Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm Gonna Get Me a Twittering Bluebird!

What a day I had last Wednesday! Not only did I have most of the day off, there a promise of spring in the air. I stopped to chat with Jim, down at Dr. Freud's, and picked up some fun, new music. Later that day, my neighbor arrived with a gift. He made for me a bluebird house! His wife mentioned that I had never seen a bluebird, so he set about making five houses. I'm gonna get me a bluebird. I can't wait.
My research tells me they are shy little things, and have very specific requirements about where they take up residence. The house can't be too high or too low, and the wood on their dwelling must remain unfinished. I'm glad I read that. I had visions of lovely azure walls with subtle, but happy wallpaper gracing the foyer. In addition to simple decor, bluebirds like privacy. They won't move into a house that is too close to trees, other birdhouses, or buildings. Looks like the condo will be nailed to a post and set up smack dab in the middle of my backyard. I'll let you know when the first family moves in, and the twittering and tweeting begins.

While I'm on that subject, can anyone explain Twitter to me, please? I have read about it; I have read Twitter blogs; The Today Show did a segment on this on Thursday, and I still don't get it. Granted, I am resistant to technology, my first serious encounter with a computer being while writing my Masters thesis many years ago. I was still proofreading (yes, Terri! I do proof occasionally) the night before my final, unbound copy was due. Each day, I found a phrase to sharpen, or a chart that wasn't quite centered, or something that needed bolding. Really, I should have just said "It's done, " but at the 11th hour, I took one last look, and, sure enough, an error that wasn't there the day before suddenly barred it's teeth, snarled, and challenged me to ignore it. Already tired and frustrated from the final days of trying (and obviously failing) to prepare a perfect draft, nervous about my presentation and the potential grilling at the hands of an unforgiving, uber brainiac panel... I did the most logical thing I could think of. I threw my mouse across the room.
Did I think that would hurt the mouse? No! Did I think my little outburst would make me feel better? Yes! Did I know that a mouse is vulnerable when meeting a brick wall head-on? No. Well, there I was, at midnight, with a glaring error that had to be fixed, and no way to do it because an alternate personality took possession of my mind and mutilated my mouse. Perhaps there are ways of using a keyboard without a mouse, but I sure didn't know about that, so again, I did the most logical thing I could think of. I picked up the phone and called a co-worker...and a new mouse was delivered in the middle of the night.

That began my love affair with technology. I am assuming you read the dripping sarcasm in that last statement. Circumstances have forced me to learn some basic skills, but there is great angst in the doing. "You have to have a website" someone told me. Do you know how pricey it is to have someone design one? Holy Toledo. So, with the help of a computer savvy friend, I learned enough to put together an informative website. It doesn't change often, because I almost always lose links when publishing it, and end up sending out a tearful S.O.S. If the website wasn't enough, I was informed that I had to have a blog. "How can you not have a blog?" I was asked. I started blogging, as you know. Honestly, I still question why I do this, and just when I have convinced myself to shut it down, someone unexpected will say, 'Hey, your last post was sort of fun!" Then the wheels start spinning, and once again I set about making lists of topics for future posts.

But this Twitter thing! Really! I will not do it. After reading several Twitter blogs..local, political, business, celeb...I come away amused, but still confused. You Tweet to tell others what you are doing right now. OK. Yesterday, someone wrote, "I am eating a ham sandwich." Why do I, why do any of us, need this information? Are we not already so overloaded with info that some days we just want to put up a shield that will deflect it all as far away as possible. For me, Twittering would be just more noise in an already cacophonous world. You will not catch me Twittering.

However, the evolution of language prompted by technology is fascinating , isn't it? Remember when George Bernard Shaw, (Pygmalion, Major Barbara) thought we needed a universal language, so he invented one called Esperanto? He claimed that the structure and grammar would be easier to learn than English. I spent some time with it...terribly confusing. I know that English is confusing, but we're used to it, or "usetavit," as my grade school friend, Jean, used to say. Whoever thought it up -English, that is - tried to apply Latinate rules, and the transfer didn't work out so well, hence every grammar rule has a million exceptions.

Today's teens have managed to do what Shaw couldn't. They have invented a language. The intricacies of their verbiage can be unraveled by anyone who cares to, and that, I figure, is the beauty of it for kids. Few people care to. They finally have something with the appearance of exclusivity. Lauren Myracle (pronounced "miracle" ) has written a young adult trilogy in text language. There is some standard English sprinkled throughout, but just when you think you're on to something, the key element is in IM vocab.
There may be practical applications for IM'ing, and Twittering thousands of short character tweets each day, but for me, I am happy with the Selectric typewriter, and my rotary dial phone. While neither are realistically useful , they do make fine paperweights in this supposedly paperless world.
*****The University of Wisconsin Press sent me an advance copy of Sweet and Sour Pie by Dave Crehore. Dave grew up in Manitowoc in the 1950's, and his book is filled with sweet, and gentle stories about his life here. The Crehore homestead was located on River Road in Manitowoc Rapids. He attended the small school in Rapids. His book relates funny little tales about growing up with a party line phone, and borrowing a cat to kill the uninvited mice who left what his mother thought were caraway seeds in kitchen drawers. He also solved the origins of the local phrase "enso" for me. Dave will be visiting our store sometime in May. I'll let you know when we have a specific date and time.