, not the other way around.

 I do not want to be a Luddite, casting spanners into the looms of progress.  I use word processing software to my advantage. I'm not going to go back to clay tablets and chisels to tell a story. I'll even post this rant on the internet. Like the Amish, I pick and choose which modern innovation best serves me.  I refuse to submit to the hive. Knowing who the enemy is, I exploit existing technology for my convenience and do not let the “soul of the machine" co-opt mine. 

Leave your message at the sound of the beep and I will get back to you…. when I feel like it.


Author’s note: This is a work of fiction. No automobiles or cell phones were damaged during the writing of this story. 

                                                                                                Michael Young      February 7th 2017





Thursday, February 9, 2017

Martha goes to Washington

As an advocate for those living with Parkinson’s disease, Martha recently had the opportunity to serve as a consumer reviewer to evaluate research applications submitted to the Parkinson’s Research Program (PRP) sponsored by the Department Defense. She was nominated by the Parkinson's Disease Foundation in NYC. As a consumer reviewer, Martha was a full voting member, along with prominent scientists, at meetings to help determine how the $16 million appropriated by Congress for Fiscal Year FY16 will be spent on future research to address Parkinson’s disease.

Consumer reviewers represent the collective view of patients, caregivers, and family members as we evaluate the strategy of each application. As a consumer reviewer, Martha advocated for Parkinson's patients in a room full of scientist's who welcomed her input.

You can get more information on the PRP, including how to serve as a consumer reviewer, on the CDMRP website:

This is a test

This is a test. I lost access to blog for a week and now think I am in control again.